Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Modeling a gingerbread house

As a scale modeler I like to think I’m a fairly creative guy but, as I learned over the weekend, I may not be. Or at least not as creative as my girlfriend. I'll let my readers be the judge.

Christine and her two children, ages 6 and 8, spent the weekend at my house and, on a whim, Christine and my mother bought two DIY gingerbread houses at the grocery store Saturday night. She decided we would have a house building and decorating contest. Once I accepted the fact that my kitchen would be a mess for a few hours, it seemed like a good idea. It was my mother and me against Christine and her daughter. Her son (the six-year-old playing video games on the computer) would be the judge.

I began the contest with great confidence, after all, I’m a modeler! I had the house assembled with the sticky, sugar-glue very quickly, must faster than Christine and her young apprentice. A lesser man might have smiled a little when the two of them broke one-half of their roof assembly, but not me. Mom and I pressed on with time now on our side.

 Note the neat construction and minimalist design of my house.

But then a clarification from the opposing team. “It’s okay to use anything we can find, right?” Sure, I told them, why not? After all, their house was looking like it had been in Hurricane Sandy’s path just a few weeks ago. Mom and I found interesting ways to use the gumdrops, M&Ms, and tiny beads. I used Hershey Kisses to represent brown perennials, green drum drops to represent evergreens, and half a candy cane as the chimney (resisting the urge to use a #60 drill bit to drill it out). I even engage in some psyops as I not-so-quietly tell my mother misleading things like, “This will be the radon mitigation system,” and, “Put the ADT Security sticker above the doorknob.” Remember the deception strategy the Allies implemented on the Germans prior to D-Day? That was me Saturday night! I was just waiting for high tide to begin my invasion!

Then my reconnaissance satellite downloaded some troubling images from the other side of the table. They’ve procured a large cookie sheet from the pantry and built out an entire scene! I thought this was a contest to see who could decorate the best house not create the biggest freakin’ diorama! They’ve also found tiny plastic lights for the roof of the house, a small mirror to represent a frozen lake, and penguins to skate on it. Oh, and ceramic soldiers standing amid hundreds of cotton balls as snow!

Note the creative use of a Hershey Kiss, the paper representing smoke,
and the SlimJim logs. And yes, those chocolate chips are penguin poop.

Whatever. I still think I have the best house, so at judging time I show our judge how neat and perfectly assembled my house is and I tactfully explain that, except for the candles, everything on my house is edible. Meanwhile my competition is trying to dazzle the judge with the expansiveness and fanciness of their creation.

At the end of the day reality mirrored what we typically see at with the Most Popular vote at any IPMS contest. The size of Christine and Emma’s diorama dazzled the judge. He ruled in their favor. I congratulate them on their victory, though I feel a little mislead given the ever-changing parameters of the competition.

Having a clearer understanding of the ROE I've already begun planning next year’s gingerbread house. This morning I set out some copper tubing to age in the weather to acquire that lovely green patina we often see accenting houses. I have a rough draft of a three-story, Victorian house, complete with garage and backyard gazebo. I envision Pop Rocks recreating the sound of a fireplace inside, and tiny Bose speakers piping out Christmas carols.

Rest assured, next year I will win!

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