He told me to go back to the beginning. And so I have.

I should record my Art and Culture class. Although, I’m not sure this class is ultimately going to be good for anything (boo, Core requirements) but a laugh. I won’t say this is the most interesting professor I’ve ever had, but he’s certainly the strangest.

The first day of our class, the professor–Dr. Inigo Montoya, I will say, because I’m not exaggerating the physical similarity–opens with a fairly moving speech. Not more than a few weeks ago, we had a student pass in a very tragic accident. I didn’t know him (I know almost nobody on campus), but he truly seems like an amazing and influential person to the university. Dr. Montoya knew him pretty well and announced that he was dedicating all of his classes this semester to him.

That was fine. But he used this tribute as a springboard for a Sorting Hat-like speech about finding our passion. No, no passion, capital-p Passion. What started as a lovely tribute turned into a fire-and-brimstone warning about what happens to life if you don’t follow your passion. Dr. Montoya has apparently followed his passion all over the world, doing whatever the hell he wants.

He rails against money and materialism. He says, with all the judgment in the world, “I won’t judge you if you want to spend your life pursuing money–but you must truly find and follow your passion if you want to live life properly!” I’m told he drives a Jag.

“Find your bliss and the money will follow,” he says. Do the passion. Maybe not my passion. He asks people to raise our hands if we have a passion. I raised mine, he called on me, I said, “Dramaturgy!” And he hesitates because he doesn’t know what that is. And then he’s like kind of like, “…okay.” and moves on. Thanks for crapping on my passion, man.

He fashions himself as a bit of a Renaissance man, I think. An archaeologist, anthropologist, artist, art critic, scientist, philosopher. Whatevs. And he does seem to have a enormous wealth of knowledge. I would kind of love to see him on Jeopardy or something.

His neighbors think he’s strange because he does Tai Chi on his roof every morning. He also said his neighbors think he’s a businessman because he likes to dress nice.

Dude, if they’ve spoken with you for a minute or less, they definitely don’t think you’re a businessman.

He says he’s going to teach us to be elitist–not elite, like Aaron Sorkin would say–but elitist and proud. Such as, in the end of the class, we will become art snobs. Right now, we know nothing. But by the end, we’ll be able to spit on people who aren’t ‘artists’.

What constitutes being an artist? Beats the hell out of me. But I certainly know what doesn’t make you an artist:

  • Excessive tattoos
  • Strange piercings
  • Funky hair colors
  • Taking Oxycontin.

Lesson of the day: Crack is whack. Be above the influence. Also don’t take Oxycontin.

At least he’s very anti-drugs. I wonder why he’s so crazy about not taking drugs. He mentioned it multiple times.

Also, he doesn’t distinguish between subjects—Leonardo didn’t, so neither does he–so we’re not just in an art and culture class. We’re also in a science class, an astronomy class, a religion class, a _______ class. I know the Big Bang has had a considerable impact on culture, in that it created all life and y’know stuff like that. But nobody in the Paleolithic cave painting period did anything to depict it.

“It’s not naked; it’s nude…” he says. Has anybody else seen Calendar Girls? He has this whole tirade on the difference between pornography and nudes. He hates it when people consider ‘good art’ as pornography. And he almost shouts at us to eliminate our taboos about naming our “private parts”–he definitely wins the penis game. He was almost embarrassingly loud, shouting, “It’s a penis!” But that was intentional.

Sometimes my mouth says things aloud without checking with my brain to see if it’s a good idea. So sometimes I make jokes to myself or repeat funny things that people say. The purpose of this being I had a major Doctor Who nerd moment. Montoya says, “Why just a few years ago, we discovered the purpose of Stonehenge!” And I answered,–luckily only loud enough to myself–“Yeah, as a resting place for the Pandorica. Duh.”

Sometimes I feel like neither of us should be let out of our houses.

The class is hilarious. Despite the coursework, I look forward to the semester’s lectures.

Have Some Fun Quotes:

I watched a lion have sex once. It was boring. She didn’t seem to enjoy it, neither did he. They didn’t have dinner or anything.

Thumbs, we gotta have ’em.

Right now, we’re in the Dark Ages. [in context, given that we’re just destroying the world. Maybe in 10,000 we’ll get better at taking care of earth]

1 in 600,000,000,000,000 chance you’re in this room with me. You won the lottery.

I don’t teach boring classes. I don’t.

Do we live in caves? Have you lived in a cave? Have you been to a cave? You haven’t been to a cave? You should go to a cave. We would never live in caves.

[Question: What were they doing in the caves where they painted? He demonstrates Cro-Magnon dancing.]

The [Cro-Magnon] were dancing. They were dancing. Dancing always leads to sex! So I’ve heard.

We’re all walking cosmos.

What if the free-lance floating molecules of Mozart were in this cereal?

You know what you hear when you open the door to a woman’s bathroom? [he makes chatting motions with his hands and kind of goes, ‘blahblahblah’] They’re just gathered, chattering. Is that sexist? I don’t care.

Nescit Cedere, Hothlanta

Soooooo….

Question for you: Little Kate’s unexpected snowstorm makes her:

A) Grumpy.

B) Mumpy.

C) All of the above.

Until today, I have been literally trapped within my neighborhood since Sunday in the worst snow storm I–knock on wood–ever hope to see in my life. And it’s still incredibly dangerous to go out and about–but dammit I have missed a week’s worth of rehearsals for [tos] and I’m getting out of this house one way or another. WAY TO FREAKING GO, ATLANTA.

What did I do on this five day weather enforced house arrest?

Well, I watched a lot of TV. And I crocheted some stuff. And I sang a lot. And I played Harry Potter Lego. And I read every entry in this. And I moaned and complained. And I cleaned my room.

The only good thing to come out of this damn storm was one week long Star Wars reference. Which is a tribute to how many amazingly nerdy and lovely people live in the home town of Dragon*Con (suck it, San Diego). What a beacon of awesome in the midst of so much suck. You go, nerds who did the trend thing on twitter to make that an actual thing that people say.

The first marker–impenetrable to all ye Taun-Tauns who dare to pass–was at the entrance to our subdivision. It’s a very shady area and nobody in my entire gorram city seems to want to take matters into their own hands and clean the roads in front of our houses. What were my mother and I doing this week? Digging paths into the road for safety. What was everybody else doing while this was happening? Driving by, waving and/or mouthing ‘thanks.’

 

Also I made a snow angel, but instead of snow, it was ice, so I couldn't just sweep my arms and legs. I had to break the ice.

Um. You’re welcome. But you know what would make this faster/safer? If you guys actually came out and helped. Did your part. Obviously nobody from the state or the city departments of transportation are going to pull their heads out of their asses any time soon and get to cleaning off the roads around where we live. Don’t these people want to get to places? Don’t they want to get to places in one piece?

Mom reminisces of the good ole days, when she was super young living in Middle-of-flipping-nowhere, Michigan and everybody (read: menfolk) was doing their part with shovels and ice picks making sure that people could get to places. And you know what? I’m pretty sure the nowadays can take a page from the good ole days and help people get off their asses. Is it natural for an entire metro area–practically half of the most populated areas in the state–to absolutely shut down for four days? Really? REALLY?

Nobody seems to remember what it’s like to be neighborly anymore. And I know we laugh at the Pleasantville mentality of saying hello to your neighbors as they water the lawn. And generally I couldn’t give a damn about who they are and what their lives are like. But something like this, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and literally pound pavement to get this ice up. And next to nobody’s out on the roads. Is it really that hard to spend an hour breaking and scooping away ice? Especially in shaded areas? So this ice isn’t still endangering people’s lives a week later?

There were somewhere around 50 accidents in a few hours this past Monday, and I’ll bet the number has steadily risen. Come on, guys. Let’s decrease the WorldSuck.

Last I checked, Snowpocalypse 2011 wasn’t a surprise. Were there things that could have been done in preparation? You bet your sweet behind there are. I don’t know the protocol personally (obviously, neither does anybody else in this fraking state) but somehow every other state in the union seems to get by without declaring a state of emergency every time five inches falls. Otherwise, what’s the point of the north even functioning for three whole months of winter?

What I learned from this experience is that I am NOT a homebody. I’m not happy just sitting around at home for days on end. I like going places. I like doing stuff. I like not being afraid to drive to the grocery store for milk. I like walking down a sidewalk without extra hazards to my life.

Also this is the bleedin South. We shouldn’t have to worry about this shit.

Moreover, I like going to school. I miss school. Which is a strange thing to say, especially considering how the general consensus of students everywhere is that school sucks. I’ve just got Beginning of the Semester Excitement. Come midterms, I’ll be back wishing for another act of ‘god’ to keep me from having to turn in that 9 page essay on Nietzsche on time. Bleh.

This Post Is So [title of show]

Well, I haven’t written anything since a month (and to be fair, I’m cheating with the bad SH fanfic, which I definitely wrote in November) I figure I’ll give the internets an update on the awesomeness/business that has been my life the last month or so.

Awesome List of Awesome Things that Happened in Awesome December:

  1. I finished my fifth semester at college–straight A’s, what!
  2. I made lots o’ the money in my job. Approximately 50 hours a week running around my store and getting verbally bitch slapped by customers in a Christmas rush was WORTH.IT. Cause I like the moneys. Call me crazy.
  3. I got a camcorder for Christmas and I am continually beating myself up every time I think starting up a vlog again is a good idea. It’s bad enough I’ve got this sort of stuff in writing. You shouldn’t have to see my face.
  4. I spent at least four hours of my life in the craziest set of auditions in my life (you’d think it was American Idol or something nuts, the amount of singing I did…) which was worth it because…
  5. I GOT CAST IN A PLAY. It’s called [title of show] and all you current [tos]sers who know what’s what can skip down a bit, because I’m going to spend some time gushing.

Okay. So. [title of show] is the little meta-musical that could. It’s intensely difficult–for me at least, as I’ve noticed lately–to describe the show’s premise in 40 coherent words or less (other than to say, “THIS SHOW FUCKING ROCKS!”) so I would direct you to it’s Wikipedia page. [tos] is a fan-farking-tastic show that promises to be a fan-farking-tastic amount of fun (once we start rehearsals next week).

Oh and I’m playing Susan. Who is the perfect character for me. We like the quirks. We have the crippling stage fright and the insecurities. We’re intimidated by our fellow ama-za-zing cast members. We’re both so very hilarious (ah ha, ah hahaha). And we both enjoy singing about killing vampires (hello, Once More with Feeling)!

Let’s consider the weirdness of what it’ll be like for the four of us playing The Four. So the show is about four people trying to create a musical about four people trying to create a musical about four people trying to create a musical… yada. Not unlike a biography (the events in the show are true except for the parts that aren’t), these people are real. Real people playing themselves–some version of themselves?–and now we’re real people playing real people playing themselves… Then you’re left with the element of truth. If the show is supposed to be about real people, do I try my best to become the real Susan Blackwell, or am I to be a sort of me/her hybrid that touches closer to reality because it’ll be based on what I know?

I don’t know if I’m explaining this coherently. You see the headaches this show gives me?

They say that it’s not a good idea to watch other performances of the same character when you’re developing your own character. Honestly, I’ve never had a big enough part in anything to worry about that anyway. But Susan’s real. I have a cast recording. I’ve seen the [title of show] shows. Do I keep her inflections? Do I sing the way she does? Can I even keep up with her? Will it be embarrassing if I try? Am I thinking about this too hard and too much before rehearsals have even started?

YES to that last one. Also I’m having weekly dreams–often 2-3 times a week–about working on [title of show], more specifically failing on [title of show]. I’ve never been this nervous in my life. I’ve never had this much theatrical responsibility in my life. It’s almost as if… they expect me to do stuff that can pass as good theatre. WHAT’LL I DO? I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING! (die vampire die!)

This is what you get when you hand a total amateur a script this mind-bogglingly a month in advance without talking to me about expectations. I mean, the door swings both ways and I could just as easily email my director with my questions. But that would involve effort.

It would also involve admitting that I don’t know everything.

That would be just plain wrong, wouldn’t it?


[oh ps. I am totes to the post-it notes listening to the Doctor Who series 5 soundtrack right this minute and I am just in love with it. Isn’t it freaking brilliant? Thank you, Murray Gold.]

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Yips

Because every once in a while a kid needs to write some bad Sherlock Holmes fanfiction due to a recent obsession with Steven Moffat’s update “Sherlock”.

[Sherlock sits at his desk; he’s pouring over a large folder full of notes and police reports. He’s a mess, hasn’t slept in days, and is either still drunk from last night or very hung-over. Mrs. Hudson enters.]

HUDSON.   Mr. Holmes, are you quite all right?

HOLMES.  No, Mrs. Hudson, certainly not!

HUDSON.  Must I ask why, or can I continue on my way out?

HOLMES.  You see, Mrs. Hudson, you couldn’t have walked upstairs without reason, Mrs. Hudson, so I would deduce that you came up to ask me a question—innocent, perhaps, but I think not. Your anxiety to leave suggests that you were attempting to share some news, but decided against it when you see my state of hysteria, which was evidenced by my fervor concerning this police file. Given that Watson was to return hours ago, I am able to surmise that the news concerns him, and the handkerchief suggests that the reason is not positive. In summation, Watson is dying or dead. Which is it?

[Mrs. Watson pauses for a few shocked seconds.]

HUDSON.  I was checking your kitchen for milk. I was headed to the grocers’. And I think I might have caught a cold from the woman next door when I came for tea yesterday.

HOLMES.  (tossing a pen across the room)   Damn! It’s as I suspected.

HUDSON.  Mr. Holmes, are you sure you are well enough? You seem… upset.

HOLMES.  Quite upset, indeed, Mrs. Hudson. I seem to have developed a case of the Yips.

HUDSON.  Pardon me, the what?

HOLMES.  “The Yips” is a condition commonly associated with athletes, particularly those who play golf or cricket, athletes who experience the complete loss of their fine motor skills and are otherwise unable to play as well they once had. I am using it here in a figurative manner, so as to invoke the comedic reaction as you put together that I have lost any ability for deduction.

HUDSON.  That’s nice, dear.

HOLMES.  I assure you, this affliction is the very antithesis of ‘nice,’ Mrs. Hudson. It is un-nice, that is to say, bad.

HUDSON.  Of course. Is there anything else I can get you?

HOLMES.  (returning to his paperwork)  Not particularly, Mrs. Hudson, other than a request that you refrain from visiting the grocers’ before your illness has subsided. It would be a shame if I were afflicted similarly through your handling of the milk.

HUDSON.  And risk your becoming needier than you already are? Goodness me, you’re right. I’ll wait.

HOLMES.  (not paying attention)  Mm, yes.

[Mrs. Hudson moves to exit, but Dr. John Watson stands in her way. He carries a small suitcase and a hat in his hand.]

WATSON.  Lovely to see you, Mrs. Hudson.

HUDSON.  (quickly)  Yes, lovely, John, how was your trip? Very nice.

[Mrs. Hudson exits as fast as she speaks. Watson rounds on Holmes.]

WATSON.  What have you done now?

HOLMES.  Everything within my power, but it seems to be all for naught.

WATSON.  (pause)   I’m going to ignore the fact that you’re not making any sense now, as you rarely do, so am I going to assume that at this point you’re not even listening to what I’m saying.

HOLMES.  (he isn’t)  Glad to hear it.

WATSON.  At least you’re acknowledging my presence. That’s a start.

HOLMES.  Yes, yes, but the more pressing issue at hand would be my case of the Yips.

WATSON.  I have heard of no such thing.

HOLMES.  “The Yips” is a condition commonly associated with athletes, particularly those who play golf or cricket, athletes who experience the complete loss of their fine motor skills and are otherwise unable to play as well they once had. I am using it here in a figurative manner, so as to invoke the comedic reaction as you put together that I have lost any ability for deduction.

WATSON.  Holmes, how many times have I asked you to refrain from making cultural references based on your intuition about the future?

HOLMES.  Precisely seven and three-quarters times. On one instance we were interrupted by a rather feisty ginger with a gun.

WATSON.  Exactly, and why is it you insist on continuing to do so?

HOLMES.  Human nature, on the whole, is… thoroughly disappointing. I find everything to be rather predictable.

WATSON.  Yes, but what you may find predictable, others actually find annoying.

HOLMES.  I cannot concern myself with how others feel about truth.

WATSON.  No, I suppose you couldn’t be bothered to concern yourself with trivial matters outside the scope of your own existence.

HOLMES.  But the pressing issue at hand—

WATSON.  (deadpan)   Mary and I enjoyed our state of Mycroft’s estate. You must thank him again for me.

HOLMES.  Well, it was a fitting reward for… whatever it is you did.

WATSON.  I saved your life.

HOLMES.  Precisely.

WATSON.  Twice.

HOLMES.  My brother Mycroft. I have no doubt of the numerous disreputable transactions that have transpired in such a large country home in the name of Queen and country.

WATSON.  Terrific.

SHERLOCK.  Mycroft has the mind, but none of the discipline. Though through all his lack of discipline, I’ll bet he’s never caught the Yips. It has been three days, and I haven’t used the art of deduction successfully. Not once.

WATSON.  Perhaps it is because your particular reasoning is induction, not deduction. Induction being the use of small details to extrapolate generalities.

HOLMES.  I am sorry, you lost my attention after ‘perhaps’. Now is not the moment for speculation, as serious implications are afoot if I do indeed have the Yips. I have an unsolvable case.

[Watson picks up Holmes’ file and flips through a few pages nonchalantly.]

WATSON.  The Butler did it.

HOLMES.  Preposterous. It’s never the Butler.

WATSON.  I’ll prove it.

HOLMES.  How?

WATSON.  Elementary, Sherlock. You have a diamond missing from what is supposed to be the world’s least penetrable safe. The Butler fits your disgruntled employee profile. You found a strange clay-mud mixture common only to the docking area on the River Thames where they Butler had been required to drop off the family and their unruly dog at their boat for a day trip. The dog makes a run for it, and the Butler must follow after him, trailing his loafers through the mud-clay mixture. They return to the boat and the Butler returns home. Having already taken pains to discern the code to the safe, a feat of relative ease, given a Butler’s ability to blend in wherever they stand. He cracks open the safe and removes the diamond, though only realizing later that no damage to the safe might implicate him. Therefore, he takes a large shovel—the bent up one locate in the garage to be specific—and beats at the safe, which accounts for the scratches and dents it bears, though none that indicate a consistency with safe tampering, as the police suspect. Upon the unexpected arrival of his lord’s aunt, he is forced to call in the police immediately to investigate. The owners are swiftly returned home by the Butler, but not before he hastily hides the diamond in the small dug up patch in the flower garden visible from the office in which the safe is held. The diamond should still remain there, as the house and its grounds are likely to have been under complete surveillance since the initial report.

HOLMES.  (flipping desperately through his stack of papers)  That plan is completely void of any logic. But the summation fits.

WATSON.  And yet the Butler has not been caught.

HOLMES.  And you gleaned all of this from a quick scan of my notes? By God, Watson, have you possessed a Holmes-like wit from the start? Have you figured all of our cases at the same moments I have, or perhaps even before I have and kept yourself silent? I feel as though my world is tumbling out of order.

WATSON.  Your utter confidence in my intellect is truly overwhelming, old friend.

HOLMES.  No, tell me truly, have you really solved the case that I was unable to?

WATSON.  No, you reasoned the solution out three days ago.

[Watson produces a paper with Sherlock’s scribbling.]

WATSON.  You wrote down your reasoning on this paper next to a rather provocative drawing of the Queen, and you left the paper by the front table. I can only assume that your lack of sleep these past five days I’ve been gone and a celebratory binge of alcohol and cocaine has removed all memory of the incident from your brain. Does that sound plausible?

HOLMES.  (scratching his chin)  Almost too plausible.

WATSON.  All right then, here is our course of action. You are going to bathe, for the love of God, while I burn this drawing before it is found and you are hanged for heresy. Or treason. Or both. And then we shall find Inspector Lestrade and inform him of the culprit, if he doesn’t already know. Yes? Yes.

HOLMES.  I knew I must have solved the case. It was simple enough without the unnecessary complications I was attempting to add to it. Quite so, Watson. You see but you do not observe.  (pause)  Oh, I like that. You should write that one down, Watson.

WATSON.  Yes, Holmes, as you wish.

HOLMES.  Being your only friend is rather taxing. Has anyone ever told you that?

[End of play.]

Family History in a Box

Earlier this week, my  uncle died and my mom was unfortunate enough to make that unwanted trip to her brother’s house to empty/clean it. While I am upset over the events, yada, the trip ultimately had some awesome attached to it in that my mom was able to recover lots of old stuff from her family, and I just love looking at old stuff, so this was kind of like silver lining.

(I’m not trying to sound insensitive about death, because honestly, death sucks, but nobody wants to be dragged down by reading a blog full of anguish and all that, so I’m going to keep the tone light.)

Mom has this giant box filled with stuff that she hasn’t seen in years, and she literally lights up at the opportunity to pass along the history that had been passed along to her. My uncle was a horrible horder; even though both of my grandparents had died, he still lived in their house and would never let us have any of their things. So she had piles of pictures and scrapbooks and autographs and such, and everything was just sort of overwhelming.

My mom’s side of the family has a rich military history. Like super-duper military. My grandmother’s uncle was General George Patton. My grandfather was a sailor in the Navy during WWII and a detective. My other uncle served as a Marine in Vietnam–we have a ton of pictures of Vietnam and mom has some really bad Platoon type stories about his time there. My great uncle earned a Purple Heart after his submarine was torpedoed in WWII and we have a signed certificate from Franklin-freaking-Roosevelt commending him. And these are only the people my mom has pictures of, but there were many more veterans. It’s pretty legit.

I’m not a “Woo hoo I heart War” type person (you can support a soldier without supporting a war), but I recognize the significance of these things. I acknowledge the history. And even though I generally detest the school learning of history, I love tangible history. I want to hold history in my hands, see it with my own eyes, and know its impact on me. I appreciate museums not textbooks.

The most important thing anyone should know about my mom is that she’s a storyteller. She loves to tell me everything from stories about her childhood to TV shows she just watched to magazine articles she’s read. Sometimes I watch things on TV that I know I’ve never seen, and I’ll think, why is this so familiar? It’s because my mom told me she watched it the other day, and then told me the entire story, thus rendering my need to watch it irrelevant. She loves telling and I love listening.

So as I said earlier, my grandfather was a detective. My mom grew up in Flint, Michigan (the subject of Michael Moore’s Roger and Me, the only film of his I’ve been able to finish), and my grandfather served from 1950 to the mid-sixties, retiring, I believe, just around the Detroit Race Riots. We’re looking through pictures and newspaper clippings, and mom’s telling away all of the stories she can remember being told by grandpa years later. And I’m thinking, yeah he’s a police officer, but it’s the fifties, how bad can it be?

It was bad. So so bad. It might sound pretty standard now, but it was pretty bad then.

My grandfather was the kind of guy who was in the newspaper a lot. He stopped a number of robberies, got kidnapped for 1o hours, had guns pointed to his head, and had his back broken by a robber and still managed to arrest the guy. He did some Secret Service support in Detroit for a visiting JFK and later VP Nixon–both of whom wrote him very nice letters thanking him for his excellent service. Case in point: My grandpa was a badass.

And I have never known him to be a badass. My grandpa was the kind of guy who caught an absurd amount of fish (75 in one day–made the local paper) and played the harmonica. He played cowboys with my brother and dyed eggs on Easter. He posed for pictures eating a sugar Christmas cookie with a silly face and bought Easy Bake Ovens. He had military tattoos on his arm, but he never talked about them. He was just a regular grandpa.

My mom, like me, is the youngest of four–though she is the child of both of my grandparents’ second marriages. I only ever knew my grandpa when he were pretty old and subdued–a wild young life full of crime fighting and honorable stuff. I love knowing this side. This is how my mom remembered him. She walked me through the clippings, cursing at his kidnappers or the man who broke his back, and she rarely curses.

I am so glad to know this stuff. I fear that family history is slowly lost to this generation of people always looking forward, refusing to acknowledge what has been. I probably sound like a bitter old man, but it’s true. My sister could probably care less about this kind of stuff. She won’t understand the significance of the Purple Heart or how many lives my grandpa saved (and how much grief he got from grandma) by putting his life on the line.

I’m not sure where this post was supposed to go–I was just too excited about all of this awesome stuff that I had to get out and tell someone–but I guess it’s kind of like a Veteran’s Day post. I am proud of all my grandpa has done and all that my grandma’s family has done without regard of the personal consequences. My history comes alive in their stories and their keepsakes, and that’s something I want to share with others and something that I hope will never go.

 

(also: My uncle had acquired a good deal of autographs, which I love looking at; the highlights of which are Dolly Parton, Tom Selleck, Tom Selleck’s mustache, Mark Harmon,Tony Danza, Hulk Hogan, the Captain and Tenielle, Gary Lewis, and Mark Farner, among others. Super cool.)

I Had Hot Chocolate This Morning.

So that means I’m going to post a blog post… post a blog post. Post a blog? Post on my blog? Write a post for my blog?

Whatever. I’m excited not only about the hot chocolate, but what that represents. So this post is coming to you in three parts.

Part the First:

The literal hot chocolate. I got some from the gas station just next to the Hellmouth (that is, my work place), which I would usually consider a cop-out because I can just make my own and if you can get like 12 packets of hot chocolate for $3.99, it seems almost ridiculous to pay $0.99 for one cup, but I was unfortunately out of hot chocolate mix this morning and then tried to use chocolate milk mix with warm water, but the end result was sort of like really weak tea, which is odd, considering tea shouldn’t taste like chocolate.

(Have I mentioned lately that I’m an English major and a tutor at my university’s writing center? Doesn’t matter. William Faulkner made a career out of run-on sentences, did he not?)

So, I had hot chocolate because I can’t stand coffee or tea and I’m sick and I legitimately think it helped. It’s like the Power of Positive Thinking–which is, in fact, bullshit–but for colds. I think, “This hot chocolate will make me feel better when I drink it.” And poof! The medicine that I took earlier this morning kicks in just as I’m gulping down my sweet, sugary nectar of the Gods.

The drinking of warm(ish) liquids also somewhat functions as a harbinger to colder weather. And I would say this is my case, but at the moment, Georgia doesn’t know where the hell it is. The whole of October has gone from jacket-and-scarf weather (fave) one day to tank-and-shorts weather the next. Consistency, weather, that is all I beg of you. Pick one and stick to it.

Part the Second:

Hot chocolate is a prop in a ten-minute play I wrote earlier this year that I have since entered into my school’s One Act Play Festival, and has been chosen. Two, in fact, have been chosen, though the other doesn’t feature hot chocolate.

The One Act Play Festival often becomes my reason for living in October. I love every part of it. It is student-run, written, directed, and acted. No faculties about it. It has yielded some really interesting and some really awful theatre. But this year, it’s different. Because I’m like 99.9% certain all of it is going to be epic. And not just because two of my plays are being performed.

On the subject of playwriting, I say this. I don’t know that I will ever get used to (or even want to get used to) being surprised that my brain’s thoughts are onstage. My imagination is coming to life in wonderful technicolor and eye-popping 3D, but with a stunningly low budget (eat my dust, James Cameron). And I always get worried during read-throughs that people just won’t get it, you know? I write comedy–or… try to–and I have a fairly particular sense of humor. I prefer smirk-comedy to “lol”-comedy. I used to dream one day of being Tom Stoppard… or, as equally unlikely, Aaron Sorkin. Or Joss Whedon.

Anyway.

My brain onstage! Even if I’m writing about something absolutely the farthest away from anything I’ve ever done, said, or experienced, everything still seems so personal. I am giving part of who I am to a director and three/four actors and letting them use it as a playground. What I think is so obviously said one way can be interpreted in another. Sometimes I have trouble accepting that my work can be done in a billion different ways. Sometimes I want to run up onto the stage and shout, “NO NO NO! FASTER YOU MUST SAY IT FASTER!” That’s not my place.

Sometimes it’s best to let somebody say, “Wingadrium Levio-sar” and not “Wingardium Levi-o-sa”.

Part the Third:

But my playwright’s attention span usually lasts about ten pages (this is why ten-minute play festivals are where it’s at) so I would prefer to be a dramaturg. This next bit is my second reason for living–for the Oct/Nov. period.

I am dramaturg’n it up in the production of Thomas Middleton’s Women Beware Women at school, updating it to a Napoleonic Era tragedy. So basic responsibilities include general research on the original play’s setting and the new setting, on costuming, on morality, on literary criticism, on textual meaning, and so on. I have… probably around 100 pages of stuff to read before next week, summarize it all into a nice neat packet of stuff, and set this packet free on my actors.

I. Love. Thomas. Middleton. I also love Women Beware, so really this is like an all around win. It is my hope not to get too boggled down and try to do more than I’m supposed to. I have this strange feeling that when I walk into rehearsals next week, my director is going to laugh at exactly how prepared I’ll be. I’m aiming to be a walking encyclopedia of all things Women Beware Women.  It’s such a great show, full of intrigue and incest, immorality and immaturity. And Middleton is such a great playwright–he has a rich history as a victim of censorship, so you know he’s gotta be at least a little bit good. Some scholarly scholars of scholarship refer to him as second only to Shakespeare, so stick that in your pipe but don’t smoke it ’cause smokin’s bad for ya. Gives ya cancer.

You see what I did there? I started with a seemingly innocent post about  hot chocolate and then hit you with some major 17th Century drama. What a blog ninja.

Anyway, for vids of One Act Festivals past (and, post-Oct 23, this years’ plays), you can hit up my Youtube page, which, if I have tamed this beast enough, should be somewhere in the doobly-doo on the right.

How to Make a Ramona Flowers Subspace Purse (if you know nothing about making purses)

An image of Ramona’s bag from the Scott Pilgrim set

Part One!

Those who know me are probably pretty tired of experiencing my Scott Pilgrim phase through facebook status updates and general conversation. I’ve read all six books, read all of the short strips, seen the movie, and downloaded the soundtrack. So naturally, the next course of action for a fan such as myself is to construct my very own Ramona Flowers outfit (modeled after the picture to the left) for use at Halloween and/or Dragon*Con. Among the most important aspect of this outfit is the Subspace Purse. It has an infinite capacity, has in-verse importance to the plot… and let’s be honest. It is REALLY cool.

So because I don’t have $120 to spend on the really really nice purse I have pictured below (that is, incidentally, Bryan Lee O’Malley approved), I enlisted my best friend Taylor–who not only has a sewing machine but is something of an artistic genius–to help me on my quest to make the world’s awesomest purse. Useful for not only fashion, but also stowing large hammers (+2 against girls) and Scott Pilgrims, but also in the event that I need to make an escape through Subspace. Because these things happen in real life, you guys.

farfallagialla’s Etsy Purse

I decided to stay with this general color pattern because I like it much better than the really blue and hot pink version that I have seen with comic Ramona. We have set about our mad task, and, of course, if you are reading this blog post now, it means that we were ultimately successful and the following instructions may not be the most efficient way to get it done, but it is very craft-ignorant friendly (that’s me, I’m the one who’s craft-ignorant).

If you’re thinking about pursuing this, read all of the directions before you get started, because I have some parts where you can choose what you want to do first based on how you want to go about it.

Purse Dimensions

  • 11″ diameter
  • 4.5″ deep
  • 10″ star
  • Strap length yet to be determined

Materials for the Purse:

  • 24″x60″ Duck Canvas Fabric, NuGrey
  • 12″x60″ Cotton Fabric, Monaco Blue/Periwinkle
  • 2″x60″ Cotton Fabric, Symphony Black
  • 24″x60″ Apparel Lining, Monaco Blue/Periwinkle/Whatevs (get funky if you can)
  • 1 package of 0.5″x2.5 yd Maxi Piping, Monaco Blue/Periwinkle
  • 10″ embroidery ring (optional, but SUPER handy)
  • 1 12″ Zipper, NuGrey (or 2, if you plan to do the back zipper)
  • 2 1.5″ Rectangle Rings, Silver
  • 1 1.5″ Strap Adjuster, Silver

All of these materials were found at our local Joann Fabric and Craft store (with the exception of the strap adjuster, which is available online on amazon.com–the website address is amazon.com, Scott) for roughly $30. I’m assuming that you already have a sewing machine and will therefore not need to factor in that cost. Taylor’s sewing machine is ‘Vintage’, which is just a nice way of saying, ‘Doesn’t work 80% of the time’.

Materials for the Preparation:

  • Ruler and/or T-Square
  • Compass for Circle Drawing (or a large bowl)
  • Compass for Angle Drawing
  • Sharp Scissors of Sharpness (did I mention they should be sharp?)
  • Iron with Ironing Board
  • Tape Measure
  • Fabric pencil or light colored pencil
  • Calculator (or your brain, paper, and pencil)
  • Patience and/or a good sense of humor

And so it begins!

Preparation

We spent about six hours total driving, shopping, driving, going back because we forgot a zipper, driving some more, making measurements, and cutting for preparation. So if you’re a little more organized than us, you might not need as long. But this is definitely an all day kind of activity.

Before you get started, it’s a good idea to go ahead and iron all of your material. Then everything looks all nice. If you don’t know how to iron and/or you don’t have an iron, it’s not the end of the world. Just try to move around any creases. But I’ll bet you your mom and/or somebody else’s mom has an ironing board and would be more than happy to demonstrate if you promise to do some ironing for them.

First we figured how large I wanted my bag to be, which was more or less 11 inches. This is where having a rather large compass comes in handy. We didn’t have one, so we scoured Taylor’s kitchen until we found a bowl that measured exactly 11 inches.

This forms the front and back circles for the purse.

Fold your Duck Canvas in half.  Trace the circle toward the top of the fabric, next to the edges that are touching. Don’t trace on the side by the fold–it’ll be easier to cut out both circles for the front and back of the purse. When you’re tracing, you’ll want to make sure that you leave at the very least one inch of fabric around your circle. This extra border will be integral in the sewing to come.  You should have two circles drawn on your fabric–one with diameter of 11″, and with with a diameter of at least 13″.

Don’t worry too much about markings on your fabric. Anything you write on will be covered with lining later, so have no fears about writing any measurements down on the cloth or labeling what piece is what.

The bottom portion of your canvas will become the portion that holds these two circles together as well as the strap. We’ll worry about the strap later.

So getting to the middle of the portion is when you’re gonna bust out the maths. You’ll need to figure out the circumference of your purse. The equation for the circumference is the diameter times π (3.14….). So we figured that with a circumference of 11, we were more or less looking at 35″ of fabric, and then we added about three inches in order to account for the flaps to fold down and sew together and the fact that the strap must be inserted into the middle portion… and, let’s face it,  you’ll always want extra room in the event of screw ups.

Measuring out the middle.

So here’s where your T-square and/or ruler comes in. Measure about 38″ long (for this, you’ll unfold the canvas) by about 5.5″ (4.5″ depth with .5″ on either side to account for sewing space) If your cloth is long enough (the canvas from Joann isn’t), a 6.5″ strip is preferred just in case you make an error. You can always trim these flaps later when all is said and sewn.

Your fabric should have the front/back and the middle traced.

When you’ve gotten over all of your anxieties about making mistakes on your measurements and drawings and such, you get to cut! If you’re feeling brazen, go ahead and refold the canvas and cut out both circles simultaneously.

If you’re not so sure (like us),  fold the canvas over like before and cut out the one circle on the top part of the fabric. Then retrace the circles and such on the bottom portion of the fabric (that is still folded). We cut out a square around our circle and then cut all the points of the square off. We found it was easier that way.  So of what’s left, you’ll have an odd L-shape. Go ahead and cut the middle portion off the bottom of the fabric. Whatever’s left will go into the strap. So just sit the leftovers aside for now.

The middle portion!

So now we kicked back to the ironing board to iron up our circles. We took all of the flaps and ironed them up in a circle, which we figured might help for the sewing. It was ultimately unnecessary, but nice to have.

Cutting out the circles

Now! If you have a compass for drawing angles–we didn’t; how grossly under-prepared were we to do this?–then you can use it for drawing the star! We were figuring the whole star would measure about 10″.So what you’ll want to do is cut out the blue star around 9″. Each angle of the star needs to be 72 degrees.

We cheated. Print and trace a star.

You can do all that math-y stuff to figure it out. OR. If you’re a cheater, like us, you can find a perfect star off of Google Images, resize it to 9″, print it, and lay it under the cloth, and trace it (the cotton we picked was see-through-ish). Either way. Measure and cut your blue star.

Trace the lining and cut it out to be the same size as the canvas.

Now to mess with the lining for the inside of the purse. The lining can pretty much be the same size as the front/back covers made in the duck canvas. So just get you the bowl/compass/already cut bit of fabric again, measure out that circle in 11 inches, then get you a nice border of at least an inch. Rinse and repeat with the cutting. Don’t forget to make lining for the middle section as well.

Now the Etsy purse has a zipper in the back. We are attempting to do that, but I’ll be honest… I have no idea what we’ve done or how we did it, but it seems to be working well so far. However. Doing it is a HUGE pain in the neck. Empire State Building huge, so I don’t have any instructions. Wing it at your own risk. I’ll post some pictures, but essentially your guess is as good as ours on how it’s accomplished.

Sewing

The first bit of sewing I did was to the lining for the front of the purse. I created three types of pockets–one for my phone, one for cards/IDs/cash, and three slots for writing implements–just things I wouldn’t want to get lost in the chaos of the bottom of a lady purse (ladies, you know). So I got this embroidery ring thing that has become super useful. At JoAnn, they only come in even sizes, so I got the 10″ one for my 11″ purse. It has come in handy for keeping the fabric taut, so’s to eliminate any bubbliness and wrinkles. I pinned out what I wanted to do as far as pockets, folding in less than half an inch of fabric to make everything smooth and even. The easiest way I found to measure was to simply pin around the items going in the pockets.

Yay organization!

It’s important to get the pieces centered on your lining–if you sketched the circle as we did above, that shouldn’t be too hard. This looks kind of off-center in the picture, but only because I was tugging the fabric to increase tautness. I’m not going to say ‘taut’ anymore after this.

The top star has been folded over and pinned to give smooth edges.

Then I moved onto attaching the star to the front portion of the purse. The material we used for the star, as mentioned previously, was a little see-through, so we cut out two stars to combine.

I decided to only do one go-round with the sewing, so after pinning these two, I added the tiny black border the purse has. I had to get rid of these pins first before I could pin the black, so I’m not sure it

Because I am entirely too cheap to purchase a thick block of fabric, the nice lady gave us a thin strip as a 'free sample'. I do not recommend being cheap.

was a good idea to pin this stuff first. But the issue I was having was keeping the two stars together without pins before the black, so I just pinned, unpinned, and repinned and stabbed myself like 203 times, but it worked out okay.

If you can recreate a solid black star to put behind the blue one, good for you! Do it! I only left a couple of centimeters for a border. I was also very frustrated at the time, so I didn’t do any actual measuring. Mine looks absolutely dreadful because I was not using sharp scissors! Let that be a lesson to ye! Dull scissors rip fabric!

It looks so Seussian.

I did one go-round of the star sewing it together. I figured that in sewing the star to the purse, the stitching would be reinforced there. I used periwinkle-colored thread and I didn’t have any sort of fancy-dance stitch. After that bit of sewing was over, I pinned the star to about the middle of the circle. The embroidery circle worked yet again to keep everything straight. The star sewed on a little puffier than I’d have liked–so be careful and try to keep everything as taut (damn) as humanly possible.

Looks good, neh? Attached cat is optional.

So that’s all for now!

Halloween 2010 has come and gone and I did wear my Ramona Flowers outfit (regrettably sans purse) to a Halloween party with much success!

Continue to Part Two?

(Yes / No)

Questions, comments, clarifications, concerns, wisecracks for the Guide so far? Hit the comments below.