lish (lishd) wrote,

joe's birthday 2011

yes, it's that time of year again. the time when i obliterate joe's mind & worldview with my astonishing gifting skills.

the idea for this year's present came into being back in february, when girlgoth emailed me about dread maintenance & queried a barter. being familiar with & a fan of her portraiture, i responded positively, & we started sorting out the details.

i'll step you through this from my point of view; of course joe had no idea what was happening until he saw the completed, framed works.

so we got the arrangement nailed down, & in april, i performed my side of the trade with maintenance on lily's locks. joe was in attendance, which lily said always helps with drawing. he had no clue he was being studied. :D OH HI JOE

after that came two months of emails where i sent photos, we clarified ideas, & lily kept me apprised with procedurals as each piece came along. we'd decided on three 5x7"s, to be framed together - & i was even able to pick up a groupon to help with the framing costs. :) the theme was to be the core elements of our relationship: love, sex, & ridiculousness - one photo depicting each facet. (you'll see the art at the end.)

part of the awesomeness of having portraits created from photos is that i could send her multiple images to meld into one. the "ridiculousness" portrait is the one she drew first. i had a photo of the perfect dreadstyle to commemorate this, but he looked so cute-but-sad in it that i didn't want to memorialize the expression. so lily put the crazy hair on the second photo to create the piece. (the third pic is her digital mockup.)

the next portrait was for "sex". this one ended up being a huge challenge to lily, as she'd never drawn a face so small. lily had to request additional pics for this one, so she could carefully end his limbs without making him look amputated. & she was so thoughtful to make sure that she could make artistic changes like leaving out the pillow fringe (as it conflicted oddly with his dreads) without taking away from what i felt were the most important aspects of the image. i later gave her another necklace to put on him - joe tends to change his necklace somewhat seasonally, & i didn't want to "timestamp" the works. i pulled an older pic i'd taken of a necklace he made from a piece of a computer - i loved this one particularly, but it rusted on his neck & then was lost. now it's "found". :)

& the final portrait she drew, to encompass "love", became my favorite of the three. this is a photo i've posted many times before, of joe with his head against my thigh, with an unmistakable glow of pure love & trust. he was wearing the same necklace as the first pic, though, so i had lily swap that one out too. i wanted to use a necklace we'd bought on our last trip to hawaii, a cool choker thing with tiny skulls, but i didn't have any photos of it & joe was currently wearing it. i quickly found an opportunity to sneak photos of it on him, though, & my camera's 20x zoom made him none the wiser that i was nabbing close-ups.

with all of the above in mind, here are the final three panels. lily sent work-in-progress shots, & put together these spectacular animations of them, too - some WIPs & a link to the rather large animation (containing all the WIPs) follows each finished piece.


love animation


sex animation


ridiculousness animation

i know, right?

the amount of detail & realism she was able to impart to these pieces simply astounds me. you're seeing them in jpegs, which negates a large degree of the "holy shit, that's real?!" factor - when i first saw them in person, my brain couldn't quite grasp that she drew these with a fucking white pencil. that's IT. she doesn't even use a black pencil or a gray pencil or anything else to make this happen, as she doesn't like how dark pencils go shiny. joe's eyelashes in the "love" portrait are clearly visible - but are just negative space! look at the muscles in his forehead! look at the glint of metal in his nostrils! look at his dreads! it's absolutely mind-blowing what she can do.

&, delightfully, she drew them all with the same pencil. :)

while she was drawing, we worked out a good layout for them, & i had space to put in a "card" - a bit of work that i could do to add more "me" to the gift. my card would be a title of the set, plus our names & anniversary. i can't draw for shit, so i chose three appropriate fonts & printed my card full-size, to hand-copy onto the same matboard lily used. i made plans to take her to lunch, hang out in a coffeeshop & make the card, then go to the framer's together. she put so much into these works that i figured it was only right that she gets input on how they're displayed. the final idea was such (ignoring the copperplate, as it's a stand-in for my own handwriting):

& everything went beautifully. lily was REALLY useful, since the chick running the framing place kept pushing more expensive frames & had a vaguely conflicting aesthetic to mine. we chose a black matboard that matched lily's exactly - it was an interesting thought to choose something with a little shine or a nap, but the blacks didn't match, & no way was i giving a graver boy conflicting blacks. ;) the frame we chose is fairly simple: a wide black wood with a little ropy detail around the inner edge that complemented joe's dreads nicely. the portraits & my card were to be shadowboxed a bit off the mat.

despite the fact that lily used a UV fixative, i definitely wanted UV-protectant glass, but i didn't know how far the market had come. the framer had three types of glass, all of which were UV-safe: normal glass, which reflected normally & kind of sucked; conservation glass, which removed some of the reflection but would make the shadowboxed pieces look fuzzy; & museum glass, a fucking snazzy, non-reflective, non-fuzzy, amazing technological breakthrough i'd never seen. there was a sample frame with a slice of each glass so you could compare them, & i thought for sure the museum glass panel was missing. i couldn't tell it was in place until i got within a couple inches of the sample. it was perfectly transparent, yet somehow darkened & inverted the reflection of the lamp behind us, which would be totally necessary considering where i expected to hang the finished work. oh yeah, i totally shelled out the extra dosh to get museum glass.

lily & i made a similar date when the framing was complete, so she could be the first, with me, to see it all finished. there was a bit of drama when we showed up three minutes after closing (though i was told by the flaky hippie boss that they close at SEVEN, not SIX), but an employee happened to be stopping back in to pick up her purse & let us in anyhow. PHEW! so that worked, & the bonus was i wouldn't have to hide the pieces in our apartment at all - they went safely from lily's studio to the framer's, then back to lily's until joe's party.


so since joe's birthday proper is on a sunday this year, which kind of sucks for everyone NOT unemployed, i decided to make joe THINK we were doing it sunday but actually do it saturday. this was the fake mail, which was bcc'd just to joe & liquordrums:

To: lish friends:  ;
Subject: joe birthday 7-31-11!

	HI KIDS! it's that time of year again, the time where i've spent

	ahem i was saying

	SO IT'S A BIRTHDAY PARTY! joe's birthday is on a sunday this year,
july 31st, so the party element's going to be fairly low-key - just meeting
at the cap hill apartment at 6pm, going out for dinner somewhere, then
returning & gifting our boy. (you may remember that he was born around
9:30pm, so i never let him have his present before then. XD) i'm open to
suggestions on where we eat depending on the number of RSVPs i receive.

- RSVP ASAP so i can get this thing in motion & reserve a restaurant
- BRING PRESENTS! 'cause joe sure could use MORE STUFF!@

	so that's it! come celebrate THIRTY-FUCKING-FOUR YEARS OF THOK with
us, & watch as i once again destroy joe's worldview with my AMAZING GIFTING


& then THIS was the REAL mail, sent to everyone i could think of:

To: lish friends:  ;
Subject: joe's birthday 2011!


	ok! joe THINKS that his birthday party is NON-SURPRISE & is going to
be on sunday, july 31st - his actual birthday. what i want to do is have it
on saturday the 30th instead. OOH TRICKY. i've even written up a second
"REAL PARTY INVITE" for the 31st, which i've sent to raven so he can reply
to me & joe to set up the TWIST ELEMENT. check it out:

	raven is going to reply to the fake 31st invite saying that he's
sorry, he'll be out of town & can't make the party, but he'd like to take
joe out for a beer on the 30th at around 4pm. this will get joe out of the
house until 6pm, which allows me time to hang the EPIC PRESENT i got for him
this year, & allows all of YOU time to come over to our apartment. the
present will be on the wall, not wrapped - & hopefully joe won't notice it,
because that will make telling him to GO FIND YOUR PRESENT much more
hilarious since we'll all know exactly where it is. ANYHOW, after
presenting, we'll all go out to dinner (i'm thinking marrakesh) & have a gay
ol' time.

	SO THAT'S THE PLAN. what i need from each of you is:

- RSVP for yourself/your SO/other people you know joe is friends with/et
cetera for the surprise itself on 7-30
- RSVP for same if you want to eat at marrakesh with us (the 5-course feast
is just $20 per person; let me know if you want more food details as i've
got a great marrakesh write-up i can send out)
- if you're willing to carpool people to marrakesh (belltown), & how many
fit in your car if so

	you'll be expected to show up PROMPTLY at our cap hill apartment
between 5-5:30pm on 7-30 so we can be sure to pull this off. the best
present you could give him this year is a gift certificate to half price
books or some other local bookery, or you can just chip in on his meal at

	any questions or suggestions, please email me directly. & please
RSVP ASAP if you can make it since i'll need to reserve marrakesh in



the raven emails went off without a hitch, & joe even complimented the fake party mail i "sent out", haha. it was brutal waiting for the actual event, but here's a play-by-play of saturday:

  • 4:05pm: raven takes joe out for a beer
  • 4:10pm: i give lily & magnus the all-clear to come up with the portraits
  • 4:15pm: lily & magnus arrive, we choose a location for the art, & i put the hook in the wall for it. art is NOT hung, but is placed behind my computer desk, nearly completely hidden from view. here is the finished work:

  • 4:30pm: i call joe to say lily & magnus are in town now but can't come to the party "tomorrow", so does he mind if they come to dinner with us (of course he doesn't)
  • 5-5:30pm: everyone arrives & are each let in on the full details of the evil plot while i pace
  • 5:45pm: i pile everyone except lily & magnus into the bedroom, where the surprise will occur, still pacing
  • 5:50pm: raven texts to estimate that they'll be back between 6:15-6:30
  • 5:55pm: i turn on the bathroom light & shut the bathroom door to "explain" why i'm not in the front room with lily & magnus. i close the bedroom door enough that the wind could've blown it shut - ie, not latched. i continue to bounce with excitement.
  • 5:56pm: we call atrophie since she couldn't make a flight up - she was #45 on a standby list which wasn't getting any shorter - & put her on speakerphone.
  • 5:57-6:11pm: i prepare with camera in video mode, aimed at the bedroom door. a hush falls over the crowd
  • 6:12pm: joe texts that raven's coming home with him so he can burn raven a cd
  • 6:25pm: joe comes through the front door & says hi to lily & magnus. raven pushes him to hurry with the burn since he supposedly has to run. joe bursts through the bedroom door like he's done a million times before, & is greeted loudly by me, sic737, stephen, mika, christopher, phone-lindsay, & tali (who is one of joe's favorite people & who i flat-out had said couldn't make it! the only lie i've ever told him hahaha) in front of him, with raven, lily, & magnus behind him, as we all yell "SURPRISE BUTTSEX!" together. joe takes a step backwards while crouching down & throwing his arms up in a defensive motion, yells "WHOA!" & clearly doesn't understand why he's being attacked. understanding comes quickly & he laughs heartily.
  • 6:26pm: while this is going on, magnus grabs the art & hangs it on its hook - this was delayed just in case joe veered into the front room for any reason, & was well served as he did just that!
  • 6:27pm: joe finishes hugging everyone as his heart rate returns to normal. i see magnus standing in the doorframe, our signal that the art's up, & i tell joe to GO FIND YOUR PRESENT
  • 6:27-6:32pm: joe meanders the apartment for four & a half minutes (as timed by tali) searching, unable to find the large black-on-black-on-black art on the white wall. i take brilliant video of him searching, looking almost DIRECTLY AT IT SEVERAL TIMES & then inspecting the dvd case beneath it:

    (i removed the sound because my voice, closest to the camera, is horrendously above clipping level & you can't even hear joe. so you didn't miss much - he's just muttering "well it could be on a shelf..." & then begging for hints)
  • finally he sees his present, & begins to appreciate it. i reveal a bit of the setup, it only just begins to come into focus for him, & we all go out to marrakesh for dinner.
  • lindsay sends the following awesome picture to our phones:

  • despite some stupid parade closing much of downtown/belltown, we brave traffic & street closures, & get to the restaurant on time. we meet travis there, who was too dumb/busy/dumb to properly read my emails & ended up going to the restaurant instead of our apartment. we eat excessively, the owner gives us a bottle of champagne on the house & also a special birthday baklava for joe which is incredibly fucking good (& this is coming from someone who doesn't much care for baklava). i make sure everyone chips in on joe's portion so he doesn't have to pay, & he was granted the few leftovers remaining. oh yeah, & this happened:

    joe danced with the belly dancer! yes, there's video. no, you can't have it. XD
  • five of us come back to the apartment afterwards to watch buckaroo banzai, one of joe's favorite movies which i've never seen. i end up sleeping through half of it, partly because it sucks, & partly because i was a crazy ball of nervous energy all day, which i never am.
  • joe slowly understands more about his birthday-cum-HUGE-PROJECT as we stay up until 4am talking & reliving & detailing to each other.

    he knows there's nothing much planned for today, his birthday proper, after the SIX MONTHS THAT CULMINATED IN EVERYTHING YESTERDAY... but i did promise him kamut waffles-in-bed in my super fancy waffle maker. so i ran to the store for eggs & milk, & the lavishing did thus [re]commence:

    fuck, what a great weekend. i'll link to his write-up when it's complete. edit: haha only took him six weeks!

    happy birthday, baby!
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