A Good Yarn

Monday, July 09, 2007

It was a hot weekend, wasn't it? I took off Thursday and left early on Friday, so it was almost like a 5 day weekend. I didn't quite get finished with the painting. I have one more wall left. Looks like it'll have to wait for next weekend, probably. I'm not good at housekeeping, as you've all deduced from reading this blog. I pick up and vacuum and dust occasionally, but none of that REAL cleaning stuff. So moving the furniture around to paint the walls was time consuming because I had to clean those areas and I found lots of stuff behind the furniture. Like 4 pairs of sunglasses behind the tv. Various knitting needles and notions behind the easy chair and book case. Two different shoes and a plate (?) under the couch. Gosh, I'm a slob. I'm really glad I finally got around to doing the painting, though, because I'm loving it. Here's one wall:

That's my knitting chair (a relatively recent purchase. I love it - it's so comfortable and the leather is incredibly soft, so I love to just pet it. It's sort of sticky on hot, sweaty skin though). That's where the magic happens - ha ha. It is where I do most of my knitting though. You can see my Ott light to the left and my knitting books bookcase to the right. The little green bowl on top of the book case in front of the Eiffel Tower lamp is for my snips.

I did do some knitting, particularly on Saturday afternoon. Kerry and I met at our favorite coffee shop and enjoyed the air conditioned coolness. I spent the rest of the time I wasn't knitting or painting at the movie theater. I saw four films over the long weekend. On Wednesday I saw this:

It was ok. I didn't love it and didn't hate it. Probably doesn't need any description, but in case you don't own a television - Transformers are robots in disguise. They can look like an ordinary vehicle - like a helicopter or Camaro or semi-truck, but then they transform themselves into a robot. They come from outerspace and some of them are called Decepticons and are bad and want to take over our planet because they destroyed their own planet. But some of them are called Autobots and are nice and want to protect us humans. The film ends with a big battle between the Decepticons and the Autobots. The lead human actor in the film is Shia LeBeouf who plays a teenage boy who buys a Camaro and doesn't realize it's an Autobot called Bumblebee. Bumblebee wants to protect this kid because his great grandfather was the first human on Earth to have contact with the Transformers and unknowingly has information that would help the Decepticons take over Earth. LeBeouf is fantastic and brings a lot of humor and heart to what could be a pretty cold film. In part, the film is actually pretty funny and it is really cool to see the transformers. The film must have cost a fortune and it's all up there on the screen. So, if you like action films and just some light, summer entertainment, go for it. It was really long, though. Too long, for me. I got bored in the final fighting scene. Bay takes a long time before he brings in the lead Autobot, Optimus Prime, and explains what exactly the Transformers are and why they're there. I guess with my explanation you probably get the gist, but if you weren't familiar with the Transformers it may be a bit confusing for a while. Red's all time favorite thing in the world is Transformers, though, and he declared it the best movie he's ever seen. The other kids all liked it too.

Friday I continued the summer action theme and saw this one:

I'm a fan of the Die Hard movies, although I didn't see the last one. I liked this one a lot. Though I doubt anything they show in this movie could ever happen in real life, so you definitely need to leave your logic at home. It sure is cool to watch it all happen, though. Bruce Willis is back as NYPD Detective John McClane. As usual, McClane just wants to live his life, but when a job has to be done, he's willing to step up and do it. This time, the bad guys are computer hackers who are trying to shut down all the systems of government, commerce and life in the U.S. Their unwitting accomplice is a hacker played by Justin Long - the Mac in those PC/Mac commercials. They trick him into writing a program to breach security in a government facility and since he's on the government's "usual suspects" list, McClane is dispatched to bring him to D.C. for questioning. The bad guys are trying to kill him before he can reveal what he did, but of course McClane got there first, so he saves the hacker and the two team up to try to save the country. They have a great chemistry together and are a good yin and yang. McClane is analog in a digital world, but as a character says in the Transformers movie, sometimes the best weapon is a pair of boots on the ground and a pair of eyes in your head. Then again, sometimes you need a really smart computer geek, too. The stunts are amazing to watch. Another great popcorn movie for a hot summer day.

Woman cannot live on action alone, so Saturday night I saw this:

Loved it! But it's damn depressing. Michael Moore points his camera in the direction of our completely screwed up medical system. The film isn't about the millions of people who don't have health insurance coverage. It focuses only on those who do, but are still denied coverage because the insurance companies and HMOs maximize profits by minimizing healthcare. If you don't have a story about some screwed up healthcare problem, I'm sure you know someone who does. The problem is completely undeniable. Moore's solution is universal coverage by the government, of course. He goes to Canada and talks to Canadians about their system. He goes to England and talks to the Britains. And then he goes to France and talks to Americans living in France and French citizens. All of these people have free access to healthcare. If they're sick, they go to a clinic or hospital and get healthcare. No worries about getting pre-approved for care or getting denied because the treatment is "experimental" or "pre-existing" or anything else. As usual, Moore drives home the point by highlighting the stories of regular people caught in the system. There's a woman whose husband died because his treatment wasn't covered because it was "experimental". There's the mom whose daughter died because the ambulance brought her to a hospital that was outside her HMOs network, so they refused to treat her. By the time she was taken to an in-network hospital, she died. The couple that stuck with me because I see my own situation so clearly in theirs was an older husband and wife who had to move into their daughter's spare bedroom because they could no longer afford their house payments due to medical costs. Being self-employed, I'm one catastrophic illness away from having to move in with one of my parents. Which would kill me. The most controversial and probably well-known scene in this film involves Moore taking three people who volunteered at the WTC site after 9/11 and are now suffering respitory and other illnesses from that work, but can't get medical coverage from the Volunteer's Fund, to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to try to get medical care like the detainees get. Of course they are unable to get to Gitmo, but somehow they are able to get into Cuba and do get free medical care and extremely cheap medicine there. The film is such an urgent call to fix this problem but it's also very funny. I highly recommend everyone see it.

Sunday was my movie club get together and we saw this film:

I hated it. After seeing Sicko, I was all set to move to France - life looked so wonderful there. But now I can see that I'd never fit in. This film is extremely popular in France and it's gotten some stellar reviews. But I hated it. It's French and stars Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf, the French singer popular in the 40s and 50s. I'm not a huge fan of her music, so I already knew that I probably wasn't going to enjoy the soundtrack, but I also just thought it was way, way too long and hard to connect with. The film follows Piaf's life (well, part of her life - the whole period of WWII and her actions on behalf of the French Resistance were completely left out of the film) in a non-linear fashion. You start with Piaf's collapse on stage in 1959 and then go to her living on the streets with her mother in 1917 and keep pinballing around forward and backward and to the middle. At times it was hard to follow - I had to try to figure out if this was before such and such happened or not, etc. So it was hard to try to figure out how one thing effected another. For me, it also made it hard to connect or feel anything, because just as something was happening, we'd move on to something else. It all seemed very disconnected. In addition, one horrible thing after another happened to Edith Piaf. As I said, while her father was fighting in WWI, she and her mother were living on the street while her mother tried to make a go as a singer. Her mother eventually abandons her to her maternal grandmother who doesn't seem to provide much care, so her father places her with her paternal grandmother, who runs a brothel. She is lives in the brothel and is cared for by some of the prostitutes, but eventually her father comes back to claim her and takes her on the road with him. He's an acrobat with a circus. He appears to have his own mental health issues as well as being an alcoholic and eventually Edith is back on the streets, this time with her father. Eventually she's on her own, singing for loose change. She's discovered by a nightclub owner and becomes the toast of the town. From there, she suffers the usual artist problems - mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction, disastrous love affairs, career problems, etc. It was just one bad thing after another after another and throughout the film, Edith is screeching at everyone all the time. It just wasn't very fun to watch and it was hard to have sympathy for her because she was so awful all the time. The one section of the film that I did enjoy and that I thought worked well was Edith's great love affair with the world middleweight boxing champion Marcel Cerdan, a fellow Frenchman she meets while they're both in NYC. Cotillard plays Piaf from her teen years through her death at age 47 (though she looks like she's 87 after a life of abusing herself) and really is amazing. I guess the film may be worth seeing just for her performance. The film also shows Edith as a passionate knitter! In her debut at the nightclub, she has knit herself a sweater, but she hasn't had time to finish the second sleeve (sound familiar to anyone?) so she drapes a scarf around her neck and over her arm to hide its bareness. Later she's seeing a doctor about her addiction to morphine and she says she started injecting herself after a car accident because she was shaking and couldn't knit - I pray to God I never turn my addiction to knitting into a substance abuse problem. There are also a couple of scenes of her knitting. In fact, one of her scenes in old age where she looks the healthiest and happiest she's sitting on a beach, knitting a little sweater "for whoever will wear it".