Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Old Kids on the Block

Most of the time Kim and I only work together. We have fun, and we're friends at work. But it's mostly work.

Every once in a great while, however, we get to do something together that's not tax deductible.

About two months ago, Kim was saying that she'd sure like to go to the New Kids on the Block concert coming up, because she used to live near Boston, and she used to have friends who dated the New Kids and their body guards. Kim was sad as she said this. She was sure no one would go with her.


The concert was tonight. Kim and I left right after work, ready in our 1980s-style clothes. You can see here how happy and excited we were!

(I had been to the hairdresser not a few hours before, and she done her best to puff up my hair.)

I was in college when the New Kids were popular, so they were a bit out of my age bracket. Right before we left, Kim gave me a 30-second lesson on who everyone was. There was no way to remember all 5 of them, so I picked one. He looked sort of tough, and his beard reminded me of my brother who lives in Colorado. I liked that about him. (I suspect that my Colorado brother would probably rather die than be compared in any way to a New Kid on the Block, given that my D. C. brother flatly said he would rather poke his eyes out with sticks than go to one of their concerts.)

"What's that one's name?" I asked Kim.

"Donnie," she said.

"How do you spell it?" I asked.


"Okay then," I said. "He's my favorite!"

So we went to the concert. On the way there, I was toying with getting a Donnie t-shirt because he was my favorite. But when we go there, they were $40, and I just couldn't bear to spend $40 on a t-shirt for someone who in my mind was the equivalent of a first date.

Along with t-shirts, they had $10 buttons of each of the boys. I decided to get one of those. "I would like a 'Donnie' button," I said to the girl at the counter when it was my turn in line.

She beamed. "He's my favorite too!" she said to me.


The Donnie Button was huge--roughly the size of a dinner plate.

I cannot tell you how strange it is to walk around with a button that covers half your chest.


Now, I didn't tell Kim this part of my story until just now, as she reads this along with you.

After I had told her I would go to this concert, I went home and tried to remember what on earth the New Kids even sang. I pulled up some of their videos on Youtube.

And as soon as I did that, I remembered them. I remembered fully. I had hated all their songs.

So I figured that when we got the tickets, I would be a good sport for the fun of being with Kim.

But it turned out that something happened to them over the past 20 years: They got better.

Kevin and I have noticed this with a lot of musicians after they've played for 20 years. They improve their stage presence, they become better at singing, and their technique gets better. And believe it or not, despite a few weird things here or there (the weirdest being when one of the boys stood on a platform, opened up his white shirt, and they blew wind at him so that the white shirt ruffled behind him), I loved the concert. I got into the spirit of it, and even put my fist in the air when they told us, "Everyone! Put your fists in the air!"

At the risk of sounding old, the thing I liked about them was this: They sang a lot of songs that had good melodies.

See, they were singing 5-part harmony. In order to do that, you need to have some kind of melody. I come from a family of barbershoppers, and I love harmonies like that. I loved the concert.

So did Kim.

And it turned out that my favorite really was my favorite. First of all, he knew the word "flummoxed" and used it properly in a sentence. And then, I loved the solo he did during this picture: My dear Donnie, all in white, so ethereal:

Okay, please, do me a favor. Just focus on the lone white Donnie figure with the fabulous lighting.

Ignore the part where you can see his giant, white hat on the big screen.

(Read Kim's take on the concert here.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Blue Sweater

I started a "Zimmermania" class this year. It is based all around the patterns of the greatest knitter of all time, Elizabeth Zimmermann. The first night, I asked everyone to rate which projects they wanted to do. To my surprise, one of the top three was a yoked sweater. I have to confess that this made me happy. I had been wanting to do one of those myself.

I have 25 people in the class. Think about the pressure of making sure that 25 people have a good sweater. Think of what would happen if the project turned into a train wreck. Think of 25 angry people all in one room, all of whom carry pointy sticks. I decided that I'd better hunker down and make the whole sweater first, to be sure it worked.

I was motivated.

So for the past month, I have been knitting on the Blue Sweater every day, and I have taken it with me everywhere I have gone. This included Disney. I worked on it on the way down to Florida. After we got there, I was grateful for every hour-long wait in line. Between those waits and my "Yarn Buddy" knitting pouch, I was able to work on that Blue Sweater a lot:

(Isn't it amazing that Security didn't haul me away with my threatening t-shirt? Do you see what I mean about angry knitters and their pointy sticks?)

I worked on the Blue Sweater as we drove home. And when we got home, I kept knitting. I had a week left to do the yoke.

Kevin was patient as I ignored him and everything around me. His quilter-mother operates exactly like this, and so he understands the culture of the insane project with a deadline.

I knitted and knitted. Finally, this morning, the morning of the class, the Blue Sweater was finished. And, I have to say, all that work was worth it:

I can't wait to share it with 25 people. I think we're going to have some good sweaters in that class.