Frying Pans!

Frying Pans!

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December 23, 2013 · 12:22 pm

Last Minute Shaun of the Dead Halloween Costumes!

My fiancee and I have a tradition of choosing nerdy couples costumes to wear on Halloween. So far, we’ve gone as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovette, and Comedy Central/Fox TV execs under the control of brain slugs.

This year, we were finally going to try and figure out one of our dream combos…Carmen Sandiego and Where’s Waldo. I had a grand plan to find the perfect red trench, a matching wide brimmed red hat, and the perfect red and white striped shirt; the three required elements of our couples costume. Unfortunately, the fates were aligned against us. I found a long red wool coat, but it wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t find a red fedora to save my life, and even the relatively simple red and white striped shirt eluded us. I decided that I would do something semi-handmade. I could alter the coat, sew red felt stripes onto a white shirt, and  cover a random wide brimmed summer hat with red felt. But, in the midst of all these plans, I was also working full time AND studying to take the GRE. Needless to say, my plan was an epic failure, and we found ourselves up the night before our Halloween party trying to figure out what we were going to do.

Eventually, we came up with the idea to go as Shaun and Yvonne, from the 2004 classic Shaun of the Dead. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it! It’s one of my top 10 favorite movies…it might even be in my top 5.

So yesterday, Saturday, I worked until Noon…and then the hunt began. First, I went to Plato’s Closet, an awesome resale store in Greenfield, WI. There, I found the (almost) perfect green military style jacket. In the film, Yvonne’s jacket is actually a muted camo print, but this came pretty close in terms of style. I also found a perfect gray shirt to wear under it. These are both items I would wear again, and because the jacket’s zipper was slightly broken, I got an additional 20% discount. Jacket : $10  Gray Shirt: $6 I then headed to the Goodwill on 27th St in Franklin, which was a COMPLETE bust. Every single parking space was full, and people were parking haphazardly in the random open areas of the parking lot.

Next stop was Walmart. I found the perfect gold hoop earrings in a random set of 6 different size hoop earrings, which cost a little more than I was hoping to spend. I’m not really a hoop earring person, but I figured they were still cheaper than what I would have paid for a single pair at Target or Kohl’s. I then scoured the men’s clothing section and found the one and ONLY short sleeved white button down shirt they had in the entire store, which just so happened to be the perfect size. Earrings: $6 White Shirt: $12

I still needed a red tie, a golf club, and some sort of “weapon” for Shaun. I wanted to find an actual cricket bat, but a few phone calls to sporting goods stores around Milwaukee convinced me that I had a better chance of finding a unicorn than a cricket bat. I headed to the Salvation Army thrift store on 27th St., where I found the perfect red clip-on tie. I also had my pick of random golf clubs. Club: $2 Tie: $1

I found everything I was looking for, minus the cricket bat, and decided to head home and brainstorm with my fiancee once he got home from work. We already owned the other pieces of our costumes; skinny jeans, boots, black dress pants, and black shoes.

Lou decided we could make our own bat, and it actually turned out pretty well! We used a wood stake, cardboard, brown mailing paper, and electrical tape. It was actually fairly sturdy too, so we didn’t have to worry about it falling apart. I found the name tag graphic online, and stuck it onto an old work name tag I had laying around. Lou used a red washable marker to apply the “red” to his pocket. All I had to do was style my hair into a ridiculous Pompadour, and we were set!

Our costume grand total came to…$37, or $18.50 each!! Not bad at all! Our film nerd friends definitely approved of our costumes, but they went completely over the heads of our non-nerdy cohorts. But that’s what happens with pop culture costumes, and we are totally okay with that. We felt bad-ass and ready for zombie action, so it was definitely worth it!

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Crochet Day Granny Square Baby Blanket

My best friend Samantha and I are obsessed with crochet. I count myself very lucky that I have a friend that loves movies, TV, crochet, and science fiction/fantasy novels, and is as freakishly weird as I am! For Sammy’s 13th birthday, we went to New York for the weekend. (Her dad worked as an airline mechanic at the time…I didn’t usually jet to cosmopolitan cities for the weekend!) Our group consisted of Samantha and I, Sammy’s mom, and Sammy’s mom’s friend, Melissa. We gallivanted across the city, ate hotdogs out of carts, saw The Seussical, and came up with wonderful nicknames for each other (beak, forehead, yellow-white-yellow, and cheese curds, respectively.) As the years have passed, that trip has remained firmly implanted in my memory, and I’ll always fondly recall pulling a fantastic faux-leather jacket off a clearance rack at Macy’s. (13-year-old me thought that jacket was the THE BOMB!)

This trip down memory lane serves a purpose, I promise! Since that trip, I’ve only seen Melissa a handful of times, but recently she shared the big news…THAT SHE HAS A BUN IN THE OVEN!

Now, there are many occasions that might inspire an urge to craft a gift, but nothing, NOTHING, compares to the basic, animalistic need to create something with hook and yarn to greet a new life into the world. Once Sammy told me the news, we planned at that moment to get together for a crochet day of epic proportions.

Unfortunately, I live in Milwaukee, and Samantha lives in Madison. It took a while for my work schedule to allow me to make the hour and a half trek westward, but I finally made it. Sammy and I decided to make the Granny’s Baby Throw by Lion Brand Yarn beforehand. We chose the pattern because it consisted of 4 large granny squares, which we figured would work up fairly quickly, and would allow us to both work on equal amounts of the blanket. All that remained was to choose the perfect yarn combo!

Let the Fun Commence!

We bought our yarn from Michaels, and the Loops and Threads Impeccable yarn happened to be on sale for $2.50 each. The colors we purchased, from left to right, bottom to top, were: soft fern, pumpkin, heather, true gray, and aqua. We wanted a combo that was fun, whimsical, non-traditional, and suitable for a boys blanket.

The pattern called for a J hook, but we figured we’d have to start our first squares, and stop to compare our tension and stitch sizes. I actually bumped up to a K hook, because I crochet a bit tighter than Sammy, and she made a conscious effort to work slightly tighter than she usually does. The squares turned out AMAZINGLY, and they were all almost exactly the same size.

Lovely, Lovely Squares!

Artsy Angle!

We were a little amazed at how nice the squares turned out. With each of us working at a fairly brisk pace, we finished all 4 squares in about 5 hours. An entire baby blanket in an afternoon? Yes please! Sadly, I had to leave once the squares were done, which left Sammy to weave in the ends (sorry best fwend!!), and join the squares using an invisible join. She is also planning on adding an edge to the perimeter of the blanket.

Pretty Colors!

Overall, we were very happy with the pattern, the colors, and the finished product! We got to spend the afternoon together, and chatted the day happily away. I would definitely like to make a blanket like this again, and I’m sure it probably won’t be our last tag-team project!

Square, Square, Square…GOOSE!

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My First Foray into Sewing

While living in Los Angeles, looking for a “real” job, and working minimal hours to make a few cents, I had a lot of time on my hands. LA is one of the worst places to live if you have no money, because you KNOW there are so many amazing, awesome, fantastic things happening within minutes of your apartment, but you can’t afford to actually DO any of them.

Le sigh.

But I did have a Jo Ann very close by, and I spent a lot of time crocheting. I’ll probably document some of those projects at a later date, because this post is about sewing.

I’ve always, always, always wanted to learn to sew, but beyond learning a few basic hand stitches and once making a very simple cloak with a family friend, the mysterious art of sewing eluded me. I’ve had a fascination with costumes my whole life, from the beautiful dresses featured in Lord of the Rings, to the iconic Jedi robes of Star Wars lore. It’s been a secret dream of mine to someday make an elaborate, amazing Halloween costume, and be able to say that I made it. It probably stems from a subconscious desire to actually become the brave, loyal, courageous characters of my favorite books and movies. In any case, I promised myself that if I moved back home to Wisconsin, I would finally pull out my mom’s old Singer and teach myself to sew.

Well, I’m still a bit timid, and socially awkward, and indecisive. And I still have a slight obsession with cats.

But I kept my promise and am LEARNING HOW TO SEW!!

I bring you my first major sewing attempt. My first curved line, applique, complicated pinning, fabric selection, and following of a pattern were all encompassed in this one project. I present:

AN ADORABLE WOODLAND OWL PILLOW!

My cousin just had her first baby; an adorable little boy, and his room is “woodland animal” themed. When I saw this pinned on Pinterest, I knew it was exactly what I wanted my first major project to be. You can find the blog post with the pattern on the Make it and Love It blog HERE.

I’m still amazed with how well this turned out, and family and friends are even more amazed than I am! I’m so in love with this, that it’ll be a little hard to give it away! But I made it for baby Blake, and his new woodland forest themed home is waiting for him! Wanna see another angle?

BAM! I actually finished this project about a week ago, and I’m still riding the high of making something so awesome with a sewing machine, a plethora of sewing accessories, AND MY OWN BARE HANDS!

So. I figured I would share my excitement with the interwebs. And I’ve done that. Now please excuse me while I go squeeze this pillow and “squee” like a little girl.

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iMovie ’11 RANT

iMovie ’11 sucks. It really, truly, sincerely is the worst editing program I’ve ever used. I had heard, obliquely, that iMovie ’11 was terrible. But it had its fans as well. I just carried on, oblivious, because my ancient Macbook  is running iMovie ’08 (before my hard drive crashed I was rocking ’06, arguably the best version), and I have zero plans to upgrade my computer or operating system in the near future.

Enter my mom’s friend Kathleen. Kathleen is awesome. Kathleen also has roughly 20 Walgreens DVD disks and around 30 MiniDVD disks of home videos. Being the awesome mom that she is, Kathleen wanted to edit parts of the home videos featuring her daughter into a personalized home video. She also recently purchased a shiny new MacBook Pro running Lion and iLife ’11. My mom told her I was Apple proficient, and she hired me on to teach her the ways of the force. I easily taught Kathleen the basics of iMovie. I also introduced her to MPEG Streamclip (which is AWESOME), and downloaded the completely unnecessary waste of $20 QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component to allow Streamclip to preview video. (To my understanding, this plugin comes standard on PC computers…but costs $20 to install on a Mac. Not Streamclip’s fault…) Streamclip worked great. For a free program, it’s pretty frickin spiffy. It does many things, but we used it to import video from the Walgreens DVD’s, and exported it into a DV format that would be fairly good quality and easily importable into iMovie.

Enter iMovie. It worked like a charm…until it decided that it was handling too much footage, and completely shit out. The edited project running time was 1hr 20mins, and the total amount of footage was over 10 hrs. Yes, 10 hours of footage is a lot. But the workflow is SO SIMPLE that I don’t see how it could possibly matter if the footage is 5 minutes or 50 hours long! As long as you have ample storage space, it SHOULD be fine.  2 main issues sprang up:

1. The video in the Project window would not play.
2. The video in the Event window would play, but had no sound.
3. Within the Project Library, I was unable to choose the project to edit it.

The video imported from the DVD’s plays back fine, but the minute it is imported into iMovie, the shit hits the fan. (Yes, the audio on the computer was turned up. The audio settings on the Mac are correct. The audio settings in iMovie are correct. I tried all the “DUH!” solutions.) Now, if this was Final Cut, I would make sure it was accessing the video from the right location. I would double check to make sure the workflow made sense, and there weren’t any goofed up settings. I would manually save the project, and restart the program. I could easily go online, search for the specific problem I’m having, and have a clear and direct solution within minutes.

NOT SO for iMOVIE!

It’s been so “simplified” that you literally can’t work “inside” it to fix what is wrong. iMovie has NO manual save option. It only saves automatically. You can’t select where you want the project to save, outside of either “Main Hard Drive” or “External Hard Drive.” iMovie ’11 has NO official manual. You can find other people experiencing the same problem online, but there are NO official solutions!! The only surefire way I can find to fix ANY problem in iMovie ’11 is to REINSTALL THE ENTIRE OS!!

I did find a half-assed solution to the “No Audio in the Event” and “Can’t Select the Project in the Library” issues. Basically, every single time you want to edit or access either of them, you need to arbitrarily re-name the event/project, double click it so it does some mysterious “optimizing” operation, AND IT’S MAGICALLY FIXED. But you need to re-name it every. single. time.

Okay, something is obviously wrong in iMovie. I figured, lets see if we can export it to iDVD, and maybe it’ll work properly there. (SIDE RANT: iDVD isn’t included with iLife ’11!!! WTF? They give you iMovie to edit videos, but you have no included way of burning it to a disk!?!?! Grandma and Grandpa don’t want to dick around on YouTube or some shit to see a home video! They want a DVD they can stick into their DVD player and watch on their TV! Grrrrrrr. END SIDE RANT) I wait an hour for it to export…and now the VIDEO works but the AUDIO doesn’t!!

*faceplam*

Honestly, if you are working on a 3-5 minute YouTube video, iMovie ’11 is fine. Editing is easy, just select, drag, and drop. One small improvement in iMovie ’11 is that you can actually EDIT YOUR AUDIO separately from the video. Yep. iMovie ’09 didn’t have that capability. But if you have an hour or more of footage, or are planning on editing a video any longer than 10 minutes, STAY AWAY. Save your sanity, obtain Final Cut 7, spend an extra 30 minutes learning it, and be on your merry way.

I’ve loved Apple since I bought the original MacBook way back in 2006. My sister and mother each bought a Mac after I did, and I’ve been expounding on the awesomeness of Apple for many years. But in all honesty, after the bullcrap I’ve put up with from iMovie ’11, the inanity of not including iDVD in iLife ’11, and the ridiculousness of Final Cut X, my faith has been greatly shaken. I would never consider going back to a PC, but I probably won’t promote Apple with my previous zeal. More and more, it seems Apple is going after the quick $$ (iPhone & iPad) and ignoring the products that build true loyalty (Apple OS, Software, Mac Computers.)

Dear Apple,

A system that is built for simplicity IS NOT the same as a system built for stupidity.

Love, Kayde

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The Cabin in the Woods

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Today I saw The Cabin in the Woods, after waiting for SOOO long. This film was shot in 2009, and the studio and Joss Whedon danced around for 3 years fighting against and for converting it into 3D. Honestly, there were 2 shots in this entire movie worthy of 3D, so I’m very, very glad they steered away from it and released it as it was intended to be seen.

Anyway, I checked EW this morning to see what it got, and Lisa Schwarzbaum gave it a B-. Okay, whatever, I probably would have given it a B+, so that’s pretty fair. But after reading her review, I realized that she missed the entire point of the movie. I wrote a lengthy comment, which I decided to repost here. Please read her review at http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20483133_20567682,00.html  And see my response as follows.

***POSSIBLE SPOILERS***

I think you completely missed the point of the film. The characters AREN’T archetypes, they are molded into stereotypical caricatures by the “puppeteer” organization that’s pulling all the strings. I don’t think this film is a critique of horror films, I think it’s a critique of horror filmMAKERS and moviegoers. The characters start out as normal young people, with their own unique personalities. The blonde “whore” isn’t really a whore, until she gets drugged by the organization. The “fool” is the smartest character in the movie. The “virgin” isn’t really even a virgin, as evidenced by her relationship with the professor, and her remarks to the “scholar,” who, yes, is intelligent, but is also a great football player. These kids don’t represent the stereotypes until the organization forces them to. Much as horror filmmakers present us with totally unrealistic, frankly insulting representations of young 20-somethings.

An entire room of male scientists ogles the “nearly” naked girl, who is only naked because they drugged her repeatedly. How is this any different from a room full of male writers/directors/editors/moviegoers ogling a naked actress in a stereotypical horror film? The characters make smart choices, such as wanting to stick together when the “crap” hits the fan, and jumping in their van to make an escape as soon as possible, but again, they’re thwarted by the people pulling the strings, who continually bend reality to get their desired outcome. How is this different than a writer piecing together a completely contrived script in order to up the gore factor?

The characters even “choose” their own monsters, much as society swings from one horror fascination to the next (mummies, vampires, zombies, and around it goes), which horror filmmakers then take advantage of. And audiences eat these movies up, no matter how stupid, unrealistic, or insulting they are. Well in this movie, the “virgin” and the “fool” fight back, and society pays the price for their vapid obsession with sex and gore.

This movie wasn’t perfect, but, among other things, it’s trying to point out that a horror film can’t be scary if we can see the people behind the scenes pulling all the strings. Real horror is rooted in reality, which is something that modern horror films have completely missed. Jaws is scary, because sharks are real, and they do kill, and they are scary. Psycho is scary, because there are crazy people in the world, and the things that happen in Psycho do happen in real life. The Paranormal Activity/Saw/Final Destination/Scream franchises provide gore porn and quick “BOO” scares, but they don’t elicit the same feeling of wrongness and true fear that the classics do.

The Cabin in the Woods was original, surprising, and enjoyable. There were definitely some loose ends left hanging at the end, but it was more entertaining and effective than 98% of the films currently playing. Ignore Lisa, go see it, and draw your own conclusions.

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Diggs and Swiggs

Hello and welcome to my shiny new blog! New (old) home, new challenges, new blog. See my “About Me” page at the top for the lowdown, but the story goes as such:

Born, grew up, and all that other stuff in Wisconsin.
Got engaged.
Earned Bachelor of Arts in Radio/TV/Film.
Moved to Phoenix, AZ.
Moved to Los Angeles, CA.
Moved back home to Wisconsin.

That pretty much sums up last 2 years of my life. At this exact moment in time,  I am (somewhat) at peace with the world, minus not having a job, living in my parent’s basement, and having no idea what to do with my life. I have lots and lots of free time; thus, le blog. Also crochet, embroidery, screenwriting, reading books, surfing the net, and playing with my cats.

This blog will be completely me. Nerdy, random, inconsistent, and sometimes moody. I have no set plan as to how often I’ll post, or exactly what I’ll post about. If you’d like to join me for the ride, feel free to visit often and see what I’ve been up to. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some wine to drink…and I see a lonely kitty that needs some petting…

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