October 29, 2011 § 10 Comments
I’m going to let the pictures tell the story of this year’s Halloween costume creation: Rose’s Words With Friends. All you need to know is a brief bit of background: I was searching online for inspiration after my Treebeard costume didn’t go as planned. A website mentioned going as something inspired by ‘pop culture’, and that started me thinking. What was both popular to lots of people, something I really enjoyed, and something I could creatively design? Because I’m that kind of person who doesn’t just want to buy a cape and wig at the mall. I wanted to paint, or sew, or do something to make this costume. I thought of Words with Friends out of the blue. Honestly, I have no idea where it came from but as soon as I thought of it, I started grinning. It was something simple I could paint onto a piece of posterboard (I like to paint but I’m not actually that good at it…) and it was interactive! Everyone likes an interactive costume! I remembered how everyone enjoyed writing ‘comments’ on my costume when I went as a ‘typical MySpace page’ a few years back. Once I hammered out the details, I set to work.
I used a Scrabble board as my particular inspiration, mainly because I wanted to pay homage to the game that I love, and also because I don’t actually have Words With Friends on my phone (I have a Windows Phone).
I studied the layout of the game for a few minutes. I was taking this seriously.
Cathy thought I was taking things a little too seriously.
Genevieve helped me cut out the squares for the letters! At this point in the costume creation, I said to Gen, “You know that normal people just go to the store and buy a wig and a cape, right?” She laughed. She’s a good god-daughter.
This was such a fun process, I wish I could describe it better. Gen and I were sitting at the kitchen table, playing music, laughing, and painting. It wasn’t just making a costume, it was a bonding experience!
Cathy helped me paint the word score boxes.
Here, we’ve added the small adhesive magnets to each square, painted the title on top, and strung yarn so that I can wear it around my neck. There are matching adhesive magnets on the backs of each letter.
The finished product:
A little shameless blog promotion to demonstrate how the letters stick to the magnets! All the letters we made are in a cute little Halloween treat bag. People reach in, pick out 6 letters, and then try to make a word!
So there you have it. Rose’s Words With Friends Halloween costume.
I love this costume because, once again, I feel like I’ve hit on something both that I love (words) and that many people will find amusing. Tell me if you do!
October 23, 2011 § 2 Comments
The report was much louder than I’d anticipated, even with my earplugs secure. I watched a flame flash from the muzzle when the gun fired. Acrid smoke was already rolling through the air; I could taste it briefly on my tongue, a sharp, unfamiliar bite. Six rounds drilled into the small paper target and then Jason ejected the clip and turned to me. “You ready?”
Was I? I grinned. I was absolutely ready.
Barely past 10 AM on a chilly autumn Saturday and I was standing at the shooting range out by Ricketts Glen, taking a firm grip on a Colt 45 and raising it to eye level. I braced my feet and sighted the target. No turning back now. I flipped the safety, took a huge gulp of freezing October air, and fired a gun for the first time in my life. The recoil surprised me. This thing kicked! I supposed that, to normal people with muscle, it didn’t seem so bad. But I’m skinny, with no biceps to speak of. I looked back over my shoulder and flashed a grin at Kris and Jason. Then I turned back to the target and emptied the next five rounds. I think I hit it twice. It was harder than I thought. But the guys told me I was doing fine. I hoped I was. They’d taken me with them to the range out of the goodness of their hearts and probably no small desire to see how a 100-pounds-soaking-wet girl could fire a rifle. After all, I’m at the office in stilettos and a pencil skirt most days. But this was different. I tugged my puffy jacket on over my Penn State hoodie and tucked my hands into my pockets. It was cold out here in the wood.
A flock of geese honked far overhead as the guys set up their rifles. Jason had his AR 15 and Kris, an AK 47. The ammunition spilled onto the table, a gleaming pile of brass that briefly reminded me of a pirate’s treasure. I picked up one of the bullets and studied it. An intimidating treasure, for certain. I shuddered at the thought of that pointed nose arrowing its way into flesh. Jason picked up one of his clips and showed me how to load. His hands were quick and precise and I studied intently, trying to memorize everything. Kris stood a few feet away from us and brought the AK to his shoulder. He chambered the round and squeezed off three shots. The cases popped out and flew a few feet away. It startled me and I had to resist the urge to duck. “Yeah, those fly far,” Kris laughed at me and then took a step back as Jason lifted the AR 15. This rifle wasn’t quite as loud and I was almost hopping in my excitement to try it. I watched holes appear in the targets and wondered if I’d even be able to hold it steady.
When I got my turn, though, the solid weight of the AR 15 felt reassuring in my hands, round and hard. I sat down at the table, steadying my grip and flicking the button to chamber the round. I sighted, paused for a split second, and then smoothly pulled the trigger. The rifle boomed and I saw a puff of dirt rising behind the target. Too high. I tried to control my broad smile and sighted again, fired.
Over the next two hours, the feel of the clip rattling into place, the flick of the safety, the boom of the gun became the limits of my world. I loaded, fired three times, loaded again. My hands and feet were freezing but I didn’t want to stop. Every time I fired that rifle, I wanted to see marks on the paper. When I did, I was ecstatic. I liked the rifles more than the handguns. It was easier for me to shoot with the solid brace of the table under my elbow. I guess I should have thought about hitting the gym first. Kris showed me how to use the AK 47, notching the clip in just right, pulling the lever back to chamber the round. I liked the sounds. The wind went sighing in the pines around us, but it was a forgotten whisper compared to the rachet of the AK’s rounds, the clatter of the shells as they hit the gravel at our feet. Occasionally one of us would hit the top of the target stand and wood pieces would explode into the air. I preferred the AR 15, finding that it was a lot lighter than the other rifle.
We paused eventually and made our way through the muddy field to staple new paper targets over the bullet-riddled old ones. “You don’t have time to think about any of your troubles when you’ve got an AK in your hands,” Kris mused. I agreed. That was it, exactly. I liked this feeling, nothing but concentration and focus. Sight down the barrel, squeeze the trigger nice and smooth with the pad of my finger, feel the bounce-back off my shoulder. Hands and mind fully occupied in the simple task. Cold forest around me, white target the only thing in the world ahead of me. Earplugs muffled the sound of voices and guns. I began to crave a cup of coffee. And I had to pee but there was no way I was telling the guys that. They’d probably suggest the trees. I stood back to watch them shoot, bounced on my toes a little to keep warm. They didn’t need the table to balance. Swing the gun up to the shoulder, sight, and fire, all in one fluid motion that made me jealous. They hit the target more times than not, too. I wanted that. I laughed and told them they didn’t know what they’d gotten themselves into. Now I’d be bouncing around the office every day, clamoring to come back out to the range. I imagined shooting across a field of white snow, trying to sight through the sun glare and feeling the winter wind at my back. Then I wondered if you could even make it down to this backwoods range in the wintertime. Something told me the plows didn’t have this place high on their list of roads.
When I realized we’d been shooting for almost three hours, I couldn’t believe it. This was the most enjoyable Saturday morning I’d had in ages. Way better than sleeping in until noon and then cleaning the rat cage. The guys allowed me the honor of emptying the last few AR 15 clips into the targets. As we sauntered back down to the parking lot, carrying cases and pulling the buds out of our ears, I was grinning like a kid in the Wellsboro Penny Candy store. My fingers were icy stiff and I had tears in my eyes from the wind, but I didn’t want to leave. For a few hours, there’d been nothing but me, a target, and a gun. I liked that.
October 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
Free me, I said, for on these days it’s a crime to keep me earth-bound, to leave me behind.
Help me, I begged, hearing the sound of the push of my feet, hard on the ground.
Blow me along, I said to the wind in my hair, and I ran until my lungs burned like love and my face was chapped and clear.
Take me with you into this soft blue song. Magic me away into the sunshine horizon of God.
I spun and fell in the field and stared in the trees, an explosion, a riot, a paint-swept tempest of leaves.
Saturate me, I said to the clouds, and I lifted my hands just to pull them back down.
Change me, I cried, and wildly sought any way into a wind that can’t be caught.
Heat me, I said to the glow of the sun and felt the weight hit me and leave me undone.
My chest set on fire and full cramped with the cold, I ran until earth and gravity gave way their hold.
October 7, 2011 § 1 Comment
Stilettos On Ice has returned for another turbulent year of fantasy hockey! Draft Day was on Wednesday, and since this year my mother is in the league, we had a little Draft Central at my house: me, Pete, and Mom. Dan, Andrew, Kayty, Courtney, and Jill are the other participants.
The time is 6:29 PM. I sit on the edge of my chair, poised in front of my computer, ready to make the first selection. But am I ready? I hesitate, rapidly Alt-Tab’ing from my draft page to my Excel spreadsheet of players. Am I sure I’m making the best call? Have I correctly interpreted the copious amounts of data I’ve ingested from NHL.com over the past few days? It’s nice having the first pick, but in our snake draft set-up, this means I have to wait another 14 turns before I can then pick twice. No matter. The clock is counting down and I’ve done all I can. From the recliner across the room, I catch Pete watching my screen and give a screech of indignation. Screenwatchers are despised. We do not tolerate such low forms of competition in our draft. 6:30! The Draft begins! I experience a brief moment of sheer panic and then sternly set it aside. I know what I must do.
Evgeni Malkin is my first pick. Malks had a beast of a preseason, with points in every game. He knows that, with Crosby out, he has to step up his game from last year. He’s healthy and hungry. I click DRAFT and have no regrets. My mother scowls at her own screen. She’d wanted Malkin. The chat box at the bottom of the draft page explodes with comments. I’ve angered some, made others chuckle. Time will tell who’s right.
The rounds continue at a brisk clip. I fidget in my seat, unable to contain my nerves as the players disappear one-by-one from the available list. I’ve already made my decision to take a goaltender with my second choice. A few seconds later, I’m very glad I did because my mother drafts Tomas Vokoun and that sets off a wave of netminders. Courtney takes Henrik Lundqvist. Pete seizes upon Roberto Luongo (I raise my eyebrows and make a few scathing comments in the chat box). Then I draft Pekka Rinne. Immediately, I have to draft again and Zach Parise is my choice. The Devils have shown their high expectations for his season by naming him captain earlier that day.
Relax for a minute. Breathe. There are 14 turns before I need to go again. In the corner, my mother cries out in frustration. She types an angry message in the chat box, but seeing as she’s not wearing her glasses, it gets a bit garbled in translation. Apparently Dan has just drafted Carey Price, the other goalie she wanted. I want to ask her why she’d pick goalies two rounds in a row, but then decide to keep my counsel to myself. She’s a rookie, you know. Jill distracts me by stealing Kris Letang right out from under my nose and I hit the chat box with multiple asterisks and exclamation points. I had been deliberating between him and Shea Weber. Now my choice has been made for me. Ryan Getzlaf is still available when my time comes again and I draft him, remembering his center position on that dominant line between Perry and Ryan. For the opening of round 5, defense is my agenda and I snatch up Shea Weber. Rounds 5 and 6 see a run on defensemen, as Lubomir Visnovsky, Drew Doughty, Chris Pronger, and P.K. Subban are all taken. At the tail end of 6, I make a hasty decision to take my backup goalie: Jonas Hiller. Hiller had an amazing 2010-11 season until strange cases of ‘vertigo’ derailed it. Will he stay healthy this year? Can he put up the same kind of numbers? I don’t know, all I know is I really loved his suit and glasses at the All Star Game last year. So I draft him.
Round 7 begins with me taking a chance on the dynamo known as Jeff Skinner. He was the youngest player to ever participate in the NHL All Star game last year. I’m hoping he can avoid that dreaded sophomore slump. Kayty grabs Jordan Staal a few picks later and I wince. For round 8, I’m heading back to defense and Brent Burns. I lead off Round 9 with a bang, stealing Alexandre Burrows, and wait impatiently for Round 10, becasue for some odd reason, I really want to draft Mike Cammelleri. I just have this feeling. You know that feeling? Round 11 sees me draft Nathan Horton, and Pete takes Jamie Benn right after me. I glare at him over my shoulder; he must’ve read the same article I did about Benn being an excellent sleeper pick. He smirks at me. He may be young but he knows the drill. He’s played fantasy football three years running now. Round 12, I exercise my own stab in the dark knowledge and choose John Carlson of the Capitals. I fill out my right wing contingent with Chris Stewart and then tease my newbie mom by muttering “Interesting…. Veryyyy interesting” when she drafts Tyler Ennis. She promptly starts second-guessing herself. I steal Logan Couture at the end of the 14th round and shore up my defense with Jack Johnson in Round 15. Everone’s chirping in the chat room now, with only one round left; insults, bitterness, and taunts fly freely. In the bottom of the 16th round, I end it all by making another gut move in James Van Reimsdyk. I’m hoping he’ll carry over his playoff surge into this season.
And that’s how the Draft ends. With excitement, anticipation, and a whole lot of backtalk. Rivalries are formed, trades lurk on the horizon. Fantasy hockey has arrived for another season.
October 5, 2011 § 1 Comment
I haven’t really felt like writing lately. I’m sorry.
I guess if I were going to do an update list or something, I would say this:
1. My fantasy hockey draft is tonight. Wish me luck. I’ve spent a good amount of time reading through fantasy articles on NHL.com and Yahoo, and I feel like I’ve researched all my brain can handle. Now I’m just going with my gut strategy and hoping for the best. I’ve made a list of my top three players at every position and four backups. I’ll post my team after the draft. It should be fun. My little brother Pete is in it, as is my mother, and my friend Jill, so we’ll have a mini Draft Central going on at my house tonight.
2. I have given up on Treebeard as a Halloween costume but thought of something else creative. Pictures will be posted when I make it. Hint: Interactive costumes are always the most fun!
3. I really enjoyed Pope Benedict’s speeches and homilies in Germany this past September. I think I want to buy one of his books. Any recommendations?
5. On another hockey note, I saw that EA Sports predicted the Penguins to win the Cup this year, which is kinda cool. Also saw NHL.com had a headline about this year’s draft picks sticking in the NHL. Headline was: “Teenage Dream”. I am desperately trying to believe that the writer merely had an appreciation for the assonance of the phrase and didn’t at all mean to make a Katy Perry reference. Come on, NHL.com. You’re better than that, right?