Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2 Wins & A Fail*

Since disappearing for (almost) the entire month of November for NaNoWriMo, tons of things have happened.    I'll have to use a few blog posts to explore all of them, but the biggest is that Annie and I are leaving downtown Oakland, CA, and moving to the not-so-bustling college town of Lexington, KY.  Annie's job is transferring her there for a temporary assignment, and aside from Zumba, I've got nothing that I'm attached to in CA.  In fact, I'm super excited to not live in CA.  Yes, that means that I have to return to the ranks of unemployed until I find something there (but at least it's dramatically cheaper to live, and Annie will be making more $$).  This brings me to the wins and fails.

Win:  I found a job that I can do from home that pays better than my work at the wind power plant.  (Thanks, Jill!)  It involves editing online homework/tutorials for engineering textbooks.  Currently, I'm working my way through Alexander's unreleased 5th edition of Fundamentals of Electric Circuits.  I'm pretty much being paid to do engineering homework, and it couldn't be a more perfect job for me.  It will also allow me to bring in a little bit of income during the transition so that I'm not 100% relying on my sugar momma.

Fail:  For the first 10 days of November, I was on track with NaNoWriMo.  I wrote over 20,000 words, covering 40% of the competition's goal.  At one point I told Annie that "it's writing itself".  It had direction, and I was piecing together a fictional story that was feeling very new and interesting.  It wasn't perfect, since it was practically a continuous word dump, but I was enjoying it, and I was going to win.  Then, I found the job above where I could make money from home.  I had to start a few days a week, immediately, and my novel took a back seat.  Here we are at the end of November, and I haven't written a single thing after the first 12 days or so.

Win:  Pentatonix won The Sing Off last night, and they deserved it!  Unrelated to me, yes, but relevant.

Pentatonix: 5-member a capella group from Arlington, TX.
At the beginning of the season, I posted how Delilah blew my mind.  That was the last time that they impressed me.  *Lied, ♪ Dream On ♪ was bomb ass.*  I'm still madly in love with Amy, the girl who sang the lead in ♫ Grenade ♫, *and I just found out she's Mormon*.  In the background of the first few weeks, Pentatonix continued to impress more and more.  At a disadvantage compared to groups with tons of people for big harmonies, their futuristic a capella sound was original and consistent each week.  I found myself watching their youtube videos over and over again.  Here are some of my faves:

I was posting individual videos when I came across that one with most of their best performances.  ♫ Video Killed the Radio Star ♫ was their best performance of the season.  I find myself randomly singing the chorus of ♫ Love Lockdown ♫ now.  Best Youtube comment:  "I heard Kanye covered this song."

Most true Youtube comment:  "That's one bad white boy..."

This is only on the list for the ♫ Motownphilly ♫ riff.

Just like The Voice, it's really refreshing for the best talent to actually win.  Thank you for ruining that concept for half of a decade, American Idol & the Bible Belt.  Granted, The Sing Off episodes are an hour too long, but I didn't listen to a single intro or any of the judges comments, so I got all of the episodes down to about 20 minutes.

I'll be doing a 12 Days of Xmas Music Videos, so start tuning back into the blog every day starting December 1st,

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Homemade-ish Shrek Costume

Halloween planning started almost a year ago when Annie saw the musical production of Shrek.  She called me on the phone, after seeing people running around in souvenir Shrek ears, to tell me that it would be a great costume.  I already look like an ogre, and she thinks she's a princess.  Perfect.

But this wasn't our first spectacular costume idea, so I was surprised when I started going through the motions to pull it off a few weeks ago.  It started at the Goodwill in the Tenderloin of San Francisco.  I needed a Shrek shirt.  So, I took these pictures and sent them to Annie for approval.

I picked the shirt on the left, and it cost me $2.50.  I also picked up the sweater below, that I intended to turn into a vest, for $7.50.

Angel is helping.
I chopped off (but saved) the sleeves and the bottom.  Though not pictured, I cut a line up the middle of the front, and I cut a strip from each side to tie together.

Then I went and got a $4 bald head.  Annie's Fiona wig ($18) was the only official thing that we bought, and it's pictured below.  Since she was going as human princess Fiona (even though I thought she was going as ogre Fiona for months until she told me that she didn't have the bust size to pull her off), she didn't need the ogre ears.  We pulled them off, and I cut the bald head so that they slipped through and held themselves in place against my head.

(I'm probably naked.  That's how I roll.)

Add to the whole ensemble a pair of brown, woman's tights that I bought from Wal*Mart for $6 and a brown belt that Annie uses to tie her sweater dress.  BAM!  Shrek!!

Like I said, we bought the Fiona wig.  Annie found a hideous nightgown at Goodwill in Oakland.  You can see what it looked like initially, and how she was taping off a pattern for the Christmas ribbon.  She snagged the tiara from the dollar bin at Target.

Annie used gold Christmas ribbon for her waist and neckline.  Then she used a glitter pen to make the sleeve piping and the flowery details.  We bought a dog's cowboy hat for Angel, and we removed the red strap and used it to line the hat.  We glued some yellow feathers to the hat, and added some black felt above his trail-climbing booties.  Finally, I took my leftover sleeves from cutting the vest, put them on my legs, rolled them down, and draped them over my Merrills to make ogre boots.  I did have to sew a little, to reinforce the vest under my arms, but since we didn't make the clothes, I feel bad saying it's entirely homemade.  Oh well.  The final product:

Shrek and Fiona and Puss in Boots wishing you Happy Halloween 2011.
There was one great moment where Annie was working on the neckline of her dress, but she had already done the waist.  She needed something (or someone) to wear the dress while she was pinning and Fabri-Tac-ing, etc.  She made me put it on.  Worse yet, the waist part couldn't go past my shoulders, so the whole outfit was scrunched around my neck, with shitty nightgown fabric draped down over my body.  Nowhere to put my arms, unless I reached them out from under the dress.  It was probably the best sight of the whole process.  We spared you the picture.

Making a Shrek costume (including $2 green Wal*Mart makeup):  $22.  Buying the official Shrek costume at a Halloween store:  $42.  Plus, if you actually pull off a good homemade costume, you feel super cool.

Up until the afternoon of the Saturday before Halloween (since it's on a Monday this year), our plans were to just go wander around San Francisco.  We're not really the type of people to pay a cover to go hang out with sexy nuns and schoolgirls where a DJ is playing.  We wanted something laid back.  At like 5pm we discovered online that there was a dive bar in north Oakland that went all out for Halloween.  It was described as looking "like a Spirit Halloween Store threw up everywhere".  We decided we could do that (and we could walk to it from our closest friends' apartment, whom we convinced to pull costumes together and join us).  It ended up being really fun, fairly inexpensive, very drunken, and everything we wanted out of Halloween.

Go Us!

Happy (belated) Halloween!