That Time I Went to the Emmys

Oh yeah, that’s right. I went to the Emmys, you guys. Let’s pretend to be cool about it.

So, my trip to Los Angeles started out with a ride in a plane, all by my lonesome since Dan couldn’t come on this trip. I already dislike flying immensely, and doing it alone…no fun at all.

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The only way to get by was with lots of knitting and reading. (Socks! Drachenschwingen by Julia Rotfeder, in Denali by Pagewood Farms, in case anyone wants to know.)

As soon as I touched down at LAX, my first adventure with an Uber driver began. We already know how one of those worked out on this trip, but trust me, this one had much less vomit involved. My first Uber driver was a fashion designer who picked up extra money on the side driving people from the airport on her way home from her studio. Or at least that’s what she told me. Either way, pretty cool.

She brought me to the adorable Tangerine Hotel in Burbank where my brother and sister-in-law were waiting for me, and we wasted no time getting started doing some touristy things.

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Like going to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and going shopping around the Walk of Fame. Humphrey Bogart seems like my kind of guy.

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I made my own chocolate bar at an otherwise disappointing candy store that I will not name here (and let’s all pretend that the name of the store isn’t on that order form or that I wasn’t so lazy that I didn’t edit the picture to remove it). Seriously, if you call yourself the world’s largest candy store, you shouldn’t have more stock in souvenir t-shirts than things that are edible.

But the chocolate bar was downright tasty. I may have missed my calling.

Then we met Lady Gaga.

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Kidding. We went to Madame Tussaud’s and had an awesome time. I will spare you the 50 or so close-up pictures that I have of celebrity faces that are entertaining only to me. I did send Dan a picture of me with Brad Pitt declaring that I was stealing his boyfriend, but he was only fooled for a second.

Who am I kidding anyway? Brad Pitt would run away with Dan in a heartbeat. I also jumped on a bicycle and channeled my best Elliott pedaling away with E.T. These are the things you do when you are a sleep-deprived person forced to get on a plane.

The next day, the Reading Rainbow Live! event happened. Go ahead and read all about it if you missed it.

Am I done talking about things that aren’t the Emmys yet?

Yes!

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Now, originally, when my brother had told me about this trip, he merely said that we’d be attending a “special event” on Sunday, and that I needed to buy a nice dress. Later, I found out exactly what the event was, which is a good thing, because I tend to go out of my way to not get dressed up for any reason. Which would have been bad.

As soon as I knew that I needed an awesome dress (and that I didn’t really want to look like I was going to the prom), I knew exactly where to go. Trashy Diva is a fantastic shop here in New Orleans that sells handmade vintage-inspired dresses with a huge range of styles, fabrics, and sizes, and there had been one calling to me for a few weeks that I just needed an excuse to splurge on.

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The Honey Child dress in the Geisha Fans print. Excuse the picture in my front hallway, but it was love at first sight. Who doesn’t want to walk into a black tie event with the most beautiful people in the world wearing a dress covered in origami swans? And I’m not one for meme-speak, but those shoes tho.

The ladies at Trashy Diva were super awesome about helping me pick the right size (which can be difficult for those of us who are just slightly larger than the sizes that stores think women are), the right shoes (with the least amount of risk of breaking my face open), and the right shapewear underneath (my first experience with the wonder that is Spanx). I started out super uncomfortable at the prospect of walking into the event at all, but with their help, I was nothing but excited (although I’m pretty sure that no matter what dress you buy, there’s pretty much no way you can eat while you’re wearing it, right?).

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My brother purchased these tickets for some sort of insane amount of money, but that doesn’t mean that you get to hang out with famous people. Nope, you get your very own red carpet, made from Astroturf, carefully separated from the real red carpet.

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And the weather was pushing 100 degrees that day, so we tried to move it along and stay out of the direct sunlight as best we could.

But, there were gaps in the fabric that separated the two sides from each other, and when I peeked through…

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Stephen Merchant! I tried to point him out to my brother and sister-in-law and the tiny crowd that had formed around us at our hidey-hole, but no one else knew who he was, which is tragic. I hope that they all investigated the Ricky Gervais Podcast, as I suggested.

At the end of our Astroturf carpet, the two red carpets sort of merged together. We were still separated by a line of plants and velvet ropes, but it was the perfect place to watch people walk majestically up and down the red carpet.

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Like Heidi Klum! She came over to the rope to fix her shoe and said hello to everyone.

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And Fred Savage! Who at first looked like he might come and smack the phone out of my hand.

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But then saw someone he knew and resumed looking adorable.

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Retta walked by, and I was in awe of her amazing pink dress. Is it covered in flower petals? Butterflies? I have no idea, but it was so lovely.

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And this dress! Oh my god, I have no idea who this gorgeous girl is (and if anyone knows, please let me know), but that dress is so cool I can’t even stand it. She walked with it held up in front of her and looked like she was gliding everywhere.

It’s moments like that that make you realize that you are probably sweating all the way through and wrinkling what you thought was your fabulous cocktail dress, ending up looking like a wet napkin next to these ridiculous goddess women.

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Speaking of goddesses…Laura Prepon, Jaimie Alexander, Laverne Cox…I felt like a lowly peasant woman. Laverne Cox came right up to us and waved at everyone and thanked them for coming. I was too busy being stunned to get a picture of her that was in focus.

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Tituss Burgess! He had everyone laughing in his interview up on the stairs.

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It was also super awesome when Jamie Lee Curtis came up to us to say hello. Not just wave and walk by, but she stopped and said that she hoped we weren’t melting in the heat (which we were) and that she hoped we were having a good time (which we also were). Her show Scream Queens is filming here in New Orleans, and I might have to keep an eye out for her now. Hers is definitely my favorite picture that I took on the red carpet.

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Taraji P. Henson just looked so incredibly happy and beautiful as she walked by and waved to everyone.

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And to cap it all off, I saw Gwendoline Christie…

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And Nikolaj Coster-Waldau right at the end, very nearly in the same frame. I don’t think my brain would have been able to handle it if I had gotten Brienne and Jaime in the same picture, so it’s good that they spared me. Gwendoline Christie looked like a Greek statue come to life. She is so beautiful that it pains me.

Now, time for some fun Emmy facts. They sell all kinds of snacks and beverages in the theatre, but they don’t let you go to your seat with any of it.

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So I basically slammed down a flute of champagne because I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to hack it in those shoes much longer.

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We were sitting right in the middle of the loge section, which is the second-highest area in the theatre, so even though you could see the people on stage, you couldn’t make out anything in terms of actual facial expressions. No fear, though, there are huge screens on the sides of the stage to help the audience actually see the show.

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This is what it looked like during a commercial break for the most part.

One of the coolest things about the set was where the band was sitting, which, from what I gathered from those who watched it on TV, was tragically not really revealed to them.

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The band was inside of the giant scenic column the entire time, hidden by the rings of video screens. How freaking cool is that? During every commercial break, the band would continue playing long after the lights came up, and then the video screens would display for the audience how long they had before the live broadcast started again. (Oh, and I can’t leave out that before the show started, they had whatever football game was playing on Fox up on those screens. One of the guys behind us said, “They have the game on? This is the best day!”)

Usually the band would stop playing rather abruptly when there was 1-2 minutes left so that they could pick up on the right section when the show started again. Then, the whole audience would hear the stage manager call the time left before the feed picked back up again. There were requests for applause at strategic moments, and we were told to respectfully stay quiet during the “In Memoriam” section.

Also, when you see the show live, you don’t get to see the moments where the winners walk to stage. I imagine this is because if the cameramen caught the video screens on the side in their frame, it would probably loop back and cause one of those infinite loop things that seemed very cool back when I was in my high school television class. You don’t get to hear the announcer lady with the interesting facts about each winner either. You just clap and clap and clap until you can’t clap anymore.

I’m trying to sit and process and pick out my favorite moments from the show for you, but the whole thing just seems like a blur now. I clapped and screamed my heart out for Jeffrey Tambor, Allison Janney, Uzo Aduba, Peter Dinklage, Jon Hamm, and Tracy Morgan — that at least I remember. I delighted in Andy Samberg, just like I normally do. I engaged in a battle of wits with a dude sitting on my left that thought that he needed both armrests at all times so that he could text more efficiently, I guess.

Most of all, I had fun.

Then we made it a point to get back to the hotel as soon as possible, change out of those crazy black tie outfits, and eat a whole bunch of pizza. It was great.

Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high! (Reading Rainbow Scarf Updates)

It was a little over a week ago when I got on a plane to Los Angeles, with a super special scarf in tow. More on the details of the trip later, let’s get to the Reading Rainbow goodness.

20150919_140422The Reading Rainbow Live! event was held at YouTube Space LA, a new venue for video-makers and collaborators, located conveniently in the middle of a whole bunch of construction that throws off everyone’s GPS in a bad way. Our poor Uber driver was so confused trying to get us into the space, and I didn’t help things along by getting super carsick along the way.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, on my way to meet LeVar Burton, a childhood hero, I got so sick that I threw up in a paper bag inside our Uber car. Luckily, we were at a corner where I could run outside and compose myself like a decent human being (as well as take a little walk to throw away my…bag of vomit…I am still horrified at myself), but the stop-and-go traffic and the multiple winding turns around all that construction made my stomach flip. When we finally got there, most of us no worse for wear, they had little tents set up with water and snacks, and I was overjoyed to have a little time to calm down.

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They also gave us tiny LeVars to tag with our latest adventures in reading on Instagram. Cute.

20150919_143044All of my pictures from this are from behind 3 rows of seats, plus it wasn’t super bright in there, so do forgive any blurriness. While we waited for the event to start, we were treated to clips from older shows, plus an awesome auto-tuned song put together from old clips.

I am not ashamed to say that I was tearing up a little. There were colorful mats spread out all over the floor in front of the audience seating full of children, and it occurred to me that this might be the first time they were ever getting to experience Reading Rainbow and being in a room full of adults who love reading, and it made me a little emotional.

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Mark Wolfe, business partner and co-founder of RRKIDZ, started everything off by thanking the donors and telling them how successful the new Reading Rainbow app has been, as well as telling everyone about their new venture Skybrary, a huge collection of children’s books and video “field trips” (I never knew that’s what they called the live-actions parts. That’s adorable.) that are accessible from cloud storage to homes and classrooms all over the world. How cool. I wish there would have been something like that available when I was growing up, but then I doubt I would have ever come up for air if there were.

20150919_144648Then, Mr. Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, Jr. himself came out, to thunderous applause.

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He introduced two videos, the first being the old episode of Reading Rainbow where they visit the set of Star Trek: the Next Generation and get to see all of the behind-the-scenes action. The next one was the first “field trip” for the new series, all about the history of space travel and the MAVEN launch from the Kennedy Space Center.

Again, tears welled up. You guys, it was so good. And just like I remembered. Interesting facts, beautiful photography, all delivered with the skilled hands of master educators…people who know that the best way to get kids to learn is to not talk down to them or make things too simple. Just make it cool, and kids will follow.

After that, it was time for a story, which meant it was time for some celebrity storytellers.

20150919_145354Jonathan Frakes. If you didn’t have a crush on Riker, you’re just lying to yourself. Jennifer Hetrick (Vash, from TNG and Deep Space Nine) came out right after that, but I didn’t get a good picture of her.

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Armin Shimerman, the friendliest Ferengi you ever did see.

20150919_145512Jeri Ryan! So lovely.

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Michael Dorn, looking simultaneously exactly like and nothing at all like what I imagined under all of that Worf makeup.

20150919_145608Rosalind Chao, who I didn’t even know was involved with Star Trek at all, but I’ve seen the movie of The Joy Luck Club so many times that I don’t even care. Not pictured, Robert Picardo from Voyager because I was too short to ever see him over there on the side. Then, we got some video from someone who wished he could be there.

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Oh, Brent Spiner. Data was the best.

20150919_145840Oh wait.

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He came! Yay!

20150919_145951We were treated to a storytime featuring Miss Martin Is a Martian by Colleen Murray Fisher.

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20150919_150559They were all so fun and animated during the storytime, and the pages were projected onto the video screens so that everyone could see, not just the kids up front. It was such a wonderful idea. Then, we were treated to more videos from Star Trek cast members who wished they could attend.

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Like Marina Sirtis!

20150919_151111And Gates McFadden, who really might be one of the most adorable people on Earth. Did you know she was a choreographer for Jim Henson Productions? Yep, she choreographed the beautiful waltz from Labyrinth and the stylized movements from the warring tribes in The Dark Crystal. That is so freaking cool. Then, one last guest arrived before the next storytime.

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Kate Mulgrew! The applause was ridiculous.

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She helped the gang read Watch Out for Wolfgang by Paul Carrick, a very weird and fun Three Little Pigs-esque story with robots.

After storytime and more clapping (so much clapping), it was time for something they called Star Trek Trivia, but was basically a big game of Taboo with Star Trek terms. The casts split up into two teams to duke it out.

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There was a lot of wild gesturing and arm flailing. And cheating! Jonathan Frakes really just likes to yell out the answers when it isn’t his turn.

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It was a lot of fun to see how much they still remembered from their shows. Q&A came next, and Kate Mulgrew had two of the greatest answers to really wonderful questions from the audience.

20150919_152946When asked how to encourage children to read from an early age, she said to read in front of them and to them all the time. Kids pick up on these behaviors and imitate them, so the best way for your kids to start reading is to be a reader yourself. Much applause. Then, when asked to comment on her experiences being a role model for young girls who wanted to become scientists, she declared that it was the whole reason why she took the role in the first place. She wanted to inspire others to follow those dreams, and the people at the event who were affected by her performance were all the validation that she’d ever need for taking the job.

Damn, that woman is amazing.

And anyway, that’s it.

…..

Just kidding. We all want to know what happened with the scarf, right? At least, I hope we do.

After the event, they cleared us all out of the space in order to rearrange some things and get set up for pictures. Unfortunately, Brent Spine and Kate Mulgrew had to leave early, so they couldn’t stay for the pictures. Then, we got lined up again and they let groups in a few at a time. YouTube used its own official camera for the event, and each group got their photo taken and then was shuffled out of the space.

I panicked a little. I had the scarf wrapped up in my purse with my cute little handwritten note. I didn’t realize I was only going to have 20 seconds of time to explain myself before the line had to move again.

When we got up to the front, I walked up to LeVar Burton (yes, I just wrote that sentence, which is crazy) and opened up the wrapping for him, handing him the card and telling him that I made him a present. He was a little confused at first because I think he didn’t realize that I was talking to him. He looked back at me and said, “This is for me? Thank you so much! Why don’t we go ahead and take the picture?”

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He’s wearing it! And look at all of their adorable smiling faces, along with me, my brother, and my sister-in-law! Everyone is so good-looking!

As I started to walk away, his assistant stopped me and said, “Did you make this?” When I said yes, Jeri Ryan called out, “Wait, you made that? It’s beautiful!” My brain short-circuited and all I could do was smile and nod. I watched as LeVar put my card in his pocket, and his assistant grabbed the scarf and folded it up. She said, “I’ll be sure that it goes in his office. I can’t believe you made this!” Again, more smiling and nodding. I thanked her profusely, and then it was over. We were shuffled out into the daylight, me with a big giant grin on my face.

Now, that seems like a lot to handle for one day(hell, for the whole trip), but stay tuned for another post on my LA trip that involves a whole ridiculous amount of celebrities, an astroturf carpet, and holding it together in a new dress and high heels, which I am not known to do.

Mr. Burton, I made you a scarf.

I wanted to start this post by talking about Reading Rainbow, but it’s honestly a difficult thing to put into words.

20150916_100300I have always been a reader for as long as I can remember. A voracious reader. According to my mom, I started reading by myself at age 3, thanks to the greatest Little Golden book ever, The Monster at the End of This Book. I made my mom read that book to me over and over again every night until I had memorized the entire thing, and then I started reading it to her instead.

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In either first or second grade, my class participated in some sort of Newbery-sponsored reading contest where you could record all of the books that you read during the school year, and the person who read the most in the class got a special medal. Much to my parents’ chagrin, I used my Scholastic book order to go off on a crazy self-inflicted reading binge, finishing over 40 books that year. The next highest number in my class was 10. This was probably the first time that I have approached a challenge in this way, competing all by myself for an award that no one else really gives a crap about, but it was certainly not the last.

20150916_130532Whenever my brother and I got home from school, PBS was always the first thing on our minds. We would watch 3-2-1 Contact, Square One, and Reading Rainbow every single chance we got and revel in this world where the kids who liked math and science and reading were the norm. Reading Rainbow in particular was my favorite. I would write my own book summaries in the back of my school notebooks, hoping one day to deliver them professionally in the “You don’t have to take my word for it” section. I loved the extended storytimes where the book pages were animated on the screen and made the story come alive. And I especially loved it when LeVar Burton was on some sort of adventure that tied in with all of the featured books, like going to Space Camp or digging up dinosaur bones.

Last year, my brother and his wife told me that they were donating to the Kickstarter campaign to revive Reading Rainbow as an interactive app, and I thought that was a fantastic idea. Then, later, they told me that because of their donation, they were invited to go to a Reading Rainbow event in Los Angeles sometime this summer. Then, they told me that part of the cast of Star Trek: the Next Generation was going to be involved. Then, they asked me if I would like to go with them.

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Attentive readers will know where my brain went next. I decided that not only did I need to go to this event, but that I also needed to knit LeVar Burton a Reading Rainbow scarf. Because, of course.

20150912_18212320150914_170017 I wanted to make something reminiscent of the original Reading Rainbow logo (which I never noticed only has 5 colors in it! Did anyone else ever notice this?), so I headed down to McNeedles, an LYS that is becoming one of my favorite places to be, and told them my master plan. Not only were they on board, they helped me pick out exactly the bright, primary rainbow of colors that I wanted. Knitters understand these things.

20150915_172113It’s got a big color-blocked section on one side, with all of the accompanying ends to weave in. And then a big duplicate-stitched golden double-R on the other, like the original logo. 20150915_173703 I didn’t bother writing anything down for it, because if you can make a Harry Potter scarf like this one, you can just wing it and make it whatever size you want.

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This one is made out of Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted and Nature Spun Worsted, with 50 stitches cast on in a tube and lots o’ blue fringe to close up the ends.

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Also, I’ve taken special steps to make sure that we don’t have another Jeff the Squirrel debacle, just in case.

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Cap definitely approves of the labeling. And the color scheme, too, I think. Primary red and blue all the way.

20150916_131047Here it is modeled by the lovely Michele, friend and coworker and extreme lover of books. She approves as well.

Now, I have absolutely no idea if this Reading Rainbow event will include any sort of Q&A or meet-and-greet or quick hand-shaking, but I do know that I’ve got to be more aggressive in getting this to Mr. Burton himself. So, I’m calling on you guys out there in Internetland. If you’ve got the means to let somebody know about this so that he knows about it, please do. Help me out. Take to the Twitters and Tumblrs and Facebooks and let LeVar Burton know how much you love him and appreciate him and let him know that one of us has a labor of love to give him at this event on Saturday the 19th.

Also, it would be great to make sure that I do not come across as the creepiest person ever.

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I’ll do my part, but I really need your help in making sure that this thing doesn’t end up in a trash can in some event hall after the show. I normally don’t ask for stuff like, but this one’s super important to me, guys.

I am so excited for Saturday that I can’t even come up with a good way to end this post. Oh man. Reading Rainbow is so awesome. Go watch it on Netflix right this second. You’ll be glad you did.