Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Emerging Official 9 for '09 List

Long: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Free: Possession by A.S. Byatt
Dusty: Kiss & Tell by Alain de Botton
Used: Kindred by Octavia Butler
Letter (R): Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis
Strange: The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
Cover: The Quiet Girl by Peter Hoeg
AN: Juniper Time by Kate Wilhelm
Distance: Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Books, books, books

I'm thinking about books today because I'm tackling the 9 for '09 challenge this year. And nine books in nine vague categories means that I'm thinking about said vague categories. Official decisions will be made this weekend. So, here are the categories and my ideas:

Long: I would guess that on average I read books with about 300 pages in them. And so, there are three real options for me: The Brothers Karamazov, Middlemarch, and Catch-22. The first two are long in ways that long isn't an adequate adjective. The third was a book I read a part of in high school, but never finished because it was too long to fit my freaky high school schedule. So, it's up for consideration.

Free: Two options...High Fidelity and Possession. There are others, but those are the two that leave me with layers of guilt. Poor Suzanna is still missing her copy of Possession because of me.

Dusty: Yeah, um, there are a lot of book in this category, so, well, um, this will require thought.

Used: You know, I'm thinking that the recent used book purchases are going to qualify. And because I've been thinking about Octavia Butler a lot lately, I think Kindred might be the winner, unless The Girl at the Lion d'Or sneaks in for a surprise.

Letter: Yeah, again, many options, much thought. But I think my letter is R. I've always felt that it's the dominant letter in my name.

Strange: A genre outside of my normal range? Non-fiction, anyone? My sister is going to be in charge of this one, because she reads non-fiction and I recoil from it, and she knows me enough to know what I can and cannot take.

Cover: Prettiest or ugliest cover? That requires time again.

AN (Alive or Not!): You know what? I'm jumping in on this one. Kate Wilhelm is awesome and hard to find. So, Juniper Time by the Hugo award-winning author will represent her.

Distance: Another why-the-hell-not option...Yukio Mishima's Spring Snow. Yes, you read that right. Yukio Mishima for the girl who usually hangs out with the SF world. Mishima and I got along tons in high school, so it's time to remember and refresh. And it takes place in Tokyo.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Things I learned trapped in a freak snow storm in Victorville, California:

1) Driving in snow in May in Wyoming is not really driving in snow, unless the snow is from a freak Arctic blast that everyone said wouldn't do anything but make things cold.

2) Snow's pretty when you don't have to do something. Like all of that snow I witnessed in school, that was pretty until I had somewhere to go, like class and discovered the streets could turn into rivers. So, while sitting in the safety of a hotel room, it's pretty; but when trying to figure out roads you don't know in heavy snow when the freeway has shut down and cars are driving towards you on said freeway, snow is menacing.

3) One should do one's best not to get sick when a freak snow storm hits, because no one knows how to drive in it, which makes the roads too treacherous for you to go buy cough drops and bottled water (because Southern California tap water gives me a headache like daffodils give me a headache).

4) Steel-toed boots in snow are evil. Fiberglass-toed boots are the way to go. Waterproof, preferably.

5) When driving on a freeway in near blizzard conditions (okay, white out conditions) in Southern California, all traffic rules are null and void. I left the freeway on an on-ramp, I'm still amazed that my straight-laced self could do it and not start hyperventilating.

6) The Tempurpedic-like beds in the Hilton Garden Inn take a few nights to get used to, but when you're used to them, you sort of regret leaving them. Although, Marriott beds remain the best ever.

7) There's never anything good on TV when you are too sick to be able to focus on reading and trapped in a hotel due to snow. And House, The Closer, and Law & Order are strangely perfect TV shows in hotel rooms (although, I already knew that).

8) Not even being snowed in can help you with your gift-making list and the time you need to complete it. (Things still unfinished: two hats, two bags, one sweater, and one scarf.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Wonder Spot and being all sorts of angry on a Friday night

Me again. This time about a book, and about a book I feel has been slighted.

I must admit up front that I haven't read anything by Curtis Sittenfeld, I just don't feel in anyway drawn into the plot summaries for her books. And that I'm sure is a sin in Ms. Sittenfeld's world, for I should be able to read beyond a book's cover and flap jacket. But really Prep is so not my thing even if I did go to school with kids who went to prep schools, and American Wife just sounds like I'd fall asleep. It's possible I could like her stuff, except I have to get beyond the summaries of her stuff.

But over the last few days, I've been thinking about my tiny list of books read this year and I was surprised to discover that I think my favorite is The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank. Now, this would seem to go against all of my professions of love for Neil Gaiman, but it doesn't. I love Neil and his books, but when I think about it and let myself feel an answer instead of just being logical, I realize that it has to be Bank's book. It's the simplicity of the story; it's the so very Jane Austen-ness of the story; it's the honesty. It's not a book that will shock you, it won't even ask you to look at it, it's a wallflower. It is waiting for you to see it and notice it and its intrinsic value. It's waiting for you to let it be everything it can be. And it's the most human book I read this year.

So, what does Sittenfeld have to do with The Wonder Spot? This. I just found it, years too late to be relevant, but it pissed me off. And not because she's calling Bank a chick-lit author because, damn it, chick lit is not the worst thing to happen to women's literature. It's this, from the end of the review:

"Undeniably, there were times when I laughed or winced in recognition as I read; I understood exactly what Sophie meant, and that's when I liked the book best. But this, ultimately, is the reason I know 'The Wonder Spot' is chick lit: because its appeal relies so much on how closely readers relate to its protagonist. Good novels allow us to feel what the characters feel, no matter how dissimilar their circumstances and ours. 'The Wonder Spot' contains real meaning only if we identify with Sophie enough to infuse it with meaning of our own."

Now, did she just say that in order for a novel to be good, the character's circumstances need to be unlike my own? Really? That's what divides a good novel and chick lit? Seriously? How do you determine that?

See, I get that a good novel should allow us to feel what a character unlike ourselves feels. There's a reason I loved The Road. But just because I walk alongside a character in a number of experiences doesn't make a novel less worthy of being called good. And I'm fascinated by this sense of worth as defined by "learning." I think it's a myth. Is a Jane Austen novel good because I learned about Regency England? Hell no, it's good because of the content, the characters, the humanity, the honesty, the humor. So, to say that a novel isn't really a good novel because she, the character, and I probably have similar life experiences is silly. And then to essentially say that The Wonder Spot would have been good if the protagonist had ended up alone is horseshit. It would be daring to some degree, but not necessarily honest for Bank's protagonist. It's a bolder statement to defy the convention that she would be accepted for one thing and marginalized for another.

So, Ms. Sittenfeld, you're wrong. Maybe you didn't love the book, but the book defies you with being wonderful...And yes, I know I need to read more, but I don't have the luxury of not having a day job, and more than that, I have other things I like to do too.

On other topics: there should be snow on my mountain tomorrow morning! And I think my new literary crush is going to be on Brian K. Vaughn.
Sometimes, my adoration for people and things gets a little out of hand. For instance:

xkcd...things like this and this make me wonder if you can chart Randall Munroe's relationship status and quality. And sometimes, I want to chart out his themes to see if there's a pattern.

Then, there's Michael Schaub. I started reading Bookslut back in 2005. That was when I was obsessed with book blogs (an obsession that appears to be coming back). But something happened in 2006: Michael Schaub vanished from the ranks of Bookslut. Now, Jessa posted something in 2007 about Michael being gone and people missing him, but there's been nothing since. And I'm not alone in missing him. Where is Michael? I have been scouring the internet for clues, all to no avail. Michael, where are you?

Monday, December 8, 2008

all because I want a book

I learned a couple of weeks ago, because it took me that long to realize that something was wrong, that the film version of The Road will not come out for another year. To ordinary people, this means that another depressing movie is just coming out a year later. To the weirdos who live and breathe post-apocalyptic stories, it's a depressing fact.

It's not that I believe that the film will surpass the book (although, can I say, Alfonso Cuaron kicked ass on Children of Men and took a book I thought predictable and made it exciting), it's that sometimes you need a fresh fix. There's the doom and gloom that surrounds the economy and the world, but that's a different batch of depressing, that's the reality side of the house. What I need when I say I need a fresh fix is something not real, something that's separate from reality even if firmly standing on reality. What I need is a flight of fancy into a dark world that could be ours. I need a cautionary tale. I need a speculative look at our lives. I need the post-apocalyptic, the dystopias. Sometimes, it's the weight of it. You feel it in you, it makes you want to change things, it makes you want to do things, and if it's good enough, you do good things, you change things. The land of dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories is a land of hope and inspiration because you have a chance, you can effect change on your world, you can see the warning and the hope the creator has for you, and you can use it. It's sort of like with Duchamp's Fountain, he's daring you to step up to the plate, he's daring you to challenge him, he's daring you to be something more, he's daring you to think about the mundane. Dystopian literature does that. It dares you to be better, hope more, and smile often. It's not doom and gloom, it's the genre of hope.

And now, I wait until 2009, probably late 2009.

Otherwise, a perfect book.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Things that a bad movie reminds me of:

1) The book was so very much better. It's usually the case, but with the last movie I loved based on a book, I actually loved the movie more. And I'm sorry Neil, but I really did love the movie Stardust more than the book, and that's not just because I love Charlie Cox.

2) Sometimes, special effects are just silly and useless.

3) An attractive actor does not make a movie. An attractive actor can't overcome a silly script with silly direction, and really something that just didn't translate. (I keep trying to explain to my sister that the book was just so intense, the urgency of first love was so honest and true, and the movie left us with nothing more than a plain love story.)

4) Good acting isn't easy. Good acting can be created on its own (see Edward Norton in Primal Fear), but I can only really think of one or two of these instances. People making movies cannot assume that just because the movie is based on an intoxicating book and there are a few pretty actors that smart moviegoers looking for real entertainment will be fooled. And so, when the second movie comes out, I'm pretty sure I'll avoid it because the characters I love will likely fail to be as charming.

The movie that was such a letdown is Twilight. And now, all I can think about is how much I miss Lost and how much I need to see Coraline right now.

One more reason to love

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Things I have learned this Sunday:

1) When you grow accustomed to a TV show and begin to love it, something in the universe will tarnish that love. There might be magically vanishing characters and smart characters going crazy (Grey's Anatomy, which the weirdness is making me sort of hate), shows mistreated by poor placement (The New Adventures of Old Christine), or cancellation/hiatus crap (Pushing Daisies, Battlestar Galactica, or 80% of the shows I've loved from the past). Right now, I'm still dealing with the Pushing Daisies news. Even without the fact that I adore Lee Pace, I love everything about the show, even that I have to ignore aspects of my science background.

2) I am bad at working over the weekends. I find myself fighting with my desire to be creative. Today, while I should have been working, I have knit, studied pastry recipes, considered planning a trip to Brittany (Bretagne or Breton), considered whether or not the "I'm a Convert" Sweater is a good match for me and my body type, and redid a neckwarmer I'm making/designing for my mom. Not to mention the interview reports I can't seem to write.

3) Empire Records makes everything better.

4) I need to be a combination knitter. Or moreover, I am a combination knitter, and it's easier to remember to do something than it is to try to change 20-year-old habits.

5) Apparently, some people do like the book that no longer exists. One of my sister's coworkers says that it is her favorite of the series because it was so different. And when I mentioned the irresponsible gore in the book, she seemed unaffected. And her only criticism was that nothing much happened. I'm only realizing now how effective my forgetting campaign was, except now after discussing it, the silly book is coming back to me. Now, I have to go see the movie version of Twilight, just to see if it translated well at all.

6) Oh, and did you know that the Secret Diary of a Call Girl is based on a blog? I'm oddly fascinated by it. I've been distracted by that today as well.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I think I have discovered the root to all of my knitting problems: my crochet background.

For the two years that I've been both a crocheter and knitter (although I have known how to knit a little longer than two years), I've been plagued by twisted stitches. I blamed it on my purls (which were to blame once). Then, I blamed it on knitting through the back loop (which led to a brief flirtation with combination knitting). And now, I think I know the new culprit: I twirl my yarn in a way more befitting my crochet background.

The reason for the sucky knitted twists (which I've turned into a stylistic element in my dad's scarf) is because I have been crocheting for 20 years now, and that's enough time to get stuck in one's ways. I've heard people complain about everything from how one holds a hook (knife or pencil) to grabbing or throwing the yarn. And none of these issues ever plagued my crochet. I generally throw the yarn instead of grabbing the yarn with the hook, but then I'm all about "grabbing" if I have to do a chain of more than three. And even though the act of throwing yarn in crochet is similar to the act of grabbing yarn in knitting, there's a nuance that no one ever bothered to tell me about. Nuances create or eliminate twists.

And so now, I'm wondering how I should proceed. I can't become an English-style knitter (I tried back when I learned and created my own flawed version of continental). I am commonly too lazy to be a combination knitter (I'd have to remember to ssk when patterns say to k2tog, and vice versa with some rearranging stitches), plus I'm wondering if combination can be done effectively in the round or if we just live with twists if there are no purls to right a twist. And then, I am too stubborn in my crochet methods to likely be very good at changing a similar method just for my knitting. So, I'm lost and looking for suggestions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dear Music Department on "Life",

I think it's important to note that usually when I love a television show, I'm not a huge fan of the music used on the show. However, I realized a few weeks back that "Life" and I have a connection. Now, I could say that it's Damian Lewis, because I do generally have a soft spot for him. I could also say that it's Donal Logue or Robin Weigert (who I really do miss) because they are both awesome. It could also be that Sarah Shahi plays one of those few female police officers who isn't annoying because she's trying to prove something and being a false version of tough. But you know, they aren't the reason I don't want to miss the beginning of the show. Dear Music Department, it's because of what you present me in those first few minutes. And then the rest of the music? It's like we are music soulmates, all of us (Jennifer Blank, Liza Richardson, Michael Baber, and Tricia Halloran). I mean, seriously, I'm listening to Cat Power right now on the show. Right now! I love you guys. I mean, Cat Power!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


A few things I've been wondering today:

1) How do people not get into car accidents if they swerve between two lanes for more than five minutes?

2) Why are the jerkiest asswipes on the road generally driving BMWs or pickups?* And is it that they don't notice that they are endangering the lives of others as well as their own, or that really risking one's own life is just that much of a rush?

3) What makes vegetarian chili something other than a tomato stew with beans? And why is my mom's so much better if the only difference between mine and hers is that I used less zucchini?**

4) Why is it that when I am under a few strict deadlines, now is the time that I want to pull out a skein of wool and knit a hat?*** On top of that, why don't I fear deadlines like I should?

5) Why was the cornbread done in half the time the instructions gave?

There's a spat brewing in this household, and no matter how I worry about what the other party feels or thinks, I know that I am the one in the right. I'm just beginning to wonder if this was the right time to be right. Then again, if not now, everything, including my well-stewed bitter resentment, would have come out in a couple of days and that would have been ugly. Best to deal with it now, right? But how do you seem less like a jerk when the other party doesn't want to concede that you are in fact right?

*I'm not saying that all drivers of BMWs and pickups are jerky asswipes, just that the jerkiest of the asswipes always seem to drive these vehicles.

**I am going to be all chili-ed out by the time of the chili cook-off at work in over a week, but I'm doing this so we have more competitors. Although, I'm not sure I can turn in a tomato stew.

***I get that the desire to knit is directly related to the fact that I've been crocheting like a fiend for weeks on end. But why can't my brain turn off that immediate gratification button.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How could you?

For all of the deserving cries of "Yes, we did" and "Yes, we can", I am crippled by the question "How could you, California? How could you?"

You've broken my heart before, California, but it's been years since then. And I thought maybe you had grown up, maybe you wouldn't be a school bully this time. But as of this moment, 52% of you are. You looked at one sentence and decided that it was okay to take away a person's right to marry whomever they choose. You might have voted for a presidential candidate of hope, but you turned and voted elsewhere out of fear. How could you? I can't defend you. I can't say, "Gosh, I'm happy I'm a Californian" because of you. Instead, I'm sitting here asking "Why can't I be from Massachusetts? Why can't I be proud of my home? How can you let so many people down?"

I just don't get it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh, and with a note of honesty, the problem the Yarn Harlot describes here is also my current problem. Although, I have nothing finished from my trip, not even the things I was meant to finish before I left, so I'm even worse.

spotting the wonder

I realized this morning as I tried to pry The Wonder Spot from my hands that the reason I like Melissa Bank's writing so much is that she's so remarkably good at a first person narrative. In general, I get irritated by novels in first person, which I began to think was just a preference, but then when I read good first person, I realize that I don't have issues with the style, I take issue with folks who just don't know what it should be.

Not to take horrible steps backward, but if you look at Twilight, nothing about it needed a first person narrative. And it reminds me of something I said when I was in a writing class in college, a lot of writers use first person because they don't have the energy to separate themselves from the story. I should also note that I was about two steps away from becoming a huge Edith Wharton fan (I still am, but I'm no longer a new fan, I'm a seasoned and respectable fan). There are also a couple of other things I've noticed about the first person narrative: diehard fans of that particular voice tend to be younger (or maybe I was just younger when I liked it a lot, but I do think it tends to draw you into the experience more when you're younger) and many writers of first person stories tend to not describe as much.

This isn't to say that there aren't awesome first person authors, because there are; it's just that sometimes people forget the skill required to pull it off. And I was about to go into my arguments on the chick lit sub-genre, but it's getting me a bit riled up, which leads me to the slippery slope towards yelling about Switzerland in 1971 (when women finally got the vote in that backwards nation). But I will say that if Candace Bushnell exemplifies modern chick lit, Melissa Bank deserves better that to be grouped there. Bank is such a plainly honest writer and so separate from the consumerism that seems to typify the new chick lit, that she should be exempt from genre definitions. And now I need to know when her next book comes out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's been about a week now since I finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and I'm still trying to decide if I liked it. And part of me is worried that I'm judging it as an adult, separated from the time the book depicts.

Things I really liked about it:
-The letter to a "friend" device. There's something freeing about that idea. It reminds me of Postsecret a lot, and I love Postsecret. There's an element of unflinching honesty at the same time that there's an element of self-censoring.

-The coverage of so many teen issues.

-The growth in Charlie's voice over the course of all those letters.

Things I didn't like:
-Sometimes, especially in the beginning, it felt like I was reading a letter written by a 12-year-old, not a kid who was supposedly tremendously bright.

-The layers and layers of abuse storylines. I'm not denying that this aspect is probably very honest to some, but it seemed overdone. It's as if once you adjust to one person's story involving sexual abuse, another is added. And I'll admit that it helps explains some things, but then it gets in the way of other aspects of the story.

-Charlie wore me thin, and it's a thin book. That's why it took so long to finish. I could only take that kid in small doses.

And I think what Sam describes as a wallflower is only related to Charlie at brief moments and for particular people. Charlie never gets to know much about the people he doesn't love completely.

I think I'm voting that I didn't like the book enough to say that I liked it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sometimes, the day is only salvageable because of xkcd

And sometimes the difference between a good and bad day is how long it takes me to notice xkcd's random function.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Work is defeating me and I am tired of thinking about chlorinated solvents.

The shawl that I need to wear next Saturday is beating me, but only because work has depressed my strength.

I am resenting a tree planting that I'm going to on Saturday because it interferes with my ability to finish work and the shawl before I go to New York on Monday. Then there are the various wedding and new baby gifts that I'm resenting too. I am a walking vessel of resentment.

Although, escaping to New York for a little over a week sounds lovely. Except that people will be calling me from California and forgetting the time difference, or worse calling from Guam. Plus, there's the bonus points associated with seeing one of my best friends that I don't get to see often enough. If only there was time to jaunt down to Connecticut to visit my former home of four years. But I do get to go to Niagara Falls finally and be the weirdo looking for things that were in Wonderfalls.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

bits of random

Things that were ignored during the Twilight overdose:

The Chihuly exhibit at the DeYoung...There are moments when the art world seems to do everything in its power to piss me off. Kenneth Baker did it. It's how he takes the word "decorative" and turns it into a pejorative. It's like taking the word "craft" and translating it as "scrapbooking." He claimed that Chihuly's pieces were empty, which also makes me wonder if he really saw them. I'm not saying that Dale Chihuly has depicted peace or agony in glass, but art is more than what one person who doesn't feel it thinks. Art is what any one individual makes of it. And sometimes art is defined more by the audience than the artist. To presume that because he walked out of that room empty, that I would do the same, is arrogance. Or that's my stand at least. And I am a girl who loves everything Marcel Duchamp ever did, especially the snow shovel.

Then, there's the picture I finally took of my beloved battlestar museum...the deYoung.

And the tomato that decided to arrive just before autumn. It will be a miracle if it turns red.

So far, the only thing that has endeared the American Life on Mars to me is the David Bowie song. Harvey Keitel is not Philip Glenister. Gretchen Mol is not Liz White. It's the sort of thing that it hard to like because you loved the original. It has to exceed at such an extreme level in order to manage against sincere affection. Not to mention, I love the end of the British Life on Mars, and knowing that the American show won't take the same course hurts. But I hope that Americans like it because it is a good show, I just can't give it my vote. Harvey Keitel is not Philip Glenister.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

But Awesomeness While I'm Recovering

Magic For Beginners as a free download! I love Kelly Link! Her writing is weird and subtle, which are both lovely things.

the book that no longer is

My sister was on vacation last week, so yesterday when I was halfway through Breaking Dawn and she called to discuss something like being scarred by the horrible pasta she had, I mentioned why I hated Breaking Dawn. And it's not just a dull hate, it's full out hate. Let's say I can ignore the fact that I feel like Meyer betrayed her characters, there's the crushing fact that the book was nothing more than some horrible SciFi Channel movie that you look at the ad for and ask "Who would spend the money?" But I can't ignore the betrayal, it hurt when suddenly the character I loved became someone else. It hurt when Bella made so many horrible and wrong decisions that I couldn't even pretend to like her. And so what did I tell my sister? "I hate this book like the Matrix sequels, and like the Matrix sequels, once I finish this book, I will no longer acknowledge it." So, this is my last acknowledgment of the book. In my mind, there's a book that will never be written that was the true end to the series. There's an end where Bella chooses Jacob, where she chooses her mother and father over vampirism, where she makes the right choices.

Okay, let's say I didn't think Jacob was awesome until the book I will shortly ignore. Even if I didn't like him, the Edward I would have expected would have been a better man, a man who knew what was wrong and what was right. A vampire having sex with a human? That's wrong. A vampire marrying a human? That's wrong. A vampire claiming to love a human letting her choose mortal danger over safety? That's wrong. Everything the whiny, little vampire does as it relates to Bella is wrong. Everything that his family condones is wrong. For moral vampires, they're lacking in sense and morality as it relates to human interaction. If they were the good guys they claimed, they would have stayed away from Bella. They should have stayed away from her, even if Mr. Whiny found her irresistible. Even if they wanted Edward to not be lonely, letting him develop that great a fondness for a human was wrong. It's morally reprehensible of them to let it go on. It's a matter of safety. My only wish is that when Bella went cliff jumping that one time, that Jacob had been there, because then we would have had a responsible story.

This is of course also ignores the fact that Bella Swan is an idiot on so many levels, and I say this as I mention that her lack of self-worth is disturbing. Why's she an idiot?

1) Her safety is ignored.
2) Her family's safety is ignored.
3) She's willing to die for what's killing her.
4) She chooses someone who struggles not to kill her with every breath over someone who struggles to protect her.
5) She has sex with a vampire.
6) She marries a vampire.
7) She chooses an eternity with a vampire over her family. (I actually find this offensive. It makes me hate Bella.) It's one thing if her family's horrible, but they aren't. And for someone who thinks so poorly of herself, why does she want eternity when she fears that he might not even want her for real?

What I did like about the book?

On page 611, there's a footnote made after a comment that made me crack up. I love that sort of thing. I love the self awareness Meyer left in that comment.

And then, when Bella hears the child's nickname, she screams that someone gave the girl the nickname of the Loch Ness monster. I loved that bit.

But now, the book no longer exists.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

eclipse-y twilight

If I don't finish the Twilight saga this weekend, I promise you I will crumble in defeat and tears of fatigue. I just can't maintain this schedule anymore. And I can honestly say that in spite of all marriage talk in Eclipse, which does make me vomit a bit, I think I might like it as much as Twilight. And if I'm honest about my honesty, 90% of that has to do with Jacob Black who is plain endearing; the other 10% has to do with Edward realizing he might lose the Bella battle. Because damn it, Jacob is the right choice. Now I'm just afraid of all of the wedding talk in Breaking Dawn.

On other notes, Cat Bordhi kicks ass.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yes, Jacob. No, Edward.

But more importantly, thanks to Alice, I've discovered Failblog. It makes my days brighter. It's sort of like absurdist theater. I'm reminded of Samuel Beckett and Rosencrantz-era Tom Stoppard.

And thanks to Matt, I discovered Voxtrot a few (a couple?) of years ago. And not only does Voxtrot have an awesome podcast with videos and mixtapes and covers and live recordings, but they introduced me to the Takeaway Concerts (known to others as Concerts a Emporter). Honestly, there's nothing cooler than awesome bands performing songs live on the streets of Paris. Even if the bands weren't cool, the whole recording live videos on the streets of Paris is cool enough.

Monday, September 22, 2008

When did Heroes become a horror show and less of a superhero show? Not that I dislike horror, but I don't expect Hannibal Lecter horror on primetime television.

And I am back to preferring Jacob Black.
Time for a revision...maybe Jacob Black isn't the right one, says the girl on page 269. And slowly, the inappropriate crush on the fictional character is waning. But I still don't like Edward all that much.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bella Swan is an idiot

Now, this is all I can say while on page 238 of New Moon. Bella Swan is truly an idiot. Okay, I get the whole obsession with the insanely beautiful, impossibly perfect Edward, but when there's a nice, sweet kid that you like spending time with and who doesn't want to suck your blood, why would anyone mope over Edward? Seriously. Maybe I'm the minority, but I actually think Edward's a bit annoying. All this "I love you, but I'm too dangerous, you should stay away from me, but here I'm going to kiss you because you're still there" crap irritates me. Not to mention that Bella's an idiot on all points that involve Edward and Jacob. And to anyone who cares for the opinion of a girl on page 238 of New Moon, Jacob is the right one. Although, considering that Bella is this much of an idiot (hiking alone when she shouldn't and her father just asked her not to?), Jacob's perfect for someone else, someone not an idiot in love with a vampire who ditched her. I'm renaming my Clapotis "Bella Swan is an idiot", as I'm knitting that while reading (the things I'm crocheting require more focus).

My sister tells me that Then She Found Me, the movie, is virtually nothing like the book. So, while I liked the movie (although, there's another character who doesn't deserve the perfection she screws over), she fumes over it because she doesn't understand why an ex-husband had to be invented and why pregnancy needed to be an issue.

What else? I'm severely behind on projects because someone keeps allowing me to start new ones. I haven't bought yarn in over three weeks, and I only thought about buying yarn six times in the last week. I made a tomato basil soup that was lovely, but the sister says isn't as good as Boudin's, but we both acknowledge that I had no idea what I was doing. And I have an inappropriate crush on a fictional character: Jacob Black. I hope I'm not the only one.

Oh, Alaska in Winter is so fucking awesome. And I am saying this as a total Zach Condon junkie, but really if there was a soundtrack to my life and way of thinking, "Dance Party in the Balkans" would be it. And if you were wondering, Zach Condon is another inappropriate crush I have, but he's too talented not to adore, so you can't judge me. If I didn't love him, it would be wrong on many levels.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Okay, so, I'm sure others have taken classes from her before, I mean she is the queen of thinking of innovative knitting, so I can't assume that I'm the first. But the thing is, I am a crocheter who knits. When I think of yarn, I think of crochet. I knit for reasons I'm not sure I understand because I realized a couple of weeks ago that the soothing effect crocheting has on me does not translate to knitting. In the end, I think it's that if I make a mistake in crochet, it's not the end of the world, but in knitting, I could lose everything (I'm just not as confident). But a knitting class from a knitting master! There's a part of me that acknowledges that if I didn't knit on occasion that I might have learned how to knit just to take one of her classes.

And if you are actually reading and are actually interested, I am taking the Moebius Basket class at the Yarn Boutique in Lafayette, California.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Plainsong with fringe

Plainsong was lovely. I highly recommend it. Highly. It's that sort of quiet and easy story that just seeps into you. It's the kind of story that makes you forget the obsessive love story of a teenager and a vampire. I almost don't want to go back to the Twilight series.

On the issue of new TV shows...Fringe. I'm not sure that I'll stay with the show, but I do know that Joshua Jackson is still adorable, and that soft spot I had for Pacey remains. I think I actually missed him.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I miss Twilight. I am sticking to my decision to take a break, but it hurts, which of course makes it sound like I don't like Plainsong, which isn't true. Plainsong is a quiet story and I like quiet stories.* But I miss the intensity of Twilight, the rush of the words.

Otherwise, it's a bitch working on big projects that feel like they'll never be done. I have two afghans wanting to be finished, a sweater I need to fix the collar on, hats that failed miserably, two afghans I need to start, a scarf to finish, the Clapotis, the things I'm forgetting, and the charity stuff for work. I need to learn not to start stuff before I finish other things.

And in honor of the Yarn Harlot's time in London, here's another photo of a bit of London. No crazy apocalyptic skies, but a building with bright red brick, brighter than any brick I've grown accustomed to here. (And if you are one of those people who want to know where this building is, it was on the walk from Kensington Palace to the Queensway station [which is one of my mom's dreaded stations because of the elevator] along Bayswater Road.)

*Quiet stories remind me of when a creative writing professor** mentioned that I didn't have much going on in my stories, and I still wonder what I was supposed to do. I argued that not all stories should have something crazy to them, but I don't think she liked my argument. Then again, I didn't like her stories, so it's sort of fitting. And what sort of person assigns her own stories as a reading assignment for a creative writing course? Honestly?

**Speaking of college, I think my freshman counselor (a senior at the time) is one of the writers of Four Christmases. Everything indicates it's him, but no distinct proof (unless there's something in the alumni magazine I rarely read if they aren't writing about the new completely sustainable building on campus).

Monday, September 8, 2008

We can have the whole world

It's been years since I read Hemingway*, but as I was cleaning up my bookmarks, I ran across a dead link to something I've always loved. But here's a live link:

Hills Like White Elephants

*Please note, I haven't read everything by Hemingway, only what little could fit into a geologist's class schedule.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

movie obsessing

I totally forgot to talk movies.

Brief Encounter...flippin' awesome. Trevor Howard was so beautifully intense. Celia Johnson so marvelously tragic. I'm even amazed it was made in 1945. I can't express how much I love old movies (1950s and earlier) that don't suffer from over-acting in the extreme.

Control...Informative and tragic. Sam Riley was excellent. It made me want to listen to Joy Division and New Order. My only complaint is that an excellent actress like Samantha Morton was put in the role of wife. It's not like there were awesome parts for women in it, and if I was an awesome actress, I'd want to be in Control too, but at the same time, awesome actresses should have more options than playing the wife/mother/girlfriend/sister. I don't fault Control with this, it just reminded me.

And now, I'm watching one of my mainstays: Me Without You. Aside from Oliver Milburn, who is adorable and lovable as Nat, Michelle Williams and Anna Friel give such honest performances, especially Anna who lays everything out. And then there's the romance to it. But can I tell you how much I love the word "wretched", it sounds exactly like what it means and should be used much more often. (Edited to add that the use of "I Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode is also perfect.)


It took a day, two movies, lots of gripes, and angry knitting to decide on the correct path. My sister and I discussed what was what and we both decided that it was best if I waited on New Moon. We then decided that maybe a change of scenery would be good, which led to Plainsong getting the nomination (although, Magic For Beginners is existing as my in-case-I-need-something-a-bit-more-genre book). In the end, too much animosity towards teens, unseasonable anger on my part, and fear that what breezed by might turn into an aching sore.

I almost (was two steps away from it) picked up Half-Blood Prince again. But then, coupled with the new July release date and information that they added a scene of much peril at the Burrow to the movie, I decided that Harry Potter and I were on shaky ground as well.

On other notes: Ghirardelli Square is as busy as I remembered it, worse for the Chocolate Festival. And I can honestly say that the only reason I didn't leave on sight (which also would have been rude to my oldest non-family friend) was because the chocolate briefly soothed my anti-social personality. Too many airports in too few weeks, and too many people with too little sense. And then, the entire dorky reason I went was a complete let-down: The Pie Hole (from Pushing Daisies) was closed and all I got was a sucky flyer. Not to mention that everyone was in San Francisco today. I did take a few pictures of stuff, but it's standard stuff and taken because although I go the SF somewhat often, I rarely go to the tourist traps, so I never see Alcatraz that close.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Two things I've learned today:

1) Dream In Color's Fatty yarn is too bulky to make a Verity without it looking absurd, even with adjusting the pattern for obvious yarn size differences. I'd take a picture, but I'm too unphotogenic at this exact moment to dare.

2) I shouldn't think that I can outsmart Ysolda on her own pattern.

Then there's the thing I'm not learning:

How much did I like Twilight? I read the first 330 pages with enthusiasm, and then around 330, I took a break because I suddenly became annoyed. And I read the remaining 170 quickly, but I was always aware of my vague sense of irritation. Now, with the book finished and sitting on the footrest/yarn-concealer, do I want to start the next one now? Do I want to take a break and read something else? Maybe Half-Blood Prince again as I don't get the movie this November? Maybe finish a book I haven't been able to finish since January? A book I should have read last summer? Or any number of the books waiting for me?

Actually, as I considered reading Under the Rose or I Love You, Beth Cooper just then, I realized that I'm not in the mood for those younger than 23, which means that maybe New Moon is a bad idea. Does one rest on one's Neil Gaiman crutch, because he does always make me happy? Or do I go non-genre? Or do I go genre, but not Neil Gaiman or Stephenie Meyer?

As nothing came to me then, I suppose I should just watch Control or Brief Encounter and refocus.

Chocolate Festival tomorrow! And San Francisco buses...with a tourist attraction...ugh.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

science fiction rambles

A few years ago, my sister was in college and in her strange Humanities class, she had to read a bunch of books including Watchmen and Neuromancer. She was fine with Watchmen, but Neuromancer was not so easy. We made an agreement, we'd read it together. Why together? Because I'm a bit more well-versed in the ways of science fiction and furthermore, I understood (and still understand) the trust factor.

If you know science fiction, you probably read Neuromancer or have heard of it. (It's biggest claim to fame in recent pop culture is that the first line inspired the writing of The Matrix movies...I like to believe there was only one of those movies.) If you aren't an SF person/reader, there's an aspect of our literature that will likely scare you off, it kept my sister from getting more than a few pages in Neuromancer: world creation. Science fiction (or speculative fiction) readers, and probably fantasy readers, are able to ignore the unfamiliarity. It's not that we'll never figure it out, it's that we know that we'll catch on, we'll understand, we trust the author. Readers of non-genre fiction sadly don't seem to have the same sense of trust, which is why they tend not to stray too far from books found in that ambiguous category called "fiction and literature." Things found in that category are based in a world everyone knows, which eliminates needing to trust the author, unless an author sneaks into that section based on other books (e.g., Cormac McCarthy, Karen Joy Fowler) or based on the age of the book (e.g., Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, William Shakespeare [who should really be in poetry and plays]).

Now, I forgot all of that until yesterday, when I read an interview with Neal Stephenson. He's actually the reason I could read Neuromancer without freaking out over the things I didn't immediately understand. In fact, after reading The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, Neuromancer was pansy stuff. But anyway, he said exactly what I've been saying to my sister for years now: the reader needs to trust the author. He even wrote a foreword to his book to help out the uninitiated. If only the uninitiated would pick up one of his books and trust him.

Or maybe it's an issue of imagination, but I'd rather think that it's trusting an author that's the problem. Too many people have read Harry Potter for it to be an imagination issue, right?

Also: Finished The Road, which I liked so much more than a person probably should. Started a Clapotis and am having difficulty with wanting to do all of the purl rows. And I'm loving Good Omens, but Neil Gaiman and I have a connection.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Forget heroin, it's nothing compared to yarn.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

marketing ploys

First, I should say that to some extent, I started reading The Friday Night Knitting Club reluctantly. There's the knitting aspect (I can knit well enough, but I crochet and the world's ignorance towards crochet actually does tend to injure some and piss off people like me). Then, there's the completely ignoring crochet aspect, which pisses me off more. And then, there's the part of me that really just wants to hunker down with more Neil Gaiman because for some reason that man makes me happy with whatever he writes.

But, I actually do like The Friday Night Knitting Club (I'm on page 205 of 366-ish). I appreciate the fact that none of the women are idiots (which I wish I didn't have to admit happens more often than it should with authors of all genders), the characters are fully formed, and it's not a story about people who hurt others for no reason. And the worst part about this book is that having spent more than 48 hours away from my yarn and my hooks and needles, I feel the need to go buy more. It's not the wanting a knitting circle aspect, because I have Yarn Club which is better, I think it's the fact that someone else is waxing poetic about one of my addictions and an addict can only take so much, and I'm weak.

Now, I must go find my bra to go shuffle off to a couple of stores. Here's why:

1) Although I bought yarn online for a baby blanket (it was on super sale at Webs), I need yarn for the future baby's older brother. I'm trying to decide on what Batman symbol to use. Classic and black and yellow? Modern and black and gray? I'm thinking classic as I can't endorse a child that young being a fan of the new Batman movies, even if they are awesome.

2) I need ideas for a wedding blanket. I have two and a half months for this next one and although I have ideas, I'm not sure that they are the right ones and I need to be around different yarns to figure out the best path. (The problem is that I have a certain style, which is probably very West Coast and very bright and very folk-sy. And the recipients are East Coast and attorneys and they are pretending to be traditional, which makes me think of boring colors, and boring colors are just rather difficult for me to work with.) But then I return to my problems because I'm not sure if I want them to have a blanket or something akin to a bedspread.)

Anyway, off to find bra and succumb to the marketing that is The Friday Night Knitting Club.

Monday, August 4, 2008

With the fourth season of Doctor Who over, I feel it's time to do my unsolicited recap:

1) New, but really a returned, companion: Donna Noble. I've read that some think she cries too much, that she's too loud, that she's annoying. And I agree, but disagree. Honestly, I like Catherine Tate so much more now that she's been on Doctor Who; she's proven her ability to act beyond comedy sketches. And I even like her show a lot more now. What's refreshing, though, is that she was just a friend, she didn't fall in love with the Doctor, she just wanted to hang out and travel.

2) Generally, the stories were weaker and the story arc harder to get into. Season one was Bad Wolf, season two was all about losing Rose, and season three was about the last of one's kind. And season four was about time folded to converge around Donna? Usually, you can feel the connection, but season four felt like a season without a theme. Then, again, season three dawdled along without letting Martha be much of her own person for far too long, as if the writers weren't convinced that she was as good as Rose.

3) The end. If one hasn't seen it, I won't say anything about it other than the fact that it weirds me out a bit. However, I'm super proud of David Tennant for doing what he did and somehow making me believe. But the end with Rose somehow felt dishonest. Donna's end was honest at least.

And now, I start to delete episodes from Tivo and eagerly await Steven Moffat's turn as lead writer. I love Steven Moffat.

Friday, August 1, 2008


So, I'm going to have to say that these couple of days haven't sucked. Sure, there are things that annoy me, things that I already know, things that I don't give a rat's ass about, but I am actually liking the class I am taking in Denver for work. The people are nice, bright, and motivated. In other words, they actually do group work and when we disagree, we disagree with reason. I love arguments where you learn. Anyway, it's a bit corporate whore of my to say this, but I do really like this class on how to be better at my approaching job function.

On other topics:

I will finish book number four on the flight home.

I am actually making headway on my version of Eva's Shawl, which I named after the most romantic character I could imagine (Marianne Dashwood*).

I return home to pieces of an afghan that I need to sew together and ship out.

No news from Joss Whedon.

*Is it just me or do other folks think that Jane Austen wasn't really a fan of Marianne Dashwood? Sense and Sensibility was clearly written from Elinor's perspective, but Elinor loves her sister. And yet, there's this tone of "what a silly girl Marianne is" and "look at what she did to herself by being honest about what she thought and felt". It's almost as if Marianne is a warning. Eliza (pregnant Eliza) is the girl who exists as the example of what could have happened to Marianne, but didn't because Willoughby actually ended up loving her, although not enough to ignore the monetary demands. And it's not that this treatment of Marianne is surprising when you have the stoic and perfect Elinor to compare her to, but it doesn't coincide with the tones of the movie and the recent miniseries. Marianne is treated as young, bright, and empassioned by the films, but Austen gives the character this tinge of foolishness (much like Mrs. Dashwood). It's almost a hint that Austen would be creating Emma, because Emma is the only protagonist ever treated as a bit of a fool. And I will say that I think Austen was brilliant in how she presented two sisters (Elinor "Sense" Dashwood and Marianne "Sensibility" Dashwood) and had them do a role reversal when it came to love. Not to say that Marianne didn't fall madly in love with Colonel Brandon (because only an idiot wouldn't), but she recognizes that it's different. And here I end my essay and commentary on S&S, but I would like to know that I'm not the only one who thought Marianne was treated a bit cruelly by her creator (and not by circumstance, but by characterization).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Things I've learned in the last 24 hours...

Some of the folks who work at Entertainment Weekly look like normal people. They aren't want-to-be starlets who pretend to like Battlestar Galactica because it's somehow trendy. These people are my people and they really do like what any decent person would like (although, I think they did say negative things about The Fountain, but they can't be perfect).

They actually believe in the complete logic behind the absurdity of wanting Joss Whedon to be interviewed by the fiber arts community (specifically the crochet part). And if I knew folks at EW, I would make them a hat.

And my sister is a bigger geek than she would ever admit to being. Guess who arrived first for the IMAX screening of The Dark Knight at 7:30 last night? Guess who wanted to be there by 4:00 PM? Not even the folks who look like geeks were there at 5:30 PM. But let me add, the Watchmen trailer on IMAX is glorious.

Oh, and, why does the new Harry Potter trailer just not do it for me? I want to see the movie, but that trailer doesn't make me want to buy a ticket to the new Mummy movie, which we all know we were supposed to do just to see the trailer big. And why's Ginny in a robe? Also, why's Ron on the floor? (I should probably re-read the book.)

On a separate note: off to Denver today to be bitter about losing my weekend to work and training.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Attention: Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day and Neil Patrick Harris

Dear madam and sirs,

I feel I must call attention to the plight of one of my people*: Kim Werker. Recently, Mr. Whedon made a statement in an interview that he was waiting for a piece on Dr. Horrible in "Crocheting Monthly". Regrettably, there is no publication with that title as far as I know. Even more regrettable is the fact that the world of crochet has so few regular print publications. We are a large and growing faction, and then there are the knitters, spinners, and weavers.

But more on point is that Ms. Werker is the editor of a particular highly esteemed crochet magazine (Interweave Crochet) and the keeper of a crochet community . And she's one of your fans. She has even extended a gracious invitation to interview Mr. Whedon for Crochet Me (her reasons why are here).

If you doubt her affection, she has mentioned you and your work repeatedly on her blogs. She even wrote a lovely post all about Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog.

Now, Ms. Day, Mr. Fillion, Mr. Harris, and Mr. Whedon, I ask all of you to contact Kim (or me because I'm a good swooning fangirl if you want or need one) to make good on this "desire" to see Dr. Horrible buzz in a crochet publication. I know an offer of designing a sweater for Mr. Whedon and selling the pattern to benefit Equality Now, but I'm going to add to that (although, I'm not a fiber celebrity, so I'm sure that no one would really care want to buy anything of mine, but I'm sure that Matt can attest to the fact that I know how to use a crochet hook effectively). If Mr. Whedon agrees to be interviewed by Kim, I will give 60% of my crochet/knitting time to charity works. Example charity works include: working at the local food bank at least one evening every other week, crocheting hats and booties for hospitals, planting trees with Friends of the Urban Forest monthly, crocheting at least three blankets for Project Linus or Warm Up America by the end of the year, and all carpool crocheting time will go to scarves to be donated to a charity that will take them. This is ignoring the scarf I will be making for the Red Scarf Project and the afghan we make at work for a currently unspecified charity. And that's a lot of my free time, folks, and I don't have as much as you might think.

Please consider the offer. I might even make a ripple afghan to match Willow's.



*My people are crocheters in this case. My other sets of people are those with naturally curly hair, those with red hair, and those who make a living cleaning up the environment.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

There are certain days in a girl's life that make you proud. Today, I beat Comcast!* Huzzah!

I finally have a cable box that works with Tivo, the TV, and the VCR (the DVD player is a separate thing completely).** And I even managed to figure out to get the picture clear again even though the Comcast lady didn't suggest the solution.

But the match was a close one: Comcast with 6 points (no On Demand for almost four years, first missed appointment, second missed appointment, Motorola DCH70 that hates my Tivo, snowy broadcast stations); Marikka with 7 points (get cable box that likes Tivo [3 points], solve connection problem [1 point], last word [3 points]). Although, technically, considering all of the problems, I feel like they won. It's one of those things when the battle is so exhausting that when you win, you don't feel victorious.

Now, off to watch the Watchmen trailer.

I should note that in spite of my many issues with Watchmen, I do want to see the movie. There is one plot point that I will never be able to get over if they keep it as Alan Moore wrote it in the book, but I have hope that they changed it. But, I should acknowledge that the issue I have with Moore's work is the issue I've had with V for Vendetta and The Lost Girls (which I know is pretty much just glorified porn): Moore either doesn't get women or he isn't a big fan of women. Evey of the book is a wuss, she's almost absent from her life and the decisions she makes, which I don't think would be true of a young woman who is in her predicament. Evey could have been a tremendously strong figure, but Moore made her so annoying that it took me months to finish V for Vendetta (and in spite of him, the movie made her what she should have been). I'll acknowledge that I'm probably not the best judge of The Lost Girls, I just didn't like it or care or find myself interested, but I just don't think I'm the intended audience. But with Watchmen, Sally Jupiter is betrayed repeatedly. Maybe that graphic novel was revolutionary, maybe it did change things, but it continued the tradition of shitting on the female characters. Sally's an interesting character until Moore does a "but guess what?" manuever. Her daughter, Laurie, is pretty much dull all of the time, but maybe she gave up because she was essentially an old blue man's sex object for years. Who's interesting in Watchmen? The guys. Hell, even the boring Night Owl is more interesting than Laurie. Anyway, I have a glimmer of hope that someone changed the big betrayal or lessened it at least.

But why can't Moore be more like Neil Gaiman? Gaiman clearly gets women and likes us. Anyway...

*Yes, I pay them an exhorbitant amount for the limited service and damned crappy customer service (the lady tonight was holding a conversation with other people while pretending to give me instructions).

**No AV center. Yes, one might simplify our lives, but I beat the whole setup, so as long as we know how it works, that's all that's necessary. And I available to setup your cords to make five boxes work together without a sixth box.

Marikka and the Battle for a Cable Box

Yes, I know that cable boxes should actually be called set top boxes, but my Tivo box is also called that technically, and that means that everyone gets confused by it.

My archnemesis was revealed this weekend to be Comcast. Perhaps they were showing me the truth last month, but I was too busy battling soil and water to notice (hard to explain).

Here's the boring recap because I have to call them to see what's gone wrong this time:

1) Late June, Comcast never showed for an appointment. I didn't call and yell at them because I had to catch a flight two hours later.

2) On Sunday, Comcast missed another appointment window. The complaint call reveals that instead of putting the right phone number on the work order, they put the old one on there. No real apology, ends with me so frustrated I watch Peep Show on Youtube for the rest of the day. I decide to go into an office to exchange the cable box.

3) On Monday, a line of 10 people takes 40 minutes. I get a new box that my Tivo can't talk to because no one knows the code for the IR blaster (if you aren't TV tech initiated, you aren't alone). Comcast doesn't know what I'm talking about when I'm asking for the blaster code. Tivo tells me on Tuesday that no one has a solution for this new box (Motorola DCH70), so I should go get a different model.

4) Tuesday, I have another version of my previous cable box, but it still isn't talking to Tivo, so I need to end here.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Absolutely pathetic, I know, but hey, only three people might on occasion see this, and no one was asking if I'm okay or finding out if I got trapped in black hole or anything, so, no one really cares.

However, if you do by some freak chance read this, I've decided to update this with the cool stuff I've encountered of late:

Everyone's doing it, but so am I...Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is marvelous. First, I am quite loyal to Neil Patrick Harris since discovering that he's absolutely hilarious. Second, Nathan Fillion is charming and shockingly underappreciated, and the writers at EW need to realize that they were wrong to say he didn't have movie star good looks. Third, Joss Whedon. If you don't know his name, you haven't tried hard enough. (Although, I confess I haven't watched any episodes of Angel.) Oh, and it stops being free tomorrow, but I'll confess that the $3.99 for the season pass was so worth it. I mean, it's less than a fancy coffee and the enjoyment lasts so much longer. Not to mention, your fancy coffee won't sing for you.

And as I am commonly late to the game, I discovered The Guild tonight. In all honesty, I discovered it because I am an IMDB junkie and discovered that Felicia Day wrote it and was intrigued. But I should say that I am not a gamer, I just never got why videogames and their spawn were enjoyable. However, there's something oddly perfect, relatable, and honest about it. Because you know you've met those people if you aren't one of them. And it's a labor of love, and as a crafter, I get the labor of love aspect.

Emusic posted the top 100 albums list recently and fascinatingly enough one of my favorite albums ever got #1: In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. Part of the write up on the album says that people remember when they first heard it, and I am one of said nerds. I was in college, and in my junior year I had downloaded Napster when Napster was awesome, and somehow I began to obsess over bands with weird names, and Neutral Milk Hotel was one such band. I downloaded a few songs of theirs in senior year (I imagine the delay was being away all summer) before the evil Metallica sued my university (I've never liked Metallica, but I hated them after that and forevermore). And I was addicted, except that addiction never cropped up when I was at Cutler's looking for new CDs to buy and instead always expanded my Pulp and Blur collections. Anyway, a few years ago, I finally bought the album and I would like to note that "King of Carrot Flowers, Part 1" is my most played song on iTunes. (Although, Wolf Parade is sneaking up on NMH. And I'm offended that Arcade Fire is ranked higher than Elliott Smith on emusic's list. Smith wrote perfect songs and probably really deserves to be #1.)

And then there is Digital Detroit Radio, which I am shockingly behind on, but I was behind on a lot of internet-ish things of late. Hi Matt if you find this. And if you find this, yes, I've moved shop.

More later and maybe some fiber stuff.

ETA: Nothing more because my archnemesis decided to ruin my Sunday and my Monday, and now my Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Today, I learned that all of our talk about the foundation crochet is sort of late to the game. I wonder if it was forgotten because the people we learned from didn't have the right book (owning Beeton's instead of de Dillmont), and well, the history seems to be so commonly forgotten, particularly in our arts and crafts world. So, I give you the foundation crochet, known to Therese de Dillmont as "plain stitches for a chain".

And then, there's tapestry crochet.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Flat Korsnas 4
Originally uploaded by ettirgam.
In spite of my hopes and the encouragement of Danielle, it is time I should acknowledge that the Korsnas look/technique just isn't going to work in an afghan made by me. Reasons why I failed:

1) I like my afghans to bend without difficulty, which means I usually crochet them with a K (6.5 mm) hook when using worsted weight. I can use a J (6 mm), but it never feels right. The use of this big hook means gaps, which means you can hide things.

2) None of the designs looked right. The easy ones looked too busy. The ones I had to think through, looked weird that big.

3) I liked the random poppy design more than all of the Korsnas patterns.

4) Reverse single crochet or reverse half double just doesn't work with Korsnas, at least, not at that size.

So, I'm back to rethinking. The poppies will likely be for me, because poppies just don't strike me as the sort of thing the recipients would like.

And now, I am designing a baby/child sweater against the advice of a friend. One hopes that the afghan idea will arrive after that.

Oh, so that I don't sound like someone prone to whining, here's a pretty picture:

Temple of the Four Winds

Sunday, May 25, 2008

When the past sneaks up on you

Yeah, um, I'm innocently watching the Sundance Channel, and then, out of the blue, his face appears. Jamie Ponsoldt, as I knew him, was a kid who acted in a play I produced in college. We were almost in the same playwrighting class, but weren't because I felt like it was a class for actors who wanted to do something more than act, and I'm so not an actor.

Anyway, like usual, he makes me think of people I knew eight to twelve years ago. It also depresses me a little, but not for long.

Saturday, May 24, 2008



I knew that if I thought hard enough, long enough, I'd find the inspiration for Mick's wedding afghan. All it took was trying out a certain motif idea in tapestry crochet to get a flash of things I had seen, then thinking hard enough about what I think they (Mick and Carrie) would actually like.

So, now, to clean up my person and then sort yarn to see what I have and what I need.

Let me just leave with one word: Korsnas.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Today is crummy. If anything good comes out of it, that will be a miracle.

And because of my latest bit of unpleasantness, I also need to find a new optometrist.

Things used to be so much easier.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Choose your Doctor Who geek

News circled a fandom yesterday, and apparently, I might be in the minority when I confess that I am thrilled it happened. The plain facts are that Russell T. Davies is going to leave Doctor Who and is being replaced by Steven Moffat as lead writer and executive producer. My reaction? I nearly bounced around the office with the news (I resisted because I'm already mocked for watching Doctor Who).

But, apparently, there are folks who think that Moffat's writing of the Doctor is out of character. That, of course, makes me wonder:

1) Is remaining true to the character more important than brilliantly written and executed shows?

2) What were these out-of-characters moments?

3) Are these things that obvious?

I can come up with two out-of-character moments, both in the same episode ("The Girl in the Fireplace"): partying with the French while Rose and Micky are roaming a spaceship, and risking being trapped in France and leaving Rose and Micky to fend for themselves on a spaceship that is going to burn up the replacement human parts already in use. Do these break my heart? Hell no. I mean, don't those of us who claim a loyalty to the new Doctors (Nine and Ten) do so because this guy isn't the guy from the past? Would I expect the Tom Baker Doctor to do anything like that? Hell no, but then that Doctor pisses me off more than not.* But I acknowledge that those moments are a bit out of character, but not enough for me to have truly noticed and whined about. Then again, maybe I think damn good stories and solid plots ("Blink" anyone?) are more important. And maybe, just maybe, people act out of character on occasion, or is a minor slip of character not allowed in real people either?

And so, I am damned excited. I love Moffat and that's even if I ignore Coupling. This is not to say that I don't love RTD, I do. But in the grand scheme, it could have been so much worse (if you don't love Moffat), they could have chosen Uwe Boll to replace RTD.

*I am behind on my Doctor Who past, though. I am trying to catch up, but there's only so much I can do.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A moderately productive weekend report:

Saturday - A complete wash. I was a zombie. I crocheted like a fiend, watched more movies than I am proud to admit, and didn't go outside once. But I will claim that I needed a day of nothing with no requirements on my time.

Sunday - Late wake-up, late start, however

- I washed all of my clothes and linens (which I think could potentially count for 3.5 weeks' worth [fieldwork changes my clothing options and means I run out much later])

- I cut up and washed all the fruit in the house

- I went grocery shopping, which is a huge chore half of the time

- I organized the kitchen and it now looks like someone else's home

- I started my version of Eva's Shawl with some yarn from Artfibers

- I am 15 pages from finishing Sense & Sensibility

- I finished my improvised shawl. Once I block it (after deciding how I want to block it), I will report back on whether or not it worked out.

The things I should have done: review boring logs.

And I am just going to add that Flight of the Conchords make Monday mornings tolerable, washing dishes almost enjoyable, and making one's bed a lovely and creative experience. If I ignore the awesomeness of rapping about having tea with their grandma and the strange charm of "Leggy Blonde", there's the Donovan-esque "The Prince of Parties", which among other things contains these lyrics:

"Oh, pretty Prince of Parties, where do you get your clothes?
They're made of snow,
Pretty party clothes crocheted of snow."

When two New Zealanders sing about clothes crocheted of snow, how can you not be charmed even when doing the most menial of tasks.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A list of to-do's

1) Laundry
2) Clean laminate/vinyl/whatever-it-is floors
3) Organize kitchen
4) Hang kitchen basket
5) Find receipts for work
6) Find the top of the dining table and clear area around the table so that it can be used
7) Organize yarn that has spread across the apartment
8) Switch out winter clothes for summer clothes
9) Review boring logs
10) Design afghan for Mick's wedding gift
11) Design afghan for Yoomin's wedding gift
12) Design baby sweater for various friends who insist on spawning
13) Write out shawl pattern
14) Finish angora shawl
15) Start a version of Eva's Shawl by milobo
16) Finish reading Sense and Sensibility
17) Go for a walk each day
18) Vacuum
19) Clean balcony
20) Hang yellow jacket/wasp thing on balcony to keep them away (sister must do the hanging due to my vertigo problems)

Note that the title's apostrophe is meant to separate it from the hyphenate "to-do", but to still refer to it. There's just no good way to make "to-do" a noun and plural. And yes, I am altering the English language, but I am a progressive on language evolution.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Crochet Junkie

5:20 - First alarm goes off, ignore.
5:40 - Second alarm goes off, half-ignore.
6:20 - Finally get out of bed. Evacuate systems, start tea, debate lunch options.
6:30 - Decide to take lunch to work. Eat breakfast.
6:50 - Pretend to work on sister's cover letter. (Pretend because my brain isn't awake yet.

7:20 - Finish tea and juice and decide that today is a no-shower day. (I am one of those people whose skin and hair is all so dry that a shower can be skipped, but my hair is so curly that I still have to dunk my head in the shower to look presentable.) Curse the fact that we are going to hit a record high today. Wish that the Exxon Mobil CEO would just be quiet, he makes me almost as angry as G.W. Bush.

7:58 - Leave for work (luxury of a job without a strict daily schedule). Try to listen to the radio, but decide that everyone is irritating and this discussion of breasts just isn't entertaining, change back to the new The Raveonettes CD (Lust Lust Lust).

8:15 - Get to work. Realize while walking down the hall that my key card is in my car. Decide that I will see how irritating life without a key card is.

8:30 - Receive call from subcontractor. Some asshole!!! tagged my 21,000-gallon water tank that I was renting. If it can't be fixed in the Riverside yard, it has to be shipped to Bakersfield to be painted ($2000). Complain with sub that this drilling project was the worst ever for no good reason.

9:05 - Decide to tackle the invoices I've been ignoring because they make me think of unhappy things. Daydream about a shawl. Consider Afghans for Afghans as the next work yarn-related charity.

12:35 - Realize it's lunch time. Work through lunch. Wish that the Dream in Color Classy order was here already. Continue on with work.

14:00 - Remember how much expense sheets suck to complete. Onward.

16:30 - Get call from sister that she's going to a car museum. Remain confused for hours.

17:20 - Go home with boring logs and swear to work on them tonight.

18:00 - Get home. Eat some snacks that might include honey mustard pretzels and olives (I have an uncontrollable love for olives). Do not review boring logs.

19:30 - Have dinner. Long for a milkshake. Write sister's cover letter. Do not review boring logs.

20:55 - Pick up the crocheted lace shawl and continued. It's over eight feet long, but it's going to be longer. Watch The Office. Do not review boring logs.

21:30 - He'd have to be an ass to destroy my crush, but I totally adore John Krasiniski. Do not review boring logs.

22:00 - Should go to bed. Or figure out what to do to finish this shawl. Do not review boring logs. Somehow watch ER even though I don't really enjoy the show. Discover that most published crochet edges look too loud for what I want.

23:00 - Go to bed.

Follow-up: I did not review the boring logs. I did write a rather impressive cover letter for my sister (goes against the theory and all, but you don't know how much she hates her job and how much I hate her job, and I didn't lie in it, I just made her sound as brilliant as she is [when she wants to be]). My sister did apply for a job. I did not do any of the work-related things I was meant to. And it's damned hot.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Great Shawl Experiment

Because I have my best creative thoughts at work and my best work thoughts at home when I can afford to be creative, I have decided that I am going to do something that for some strange reason is natural to me: overambitious crochet plans.

This year will be the trial. What I am willing to divulge to the ether at large is that it will involve the following:

1) Shawls
2) Question-based style decisions
3) Character-based designs (more than just naming something after a character)
4) Crocheted lace

And my first one will have four planned outcomes, although, I suppose there could be more. My overall plan is to have a total of six versions, although if I'm a good girl, it will stretch to at least ten different versions of this experiment.

Now, off to be productive.

Monday, May 12, 2008

while I'm thinking about twine

Is there a way to get rid of the smell of twine? What does one wash/rinse twine in? Does one wash twine? I love the look of the bag, except that I dislike the weird chemical smell, and I'll never use it if I can't get rid of the smell. Any ideas?


So, now as I sip my coffee (which is an attempt to concentrate more at work, but which is failing because fatigue is winning), I am going to confess my failings...

1) I am terrible at updating.

2) I am rarely interesting enough to update.

3) My sister needs a new job otherwise I will start crying from wear whenever she walks into the apartment.

4) I think Zooey Deschanel might have a better album (She & Him's "Volume One") than indie princess Jenny Lewis. (And although I admire the theory and effort behind Scarlett Johansson's Tom Waits cover album, after listening to one song and seeing the video, I'm not sure that the effort was worth it.) And all of this makes me sort of an indie heathen (or one of those people that the hipsters shun because one hasn't abandoned Of Montreal yet).

5) I love unlikely actors playing superheroes...Robert Downey, Jr. and Tobey Maguire as prime examples.

6) I have to be a maid of honor in October and I am deciding when I need to get the dress, especially considering that I am going to resume my exercise efforts tonight. (I'm wondering if I should copy my sister and take a walking class, not because I don't know how to walk, but because I think a class might force me to actually do it instead of flaking under the stress of work.) It should be noted that exercise efforts stopped because I work too much, was on vacation, and couldn't convince myself to do anything after standing in the sun for ten hours.

On my crochet front:

A. I am working on a sweater (still), a hat (which makes me cry whenever I try to do my something neat with it), a lace shawl, a baby sweater, and a twine bag.

B. I need to block two hats and a lace scarf for gifts that are long overdue (oh so long overdue).

C. I am making another sweater for my grandmother because it turns out that the first one has become a favorite, and I owe my grandmother so much that I can only feel honored that a request was made.

D. I think I might turn Yarn Club at work into a charity project of sorts.

E. I return to my CGOA group this weekend!

F. I am trying to figure out how best to start designing crocheted garments if I have no time to do it. I am beginning to think that I need a schedule.

G. I have lots of bamboo yarn, which I'm not sure what I should do with.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I've been remiss, lacking, absent, and I'm sorry. The truth is that work went crazy, then I went on vacation to turn old, then I came back and work was crazy again, and now I'm about to disappear again. However, there are necessary updates and bits to mention and share.

1) I finished my second book this year! (My sister just finished her 17th.) However, I did just finish listening to an audiobook, so, maybe that qualifies as a third book. I'm working on improving these numbers, but if the numbers go up, then I crochet/knit less and therefore get tired and angry.

2) I turned 30 in Yorkshire at my favorite ruined abbey (Rievaulx). It was a lovely trip except for all of the snow, sleet, and hail in London.

3) I saw the end of Torchwood and the start of Doctor Who in England. I'd like to say that I did not approve of the end of Torchwood's season. Flat out did not approve. And at least Doctor Who has started up here, so that I don't feel like I'm missing out.

4) We (the office folks and I) finished our afghan for Victory Junction camp. It was sent off and not blogged about because I was on a flight to London before I could and then it wasn't on my mind at all.

5) I finished a few things: a Verity by Ysolda (but I am still Ms. Big Head and it looks silly on me), a broomstick lace scarf, one mitt (the other one just isn't something I'm in the mood for with it being this warm here). And I've started a crocheted beret, which I like, but dislike because I'm undoing as I go a lot, which makes one like the process less. I am taking a sweater to my field location with me so that maybe I'll finish it before I need to use it when fall comes around again.

Otherwise, I'm damned tired. Oh, and I was sick with a cold twice since I last wrote.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Here is my rather sad confession:

In spite of loving the purpose of the magazine, I feel myself slipping as a believer. The last issue of Interweave Crochet struck me as barely inspiring and now the new issue has left me with only really liking one of the designs offered, and that one design is a pair of socks. There is another design that I don't dislike, but I would never wear it and I don't know anyone who would. So, I'm in that precarious position where I'm not sure that I believe in the choices made by the magazine and might therefore not buy this issue. And this is the exact reason I never got around to ordering a subscription. What's the point in owning a magazine I don't really like anymore? It's sort of like what happened to Jane after a couple of years, which is another reason why I've never gotten around to Bust (I'm afraid that once I commit, it will abandon me).

Which leads me to something bigger:

It's not that I'm falling out of love with Ravelry, it's that I'm falling out of love with the forums. I love the purpose of the forums, but with the various battles, various cliques, and general lack of relevance to me and mine, I just can't stay there for very long. But then, I go through this falling out of love bit quite often, so clearly my attention span is wanting. And yet, I continue to update my projects. Ravelry is becoming my record. It will be my source of what I've actually done over the course of time when my sister taunts me with how many books she has read.

And something cheery:

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is an absolutely lovely movie. And I'm not saying this because I love Ciaran Hinds and Less Pace or because I think Frances McDormand and Amy Adams are fabulous, or because Mark Strong is convincing me that he is rather attractive. I say this is all objectivity. If I could go and see a movie right now, it would be that movie.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

It finally happened. While my sister has just finished her ninth book, I just finished reading my first book this year, which was half-cheating because I read quite a bit of it last year. Which of course leads to my confession: I am terrible about finishing books. I have at least ten books that I started reading last year that remain unfinished reads. And because I am who I am, I have excuses:

1) Yarn-related activities.
2) Work.
3) Travel.
4) Movies.
5) Baking.

However, I am professing it now. I plan on reading a Jane Austen novel a year. I'd say all of them, but it turns out that crocheting takes up so much of my time that I rarely get to set my eyes on other things while working on a crocheted object (and on the off-chance that I'm knitting, I never do anything else).

And now, to buy more Smooshy. It's dead gorgeous.

Friday, February 22, 2008

complaints upon complaints

I've been wondering since I first heard of Knitting Daily if it was in fact daily. And today, I can honestly report that it isn't. I could complain about how crochet is ignored, but I'm used to being part of a weird and ignored group (I still think it has a lot to do with how most of us aren't clinging to patterns to create). So, my complaint rests on the misnomer, the use of a mildly catchy and uninspired name. The use of "daily" is a promise. If it only comes out three times a week, it's only daily on three of seven days, which means that the title is a lie. And while I can handle creative decisions and the like, it's a boring lie.

My next issue isn't with Sandi, because she seems like a cool lady. My issue isn't even with Interweave Press. It's just that that "daily" newsletter is damned boring. I read the headline and delete it. Really, I do. I admit to looking at the gallery for the next Interweave Knit's designs, but even those bore me. I'm not asking for a wild and witty commentary on everything, but I am asking for an appropriate use of my time. I might be madly in love with David Mitchell (comic, not author), and therefore madly in love with a good sense of humor, but I'm not asking anyone to have been a member of Cambridge Footlights and the writing partner of Robert Webb (although, if you know David Mitchell, drop me a line because we'd be perfect for each other, seriously). I'm asking for information or proper rants. You know, I view the Yarn Harlot as my Knitting Daily. I'm not even much of a knitter, but the thing is, I get what she says. She says things that are true to people even outside of a yarn love fest. So, we differ on our favorite crafts, the truth is I am sure we'd be able to have a fun and informed conversation.

Perhaps the problem with the daily is that it isn't really anything. I've yet to learn from it (and I'm a new-ish knitter). I've yet to be inspired by it (which is probably difficult as I think the Dada movement was the cat's meow). My measurements are difficult enough to require extra thought when it comes to the use of patterns, so the galleries mean nothing to me (plus, I believe that bottom-up design is dangerous, I know it's common, but so are bad drivers).

And so, I think I can finally admit that Knitting Daily and I are breaking up, and now I'll just go back to doubting its creation and name. And I still believe that if you are going to name a show "Knitting Daily TV", it should damn well be daily. No other organization would get away with not naming a show correctly, why should they? Not to mention, the various crocheting and knitting shows out there tend to annoy me more than help me. I end up listening to people and realizing how stunted their senses of humor are or how uninspired they are. All people listed in my list on the left are not included in this claim, because I love them (I don't even hold the fact that they don't know me against them). But I want to learn and be inspired, and it feels like so few in our craft world can meet that requirement.

However, those Vintage Socks, although so not my style, I am mesmerized by them, because you know, someone sat down and came up with the idea and the method of creation, and that's damned impressive, damned inspiring.

On the crochet front: Yarn orgies this weekend in Santa Clara. (I just wish Stitches West would include things that aren't knitting-related, because deep down, I really don't believe that all of those classes are worthy of classes.)