Sunday, February 19, 2006
I already "knew" how to do all these things. However, I realized the way I'd been casting on worked and was fine but this was a much better way to do it and it took me awhile to figure it out. Knitting was fine and I actually got to try out bamboo needles and feel the difference in using that kind rather than my slippery metal needles. I wasn't convinced at first but after borrowing my friend Marcia's, I am sold.
Most of the class was working on straight knitting... the garter stitch. I already knew how to purl (the subject of week two) and I could knit one row and purl the next creating the stockinette stitch. However, what I was having trouble with was how to rib. So I asked for help and within stitches I realized my mistake. Yay! She even taught us a very simple technique for dropping a stitch and creating a pretty patten in the garter stitch for scarves using all those funky yarns. The next week was more of the same and I learned how to do the seed stitch. What I wish I knew was how to use circular needles but I am determined to figure it out. That is my next challenge. I plan to attempt this darling infant hat in the Stitch 'N Bitch book.
Pictured are my actual first knitted articles. The purple scarf was just practice in switching colors and at every place I did it, I tried a new method until I finally on the last trial got it right. It produced a rather ugly scarf but I was actually wanting to simply practice on something I didn't care about so much.
In an effort to try to follow a pattern I found in Stitch 'N Bitch Nation and possibly create something to make the scarf look less ugly I created a flower. I made a mistake toward the end but it actually added to the creation so I didn't feel the need to start all over. I was thrilled that I was able to actually read a pattern and produce something. This flower was my first true knitting victory. The red yarn project should be a ribbed scarf when I am done. This is something I might actually wear.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
1421 The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies. There is also a PBS Documentary on the book which I intend to watch after I've read a bit more. At each book club gathering there is always food. We often meet in restaurants though sometimes in homes... this month we decided Chinese food should be on the menu and we were served a very delicious hot and sour soup.
What in Carnation?
You two might be a long way from carving your names in the old oak tree, but there’s nothing like Valentine’s Day to remind you whom you heart (or don’t).
amoraphobia n. an irrational fear of Valentine’s Day.
blue bawls n. an emotional, romantic version of flirting that leaves you feeling sad and crying.
bud light n. the blatantly cheap flower selection from a guy who needs to be dumped ASAP. (How was your V-Day? Bud light.)
carniwhore n. a girl who puts out for carnations.
do-or-diamond adj. as in, if I don’t see a ring today, he’s dead to me.
long-stem posers n. people who send themselves flowers from a “secret admirer.”
lote v. to walk the thin line between love and hate. (I lote Johnny. One day he’s a dollface; the next he’s a total wanker.)
ménage à flaws n. when you crash your friend’s Valentine’s Day date only to talk about all your relationships gone wrong.
PDR n. public display of rejection: when your valentine takes you somewhere lovely only to break your heart in front of strangers.
Valentiny Tim n. a man whose masculinity is put in question by his overenthusiasm for V-Day. (I mean, I don’t expect him to be a Valentiny Tim, but he could at least try to hide his total amoraphobia.)
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Expletive Deleted a good look at bad language by Ruth Wajnryb
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safron Foer
The Resilient Self by Steven J. Wolin, M.D., and Sybil Wolin, Ph.D
Zen and the Art of Knitting by Bernadette Murphy
Lady Chatterly's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
The only book I completed in January
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safron Foer
Truthfully, I am drowning in books. I abandoned Lady Chatterly after chapter three and loaned it to a friend who needed a copy for her book club. The book on language is getting finished one chapter at a time... The Resilient Self is a rather interesting book that our staff at work is
using as a book study. But the book I read and finished was a delight. Not only does Jonathon Safron Foer capture the voice of nine-year-old Oskar, but he weaves the story of the boy's grandfather and grandmother into the novel though letters written but never read by anyone but us. These letters/flashbacks are confusing AND enlightening. The story is set in modern day and a young boy grieves the loss of his father and in the midst of this grief discovers a key in an envelope with a single word "Black." This discovery is indicative of the sort of games Oskar once played with his father and he begins to long journey searching for the answer to this puzzle convinced he will learn one last message about his father who perished in the World Trade Center on 9/11. I will certainly read his other book Everything is Illuminated.
What I Was Watching in January
The Bachelor in Paris
Dancing with the Stars
Of these shows, the only one I am truly embarrased to acknowledge is The Bachelor in Paris.... Perhaps it's because this season seemed to go so quickly and because I actually LIKED this bachelor (not feeling like he was annoying or fake or not a catch anyway..), but I couldn't seem to pull myself away. I think the DVR had a lot to do with it frankly. I started using a Digital Video Recorder in the first week of January and since then my TV viewing has picked up. I now tend to actually set the darn thing to save all the shows I might have watched in the past if I happened to catch them but usually didn't. Grey's Anatomy continues to be a favorite and I have even caught myself watching Desperate Housewives even though I am less of a fan... having missed the bandwagon when it passed a year ago. Project Runway and Dancing with the Stars are less about the competition and more about the love of the art of fashion and dance. I am amazed at what the participants on these shows create and it's just a joy for me to watch.
On DVD (owned and rented)
The Wedding Crashers
King Kong (1933)
The Wheeler Dealers
The Constant Gardener
THe IPCRESS File
Diamonds are Forever
March of the Penguins
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
The Producers (1968)
The Brothers' Grimm
King Kong (2005)
My movie viewing for this month takes on a few categories... I guess. I started off with an Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn film I had been eager to see, The Wedding Crashers. However, I was rather disappointed. I am not sure why, but something about this film just did not do it for me... my friend Susan says it's a "guy film." Though, I am not sure. The Brothers Grimm was much better than I expected and Matt Damon did such a good job that I forgot he was Matt Damon and that says a lot. Overall it's a delight for those who love fairy tales and allusions to them.
In an effort to see some films nominated at the Golden Globes and sure to make the nominations for Oscars I watched the March of the Penguins and The Constant Gardener. March of the Penguins was like a documentary I might have watched in school as a kid. It was fun to see and their lives are fascinating but that's about as far as it goes for me. The Gardener film left a lot to be desired. It was a hopeless tale that suggested drug testing conspiracy in Africa and the efforts to thwart that or unveil it were poor at best. The movie's biggest flaw was in the marriage of Tessa (Rachel Weisz) and Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) whose supposed deep love seemed preposterous at best. Perhaps I am being harsh but I don't think so.
Believe it or not, the bad experience with Gardener didn't stop me from watching another film based on a book by John Le Carre.... The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. This was in the midst of a sort of unofficial study of spy films... we'd been watching the Bonds (most recently Diamonds are Forever) ... then had to watch The IPCRESS File and see Michael Caine's terrific performance as Harry Palmer, a British secret agent with a little more grit and a lot less glam. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold stars Richard Burton and shows a side of the cold war some of us tend to forget in recent history with so much fear directed toward an oil drenched region. This movie was frightfully depressing but raised good discussion and THAT is worth a lot to me too.
Darling Lili (1970) is a Julie Andrews and Rock Hudson WWI war picture in which Andrews plays a spy posing as a musical celebrity. It was a film I'd never heard of before but enjoyed. Wheeler Dealers (1963) was a birthday gift that I just watched this month. I have no idea why because this show was a delight. I'd heard it compared to Pillow Talk, a favorite of mine, and that was a fair comparison for sure. This one stars James Garner and Lee Remick and is set in New York. Remick is determined to make it in the business world in an era where women were not so welcome on Wall Street and she is given one chance to prove herself on a stock that is a known flop and she makes every effort to turn that around with the help of Garner's character who has taken a liking to her and has designs of his own. In Pillow Talk, Rock Hudson has a tricked out apartment perfect for the art of seduction. In this film, Garner's car does the trick. Don't try this at home, kids.
I watched a couple movies this month hoping to prep for films in the theatre. The Producers (1968) was a riotously funny film. Gene Wilder takes the cake and I wonder how the 2005 version can even compare. There were so many great lines and such comic timing that I don't really know where to begin. Hmmmmmm.... Well, maybe I'll leave it at that and say I don't know how it compares because before I was able to see it in the theate here it was gone... that's the story of our crappy theatre system. Death to Carmike! (there is a reason people drive 70 miles to see movies in Fargo) However King Kong (1933) and King Kong (2005) rounded out my King Kong experience. Read my blog entry about it. I loved all three.
What I Was Listening to in January
With all those movies I watched who had time to really listen to music. I listed Bruce Springsteen as one I was listening to but I really haven't even given my new cds of his a good going through... Perhaps in February when I am less movie obsessed.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
All my life I've had an interest in dance movies... I think it began with Flashdance. Those legwarmers... that music... I remember trying to imitate the dance moves to her audition dance in my living room watching my reflection in the picture window. Thank goodness we lived on a farm so there were no neighbors to stop and stare! I never mastered dancing like that, though I did learn how to weld in high school. God bless rural America... somehow I managed to take that class but missed Geometry... What the heck?
I digress. Fame, Dirty Dancing, Strictly Ballroom, Swing Kids, Save the Last Dance, Honey, Center Stage, Dance With Me, Saturday Night Fever, Shall We Dance, The Full Monty, Coyote Ugly, The Company, Billy Elliot, and Footloose (the last two being favorites). These shows vary in worth to me. Some are iconic dance films, filled with memorable lines and imitated scenes that impacted my childhood and teen years... others are just corny or dumb with one redeeming factor: dancing that enchants. Billy Elliot is an amazing movie that is probably one of my all time favorites. I have friends who know all the lines to Dirty Dancing and I'll admit I rarely watch the actual movie but fastforward through the film creating my own "good parts version" which includes such lines as....
"I carried a watermelon. "
"Me? I'm scared of everything. I'm scared of what I saw, I'm scared of what I did, of who I am, and most of all I'm scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I'm with you."
"Oh, yes, as a matter of fact it is. We're supposed to do the show in two days, you won't show me the lift, I'm not sure of the turns I'm doing all this to save your ass when what I really want to do is drop you on it ."
Dirty Dancing did less for informing my dance style.... but it was entertaining. If anything I simply gained a quality soundtrack and discovered some wonderful songs. Another inspirational film that lives on for the ultra cool rhythm of Kevin Bacon is Footloose. This film's soundtrack also is one of the most listened to soundtrack's I own. The words on the cassette are worn off!
One film that has failed to draw the attention of many is Strictly Ballroom an early film by Baz Luhrman. It feels like a combination of Dirty Dancing and The Cutting Edge set in Australia. I loved this. When I saw the film, the idea of ballroom competitions was an unusual one... However, I just finished watching the results show from Dancing With the Stars and I am ready to admit I am hooked. I can't get enough. It's painful to watch in a way, because I realize I will NEVER be that good of a dancer, nor will I EVER have that good of a body. If you watch you'll know what I mean when I say that Drew Lachey and his partner and Stacy Kiebler and hers are absolutely phenomenal. They really have all the appearance of professionals. Lisa Rinna is a favorite because of her terrific attitude. She can really move too. This week though I did the unthinkable... don't judge me please... I VOTED for one of the couples. I couldn't resist. I voted for Jerry Rice and his partner. He was lower in the points than the true greats but I really liked his performance and I respect this NFL player getting out there and shaking his booty! It was great fun to watch. Last night nightline did a feature on ballroom dancing too!
A few years ago I stumbled upon a foreign film called That's the Way I Like It and my friends and I simply watched it for the dance sequences... from that show we learned a kind of hustle that has entertained us and others at wedding dances ever since... simply play "Night Fever" and look out! It really doesn't matter that in college I took a ballroom dance class and even stayed on the next semester to volunteer as as teaching assistant. Without anywhere to actually dance I have forgotten the little I once knew. Watching films and reality TV might be all I can ever expect when it comes to dancing. I may never dazzle the masses like Fred and Ginger, but I do still long for the magic one feels stepping to the rhythm, flowing, twirling in the arms of a man. Sigh. Meanwhile I understand one can now take pole dancing lessons.
Friday, February 03, 2006
V-Day has raised (and donated) over $25 million dollars and exists in 76 different countries. The organization has worked directly with women in regions like Cairo, Kenya and the Pine Ridge Reservation to build safe houses and support political resistance.
summary taken from Wikipedia
Tonight my mom and I went to see the Vagina Monologues and I wasn't sure what mom would think. I don't know why I worried. This is a show that speaks to women of all ages. It educates, enlightens, breaks taboos, makes you laugh and cry. I've seen it before and I'll see it again. This show is more than entertainment. It's part of a fundraising event for our local Community Violence Intervention Center. I was determined to find a favorite monologue and mention it... I can't limit it to one.