Archive for the 'writing' Category

My myopic music review: I like this Social Experiment

The temperature was 90+ degrees in Chicago Wednesday. Our time at a rap concert outside at Grant Park that night was hot — in more ways than one.

I wrote a post earlier this week about my quest to understand what young people are listening to these days. If the musicians we heard in the Petrillo Band Shell Wednesday night are any indication, those kids have very good taste! The Taste of Chicago concert was free if you stood on the lawn, and thousands upon thousands of teenagers and 20-somethings gathered there peacefully — and happily — to hear Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment, The Roots, and … Chance the Rapper, a last minute addition. My disability status allowed me $25 seats in the shell. We opted for those. It wasn’t long before Mike guided me to a walkway behind our seats, though. I needed to stand up — and dance!

Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment opened the show. Donnie’s real name is Nico Segal, he’s a good friend of my friend Chance the Rapper, and he plays, guess what? The trumpet. A lot of people were there Wednesday to see Chance the Rapper, but if you ask me, it was The Social Experiment’s time to shine. The band features three trumpets, a trombone, two sax players, two keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, and … vibes. I really, really, really liked The Social Experiment.

Before Wednesday, I hadn’t quite taken to this rap thing. I’d assumed rap was more talk than music. I have trouble understanding what they’re saying. I can’t see to watch them do their cool moves. But The Social Experiment changed all that for me. It’s horns, back-up singers, and rap — all in one.

Donnie Trumpet, The Social Experiment and Chance the Rapper. A beautiful night.

Donnie Trumpet, The Social Experiment and Chance the Rapper. A beautiful night.

The band’s performance was a 21st century variety show. Donnie brought one young performer on stage after another, boasting over and over again to the audience that “These musicians are all from Chicago!” I especially liked Michael Golden, one of many rappers who came out to perform with the band. He had his Go lyrics choreographed, so sometimes, when he’d repeat a phrase, like, say, “Don’t Go, don’t go” the guys on stage would chorus along, often in harmony. Like Motown! Female singers in the background were doing harmony, too — beautiful.

I read up on Donnie Trumpet a.k.a. Nico Segal a little bit and learned that he has Cuban background. That might explain the band’s Afro-Cuban sound. The music The Social Experiment played Wednesday also combined gospel, doo-wop, Motown, rhythms like Prince used, jazz like Miles Davis played, reggae and even … marching band. You couldn’t help but dance to it.

Mike and I were so sweaty it was gross to hold each other. Whitney the Seeing Eye dog stayed home (she doesn’t like crowds) so I unfolded my white cane and danced with it instead. About half an hour into Social Experiment, Chance made his entry, the audience went ballistic, and the exhiliration left Mike and me laughing — with joy.

It wasn’t all fun, though. Many of the lyrics I heard Wednesday touched on violence and chaos. A Chicago Tribune review of Chance the Rapper described his Paranoia trac “as incisive and moving a perspective on Chicago’s poverty-stricken killing zone as any piece of art.” In the article, Chance talked about growing up on Chicago’s South Side. “You have to be around it, you get sensitive to the sound and sight of a fight, the way a gun sounds — it doesn’t sound like the movies,” Chance told the reporter. “The idea of having friends who passed before they were 16, 17, you realize other people who aren’t from here aren’t like that, and they fear us.”

The concert was on Wednesday, the night before this week’s shootings in Dallas. Alton Sterling had been killed by a police officer in Baton Rouge the day before, and after the crowd took a moment of silence to ponder that, Donnie Trumpet stepped back up to the mike. “Moments of silence should be followed by moments of joy.”

Chance and the band responded with a version of the song “Blessings” and its refrain, “I’m gon’ praise him, praise him, ‘til I’m gone.” It was moving — and exhilarating — to be in the midst of thousands of happy, peaceful fans enjoying music together.

And so, with this post today, I’m gon’ praise Chance, Donnie Trumpet, The Social Experiment, the fans, the Chicago Park District, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the security staff for providing such an eye-opening, ahem, night to this middle-aged blind music lover.

I’ll leave you here with another Chance the Rapper quote from the Chicago Tribune, this one about his track called Paranoia.

”In Chicago people are afraid too. So to say, ‘I know you’re scared,’ it’s a kid speaking to an adult, to anyone who is outside this. He’s saying, ‘I’m in the same position, I’m scared too.’ I can’t be inattentive or unprepared. Because they could pull on me at any time. It’s fear of the next step. That song is saying if everyone would stop and say how they feel, we might realize we have a lot more in common than we thought.”

Beth’s night at the Emerald City dance club

In my playwriting post last week I promised a second post with more details on my failed attempt to memorize and perform a monologue without being able to see the script – or the audience.

I wrote my two-minute dog monolog on my talking computer, then listened to it line by line and repeated the lines one at a time onto a voice recorder. Throughout the week I’d listen to the recording, and I made a special point to do so before swimming laps for exercise. That way I could rehearse underwater, too.

And still, I arrived at class the next week feeling uneasy, and, of course, I flubbed my lines. So. Is it more difficult to memorize a script when you can’t read print? Would reading my monolog over and over throughout the week (rather than listening to it) have made my memorization efforts more of a success?

I don’t know.

The next classs went much better. We didn’t have to hand in that assignment, we just had to perform it. The teachers wouldn’t have my script in front of them. They couldn’t know if I was memorizing or ad libbing. Performing my piece in class this past Saturday was far less nerve-racking.

Our homework last week was to choose a famous book or play or movie, write a two-minute interpretation of that work, and perform it as a play in class. The play could be a one-person show or we could ask fellow students to take parts, too.

Our class is studying the Too Much Light (TML) style. We’re creating very short minimalist plays. No costumes (actors just wear their street clothes) and no elaborate set design. Each short play starts by announcing the title and saying, “Go!” Plays end by simply calling out “Curtain!”

A teacher sat next to me to describe the action when my classmates performed their pieces Saturday. I was one of three classmates helping one writer perform his interpretation of Batman, another enlisted other students to perform her piece on Harry Potter.

I was born to play the part. Here I am with friends at a high school costume party in 1976 -- we're dressed as the characters from Wizard of Oz. (photo courtesy of Laura Gale).

I was born to play the part. Here I am with friends at a high school costume party in 1976 — we’re dressed as the characters from Wizard of Oz. (photo courtesy of Laura Gale).

My favorite was the two-minute interpretation of the movie Titanic: It opened with a woman sitting in a chair with her back to us, hugging herself, moaning and making kissy sounds throughout the entire two-minute play. This was a minimalist portrayal of a character making out with someone non-stop. A second actor would periodically approach the make-out artist, nudge her chair and say, “Hey!” You know, like, “Hey – I’m out here!” The make-out artist wouldn’t even look, just simply shake her off.

The actor doing the nudging happens to use a wheelchair, which, to me, made the scene even more effective. She’d roll away, come back, nudge the make-out artist’s chair, say “Hey!” and be shaken off, then roll away and come back and say “Hey!” Over and over again.

Finally the nudger showed up with a water pitcher in her lap. This time, after saying “Hey!” she poured the pitcher of water over the make-out artist’s head. “Curtain!” There you have it: The make-out artist portrayed Kate Winslett’s character in Titanic, the nudger played the iceberg, and the entire movie that one an Oscar for best picture in 1997 was over in two minutes.

I chose The Wizard of Oz, figuring I could be Dorothy, and my Seeing Eye dog could play Toto. Our TML teachers had urged us to consider the theme of the work we’d be interpreting, so my free time the week before was spent pondering no place like home, the ruby slippers, clicking three times, and Dorothy’s dance segments with the scarecrow and the Tin Man.

Which led me to wonder: Why didn’t Dorothy dance with the cowardly lion? And that’s when it came to me. The Wizard of Oz as a night at a dance club. My class mates and teachers liked the idea and had plenty of recommendations afterwards of ways to enhance the script and my performance. I’ll end this post now with my original script. Enjoy!

Scene opens with me talking to Seeing Eye dog Whitney as we walk on stage, my feet obviously hurting.

Me: Man, she really was a witch, wasn’t she?

We stop in front of the stage, facing the audience.

Me: These shoes are killing me.

I lean down to adjust them, get a kiss from my dog and stay down there to talk with her face to face.

Me: We leave the farm, head to the city, try to meet Mr. Right, and jeez. The first guy was nice and all, but boy was he dumb. The second one was so stiff, and that third guy, what a chicken. God these shoes hurt.

I fumble with the shoes and finally stand up again to face the audience.

Me: These damn shoes! They’re so tight they won’t come off…

I run the heel of one shoe off the other, obviously struggling to get that one shoe off, to no avail.

me, grunting: One!

I run the heel of the second shoe off the first shoe, obviously struggling to shove that second shoe off, to no avail.

me, grunting again: Two!

I repeat with the first shoe, trying one last time, obviously struggling, to no avail.

me, grunting again: Three!


When I grow up, I want to be a hair model

After Prince died, I asked the writers in my memoir classes to write a 500-word essay about a celebrity’s death that made them especially sad. We published writer Bob Eisenberg’s essay about Vidal Sassoon here, and it inspired my young friend Tara to publish an essay about Vidal Sassoon on her taraisarockstar blog as well. “His passing was very sad for me, too,” Tara wrote. “I’m not a hairstylist, but his technique became a major part of my life.” She gave me permission to excerpt from her post here on our Safe & Sound blog, and here’s that excerpt:

How Vidal Sassoon changed my life

by taraisarockstar

When I entered the London Sassoon Academy as a shy 18 year old girl, the creative director asked, “Are you looking for a change?” I had no idea that phrase would be the caption of my life for the next fourteen years.

That's Tara modeling backstage, purple hair, Midwest Hair Show (photo of haircut by Tim Hartley)

That’s Tara modeling backstage, purple hair, Midwest Hair Show (photo of haircut by Tim Hartley)

Every few months, I was given the opportunity to hair model for the Vidal Sassoon salon in London and back home in Chicago. The hair modeling adventure pulled me in, and, like any other addiction, I couldn’t stop. The company made such an impact that I became a receptionist for the Chicago salon for five years.

I am a platform for the seasonal hair collections. With the color and cut changing every few months, my hair attracts attention wherever I go. Total strangers stop me walking down Michigan Avenue to ask, “Where did you get your haircut?”

The day I met Vidal started as a typical day of prepping for a hair show at the salon. Stylists pacing, cutting, and shaping hair. The local stylists made room for the international creative team as they poured in from various cities to Chicago, finding their creative space.

The international creative director was cutting my hair as Vidal strolled into the salon. Some stylists cheered. Some cried. I sat on the edge of my seat.

Sassoon stood, arms crossed, and watched Tim Hartley cut my hair. After a few moments, he whispered to Tim that he needed to add this haircut to the next collection. He took pictures with the staff, gave hugs and left.

His technique, taught in salons throughout the world, demonstrates to stylists how to treat hair like a canvas and hairstyling an art. They see geometric shapes, vibrant colors, dimensions. They find inspiration in architecture.

I admire these stylists and colorists who devote their lives to this evolving hair education. Truly, I see how the stylists admire the man who changed the world with his pioneering hair techniques. In the midst of devoting their lives to his method, the experience of meeting Vidal was meeting their idol. An icon. I am glad that I got to be a small part of it all. Thank you, Vidal, for changing my life.

A two-minute dog monolog

I’m trying something new this summer, taking this weekly playwriting class at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago.

Over the course of 10 weekly 3-hour sessions that start on June 4, 2016, students will explore the process of creating a 2-minute play in the Too Much Light style, writing and crafting pieces based on true life experiences. The class will introduce tenets of honesty, brevity, audience connection and random chance, and will examine specific play formulas and styles that recur on stage– including monologues, object theatre, and even the difficult shortie play. The workshop culminates in a student-written performance of Too Much Light at Victory Gardens on August 13th, presented and performed for the public. In partnership with Victory Gardens’ Artist Development Workshop, Intro to TML at VG offers an opportunity to study the fundamentals of Neo-Futurism in a physically accessible setting, with accommodations provided for any student with a disability. Artists with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply, and will be given preference in acceptance into the workshop. (The class is open to everyone; however we will strive to maintain a majority of artists with disabilities in the class.)

Whitney makes the most of travel time.

Whitney makes the most of travel time.

Without being able to see the other participants, I’m not sure how many of us have disabilities. The first day of class, though, a voice rang out at about my height and requested I pull Whitney completely under the chair I was sitting in. “I don’t want to run over her!” Aha! That classmate uses a wheelchair.

We all got to work right away on our first day. Introductions, exercises to help us relax, exercises to loosen up, a game to inspire creative word choice, then freewriting — we wrote continuously for five minutes, without worrying about spelling or grammar. Topic: Something I Feel Strongly About.

After five minutes of freewriting we took a 15-minute break. Then we got right back at it. Teachers read a few Too Much Light monologues out loud for us. We discussed ways those writers utilized good word choice, unexpected props, and unique staging to make their one-person play more interesting. Our homework? Transform our freewriting “Something I Feel Strongly About” exercise into a two-minute monolog based on a true-life experience. We’d each use a prop and unique staging to perform our monolog in class the next week.

My freewriting exercise betrayed my disgust with people who fake or lie about a disability to pass their pet off as a service dog. My Seeing Eye dog Whitney served as my prop and I took suggestions from the teachers about staging. Writing the monologue was fairly easy. Memorizing it? Miserable. Performing it in front of my classmates? Painful! More on memorizing without being able to read print and performing without being able to see the audience in a future blog post. For today, I’ll leave you here with my monologue script:

Scene opens with a person sitting in a straight back chair, an empty chair right behind that person, me standing and holding the back of the empty chair, my Seeing Eye dog at my side.

Me: My Seeing Eye dog leads me down the jetway and onto the plane whenever I fly somewhere. When we get to our seat, I sit down first.

I sit down in the empty seat.

Me: Then I tell her to lie down.

I point to the ground and give Whitney the “down” command.

Me: I picture her like a pile of logs.

I lean down and start shoving Whitney underneath the seat in front of me. Thanks to that person’s weight in the chair, it stays still while I squeeze Whitney under. I say the next lines while continuing to get her situated.

Me: I shove shove shove her back under the seat in front of me. She sighs a sad surrender And lays her head between my shoes.

Whitney does that.

Me: One time while I was leaning down to get Wonder Dog all situated the teenager sitting next to me tapped my back and said she had, like, this really, like, funny story to tell me. I brushed my hand over Wonder Dog’s distressed leather harness one last time to make sure her flat back was completely under the seat

I Brush my hand over Whitney’s harness.

Me: My fingers spidered over to curl her tail under, too…

I spider my fingers down to Whitney’s tail and remain down there checking her out during the next couple lines.

Me: …so it wouldn’t get run over by the shaky drink cart. Finally confident that Wonder Dog was safe and sound, I scratched her nose and sat up for the funny story.

I scratch Whitney’s nose, and once I’m confident she’s under, I sit up again to deliver the next lines.

Me: The teenager told me she was traveling alone. She told me she was an only child. She told me she had a dog. She told me her German Shepherd was like a brother to her. She told me they hated to leave her brother at home when they traveled.

She told me her dad came up with an answer. “My dad wears sunglasses,” she said. “He, like, acts like he’s, like blind.” The teenager was laughing so hard she could hardly tell the rest. You know, about how her dad, like, had somebody at the leather shop, like, make one of those, like, harness things for Rusty. “He pretends Rusty’s a Seeing Eye dog and, like, brings him on the plane,” she said. “Can you, like, believe that?”

I lean down again to make sure Whitney is still secure under the seat in front of me. I stay down there with her to deliver the last two-word line.

Me: I could.

9 things to throw away

Today's guest blogger, Nancy Lerman.

Today’s guest blogger, Nancy Lerman.

My assignment to write a 500-word essay about One Thing I Own that I Should Throw Away but Probably Never Will exposed a few of the writers in my memoir classes as…gasp….hoarders! Nancy Lerman, one of the youngest writers in my classes, is one of the packrats, and she managed to avoid writing about something she should throw away by skipping the next class.

The following week I assigned “Nine” in honor of Anna Perlberg’s memoir, The House in Prague. Anna is a writer in one of my classes, and her memoir starts in present tense from her nine-year-old point of view. Writers could do an essay about themselves as nine-year-olds or use the number nine in any other way they chose. Here is Nancy’s “Nine” essay in its entirety (the “Michael” she refers to in the essay is her husband, and “Evan” is their 27-year-old son).

by Nancy Lerman

Last week’s assignment was to write about one object we should give away but never will. That topic hit too close to home.

I am a packrat. My closets overflow with shoes, sweaters, books, linens and toiletries. A hoarder to the core, the thought of tossing puts me in a tizzy. Rather than write that essay, I played hooky. Yet deep in my unconscious the desire to let go simmered and stewed.

This week’s assignment is to write anything about the number nine. After a week of brooding I am ready. Grabbing a step-stool I begin the purge.

I’ll have nine in no time!

  1. Frye boots, circa 2001. I’ve always loved these shortie boots even though I haven’t worn them in over a decade. They were comfy for the first few years but then my knees started throbbing after 15 minutes of wear. Evan’s girlfriend politely declined when I tried to give them to her six months ago. Back in the dusty shoebox they went. Until now. Gone.
  2. Lemony-mustard-yellow Italian sling-back flats, circa 1988. These shoes’ surprisingly neutral color goes with virtually everything. Even so, I haven’t worn them in 20 years. (Five years ago I caved and parted with an identical pair in rosy-magenta.) I slip on the lemony flats. They’re still cozy. I’m giving them a test-wear while continuing to hunt for other give-aways.
  3. My deceased mother-in-law’s beige Dockers khaki pants. Never in a million-years would I buy a pair of preppy Dockers. But Dee did. She died, but her pants still hang in my closet. Someday they’ll be perfect for an African safari or Amazon boat ride. I’m not planning on either trip. Even if I were, the 5’2” Dee hemmed all her pants. These Dockers are way too short for me. Gone.
  4. Xeroxed flip-book of 12 recipes from our day at a cooking school in Saigon, Viet Nam. All 12 contain soy sauce, miso paste or hoisin. I’m allergic to soy. Gone.
  5. The Guinness Book of World Records for 2001. This was a Chanukah gift for toddler Evan. Gone.
  6. The Guinness Book of World Records for 2002. The 2002 book has a pre-holographic snazzy cover, very avant-guard for the time. Neither book has been touched since 2003. Gone.

I’m exhausted. Time for a snack. Prowling through my cupboard I unearth an unopened box of chocolate-mint-girl-scout cookies. Expiration, 2010. A tin of chocolate covered pretzels. Expiration, 2009. A Christmas mixed nut assortment, Expiration 1999. Gone. Gone. Gone.

These lemony-mustard-yellow sling-backs are keepers. I slip them off and the soles of my feet are covered with a white gooey substance. Shoving my footsies under the faucet doesn’t help.

“The lining is sticking to you,” Michael cackles and hands me a bottle of rubbing alcohol. I scrub for 10 minutes. Finally, the white is gone. So are the shoes.

Another stellar assignment from Beth!

She poured out her heart

My husband Mike Knezovich and I have written posts about our writer friend Jean Thompson many times before – everything from the one I wrote about how she introduced herself to me decades ago from the barstool next to mine at Champaign’s Esquire Lounge to the one Mike wrote after Who Do You Love? (One of her collections of short stories) was nominated for a National Book Award.

Jean was in Chicago for the Printer’s Row Lit Fest last weekend. Her session was scheduled at the same time as the memorial service Mike mentioned in his Mondays with Mike post earlier this week so we didn’t go to hear her panel. Lorraine Schmall to the rescue! Lorraine is a writer in the weekly memoir class I lead in Printers Row. She went to Jean’s panel at the Lit Fest and reports in here for our Safe & Sound blog readers. Here’s Lorraine’s guest post:

By Lorraine Schmall

If you haven’t made it to Lit Fest, a/k/a The Printer’s Row Book Fair, mark it on your calendars for next year. This pageant of poetry and prose has been around since 1985, and it’s really fun.

From left to right, Julia Keller, Jean Thompson, and Vu Tran.

From left to right, Julia Keller, Jean Thompson, and Vu Tran.

The crowd is happy because vendors give away a myriad of free shopping bags and sunglasses. There are a million gorgeous books, and they’re all on sale. There are writers hawking their work, and young optimists handing out pins that say “every poem is a revolution.” There’s food and drink. There are high-class live events featuring the two hundred some invited authors, like movie star Ethan Hawke, Gourmet Mag Editor Ruth Reichl, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and Pulitzer Prize-Winning poet Tracy K. Smith.

It was ninety degrees all day Saturday but the streets were packed, and the bars were crowded: nothing like a short story and a Sangria.

I started my day with a session called “Do We Ever Escape the Past?” an intriguing question, but one left unanswered. The panel of superstar authors with Chicago connections chose to talk more about their art than psychology. But it was worthwhile, nonetheless.

Jean Thompson lives in Urbana and teaches at the U of I. She Poured out Her Heart is her twelfth book. She shared a dais with Julia Keller, a West-Virginia transplant who’s got a condo in Chicago, six best-selling books under her belt, and a Pulitzer Prize for writing (as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune) a “gripping, meticulously reconstructed account of a deadly 10-second tornado” near Starved Rock State Park. I remember the stories and got scared again just reading that in her bio.

Joining them was Vu Tran, born in war-scarred Viet Nam shortly after his father was airlifted out with the U.S. troops as Saigon fell. Vu is now a University of Chicago professor who has written a noir crime thriller featuring 1970’s Vietnamese refugees and an insider’s look at Las Vegas.

They were a stellar panel, all three with books positively reviewed in the New York Times, so they had a prestigious time slot –late morning — and a plush address: the Shedd Room at the Blake Hotel (many other authors had to carry on under tents in the mind-bending heat).

It was a fast hour and a half, listening to them. Funny Jean told us “It’s so much easier to write about bad sex than good sex. Everybody’s had that.” When asked if she starts her books with a plan, she said her characters created themselves. “This time I really wanted to write about higher love. But every day life and ordinary people got in the way.”

Jean’s biggest fan, humorist David Sedaris, claims “no one is beneath her interest…or beyond her reach.” I can’t wait to read her books.

It was exciting to meet Vu Tran, since I just came back from a visit to Viet Nam with my daughter. I assume his book will never be sold in his native country, which regulates speech and art as strictly as a red light camera controls us scofflaws. He said his first novel Dragonfish had a life of its own. “I didn’t know the ending until a week before I turned it into the publisher.” Not surprisingly, this brainy academic said all his characters suffer from a great deal of anxiety, like their creator. “That’s tough for them, but great for me because it’s fascinating to write about.”

Besides his neuroses, was anything else from his past in the book? “I was in a bad relationship at the time. All that menace and anxiety fell onto the pages of my book.”

Julia Keller, a television and radio commentator, was an upbeat moderator, who is happy that people write, read, and love books. “Print is back!” she crowed. She ended the session by quoting Phil Ochs, when she ruminated about why anybody would try to write at a time in history when all hell seems to be breaking loose: “In a time of such ugliness, the true protest is beauty.”

Guest post by DJ Mermaid: Sew Good Students

School is out now, which means DJ Mermaid has time to blog for us again. Hooray!

A lot has happened to DJ Mermaid since her last guest post. Most importantly, she had a birthday. Ten-year-old DJ Mermaid has been in a casting program the past couple months. She still has casts from her hips down to her ankles on both legs, and she’s told me many times that she “doesn’t let her physical disability stop her from doing anything she wants to do.” Her guest post today proves exactly that.

by DJ Mermaid

Hey guys, DJ Mermaid here! I’ve gotten back on the guest-blogging trail and I thought this post would be a good way to start off.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I participated in a program with Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University. This is a program dedicated to creative design that changes people’s lives for the better. I requested something that would help me with sewing. Two groups of students were assigned to help me with the following problems:

  1. Driving the fabric efficiently through the sewing machine
  2. Creating an innovative way to use the pedal

I am unable to use the foot pedal because it’s hard to push with my foot. I usually put the foot pedal on the table and use my hands while mom drives the fabric through the machine. The groups came up with two different solutions to the same problems.

Solution One: Sew Good

  • The Sew Good group came up with a guide constructed of metal to help me drive the fabric. All I had to do was pushpin the fabric onto the guide and keep my hands on the frame in case the fabric started veering off.

    That's the feed control box designed by the Sew Good group.

    That’s the feed control box designed by the Sew Good group.

  • The Sew Good group also created a way for me to use the “foot pedal” with my hands. The students created a box that was able to go to three different speeds simply by turning a knob. The best part about it was that it kept going at a consistent speed I set without any adjustments. The students also painted the box pink and purple, I like those colors. They even used glitter for the writing. I was wowed!

Solution Two: SewMates

  • The SewMates group made a voice operated sewing “pedal” — it’s a box I plug into the sewing machine. The box has wires and a chip to record and receive my commands. The students had to use coding to program the commands. The commands are “Robot, Go, Slow, Slower, Fast, Faster and Stop.” I speak into a little microphone on the box, and, magically, the sewing machine goes. It is high tech and I am impressed that they used coding. Coding is awesome and I do it all the time!

Last Saturday I was eager to try them out. They worked! I sewed a headband by myself with very limited assistance from mom.

And then, guess what? Mom broke the sewing machine. Nice Going, Mom! It may be a while before I am able to try my devices again!

Well, that’s a wrap!

-DJ Mermaid

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