Friday, November 7, 2014

Halloween: Rubik's Cube Costume

Best Halloween Ever - 1980, Halloween birthday party. Pre-Pinterest, Mom put together a haunted house in our terrifying-under-normal-circumstances basement. Party guests were blindfolded and touched a dead man's "eyeballs" (peeled grapes), "intestines" (cold spaghetti noodles), and hand (surgical glove filled with wet sand). I dressed like a fortune teller in some hippie clothes borrowed from Mom's artist friend.

Worst Halloween Ever - 1993, Austin, Texas. I woke up to find out that River Phoenix had overdosed outside the Viper Room and (unrelated) that my Toyota Carolla had been towed to a dump/impound lot in southeast Austin.  I spent November 1st bumming a ride to the lot (guarded by an actual junkyard dog) and retrieving my car from a guy who, between his lack of teeth and heavy Texas drawl, was nearly impossible for me to understand. Okay, technically that was the worst November 1st ever, but since the precipitating events actually occurred on October 31st, I'm calling them for Halloween. If only the Internet had been around, I could have crowd-sourced my $75 towing fee like this girl did when she took an unexpectedly pricey Uber.

In other news, someone needs to come up with a funny Uber picture, because this is all the Internet's got:

2010's favorite meme subject, Ryan Gosling:


and, of course:

Let's get some new meme material. I'm old and I've grown bored with Hey, Girl and The Most Interesting Man. I will never say a bad word about Oprah because she could find and destroy me. Plus, this will never not make me laugh. That Oprah, rich as she is, would take a road trip is amazing (even if she made her BFF Gale King do all the driving). You'd never catch Streisand and Walters on a road trip; no makeup, dirty hair, eating Corn Nuts and drinking Mr. Pibb, nary a soft focus filter in sight.  

So, I'm totally off the main point of this post, which is to talk about Halloween and my birthday, which happens to be on Halloween. As soon as I had kids, my birthday doesn't even take a backseat to Halloween. My birthday is on the roof rack like Aunt Edna. Generally, this is fine because I've reached a point where each birthday is just another step on the slow march towards Depends and dentures, so ignoring it gives me some peace of mind. This year, I distracted myself further by making the Boy's costume. When the kids were picking costumes, it looked like I might have a total reprieve. The Girl decided to be a witch, which was very easy since she's been a witch for the last two years. She has already announced that she's going to be a witch next year "it's kind of like my thing." The Baby decided to wear a bear costume that I bought for the Girl to wear in 2005. It's a size 3T. The Baby wears a size 6x (which, why do we have 6x? Why does this size exist, but only for girls? Thanks, Google! Best line in the linked article, "Once boys turn 2, they are out of jon jons and into polo shirts for the rest of their lives." Or, into Minecraft t-shirts and torn sweatpants!) so the costume ended just below her knees. But, they were done, so who cared if the Girl's costume smelled like sweat and sugar? Who cared if the Baby's costume was meant for a toddler? They were content with their choices.

Then the Boy announced, "I want to be a Rubik's Cube." Errr, okay. "Not a baseball player?" I suggested, thinking of the bajillion baseball uniforms he has in his closet. "No. A Rubik's Cube," he said. The Boy has a knack for coming up with obscure costumes that are not readily available. The first year that "Super Why!" was on television, he decided he wanted to be Wyatt. There was one company making the costume and I paid through the teeth for a Wyatt costume that was so flimsy, it seemed to be held together with promises of stitches, instead of actual thread. At the height of the Angry Birds popularity, he decided he wanted to dress like the white Angry Bird, which, of course, was the one Bird without a mass-produced costume. Thank goodness, we had the best babysitter, who also happened to be very handy and she made him a shirt:

He seemed determined to be a Rubik's Cube, so I searched for the easiest Rubik's Cube costume-making directions that I could find. Thanks to the Internet, no one has to figure out how to make anything or do anything on his or her own. You just copy someone else's work. Generally, this has worked to my advantage because I'm not crafty, but I'm very good at following directions. However, there is a downside, which is a bland uniformity. Recently, I talked to a friend who was cursing how unoriginal we've all become because of Pinterest. "If I go to another party with burlap flags and Mason jars, I'll scream." I think her point is well taken. Another problem is that what is presented as an easy and successful project, may be more difficult and less successful in amateur hands. Case in point, the Rubik's Cube costume.

I followed these directions, but should have taken note that the blog is by someone who calls herself "Design Mom," something that I would never be called unless someone stamped a design on my back while I wasn't paying attention. So, here are her directions for making a Rubik's Cube costume, with my "yes, but in the real world" commentary:

1. Get a Box - Design Mom didn't have one the right size, so she cut a rectangular box into a square. I don't do geometry, so I spent $5 at the UPS store for an 18x18 box. Bonus: The guy at the UPS store asked if it was for moving or storage and when I told him it was for my son's Rubik's Cube Halloween costume, it seriously made his day. He went and got a box without any printing on it, so I could have a clean slate with which to work.

I should say that the only printing was this self-congratulatory
and superfluous printing on the bottom of the box. 
2. Get some card stock, black spray paint, and an Exacto Knife - I bought all at Michaels. The card stock should be in Rubik's Cube colors. The goal is to have nine 5" squares on each side, so if you can find card stock already cut to that size, get that. My cards were 6x6 which meant I had to cut each one down to size, which was very time-consuming (see number 6, below).

3. Tape the box together - Design Mom cut the head and arm holes first and then taped the box, but I was afraid I'd screw it up if I couldn't see the box set up. I might have cut arm holes in adjacent sides, which would only be helpful if the Boy had one arm and a tail. I know it seems an unlikely mistake to make, which is why someone like Design Mom didn't think of it, but for a craft-impaired person like me, these traps are everywhere. I also cut off the bottom flaps so the Boy had a place for his legs.

4. Cut arm and head holes in the box - Once the box was taped together, I used a small bowl to trace the arm holes and a larger bowl for the head hole:


Good news! If you stop at this step your kid can go as
"thinking outside the box" for Halloween. 
5. Paint it Black - Who knew that the Rolling Stones were so into DIY Halloween costumes when they wrote that song? Haul the box outside and spray away. The good news with this step is that the whole box is going to be covered with the card stock squares, so no one will notice if you do a crappy job painting. This is a good opportunity to let children help because it's unlikely that they will ruin the costume. They may, however misdirect the spray paint and inadvertently tag the neighbor's house.

6. Spend a week cutting card stock to size - Okay, here's the part that Design Mom failed to adequately prepare me for. Cutting an inch-long strip off of two sides of 45 squares is really tedious work. Design Mom said that the entire costume took her an hour and a half to make (excluding drying time). Weeellll, yes. If you are the kind of person who can patiently, carefully cut those squares to size in one sitting without either: 1) losing your mind or 2) getting so sloppy that your squares look like trapezoids, then yes, it is theoretically possible to make this costume in an hour and a half. I like to think I have a good attention span and I couldn't cut more than ten without starting to get stabby with the scissors. Oh, and by the way, scissors to cut down the card stock worked way better than the Exacto Knife. However, I did manage to slice off part of our ruler with the Exacto knife.

7. Tape the Squares on to the box - Design Mom used double sided tape to attach her squares to the costume, so I took her recommendation. This method had its pros and cons. It was good because it is easy to reposition squares that don't line up properly. It also requires zero crafty skills to tape, which is perfect because I happen to possess zero crafty skills. The problem with the double sided tape is that it doesn't stick all that well, so the squares start to fall off. The tape also doesn't seem to have a long stickiness-life. So, I finished the red side a week before Halloween and those squares were all falling off by October 30th. The sides I finished at the last minute held up through trick-or-treating much better. I read another Rubik's Cube costume tutorial that you can use spray adhesive. I'm sure that would hold better, but then you can't reposition squares as easily and (I'm guessing) the adhesive spray might bleed through.

The finished product
Side view

8. Cut out the paper that overlaps the arm and head holes - This was also one of those things that Design Mom threw out there without any acknowledgement that it's easier said than done. I taped everything down and then looked at the box from the inside so I could see where the card stock overlapped the hole. I used the Exacto knife to cut out the overlapping cards, using one of my cardboard scraps as the cutting surface. This isn't super easy, but you've got to do it, or the costume will look really lame. As you're cursing the fact that the Exacto Knife is sharp enough to slice off a finger, yet somehow not sharp enough to cut through card stock, just think about how you can lord this moment over your child when he claims you've never done anything for him.

9. Spacing the squares - Don't make the same mistake that I made. I realized after I'd already taped down the squares on one side that it looks better to have the squares clustered in the middle, leaving a larger margin on the sides. Our Rubik's Cube costume is now like Mariah Carey and will only allow its best side to be photographed.

Note that this is not just something you can wear on Halloween. You could probably also bust this out if you get invited to a Pi Day party. I'm already brainstorming for next Halloween. The Boy wants to go as a Speak and Spell:

Just kidding, thank goodness. 

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