I did finish the potholder, 3 hours before Max left for SF.
I was asleep by the time Max got back from the Hollywood Bowl, so I didn't see his reaction, but when I showed the potholder to Noah he said "wuh, it actually looks like a potholder, if someone were to ask me what this was, I would say it's a potholder." What that comment actually meant, I'm not sure, but for now I'll take it as a compliment.
Next on my knitting to do list: a hat for Max, per his request (he'll be back in LA in two weeks, so I have another deadline) and a pair of socks for Noah for his birthday (mid September), Noah didn't specify what kind of socks, so I'm thinking I'll make him pirate socks. Black and white stripes, maybe a simple skull, depending on when my yarn comes in.