Thursday, December 31, 2009

the baby jesus

Putting old family VHS vids onto my computer to edit them together. So far, my favorite part may be my dad sitting and telling extraordinarily dirty jokes to the camera and his friends. I figured I must have been asleep by then. But here is part of the transcript:

Dad: So, there was this young couple, innocent to say the least, wondering what to do on their wedding night. They asked around and...
Me: ...Daddy! Daddy, look!
Dad: [annoyed] Yes, sweetie?
Me: Look Daddy, the baby Jesus!
Dad: You have the baby Jesus there? OK. So anyway, they go on and get to their wedding night and they decided they were going to try something called "giving head"!

And so on. Hilariously inappropriate.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mozart the dog didn't seem to like stairs when I first got him. I had to carry him up three stories to my apartment the first night. Eventually I got him to go up one flight and rewarded him with his favorite thing--hugs and kisses. So he started going up the stairs one section at a time, coming to a landing and turning around to beam at me, waiting for his favorite thing. I started weaning him off the positive reinforcement by only giving him hugs at each floor, rather than the in-between landings. I would say "one more! One more!" at the halfway point. But sometimes we would just stay at the landing and look over the edge for a while. Or he would put his little paws up on my legs and smile at me.

Dogs are stupid. But lovable.

This was going to be a metaphor for something, but I realize it doesn't really work. But being in New Orleans kind of feels like being at that landing...there's this residual feeling I have like I'm about to get my favorite thing, and it doesn't even matter that all I end up doing is vaguely looking over the edge. It's always a waypoint for me when I'm here, now more so than other times, since I'm indefinitely unemployed. And employment could lead me anyway (this is one way in which the metaphor doesn't work--Mozart always ended up at my apartment at the end of the exercise). Well, I've ruled out a few places I want the next leg of the journey to take me:
  • Anywhere in Texas but Austin
  • The Eastern seaboard of the USA
  • Anywhere in Louisiana but New Orleans
Things I can do with my unemployment:
  • Learn to play saxophone
  • Hang out with K--
  • Paint a picture
  • Write a song
  • Read a book (gotta start small)
  • Sell all my belongings
Things I can do in New Orleans:
  • Work on Illyria costume
  • Work on home videos and photos digitizing project
  • Center myself
  • Try not to watch a lot of TV
  • But do watch Dollhouse because my parents recorded the two episodes I haven't seen yet
  • Review CDs (some for KOOP and some for KVRX)
  • Stain all the towels with my red hair
  • Take the cats for walks in the backyard. They are so good.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

When you touched a friend of mine
I thought I would lose my mind
But I found out with time that
Really I was not ready

I've had a new resolution lately, to not let any reference I don't understand go unGoogled. There is no reason not to remain ignorant when there is Wikipedia at the ready.

I've learned so much! I hope I can remember it enough to casually mention some factoids at a party. Some things I've learned about that you might already have known.
  • Lemuria, a mythical Atlantis-like continent that was supposedly in the Indian Ocean, partly inspired the Pixies' song Velouria.
  • Vic Chesnutt, singer of my new favorite song "Flirted With You All My Life" is a paraplegic (cool bio, paraplegia not a focal point). And also that I only discovered this song 3 days after he came to Austin on tour. I would have loved that.
  • The Akashic records, describes mystical knowledge and is encoded in a non-material plane. I invented this when I was 10--a written book of fate, but written in multiple dimensions, so that if something changes a timeline, it was fated to do that, rather than makes an alternate and parallel timeline. It was complicated. I lost those notebooks in the move to uptown.
  • The backup/female singer from my new favoritest Canadian band, Immaculate Machine, is also the singer that has more or less replaced Neko Case in the New Pornographers, and is AC Newman's niece. AC stands for Allan Carl.
  • Australia has compulsory voting for state and federal elections.
Vic Chesnutt, Flirted With You All My Life

Friday, December 11, 2009

This isn't real
But I just want to feel

I know. I know. Sorry.

There's an inflatable tacky Santa that always scares the hell out of me as I'm walking to my car. But more than half the time, it's deflated because they forgot to turn it on.

This is how I feel. It's like I'm doing all these things to re-inflate, but there's a puncture somewhere, so it's all just pointless until I can find where I'm broken and fix it.

Radio show tonight. On death and Christmas.
  • Where Do We Go From Here, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Monday, December 07, 2009


Sometimes when you're going down
You're going down no matter what

Have been plagued by a persistent need to NOT document my life lately. Well, there was the massive DH experience email that went out to many of you. But besides that, I am so dissatisfied with my psyche right now, it makes me to want to vomit to even think of writing in my personal journal.

Problematic for keeping a blog.

I am borrowing a saxophone, but I have only successfully made it sound one note. I cleaned my house last night, at long last. I succeeded in putting all my bills, unpaid for months, into a pile, but have not yet succeeded in going online and paying them. I have a $550 therapy bill. Luckily, I have 3 paychecks from 3 different jobs ready to be deposited. I hooked up my central heat because it snowed in Austin (I didn't see it, but so the story goes). I'm almost done with school. I left my cats in New Orleans at Thanksgiving, but I am kind of regretting it--my time at home is painfully lonely, making me resort to Craigslist dates to get me out of the house, but I have minimal standards, so I end up regretting those, too, not to mention I get stood up more than half the time, which shockingly hasn't taken a toll on my self esteem. Yet. I got 2 free cupcakes today, and ate them both (along with the one I paid for). I'm selling a large proportion of my stuff on Craigslist; I need to make room for my January houseguest. I have gotten to round two of a job interview series, as well as to the training portion of an SAT tutoring job. This week, almost every hour of my time is accounted for, much of which will be getting me out of the house. I think I'm going to foster a schnauzer, though, for the 12 days before I go home for Christmas.

There was so much I could have done today, but I just had a ridiculously unproductive day. All I accomplished was getting a refill of Relpax (for the migraine) and getting those cupcakes (for the self-pity). And now, holy crap, it's 2am, and I have work tomorrow. For the week:

Monday: Work, hang with C, see Ziggy Stardust at Alamo Ritz
Tuesday: Work, job interview, go to KOOP to start first day of volunteering, doctor's appointment, 5 hours of tutoring training and/or meeting L for dinner.
Wednesday: Work, lunch "date" (with friend), 5 hours tutoring training and/or candlelit yoga with J1
Thursday: Crafting day with M and J2, Blue Genie Christmas bazaar with E et al.
Friday: Work, yoga+pizza with D, radio show (2 hours)
Saturday: Hang with C and her cat, F's birthday party and/or D&D
Sunday: Should take today to work on final class project, review CDs, work on Christmas presents, but I get the feeling I will take a pajama day.

  • Immaculate Machine, Blinding Light (from a great album that I can't stop listening to)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

have baby migraine, and no reason to leave the house. think i'm going to throw up, but can't tell if it's from the headache or from boredom. i guess going to get migraine medication is a reason to leave the house. i guess the issue is i have no energy to leave the house. nor to capitalize letters.

Friday, November 27, 2009

we were lucky

Your body may be gone, I'm gonna carry you in.
In my head, in my heart, in my soul.
And maybe we'll get lucky and we'll both live again.
Well I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

(click the video below to have the soundtrack to this entry while you read)

We were lucky we got to say goodbye. We were lucky we got to tell him the things we always wanted to. I am lucky I wrote him that letter, and copied him that poem. We were lucky his students wrote him testimonials in time for him to read them. We were lucky he knew we loved him and he was loved by others. We were lucky we knew he loved us. We were lucky he didn't deteriorate over years and years, but rather faded away over a few weeks and then days. We were lucky he died gently, at home, with his family near him. We were lucky it happened Thanksgiving week because we were already together. We were lucky we were together because it was easier to reabsorb the love into the family network we already have.

It doesn't mean we won't miss him for every holiday and every visit to my grandmother's for the rest of our lives.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


How do we cope, with the days after a death?
Empty days, nothing happens, not even a funeral.

Listening to Jed the Humanoid. How can a song be so silly and so sad?

My grandfather died this morning. It's very sad. He's been sick a while, but it suddenly took a turn for the worse in the last few days. My mom had collected testimonials from his students and he read the ones she had so far Sunday night. I wrote him a letter of all the memories of him and my grandmother that I will keep for forever. We are lucky we could give him these things.

Monday, November 23, 2009

freude (no schaden)

why I felt so alive I might never determine
There might be a word to describe it in German

Been busy today. Transcribed the DH full interview, and reworked my statement of purpose for the Russian Fellowship I want to do. And signed a lot of contracts for a freelance transcription job. Transcribing is very satisfying for me. I hope I can do this one within the parameters I quoted.

Home. New Orleans. Martinis. Jeopardy. Work. Impending...bad things. But no sense of forboding just sadness. I'm glad for DH songs to buoy my spirits. I wrote him a note that his songs have saved my life on a number of occasions. Radiohead I should charge with attempted murder.

DH inspires in me a desire to write again. He writes so much. And I could write that much, and maybe find something salvageable and good, and I could remember my moments better. The blog is a forum for certain things, according to my theory, but not for the types of things I wish I better recorded. He also inspires in me a desire to write music again. Or at least play some music, which usually inspires in me a song or two. I was thinking of seeing if my brother would collaborate on a song with me, or if my dad would record me singing one in his studio. Mom has a top of the line ukulele I could use.

Full, full to bursting things, all.
made it home to new orleans. transcribing interview. will be doing a lot of work while i'm here. got a freelance transcription job, have to keep up with regular work, have to keep up with schoolwork. ugh.

why am i still up? i'm so close to finished with the interview, but i have to give up now.

still riding the high.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

glad to see there's part of you
reserved for me

I haven't blogged this week, nor did I sleep (till last night; I just woke up). My favorite musician (I'll go ahead and say he's my favorite, after the last few days) came into town Wednesday, and by a series of very fortunate events, I got to hang out with him and his documentation a lot.

I have to tell you that Darren and Natalie are some of the nicest people I've ever met. Ever. I just needed to make a blog update to say that in public.

I don't have time to go through the highlights of their stay. But here are 3:
  • Playing pinball tournaments with them
  • Getting a song (one of my favorites) dedicated to me and a friend during the last set.
  • Interviewing them for almost 2 hours about all the questions I've always wanted to ask about his songs and videos.
Cast of Thousands, Darren Hanlon

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

more ad reponses

If a dude says "lol" once, I immediately suspect he is either a) used to talking to 13 year old girls or b) a 13 year old girl. If he uses it multiple times, and inappropriatley (eg "saw your ad want to lol do unspeakable things to you lol") I assume he is mentally unstable.

I talked at length to my therapist about the CL exploits and her face was a mask of horror for the entire 45 minutes I was with her. She didn't find these things amusing at all.

Incidentally am at Sherlocks waiting for a dude and freezing my toes and fingers off. The doorman gave me his jacket is I guess how pathetic I look.

OH!! Rufus Wainwright is phenomenal live! What a great bunch of concerts I've been to in the last month! To be topped off by giving a ride to the last concert of the month's performer, the darling Aussie, Darren Hanlon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

personal ad

Things I got in the mail
  • A check from the IRS
  • A toll road bill for approx. the same amount
I might start a new feature to the blog, "reasons I rejected today's Craigslist personal responses."
  • Entire response was one sentence (vast majority); I can understand not wanting to invest a lot of time in something that might not be real, but come on. I suspect a lot of these are spam, but I'm not sure what their end game is, when:
  • The response, in its entirely, was "watt uppp??"
  • Respondent's own poetry was included
  • And it was really bad
  • Any nudity
  • Didn't include picture (actually, this isn't as big a detriment as the next bulletpoint)
  • Included picture, and appeared to be a total douche
  • Included picture, and appeared to be 13
  • Tried to tell me something about myself ("you were born in May, and had a strong silent-type father, right?"). No, and no.
  • Doesn't like music.
  • Likes music, but the first band they list is Tool, followed by Metallica
  • Claims not to have a problem with women (OK, if someone claimed to have a problem with women, this would obviously be rejected as well, know, they doth protest too much)
  • Is more than 2 inches shorter than me (I also balk at more than 3 inches taller than me)
  • Married
Well, it makes me sound picky, but you really have to be with the number of responses you get as a lady on CL. I didn't list a picture or anything!

Anyway. There were a few that made the cut, and I've already been stood up twice (bonus!). This is going really well so far.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

halloween was last month, dude

Things I got in the mail:

  • Leotard (it was to be a backup for my unitard if that didn't work. It might still have a better neckline, so perhaps I will use it for my eventual final Illyria costume)
  • Invitation to be a lifetime member of the Texas Exes
Ella the dog got in from the balcony while I was out tonight (seeing R Crumb, Art Spiegelman, and Francoise Mouly, I might add; it was fantastic), and ripped up everything she could. I'm sure it probably scared the cats to death, but they seem OK. What a mess. What. A. Mess. Oh, but she has her little paw over her face as she's sleeping right now. What a cutie.

And now I'm off to my radio show, where I will do all songs about dogs. I will post the link to the setlist soon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Craigslist of the week

I should start another blog feature, favorite Craigslist ads. Sometimes I troll the personals or make random searches on the community and forsale sections, and I come across gems. But they're just my person favorites--nothing I would even bother submitting to the Best of Craigslist. This was from this weekend, from the personals.

Title: I'm looking for someone to watch a Werner Herzog movie with and then make out.
Body: That's about it.

Made me laugh. I wrote to him. Just to tell him he made me smile.


Things I got in the mail yesterday:
  • Mix CD #2 (girl singers) from ronnybear (Doctor Hoss)
Things I got elsewhere this weekend
  • A dog.
I am fostering this dog for the Austin Dog Alliance, and she is adorable. I'm still a cat person through and through, but I am quite fond of this dog and hope she gets a great forever family. In the meantime I can't wait to have playdates with my friends' dogs.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Rough draft costume pics

Here are some of the pics from Halloween night.

Friday, November 06, 2009

things in the mail

I was thinking of starting a new feature of the blog: Things I Got in the Mail Today. I've been getting so much stuff lately. Partly because I ordered it, partly because people are repaying my postcards in kind. But today I didn't get much. Oh, wait, yes, something came for me at work. Anyway, here are some things that have come in the last week:
  • Andy's birthday present (not exactly what I thought it would be, without spoiling the surprise)
  • A postcard from Italy (just like the song! Ooh, I just discovered that Florence + The Machine covered that song!), from Danielle
  • A letter from Jessie
  • A postcard from Karam
  • Training materials for my new SAT prep job
  • Blue hair extensions* (the day AFTER Halloween, of course)
Things I sent in the mail this week
  • A long letter to Paw (my grandfather) about all the things that he's given me that I'm grateful for. Along with a handwritten copy of "Courage," by Anne Sexton.
*The hair extensions featured a little broken-English write-up of how Chinese hair differs from white-person hair. It was actually kind of interesting, if I understood it right. Something about hair follicles.

My radio show tomorrow night

A link from my blog to another blog entry on another blog! Woah! Basically, tomorrow, 10pm central, I'm playing a full hour of Darren Hanlon music, who is one of my all-time favorite singer-songwriters. And oh did I mention he's coming to Austin in a couple of weeks?


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

slideshow from the class-portion of India

Don't know what inspired me to make this, but I made it yesterday.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween followup

Like lonely ghosts
We stay because we don't know where else
To go

Halloween was a success. While downtown, I downgraded my original goal of:
  • Have 2 strangers know what my costume is supposed to be
to instead be:
  • Find some pizza.
Check! But in eating the pizza, I lost a glove (don't worry, not the ones I made, just the leather gloves for underneath, but they were pricey, and I had planned on having them around for real use, so I'm kind of bummed, and I keep dreaming I find it).

I think, with the inauguration of my mother's Facebook account, that all my readers are on Facebook, so pics can be seen there. I will eventually upload to here, to semi-complete the Illyrian costume saga portion of the blog. Basically, the costume came out well enough to be worth bettering for a potential DragonCon excursion next September. So it's not done. In fact, in the rush I was in on Halloween day, I forgot some details of the costume (a center frill, and some sequins), which I just discovered upon cleaning my apartment.

I have been cleaning for 5 hours, when all I wanted to do was go to sleep at 6pm, after a day of sailing on Lake Travis. What was my secret to motivation? I took photographs of the mess, and was inspired by the idea of having a "before" and "after" blog update. It was like a cyclone had hit, after 3 weeks not only of not cleaning up after the costuming, but not cleaning up after ANYTHING because of the costume-time. I've made astounding progress. On my fourth load of laundry. Watched 5 episodes of the Dollhouse (including Omega). Broke one of my grandmother's wine glasses. Cleaned up after that incident. Fed the cats. Cleaned the litterboxes thorougly. Talked a friend through a panic attack. Threw out the old food. Changed the sheets. Windexed. Bleached. Washed the dishes (both dishwashers are broken).

My hands are flaky and dry, from all the cleaners.

I do recommend checking out this song. It's beautiful. It's the coda to a first-season episode of the Dollhouse. I meant to play it on my Halloween-themed radio show, but I forgot.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

boots/shoe vote

OK, I have two shoes to wear under the boot cover. As a reminder, here is what hers look like:

Which of the below shoes look the best?



i take it back

Me: You're a genius! What's your IQ?
Him: Ummm...142 I think? Wait, no, I always get IQ and blood pressure mixed up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The things I brought you
When I found out you had cancer of the bone

Your father cried on the telephone
And he drove his car to the Navy yard
Just to prove that he was sorry

When I was in sixth grade, or thereabouts, my grandfather (Paw) went out and got me a sapphire necklace and earring set for Christmas. He remembered it was my birthstone. My grandmother always did all the Christmas shopping, so was a bit shocked at this act of love. I have never forgotten that.

I remember tying the necklace to my shoelaces because I wasn't allowed to wear jewelry during a softball game. I think, and I might be wrong, that this was the same softball game that my mom took me home early from because my cat Louie (missing for a month) had come home. It was a good day. To remember how much Paw loved me, and how good it felt to have Louie home, it was almost too much joy for my lonely 11-year-old self.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

things i've done

In an interstellar burst
I am back to save the universe
In a deep, deep sleep of the innocent
I am born again

Had a really nice day yesterday. Crafting (read: working on the costume) at Mahe's then a dinner party at Ash's, then a "primetime" radio show (at 11pm). Then sleeeeeep. Deep, deep sleep of the innocent. Friday I had gelato with a former student that I really like. I've been really sick, though, hacking and groaning and whatnot.

Today, the plan is to work on the costume then see Christine after a long time of not seeing her. I'm really looking forward to today.

Sorry the blog is clogged with costume updates. It's really taken over my life, so there's not much else to talk about.

how I'm doing the marbleized part of the vinyl

So there's this design that's on part of her armor that's really hard to recreate. The closest I could get was at my friend Mahe's. She had some fabric crayons, and I just kind of scribbled with them. This is what it's supposed to look like:

This is me working on it:

Oh, and I did the lines with a sharpie. It seems to have worked really well. Also, you can see in this picture part of the dummy I made of myself, which made lining up the pieces to draw the thick black line on a lot easier. It will also make doing the back easier, I think. My friend had to help with the upper back, but other than that, I could do most of it myself. We stuffed it with newspapers and plastic bags. Recycling!

I'll get a closeup shot of how it looks soon, but you actually can click on the pic of me working and get an idea of how good it looks. I think it looks pretty good, though not perfect. But it's better than the paint pens I got. The other method I considered was blending acrylics and painting on there, but I think it would take more artistic talent than I have to get the pattern just right that way. This is just a shortcut, but I hope the effect is the same.

Friday, October 23, 2009

how to get the vinyl seams to lie flat

Here is the tip my mom and I brainstormed out together.

Use fusible interfacing on the back of the pieces after you've sewn them together. It will stiffen the pieces up a bit, and flatten out the seams in the front.

You have to press a wet cloth to the back of the vinyl with the interfacing underneath it for 15 seconds. A few times, the vinyl seemed to warp under the heat, but generally, it's a much better finished effect overall. Make sure to do it on medium heat. And the "coated" side, incidentally, is the rougher side. That wasn't readily apparent to me the first time using this stuff.


UPDATED: 10/24, with pictures

So, the gloves were a pain. The first one took almost 4 hours. The quilting takes longer than it should. Especially when you forget that sewing speed should affect the tension of your machine and the thread keeps shredding every time you finish a row. Sigh. But I think they look pretty good. I might put a more matte black paint because the gold with black Sharpie is still pretty shiny.

1) get those fingerless "wedding" gloves that I mentioned before. In black, of course.

2) use the gloves to trace out a pattern on gold tissue lamé. I have a picture of this to come. Instead of a tip, cut a flat edge of twice the width you want the hem to be. When you hem, you'll fold the edges down and the tip will return. Make sure to cut the pattern at exactly the same angle of the hand-part as the gloves above.
3) Spray glue the gloves to the stiffer fabric. I used black bottomweight cotton.

4) Spray glue the fabric to thin batting.
5) Using black thread, sew the shapes into the fabric, more or less quilting the fabric.

Try to keep the stripes small, although this will get really tedious when you get up to the wider part of the fabric. This is something I wasn't good at. tracing a pattern out would have been a good idea, but the disappearing marker I had for that purpose didn't disappear on the lamé even after 3 days, so I didn't want that there.
6) Hem up the edges. hem the hand part/point first, and then the rest. For all my hems, I'm staying really close to the edge, so they aren't right in the middle of the pattern. This means a lot of leftover fabric underneath, which is fine because it will probably unravel a bit, unless you've serged or double-hemmed, which frankly, I don't have the patience for at this point.
7) Color with a black Sharpie (a paint pen would probably be even better, or paint, but using the market was pretty easy because staying in the lines with the stitches to keep you in line is a cinch). Be sure you're coloring black the spaces in between the shapes, not the shapes themselves. I don't know what to call these shapes exactly. Hyperboles? (pics to come)
8) Put the black glove on your dummy hand, or some cylinder about the width of your hand, to stretch it out. The dummy hand is ideal because you can then sew in the shape of you wrist and everything into the shape.
9) Hand stitch the gauntlets onto the top of the black gloves, starting with the hand-points; they should be the simplest to sew, since you can reach underneath. I don't know anything about sewing techniques, but what I ended up doing was sewing over the top edge of the gauntlet and catching the glove and then looping back from underneath, if that makes sense. I made sure to only stitch over the black parts of the edge so they stitches won't show as much. Stitch the sides on, but you don't have to do the bottom edge if you've stitched the sides on tight and flat.
10) Get thin regular black gloves (I'll call them "hand gloves"). Leather might work, I'm not sure. Put those on underneath the gauntlet/satin glove combo. You might have to sew yourself a new loop to anchor it to the middle finger, depending on how thick the hand-gloves are.

Just because I'm hooked on living
Doesn't mean I'm hooked on you

woke early from coughing. Am ready to go a full 37 minutes earlier than usual.

Was also up late working on, guess, the costume. Mom gave me some more ideas (which of course I will enumerate in a costume update).

I have a massive credit card bill this month. Oops. It was mostly the costume, the ticket home for Thanksgiving, and spa week that did me in. Spa week and the costume are pure luxury, so I feel a little sheepish and worried about dipping into savings for this. But you do what you have to. I want to have savings so I don't have to jump at the first crappy job that gets offered me. I need to have a job I love. That's why I went to grad school. To love what I do. As I do now (but it won't last).

Everything is beautiful. Everything is alive. Everything is a mess (in my apartment anyway). I forgot to take a picture before I cleaned up a lot of scraps and thread and fabric that was draped over every surface of the apartment, but believe me, it was breathtaking.

Am listening to my friend's mix for me from a few years back. Yearning, acceptance, and defeat color the songs. And beauty.

I don't fancy driving right at 8:30, so I might drop off the unitard to get the zipper fixed. Which is broke with my MASSIVE BODY. But no, really, I lost another 5 pounds in the last few weeks, according to the doctor, whom I visited yesterday to ensure I didn't have the flu. They couldn't confirm either way, but I had to wear a mask because I was coughing so much. Kind of embarrassing, I guess, but waiting room time was minimized at least. I smiled at the woman who took me back, and then explained "I'm smiling at you." She said she knew because I smiled with my eyes, too. I said I was surprised because my friend (the same one who made the mix for me) said my eyes were cold and unexpressive. The woman told me about 5 times that I had very warm eyes, and that my friend was crazy. She was very nice.

  • "You Ain't Got a Hold On Me" AC/DC (and Mark Kozelek, of which this is a cover. A cover of a cover.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

my first fanvid!

It makes me realize how sad Illyria's life is.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Illyria video

Here is a 25 minute video I put together of my favorite Illyria scenes. I can't control how fast the title cards go by--sorry!

Gloves vote

UPDATE: Looks like the vote is for glove 2, by 4 to 0. I was kind of surprised. But I think it's the right choice. I wish I hadn't wasted the $40 on rope, but maybe I can salvage it for crafting or something. In the meantime, it's much easier to make glove 2, and I think I can make it look even better than it does with some fabric paint. Sewing the stripes in is kind of satisfying.

Here are some shots with the two different gloves I just made. I went ahead and attached some of the elements. The pelvis needs a lot of work. And also? Note to self: lay off the cookie dough.

glove 2 on the ground

glove 2 on my arm to give it some shape. It's just pinned on as of now, so it's hard to visualize how it would look sewn on tighter. This is the method I mentioned before, sort of quilting lame on it to give it some 3d effects.
Glove 1 looks pretty good, I think, but...
...the back is kind of a mess, and I'm not sure how to keep the ends of the ropes from fraying. Right now, it's hot glue, but I need to cut them flat and straight. I could sew them by hand, or maybe use FrayCheck. I remember that stuff from my sewing class in 7th grade!
Makeup half on, and new hair extensions I got at Sally's today. Still waiting on the real hair extensions. have gotten spray-on, just in case.
full frontal
Glove 1 side
Glove 2 side. Note to self: why do I look even too severe for Illyria? I wasn't even trying that hard!

goals for today

UPDATE: (10:17 PM) Have learned the Thriller dance and the gloves vote is posted. Also, just ate a few bites of tuna salad. On to homeworks!

Although I am sick and came home from work early, and completely failed at my first goal (unlisted, and rather important to my academic career, but then again, it may be for the best), I am going to make a list of goals, channeling my Bluestocking spirit.

  • Learn the Thriller dance.
  • Decide how I'm going to make the costume gloves by making two types and then taking pictures and allowing an online vote.
  • Finish 2 Water Resource class homeworks.
  • Eat something besides cookie dough and soft drinks.

Monday, October 19, 2009

more details on how I'm trying to do the shimmery stuff

I have no idea what they actually used for that metallic looking stuff. It looks almost like mylar. But I've decided to try this:

1) Cut out pattern piece on silver (or a better color if you can find it) lamé.
2) Spray glue the back of the pattern piece (be careful to remember which is the back when you glue it; the glue will easily bleed through to the front, too)
3) Glue the piece to some bottomweight fabric (I'm using white--I don't think it matters much).
4) Spray glue the bottomweight fabric to very thin batting.
5) Stitch some straight lines across the pattern piece, to give it the lined texture.
6) Fabric-spray-paint the lamé to the right color if it's not right already.
7) Hem

over the edge

Over the Edge blog is someone I lived with on the intentional community (communal farm). She has since moved off the farm, and is making it with her alternative lifestyle out in the world. Really interested stuff to read. She's really thoughtful about everything she does. She originally left the farm to pursue a degree in sociology at the place I went to school, but she wasn't enjoying it, so eventually left without finishing and became a doula. Cool-a!

Dead Luck

Dead Luck blog is by my friend Matt, who is my DM and my friend's husband. I think I first met him at an office Christmas party at Green Pastures, when he introduced himself as a writer and reached into his lapel for a card that he didn't have after all. Dead Luck is his novel, and I have read it in an early version, and I think he's going to be very successful one day. The last blog entry he left, over a year ago, was about how a story of his, an offshoot of the novel, was published in a zine. I highly recommend you read the story if you are into SF/fantasy at all.

One day, I mentioned soccer to him, and he joined my team. Weeks, incidentally, before I quit the team. Eventually he tore his ACL, for which I take full credit for having gotten him to join the team. On the first drive to soccer practice, I mentioned I was looking for a SNES version of Shadowrun, by sheer chance. This is how I eventually got an invite for the D&D game that he's the DM of.

If I may make a suggestion, dear reader, always have a D&D game run by a novelist. The story and characters are fantastically creative and riveting. I look forward to these games like crazy, and very little trumps a 6 hours game of D&D at Matt's, even with my busy schedule.

Matt has an insane amount of knowledge and trivia in his head. He and his wife are some of the nicest, normalest weirdos I know, and I adore them. Also, he likes Tori Amos. random, but true.

By day, he is a software developer of some sort (Ruby?).

pieces I have so far

Here are the boobs. I might do them over now that I've figured some stuff out (like that a narrow zig zag stitch makes for a flatter curved seam with vinyl), but they're pretty decent as of now.

Here is the right shoulder. I haven't sewn the silver on yet because I might spray paint it purple. But I have to wait till I've cut out, glued to fabric, and sewn all the metallic parts because I have to use the "purple pearl" spray fabric paint all at once when I open it. LAME!

left shoulder. This is when I discovered that hems-where-possible really makes the suit look much nicer. And there's a lot of assymetry in this costume. I felt really proud to figure out how to make the shoulder shoulder-shaped. I think it was even more complicated than making the boobs boob-shaped.

Pelvis. The middle part really should be a little redder than the rest, for some reason. For that matter, everything should be a little redder and less brown. But I have to have something to build to later.

Right leg (left leg is the same). Again, silver parts unspraypainted as yet, so they're not actually attached. I think it looks like of cool, even just the silvery. Like an astronaut-superhero.

illyria screenshots

Here are some of the best and most helpful screenshots I have gleened from my day of watching the last half of season 5 of Angel.

Her chestplate has a weird cross pattern, a random patch of which has been replaced by the silvery-blue stuff.

Her right side shoulder has had a part of the red armor replaced by the shimmery stuff.

Note that the arm-plates don't wrap all the way around.

The left shoulder is fully armor (no shimmery stuff)

The butt will be tricky. It may attach to the pelvis piece from the front.

Most people seem to have guessed on the back in their costumes. There is a lace-up bit, and it definitely looks like there's a zipper up the middle.

The legs. Lots of random shimmery.

The feet/boots that I said I'd update about. There's some bellbottoms going on here. Bellbottoms and clogs. It's like Illyria is at at disco from the knee down.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

more costume tips and ideas

For the wrapping the rope around the arms to make the gloves, my friends suggested I make a mannequin of myself. How, you ask? It's brilliant! You wrap a garbage bag around what you want to model, and then you just wrap and wrap and wrap duct tape around it. Then you can stuff the husk with plastic bags or paper mache! Seriously genius.

Also, she suggested checking the ecology department at UT because the fashion design department throws out a bunch of mannequins every once in a while. Thanks for the tips, J! Will post pics after I attempt the arm-mold tomorrow afternoon.(picture updated October 19, 2009)
delightful day, filled with 2 D and D games, and 1 spa appointment.

Before the appointment, I had to listen to my poor massage therapist's prior client harangue her for, I'm not kidding, 15 minutes, about how she didn't spend enough time on his neck. She was really flustered for the rest of the visit. I left her a nice comment card. I hope she has a better day tomorrow.

Tomorrow begins with (hopefully) a bike ride in wonderful Austin weather, and then a girl's morning, and then more costume-making.

Friday, October 16, 2009

eye color vote

Let's have a vote. Which of the below looks most like the above? I probably should have put on some makeup to make it a fairer comparison. But which of these is most striking?

My original color:

Brilliant Blue:

Sapphire Blue:

Pacific Blue:

Old Contacts I Already Have:


Instead of lyrics to open up this entry, I will put this embedded video, to act as a soundtrack as you read.

I met Malcom during a temp job in New Orleans. He worked across the hall from me. I thought he and his friend (Alfonze?) seemed to have a lot more fun than my dysfunctional office (that is a whole separate entry's worth of dysfunction), but I later found out theirs was just as problematic. When he would come into our strife-heavy office, it was always a highlight of the day. He eventually invited me to see a movie with some work people (Phone Booth, starring Colin Eyebrows. Can't think of his name). It was probably the first time I felt like I was fitting in at a workplace. I went to the movie with Lauren, and she and I were astounded to find Malcom wearing a lot (a LOT) of tie-dye. Didn't quite know what to make of that, to be honest.

Later I found out he has a massive collection of figurines. Like, action figures. And loved video games. I discovered he was kind of a geek. Even later, I discovered he is like the biggest geek to walk the earth (in a good way; I after all belong to the Austin Pangeeks, so that's my position on it). But he's really creative. He designs and sends these hilarious greeting cards. One was of Neo and the Prophet, and another was of GIR from Invader Zim riding a pig.

He and his (now) wife moved to San Francisco several years ago. I've kind of lost touch with them since then, except for MySpace, which he stopped updating. But now we're friends on Facebook again, so that's good. Maybe if I ever make it to SF (a possibility in January), I will get to see them again.

He doesn't seem to retain anonymity in his blog, so here is his Facebook, if you're interested in what he looks like. (Obvs, I couldn't do that for Jane, who doesn't even blog under her real name)

Bluestocking (Jane)

we had our mindset
all things know, all things know
you had to find it
all things go, all things go

I'm going to start my blog introductions, which I mentioned doing a few entries ago. I will go from the bottom up. Since Jane's blog doesn't update in my feed for some reason, she's forever at the bottom.

I don't remember the first time I met Jane, but we met related to Russian as undergrads. She lived near the Russian House, and was in a higher year than Jamie and I were in German. She was one of the most impressive people I'd ever met. I think one time I found out she played cello and I tripped and fell because I was so impressed and jealous. She had a very cute boyfriend. She was incredibly smart. I remember deciding the Echols program was effed up if she wasn't in it. And she's super cute on top of it.

She has since proved herself all the more impressive, navigating upper-echelon academia despite frequent migraines and cold, cold weather. She seems to read about a book a day, according to GoodReads. And she travels like crazy! Again: jealous. She owns her own place, in a big city, which is awesome, and I hope I get to it soon. Then we can talk about Joss Whedon and costume dramas, because oh, did I mention, she is completely able to have non-academic fun, too.

Her blog updates are often about her list of things she has to do, or what work she managed on her dissertation, or if not, what events transpired that kept her from working on it. And all manner of things in between to document her days. When she travels, she makes wonderfully detailed updates about every aspect of her experience. She keeps things personal because she has managed to remain more or less anonymous for the past (10??) years she has kept the blog. She does all the layout herself, and it's tasteful and classy. She will address you "Dear Reader" in the manner of Jane Austen. She is probably my most prolific blog buddy, and sometimes I have trouble keeping up! But it's always a delight to have something fun to count on.

How to make an Illyria costume, from Angel

"I wish to do more violence."

OK, I've been looking for a post like this myself. Rather than have people show off the costumes they DID make, I'm going to try to chart my progress as I figure out the pattern and have brainstorms about how to make this costume (my first; well, OK, no, I made my Morticia Addams costume in 7th grade). I had two of my friends over last night, both of whom are costume designers, and they gave me some good advice. Today is the first entry. I will start with the things one should buy to make it my way. Keep in mind I haven't finished all the parts I've bought these things for, so I might be making adjustments as I go along, in which case, I advise you to read any and all entries I make on the topic by clicking the "Illyria" tag at the bottom.

Here it goes.

First off, here's a really nice detailed shot of the real costume a woman put up in a similar post about her costume. You can zoom in really close, and it's really helpful to get to know what you're in for.

Second off, here are some links to pictures of other people's costumes. People who have gone before me have done an amazing job. I just wish they had recorded the steps of their efforts.
Illyria Costume 1
Illyria Costume 2
Illyria Costume 3
Illyria Costume 4
Illyria Costume 5

Ingredient list

  • Long-Sleeved Black Unitard. You could conceivably make this with a pattern, but I couldn't find a good one. In some ways, that would be the best option, if you're good enough--then it will be easier to sew the armor pieces tight on to the fabric before you assemble the unitard completely. I found one in cotton with a good collar (#6662 from BodyMotion, at left), which I had to special order from Movin' Easy here in Austin. Another option would be a leotard over jazz pants or leggins, but the best leotards I could find were these at NY Dancewear (thanks for the tip, mom!); however, I didn't fancy sewing onto non-cotton , and the turtleneck collars weren't quite right.
    This was the part of the project when I realized it was going to be expensive. But as I haven't sewed since I was 12, making one myself seemed too risky. UPDATED 10/21: I saw the perfect leotard when I went to pick up the unitard. The collar was a nice boatneck, but they didn't have it in black. This might be close, BodyWrappers BW0209.

  • Red Vinyl. I got lucky and found some on a bargain table for $6/yard, but I think it's just more like $10/yard at most normally, so that's not really too bad. I may end up going back to get a better color because I think what I'm working with is a little too brown; I'll see if spray painting will work or not. If you go in to the detail of the Illyria picture above, you can see the texture of the fabric is almost a snakeskin pattern, so something like this (seen at left) might be ideal, though I haven't seen this fabric person.
    Not having finalized the pattern, I'm not 100% sure how much I will need, pretending I don't make any mistakes. I got 2 yards, and this seem to be sufficient, and I suspect if I start over, I'd use much less. But I haven't tried to do the back of the costume yet, which will take a lot of yardage. UPDATE 10/21: I found this vinyl at a local upholstery shop. I also found some faux suede for the boots. They were both about $11 per yard.

  • Burlap. OK, this is tentative. My costume designer friend suggested this for the shoulder/upper arm (seen at left). I could spray paint it and sew those seams into it. Some of the burlap I've seen almost looks like canvas, but it's apparently very easy to work with.
UPDATE 10/21: See this entry on how I decided to do the "shimmery stuff."
  • Stretchy Elasticy Trim Thing. I don't know what the heck this, on Illyria or in real life. I found it at the fabric store in the bulk trim section. It's like an burgundy elastic thing, and I got half a yard. It goes down the center of her chest, from supersternum to the pelvic cutout. Can it be called a codpiece if it's on a girl? Anyway, I may spray paint it so it's that mottled purple, if I have time.

  • Thread. Obviously. And have it match the vinyl exactly. You don't see any of the stitches on the original, although you can tell they're there. UPDATE 10/21: If you have a serger, go for black thread and instead of hemming the seams, which is a pain because many of them are curved, you might just serge the edging with a rolled hem stitch. My mom's serger is unfortunately in New Orleans, whereas I am in Texas.
  • "Rivets." I was undecided what to do about these things. At first, from memory, I thought they were more metallic, and I got some snaps and a snap applier, thinking the inside-out snaps would look like kickass, relatively simple rivets. Probably true, but when I went back and looked at the costume, it was more like rubies almost. To left, I have circled the thingies I'm talking about. Very clearly, they are not metallic rivets. Never rely on your memory when you're at the fabric store. Something like these might work. I have to go back to the hobby store and see what's available.
  • Nurse Shoes. I've enlisted my shoe-loving mom on this one. What is up with Illyria's shoes? I will try to upload one of the screenshots (update 10/21, link to pic, link to screenshot entry) to illustrate the enigma of her footwear, but I am not one to question. They're boxy and huge. I read a woman call them "nurse shoes," which gave me the idea to use big clogs to simulate the look. I will need some kind of "boot-cover" (like what they have for little kids' costumes) type thing to make them look less like clogs and more like boots, I feel like if I had jazz pants at this point, they might do a good job of making the shoes flow more into the rest of the costume. Certain men's Doc Martens might also make a good option. At left is the first Google image search you get for "black nurse shoes." Thanks for the idea, random forum lady, and Mom!

I get the feeling these are going to be tricky. I haven't seen a good version of them online anywhere yet. Here are a few tries, to varying degrees of success.

The items I have bought/will buy/already have are:
UPDATE 10/21: See the gloves updates. Here is the vote which decided I would do the gloves differently than below, close to the second option above. I will still use the opera gloves, though.
  • Fingerless Black Opera Gloves: You can get these on ebay for about $10. Mine haven't come yet, but hopefully they will be stretch enough to a) truly be one size fits all (I kind of have massive forearms for a girl), and b) be able to fit the unitard sleeve underneath. If not, I'm going to have to fold the sleeve carefully above the elbow. You can see the shape of the glove matches the wedge shape over the hand, so I'm hoping that will make it easier to pattern the eventual rope design.

  • Regular Black Gloves. I'm actually not 100% sure how to do this...I'm going to go shopping this weekend for them. Leather might work well, and luckily I need a pair of gloves anyway, so it wouldn't be silly to spend $20/30 on them. I don't think knit would work--it would be too thick. I mean, look how elegant Amy Acker's hands are (at left)! My mom had a good suggestion that glove liners might be thin enough to pull it off, so I'm going to check some sporting goods stores for that, and maybe Target or something.

  • Silver Rope/Twisted Cord (no pic available) My friend suggested I lightly spray paint this to give it that gold-brown patina Illyria's seem to have. I tried soaking it in tea for a few hours to no effect. Not to mention it would take forever to dry.
  • Black Rope/Twisted Cord with Ribbon. By wrapping it around my forearms in the store (no staring was involved, really), I determined I needed about 10 yard of each color cord. For the black color, I don't know exactly how to explain what I got, but it looks like of like the stuff at left. I'm planning on being able to wrap the cords around my forearm (or a friend's) and hot glue a silver rope to the ribbon of the black one, and then also the next row of the black one onto the previous black one's ribbon, if that makes sense. I'll see if it works once I get started. But I feel like this will give the 3D depth I need to simulate the real gloves pretty well. These items were a bit pricey in total, since they were just under $2/yard. So I really hope they work out well!

Hair and Makeup
This woman has some good and specific ideas for what products to use for makeup. I am probably going a less classy or specific direction with my ideas.
  • Hair Extensions. Blue, obviously. I ordered a bunch of real-hair clip-in from ebay. They haven't come yet, but I think the more the better. They make Amy Acker's hair various colors blue, and sometimes it's almost all blue, and sometimes just the front is. I guess I'm going for a vibrant blue in just the front half. UPDATE 10/21: I have also gotten some spray on hair color, which is obviously what they use in the show. Be careful if you're blonde--the blonde will pick up the spray color more permanently than you might like. Same goes for blue grease paint.
  • White Face Powder. Amy Acker is very fair. Illyria has a deathly pallor. My skin tone is at least at the same starting point. I think either the whitest pressed powder at the drugstore would work, or maybe I'll have to get some real costume store white powder. I will apply with a kabuki brush to make sure it's thick. UPDATE 10/21: I ended up with some "alabaster" face powder from the costume store. I will apply with a wet sponge. It looks pretty pale but not ghostly.
  • Blue Grease Paint. I have this left over from some old costume. I can put it in my hair a little bit, too, for that smooth transition look (left; hmmm...I'll have to do some veiny things it looks like). I have tried it, and it looks pretty great, I think! When I continue the updates, I will of course include pictures of these things.

  • Blue Powder. I think this will be good to have to outline some features. Use it as eyeshadow, and lightly as blush. It looks like they might even outline her eyebrows a little bit in blue. I might use this for the lips as well. UPDATE 10/21: My friend gave me perfect ice-blue lipstick, and I bought some vibrant blue eyeshadow at the grocery store for $3 that really does the trick. I might even use it for the hairline and neck, applying with a cosmetic sponge. It doesn't look as shiny as the greasepaint.
  • Color Contacts. If I weren't nearly legally blind (long story), I would be able to get the Icefire Wild Eyes contacts. Part of me was relieved I couldn't because they would have cost $99 ON SALE! (~$115 regularly). You can probably get these from your ophthalmologist if your eyes aren't as bad as mine (they go up to a 6.0 prescription, I think). So I'm either going to wear an enhancer (my eyes are green), or I'm going to try opaques again (I tried these a few years ago, and they just darken my eyes too much to be all that dramatic). I will be posting the results soon (I have some samples to try out), and may solicit help in deciding which option to go with. UPDATE 10/21: Here were the contacts I tried out. I also found a place that will custom make your contacts for like $350. But I don't think they would do anything in my prescription. I've never been tempted to get Lasik. But now I am.

Illyria, last episode of Angel (UPDATE: see my 25 minute video for more great Illyria scenes; ask me for the link by leaving a comment with your contact information)