Thursday, December 16, 2010

O Tree Most Fair and Lovely

Last year, I hacked my own apartment's Christmas tree out of an upside-down tomato cage covered in green fabric. It got the job done in a minimalist kind of way.

This year, my friend Sarah decided that a tomato cage Christmas tree was unacceptable, and she gave me the present of a little artificial tree, perfect for my apartment.

The trouble was that I didn't technically have any Christmas ornaments. So the first Sunday of Advent, I invited my boyfriend Blade and my friend Steve over to help me make decorations.

Here is what we came up with:

Your skirt's crooked.

I did end up finding a handful of little glass ball ornaments at a garage sale. The tree skirt is actually one of my summer skirts, and the garland and flowers are pieces of a long-abandoned crochet project. We used paint chips from Home Depot instead of buying construction paper.
Upon closer examination, you will notice:

The Amazing Technicolor Dream Bear
I crocheted him last winter as a test run for a baby shower present.

The Christmas Caterpillar
He started out as one of those paper kissing balls you make in 3rd grade art class, but that failed, so he became a squinty little caterpillar.

The Abominable Cyclops
Blade made the happiest cyclops in the world.

 The Seraph
I told Steve I wanted an angel topper. He made one of those scary angels from Isaiah, all covered in wings and eyes.

I'm not sure it would win Martha Stewart's approval, but it's worlds cheerier than the tomato cage.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Carol's Off the Christmas List

This is me with my friends Brendon (left) and Kevin (center). We are full of accurate information about the Festival of Lessons and Carols, which will be put on next week by Church of the Resurrection.

In a short form improv show, Madrigal only takes about two minutes to perform, even if you allow time for Brendon to come up with one of his increasingly complicated Origins of the Madrigal speeches. So I thought it would the three of us, veteran town criers that we are, no more than half an hour to film a Madrigal, especially without the pressure of a live audience.*

Apparently, having never made a short film before, I am naive about time. It took about two hours. (Brendon, who has made short films, insists we made good time.)

We filmed take after take, not only inventing new lyrics as we went but also playing with the frame and our presentation: Oh, no, we have to redo that one, Kevin stumbled on his words, Brendon was singing in a different key, Alyssa moved completely off the screen, were we supposed to be looking at the camera that time? None of these things would matter in front of a live audience, but they're noticeable and annoying on camera. So we would try again just one more time. And one more time after that.

After two hours of one-more-time's, we decided we had a passable take and called it quits for the night. Brendon suggested that, since we were finished working on the announcement, we should turn the camera back on and be ridiculous for awhile. The pressure was off, so we tried to do everything exactly wrong, just for the fun of it. 

That's the version we actually kept, the throwaway take we filmed at midnight. In comparison, the other takes look labored, like we were Trying to Be Right. The performance was better when we stopped needing to be right and really played.

Good work, Kevin and Brendon!

And if you're in the Wheaton/Chicago area, come to Lessons and Carols! We didn't make up that part about hot chocolate and Legos!


*It turns out that I am less nervous in front of an audience than in front of a camera. The bigger the audience, the less nervous I get. I am the opposite of everyone.