A Good Yarn

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I See A Light

Only two more days left to wrap things up and I think it can almost be done. I've gotten a lot of the documents I needed to draft done and I think I'll be able to finish one custody report tomorrow. That leaves one home study which I know I won't be able to finish because a key person I need to talk to is gone until Monday. So, I'll have some stuff to finish up in the evenings and weekend after I start the new job, but it's doable, I think. It's been really hard to tell the kids that I'm leaving.

I took a break and saw this documentary on Tuesday night:

In English, Terror's Advocate. It's about French lawyer Jacques Verges, who has made a career of defending various terrorists, dictators and other unpopular clients. Verges' mother was Vietnamese, so he says that he knows what it's like to be discriminated against and colonized. He seems to see his work as defending those who have been colonized and discriminated against, too. The film is very dense and involved and I think my lack of knowledge of world politics hampered my understanding, especially in some parts that were setting up a theory that Verges maybe went beyond just zealous legal representation. He's a fascinating character, with a lot of contradictions, so I enjoyed the film when it was more concentrated on him and his motives. The political intrigue sometimes lost my attention, but it was necessary to understand the theory that Verges crossed a line. Verges disappeared for 8 years and refuses to say more than that he went underground. The director, Barbet Schroeder, uses STASI survellience records and interviews with people who knew Verges to suggest he was involved in activities with the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal. There's even a knitting reference - Carlos insists that his live-in girlfriend "get her hands dirty" since she knows so much about his activities. She's arrested for planting a bomb and Verges represents her at the trial. She ends up in prison for 4 years and Verges visits her something like 150 times during that period - the implication is clear that he's got a personal relationship with his client and that he probably used his private meetings with her to do more than discuss legal strategies - very dangerous when she's involved with a man like Carlos the Jackal. Anyway, Verges shows us a sweater that the woman knit for him while she was in prison - and later she slying says that she didn't knit Carlos a sweater -wink wink nudge nudge. Knitting is so sexy! Anyway, it's a pretty interesting documentary, but a bit dry if you're not familiar with middle-eastern politics.

This film was expected to perhaps be nominated for an Academy Award, but the short list was revealed last week and this is not on it. Every year the Academy releases a list of 15 finalists for the nominations before it releases the final nominations, so that members have a chance to see as many of the potential nominees as possible. This year it seems like so many really good documentaries have been left off the short list: Air Guitar Nation, King of Kong, The Davil Came on Horseback, In the Shadow of the Moon, Crazy Love, Darfur Now, Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains, Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten, Kurt Cobain: About a Son, My Kid Could Paint That and Pete Seeger: The Power of Song. I haven't yet seen every single one of those, but I've seen most of them and they all have gotten really good reviews. If you like documentaries, I'd highly recommend adding them to your Netflix list. I've only seen two of the short listed documentaries, but I liked them both very much. I really wanted to see a couple of the others when they were here, but documentaries typically only play a week at the most, so if you're busy that particular week, you're out of luck. It's frustrating. Anyway, here's the list of semi-finalists, if you will:

Autism The Musical
Body of War
For The Bible Tells Me So
Lake of Fire
Nanking (which played here last night only - I couldn't make it, argh!)
No End in Sight
Operation Homecoming
Please Vote for Me
The Price of Sugar
A Promise to the Dead
The Rape of Europa
Taxi to the Dark Side
White Light/Black Rain


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An Invitation

I have nothing to blog about these days. I've spent the last four days either working or cleaning. Ugh, I hate being a good girl. This is my last week to wrap up my law practice and I have a number of things I need to get done, so I had to schedule some meetings over the weekend and review a bunch of documents. I didn't even get to see the Vikings FINALLY win a second game in a row this season. :-(

When I wasn't working, I was cleaning up the house. The city fire inspector is coming in to the house to do an inspection and so I needed to get it up to shape. It's my own darn fault for being such a bad housekeeper and such a good shopper, but I still didn't like having to do it. I did manage to finally get rid of a few problem areas of clutter, which makes me happy. Now I just have about a million more to go before things are really nice and neat, but that'll have to wait for another time.

I did also read some blogs post-Thanksgiving and I signed on for Paying it Forward with Jen and Carrie. Here's the deal:

The idea of the exchange is I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on this blog post requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet, and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise (probably sooner rather than later however)! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog - this means you must have a blog, sorry blogless readers.

Since I signed up with two people (I couldn't help myself - I was feeling deprived!!) I'm going to make it 6 people, if that many are interested. I have a couple of ideas for things to make. I can tell you though that it won't be until after the new year. Back to work!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ahhhhh, that's better

Thanksgiving was a very nice, relaxing day. The turkey was delicious. The football games weren't very competitive, though. Since I was bored and disiniterested in the Cowboys winning again, I took Michael to see this movie:

Eh. It was ok. Nice looking animation and a few chuckles, but not really funny or that entertaining. I actually started to doze off a couple of times. You probably already know the story - Jerry Seinfeld voices the lead bee, Barry, who is just graduating and ready to choose his job in the hive. But he doesn't want to be just a worker bee, he wants to explore the world, so he flies outside the hive with the "pollen jocks" and falls in love with a florist, voiced by the tastefully named Renee Zellweger, after she saves him from being killed by her loud-mouthed boyfriend. Yes, there's a bee-woman love story here. Which is kind of creepy, in my opinion. Michael liked it and it was pleasant enough, just not up to my high expectations for Mr. Seinfeld.

I knit a little bit on Michael's Quidditch Sweater (when I was at home, not with him. It's sort of a surprise, because he picked all sorts of things out of the book). For someone who is tired of knitting grey ribbing, I made a stupid mistake. I somehow mis-remembered that I did all of the sleeve increases before I started the green stripe. Um, no. So when I finished the increases, it was already too long. So I had to rip back to where I was supposed to start the green and continue on. It probably was only about an hour's worth of knitting, but it was frustrating!! I only have a tiny little ball of green yarn left, so I'm afraid I am going to run out before I finish the neckband. I'll have to see if I have another skein of that dark green Woolease in my stash. Anyway, just have to finish the top of the sleeve shaping, sew the pieces together and do the neckband and that's done too!! Easily finished before Christmas.

But I also started another Christmas gift, this time for Michael's sister, Jessica. And it's in blessed pink, red and orange. As I was winding the yarn up, it looked fantastic in front of my pink and orange curtains:

I love this yarn and I think I'm going to have to pick up a couple of skeins for myself to make socks with. It's Koigu, color P803D. I'm making a pair of wristers from "Knits for All Seasons" with it:

Fast and Easy Project.

I had to work yesterday and had a meeting all morning, but I still wouldn't have gone shopping yesterday. I hate crowds and those Black Friday shoppers are scary. I did nip into Joann's after dinner last night and picked up some Paton's Classic Wool that was on sale for $3 a skein. I'm going to make the Hedgerow Coat from Interweave Knits Fall 2007 with this yarn.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

One things I'm thankful for today, is that I finished my Quidditch Socks:

Project Name: Quidditch Socks
Designer: Lauren Kent
Pattern Source: Charmed Knits
Yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit
Yarn Source: The Yarnery
Date Started: 10/10/07
Date Completed: 11/20/07

Comments: These are a Christmas present for my nephew, Michael. He chose the Slytherin colors, but said it was because he likes green and gray, not because he likes Slytherin House. He also said he wanted them to be crew length, not knee-highs, so I shortened the leg length from the pattern. I should have made the green stripes closer together to balance the new shorter length. These are knit toe up and my wonderful friend Deb happened to be with me when I started each sock, so she was nice enough to do Judy's magic cast on for me. The toe looks so great with that technique. Next time I knit toe up socks, I'll have to figure it out for myself. Unless Deb happens to be there and enables me to be helpless again. :-)

With that I have my first knitted Christmas present done, yeay!! And I can cast on something that isn't gray or green, yeay!! I also have a completed pair of socks for this month for the Socks in the Cities KAL, yeay!!! I felt like these socks took me forever to knit, but it was actually just over a month, which is pretty fast for me. Although it made me realize that if I knit one pair of socks a month, it's going to take me a long, long, long time to knit through my sock yarn stash. I should perhaps stop buying sock yarn.

As you could see in that sock picture, it's snowing here! There was actually a light covering of snow on my car when I left the office last night. And it was still snowing later that night when I had to go back to the office to pick up my laptop because I left it sitting on my desk. And when I got up this morning, it was snowing. And yet, there really isn't much accumulated:

The bunny was glad because he's still well camouflaged in the brown leaves and grass and dirt of my back yard. I think the ground is just too warm still, so it's all melting on contact. I like the snow though. It looks lovely falling lightly to the ground and it puts me in the holiday mood.

Another thing I'm thankful for today is that in just over a week, I'll be starting a new job. I'm going to work for the State of Minnesota and I'm really excited. I've been self-employed for almost 15 years, so it's going to be a big lifestyle change. But I think most of the changes will be good. I'm going to have to figure out this blogging thing, because my routine now is on the days when I don't have a meeting or hearing first thing in the morning, I go through my email and return any calls that are urgently required and then blog. Since I have to be at work at 8:00, I'm not going to have any extra time in the morning. I'll be getting off much, much earlier than I work now, though, so I'm guessing I'll just shift a lot of my morning routine to pre-dinner time.

Because another thing I'm thankful for is being part of this blogging community. I just love reading everyone's blogs and feeling like people are genuinely interested in my blog. It's such a great feeling.

I'm also thankful that I have a nice house to live in, great food to eat today and every day and the luxury of having a nice stash of yarn, being able to go to movies every week, going to plays and concerts, Vikings season tickets and the time to be able to enjoy all these things. I know I am so lucky to not have to work three jobs to make ends meet and the income to be able to indulge myself on a regular basis. I am very grateful!

And most of all I'm thankful for my loving friends and family. I got a ton of support in the process of getting this new job and I know the good thoughts and wishes from my friends helped and made me more confident. My parents are all so proud of me, which makes me really happy. And I'm excited to spend the day today with my best friend, my brother!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Another Weekend Gone

Time flies when you're having fun, doesn't it? Friday night I saw this film:

I liked it, but I didn't love it. Denzel Washington plays a drug kingpin in 1970s New Jersey. Russell Crowe is the police detective who is heading up a taskforce to take down big time drug operations and targets the Washington character. It's a really well done film, and I was engaged with what was happening and fascinated with both of the characters. But it just wasn't overwhelming. At the very end of the movie, Washington and Crowe finally get in a room together and have some scenes together. They were electrifying. Both actors give their usual amazing performances. Although I'm not sure I was as scared of Washington as I would have been of the real Frank.

Saturday was another edition of Talk Cinema and we saw a German film:

Very strange movie and I don't know how to describe it without giving away the plot. This is one of those puzzle movies, where there are a few twists and turns along the way. In the briefest of descriptions, it's about a woman named Yella who lives in East Germany. She and her husband have recently split up and the company they ran is bankrupt, so she gets a job in West Germany. There were times during the film where I was a little bored and not sure if I liked it, but there were other scenes that were really great and interesting and by the very end, I did like it quite a lot. In the Talk part of Talk Cinema, it was compared to a David Lynch film and I'm not sure I'd agree. It did have sort of the weird, twisty quality of a Lynch film, but it was very, very dark, whereas in Lynch's films, you have this layer of brightness and happiness and the darkness is under the surface. And most of his films have great humor, which I didn't really see in this film. The other part of the Talk that was really invaluable was that we had a professor from the German Department at the U of M talk about the film and give us some context, which I really found fascinating (although the two women behind me spent the entire time making nasty comments about how boring he was and begging him to shut up). Apparently the film is a commentary on the state of reunified Germany and the perception of East Germans of capitalism.

One of my knitting groups took the trip up to Yarn Cafe on Saturday afternoon and we had a great time knitting and eating and shopping. I limited myself to this one skein of yarn:

I know you're shocked that it's sock yarn. It's Cherry Tree Hill Sockittome. I've never used sockittome before, but it seems very soft and nice. It's more loosely spun than the supersock. Most of the yarns in my collection are brighter colors than this, so I thought it would be nice to add a little more muted, romantic colorway.

Speaking of sock yarn, I also got the latest selection in the Amazing Threads sock club:

As you can see, it's Araucania Ranco from Chile. The pattern is just a basic ribbed sock pattern, but I think I'll probably try that with these socks because I'm not sure about the dye pattern.

Sunday of course was another big Vikings victory. I'm a huge Daunte Culpepper fan, so I wore my Culpepper jersey to the game. It was hard not to cheer for him, but I still have to cheer on my favorite team. This week in fantasy football I play my brother and I have Chester Taylor on my team, so each touchdown was doubly sweet, as I taunted him that I was kicking his ass. Hey, if he had to lose to his sister, at least he got to see the Vikings win, too.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Still Stuck

I still haven't been knitting much. I have stuff going on every night and when I get home, I'm having a hard time picking up the needles and knitting. I really think it's because I'm not inspired by these projects and they're taking too long. It's an endless loop - I'm not knitting them because they're taking too long and they're taking too long because I'm not knitting them.

I didn't even knit at my knitting group last night because instead of meeting to knit, we went out for dinner at Ngon. This is a charming little restaurant on University Avenue in St. Paul. It's simply and beautifully decorated and everyone loved their food. I had a lemongrass beef lettuce wrap appetizer that was delicious and then the Pho Tai. Servings are generously sized. We all got desserts and I tried everyone's and they all were really delicious.

Since I haven't been home that much, I haven't been watching much tv, either, so I have plenty of shows saved up for when the re-runs start. Here's a nice list of how many episodes are left to air in a lot of the current shows.

I also finished reading this book:

I outlined the plot of the book when I reviewed the movie, so I won't go into that again. I loved this book, just as much as the movie. I wish I had gotten off my ass and read it before I saw the movie so I could have had a "clean" reaction to it. The structure of the book is different than the film. The book is much more linear - the film kind of skips back and forth in time, which I think works very well in the film. The book answered some of the questions I still had at the end of the film, so I appreciated that aspect. It was really well written - totally absorbing even though I aleady knew what was going to happen. I think I got a little fuller picture of Chris McCandless from the book - clearly Krakauer admires McCandless as much as Penn does, but he also isn't afraid to show his weaknesses. Krakauer inserted himself into the book quite a lot - he writes about his own experiences in mountain climbing as a man about the same age as Chris. On the one hand, I felt like it was pretty egotistical - this is supposed to be Chris' story, not the authors. On the other hand, I really did feel like his own story illuminated Chris' and helped me to understand Chris better, since chucking everything to live off the land is something that doesn't appeal to me in the least. There's a chapter where Chris' sister finds out what happened to Chris and I was literally sobbing. I know part of that comes from my own relationship with my brother, but Krakauer really does a fine job in telling this story and getting the reader invested in it. I highly recommend reading this book - it's very quick and easy to read.

Since I don't have any knitting to show, I thought I'd post some of the yarn I bought at last year's Treasure Hunt LYS Hop. Since it's been a year and I haven't knit it yet, I think it's time to officially call it stash. I did knit up a fair amount of the yarn I bought last year though. I haven't knit a stitch from this year's purchases yet, but that will change once I get ONE Of these Christmas projects done.

Coldwater Collaborative had a sale on all of their Alchemy Yarns, so I stocked up on some of these lovelies:

This picture looks kind of blue, but it's actually purple. It's Synchronicity, a silk/wool blend. I have 6 skeins. I was thinking of making a shell sweater for myself with the yarn, but I probably need another skein or two to do that and I haven't been able to find it so far. If you have more of this yarn hanging about and what to sell it, let me know.

This is called Silk Purse - it's 100% silk in a lovely green and blue variegation. I thought maybe a pair of wristers or something small and close to the skin like that.

This is Synchronicity. I was originally planning to make a baby hat if my sister had had a baby girl instead of a boy. I may still make a cute pink hat for my next friend that has a baby girl.

Another skein of Silk Purse, with the same intentions. Either a baby hat or some sort of small accessory. I just couldn't pass up my favorite pink in lovely soft silk!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

What a Difference a Week Makes

I can't believe the team that was so dominating against the Chargers last Sunday is the same team that was so pathetic against the Packers. THE PACKERS!! And Adrian. Oh my gosh. If Adrian can't play there's very little reason to keep going to these games, except that I've laid out a significant amount of money for the tickets. I guess we'll see. I also am not dominating on my fantasy football team this week like I did last week, but I could possibly still win. We play Individual Defensive Players in our league and I have two of them playing this week. If I get 12 points, I still win. Fingers crossed here. I'm in second place in the league and I'd like to stay there.

I barely knitted this whole weekend. I did finish sewing together the pieces of the Cardigan for Merry and started the hood:

Now I just have to finish the hood, which at least has the cables in each end, and I'll finish my first Christmas gift. It'll be here before you know it. Friday night I went shopping and the mall is in full on Christmas season. There are sales and displays of Christmas gifts in every store. The Christmas decorations are everywhere and there were Christmas songs playing.

What else did I do instead of knitting this weekend? I do apheresis at the Red Cross, so I did that on Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon I took Red and Michael to Gameworks for some fun playing videogames. They each won a stuffed animal in the crane games and they made it all the way through an Ocean Hunter game, so I think it was a good day all around. That night Greg, Michael and I went out for an Asian buffet dinner and then spent the rest of the night playing Buzz. I did pretty well as far as getting the answers correct, but I'm a step or two slower than Greg most of the time on the timed parts of the game. I blame age - my mind just doesn't work as quickly as it used to.

Minnesota Film Arts has been having a little bit of a documentary film festival at the Bell and Oak Street Theaters. There were a couple of films last week that I wanted to see and missed, but I finally saw one yesterday:

It's a film exploring both sides of the issue of abortion. The director, Tony Kaye, who also directed American History X, worked on this film for almost 20 years. A lot of the footage is pretty dated - there are a lot of protests referencing Bill and Hillary Clinton. But I think it captured pretty well that American society is at a kind of war and it's not just about abortion, but the very nature of what is valued in society. The director has reported that he is conflicted about the issue himself and I think he did do a pretty good job of laying out both sides of the argument fully and fairly.

I did get the feeling that he leans toward pro-choice simply because a lot of the pro-life people he interviewed were borderline insane. They were just so far out there, that it was frightening. Of course, that may just be what he had to work with because that's what is out there. He interviews Village Voice writer Nat Henthoff, who is a civil libertarian, but is pro-life based on his belief that life begins at conception. He explains it very sanely and rationally, unlike some of the more religious zealots interviewed.

One benefit of having such a long-term project is that he gets some really interesting footage of Paul Hill. Mr. Hill is shown advocating that many sinners should be put to death - not just doctors who perform abortions, but also blasphemers - anyone who says "God Damn It". Mr. Hill later went on to shoot and kill a doctor who performed abortions as well as a man who escorted him. Hill was eventually convicted, sentenced to death and executed.

The film also shows a band singing pro-choice songs featuring a lead singer in hip boots, black panties and black tape over her nipples. She beat herself with a coat hanger and sort of masturbated with it. So, there was a little "out there" behavior on the pro-choice side as well. One of the more interesting interviews was with Norma McCorvey who was the Jane Roe in Roe v. Wade. Ms. McCorvey was a choice advocate for many years, working at a clinic and targeted by the pro-life movement. She described being so depressed that she started cutting herself. A few years ago, Operation Rescue moved into office space next door to the clinic she was working at and she started visiting their offices. She said she felt welcomed and peaceful there and she eventually became a pro-life advocate. They show her speaking at some sort of Pat Buchanan rally, to thunderous applause. You could see the struggles that she had had and personally I think she just really craved the care and attention that she now gets.

There were quite a few other things that were difficult to watch. There are two abortion procedures shown in the film and footage from a graphic pro-life video. The first procedure is the termination of a 20 week pregnancy, so the fetus was quite developed by that time. It was really, really tiny, but the body parts shown in the tray are recognizable as a head, arms and hands, feet and legs. The second procedure was only a few weeks into the pregnancy and there was nothing recognizable as a human being in that procedure. The termination was just part of what the filmmakers showed of this procedure. They showed the woman coming to the clinic with her ex-boyfriend, being interviewed about her history and why she had chosen to terminate her pregnancy, and then a post-procedure interview. The woman who agreed to open herself up in such a way was so brave. It was one of the most compelling things I've seen on film. The whole thing took place right here in the Twin Cities and she was almost exactly my age, so I perhaps felt a little more close to it.

As far as the filmmaking goes, I thought it was presented really well, mostly consisting of interviews. The film was shot in black and white, which is actually hundreds of shades of gray, of course, just like the issue itself. A lot of the interviews were shot in extreme closeup and brightly lit from the front, so the effect was that you could see every little blemish on the person's face and they did not look that sympathetic or attractive. It seemed like he did that more for the women he interviewed, while the men like Paul Hill, Noam Chomsky and Alan Dershowitz were interviewed in medium shot. Overall, though, I would really recommend this film. No matter what your views about abortion, it will make you think about it and consider the arguments on both sides. I think it also highlights something about our society that is really concerning to me. Instead of having a marketplace of ideas where people debate and discuss issues, we've become completely polarized and the strong polemics drown out any real exchange of ideas.

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Friday, November 09, 2007


This week went really fast, but I'm still glad it's Friday. Although, guess what I saw this morning:

That's not cottonwood, folks. Sure, it's not a blizzard or anything. And sure, it's November and Minnesota, so snow is to be expected. But it was so nice last weekend!! And I still haven't unpacked all my winter clothes. I need to do that this weekend. The light flakes have stopped falling, so it's already disappearing.

I had a chance to see two sneak peeks at films this week, both literary adaptations. On Wednesday night I saw this:

I really enjoyed this one. For those who haven't read the book, the film is about a boy from Afghanistan who is best friends with the son of his father's servant, even though they are from different ethnic backgrounds. Boy, it's hard to explain this one without giving away too much. Let's just say that eventually the boy and his father leave Afghanistan when the Russians invade because the father has been openly critical of Communism. They eventually find their way to the United States. The boy grows into a man in the U.S., becoming an author and husband. Then he gets a call to come back to Afghanistan. By then the Taliban has taken control, so the Afghanistan the man remembers from his childhood is gone. It's a heartbreaking, beautiful book and the film is very faithful to the book. There are sections of the book that had to be taken out for time considerations, but I think it's very well done. If you enjoyed the book, I think you'll really enjoy the film. The boys in the film capture your heart. The actor who played Baba, the boy's father, was brilliant. He was at our screening, so I had a chance to meet him and he answered a few questions.

Thursday night I saw this film:

This is based on the Cormac McCarthy book. I haven't read that book, but I understand the film is also very faithful to the book. For those who haven't read it, it's set in Texas in 1980. Josh Brolin plays a guy who is out hunting and comes across a drug deal gone bad. Among all the bodies, he finds a case with $2 million in it, so of course he takes the money. Javier Bardem plays a psychopath who is chasing Brolin to recover the money and kill him. Tommy Lee Jones is the county sheriff investigating the drug deal murders who figures that since there's no money around, Brolin must have it. The sheriff is trying to protect Brolin from himself, but also dealing with his own feeling that the world has changed too much and become too violent.

I had a mixed reaction to this film. I would say I admired it more than I liked it, if you know what I mean. It's directed by the Coen Brothers, whose films I seem to either just really click with or not. This one would fall into the latter category, like the Big Lebowski and Barton Fink. I liked them just fine, but I didn't love them the way I do Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, Fargo and O Brother. It's getting over 90% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, so I'm obviously in the minority.

On the positive side, it's a masterpiece of workmanship. The Director of Photography Roger Deakins has worked with the Coens many times and they've created a film that is so gorgeous. Every shot is like a painting and so visually arresting. I strongly recommend you see this on the big screen if you're so inclined, so you get the full effect. The pacing is incredibly precise. It's a murder mystery/thriller and the tension and suspense was almost unbearable. I don't use this term lightly, but I'd call it Hitchcock-like. There were some scenes where I was literally holding my breath, waiting to see what was going to happen.

What didn't work for me was the ending. I got the book at the screening, so I cracked it to the last chapter and the end is straight out of the book, but I was really unsettled by it. I also just wasn't as engaged by Javier Bardem's character, Anton Chigurh as most of the reviewers seem to be. I've seen him comapred to Hannibal Lector but he just didn't capture my imagination the way Lector did. His silly hairstyle is supposed to be ironic, I think, but it sort of got in the way for me. I didn't find him nearly as crazy and unpredictable as I think I was supposed to. The other thing is that the film subverts your expectations and film convention in many ways, which I think critics really liked. It sort of disappointed me, though. Not that I have to see everything play out the way I expect and demand hackneyed film conventions, but I just think leaving out things that you think are going to happen lessened the impact of the film for me. Overall, I would still really recommend it. It's worth seeing and it's really well done. It just won't be making my Top Ten list this year as I suspect it will for most reviewers. I also have to warn the squemish that there is some real violence in this film and a lot of blood, so if you can't take that kind of thing, maybe check out something else.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Mid Week

Well, I was half right. It was so much fun to watch Adrian Peterson on Sunday!! Yes, it was an extremely exciting day and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And the team actually won, despite several turnovers. Adrian is also on my fantasy football team, so I had quite a productive day in fantasy football as well! Life is good.

As you may have heard, the WGA strike has begun. The late night chat shows are in re-runs. Most of the sitcoms have stopped production because the writers keep working on those right up to when filming starts. Some of the dramas have started to shut down either because they don't have any more scripts or because the showrunners are not crossing the picket line. It's been interesting to see which actors have visited the picket lines. The tv writer for one of the local papers wrote that he thinks this strike is going to last at least until March. Expect to see a lot of reality tv after Christmas if that happens - it sounds like CBS is going to try to bring their Big Brother show back for a winter run. This could get ugly, folks.

Since I still have good shows to watch, I am making progress on my boring knitting projects. I put the shoulders together and am about 2/3 done with the first sleeve.

Yesterday was election day, so I got some knitting time in between voters again. There were only a couple of races in St. Paul this year - City Council and School Board. There was still over 20% turnout at the precinct I was working, which is pretty good for such a short ballot. Next year is going to be crazy busy, though, with the Presidential and Senatorial elections. I worked on the Quidditch socks, but once I finished the foot because I forgot to bring the green yarn (idiot!). So I started the second "car knitting" sock - the feather and fan one in lime green Panda Wool. It was nice to get that bright splash of color, but I need to mix in something red or purple or pink pretty soon. Green and gray are just putting me to sleep!

I want to close with a "present" for Chappy's Mom. As you may recall from last year, she loves calendars and has requested a look see at everyone's calendar for her birthday. Last year I had a bunch of calendars to show off, but this year I only have one:

It's a fantastic movie poster calendar that I got from a friend for a Hanukkah present. I didn't get a knitting wall calendar this year. At the office, I'm using a free calendar that I got from my Congresswoman that has pictures of Washington, DC on it. I don't know why I lost my calendar mojo this year. Usually I have too many calendars to find a place for.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bruce and The Rocket

Friday night I got to see this guy again:

and he brought along his friends this time:

It was a great show. He came on stage (about 45 minutes late. Bruce is always significantly late) and tore into his newest hit, Radio Nowhere. He barely stopped playing for over two hours. There were a couple of really short statements, but mostly it was just one song after another. Here's the set list:

1. Radio Nowhere
2. No Surrender
3. Lonesome Day
4. Gypsy Biker
5. Magic
6. Reason to Believe
7. The Night
8. She’s the One
9. Living in the Future
10. Promised Land
11. Your Own Worst Enemy
12. Incident on 57th St.
13. Workin on a Highway
14. Devils Arcade
15. The Rising
16. Last to Die
17. Long Walk Home
18. Badlands

19. Girls in Their Summer Clothes
20. Thunder Road
21. Born to Run
22. Dancing in the Dark
23. American Land.

Good mix of the old, old stuff, the brand new stuff and a few things in between. That encore was smoking! Badlands was amazing too and I've had it running through my head off and on ever since. Thunder Road is one of my Top Five Bruce songs, so I was really excited to hear it. If you haven't picked up his new album, I think it's worth it. Great rockers and it fits in really well with the old stuff. After the show they announced they were coming back again in March, tickets on sale this Saturday, so if you've never seen Bruce Springsteen, it's just one of those things you have to do at least once in your lifetime. I'll be there again, too.

Saturday was Talk Cinema and I saw this film:

It's a Canadian film, but when it gets a U.S. release it'll be called "The Rocket". It's a biopic about the great French Canadian hockey player Maurice "The Rocket" Richard. He played for the Montreal Canadiens for almost 20 years in the 40s and 50s, winning the Stanley Cup 8 times. He was a prolific goal scorer, including being the first to score 50 goals in 50 games. The film tells the story of his life, including the difficulty he had being a French Canadian. American audiences probably aren't as familiar with the discrimination that French Canadians suffered as they are with the civil rights movement in the U.S., but there are some parallels. Richard was often discriminated against in hockey, as well, and wasn't protected by the league. One of the key moments leading up to the French Canadian civil rights movement in the 60s was what is known as the Richard Riot of 1955.

Richard was regularly hit by sticks and beaten up by opposing teams without much protection from the game officials. In a game against the Boston Bruins, Richard was hit over the head with a stick by a Bruin. Richard retaliated and eventually even punched the linesman. The NHL commissioner suspended Richard for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs. The Bruin player wasn't punished at all. It was the longest suspension in league history and the people of Quebec (where hockey is unbelievably important) considered the punishment very unjust and too severe and there ended up being a riot in the streets. It was sort of a turning point in French Canadians no longer being willing to accept being treated as second class citizens and in the 60s massive changes occurred.

I liked the film. I was really caught up in learning more about the struggles of this great player and cheered him on as he showed an amazing amount of determination. After the Richard Riot, he came back to the Canadiens the next year and they won five straight Stanley Cups. This is just sort of a post script in the movie, so the focus really is on Richard's life and his role as a French Canadian role model, not really on hockey. Though there are of course plenty of hockey scenes. Watching men play hockey without helmets is really scary.

Today I'll be taking in my favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings. Happily, they'll be all padded up and wearing helmets. I don't hold out much hope of a Viking win, but it'll be my first time seeing LaDanian Tomlinson in person and it'll be great fun to see LT and AD (All-Day Adrian Peterson) running up and down the field. After that like every other football fan in the country, I'll be glued to the nearest tv set I can find to watch the Colts v. the Pats.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

TV Talk

I have entered a phase in my knitting when I'm totally bored with all of my projects. I'm sort of nearing the end of them all, and they're all green and/or gray, as you know. Plus, they're ribbing or stockinette. *yawn* Here are the second front and sleeves of the Cardigan for Merry:

Now I have to sew it together and then knit on the hood. At least then I'll have the cabling to perk up my interest. I'm a little worried about the blocking thing, though. These pieces have benefitted greatly from being soaked in hair conditioner and water and pinned out. (On a side note, the water did have a tinge of green and looked fairly dirty. It's Andean Treasure from Knitpicks. It fills a little dirty while knitting, too. So, beware if you are knitting with this yarn in the future). Since the hood is knit onto the cardigan, I need to either dunk the hood and pin it out or re-wash the whole darn thing. I'll probably end up doing that.

Anyway, since the knitting is boring, I'll do my annual fall tv report. As you may have heard, the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) may be going on strike. Their current union contract expired yesterday. Films take so long to make that you probably won't see any fallout in the film world. I'm sure the writers will keep writing on their own while on strike, so once the strike is over, they'll just be able to sell those scripts off. TV is another thing all together, though.

First thing you'll see is the nightly chat shows. They have new content every single day and pretty much all of the hosts are also members of the WGA. So, as soon as Monday we could be seeing re-runs of Letterman and the Daily Show, etc. The networks have been preparing for a possible strike, ordering lots of scripts and bumping up production of shows, so what we see now will probably continue at least through the end of the year, and I hear most of the them will be able to get through February sweeps if there's a long, protracted strike. Fox will be in the best position, of course, because American Idol doesn't have writers. Last time there was a strike, the reality tv boom was born, so expect to see lots of re-runs of some shows and lots of reality tv and news shows if the strike lasts.

One positive aspect of a possible strike is it seems like the networks are giving their new shows time to develop. We're a little over a month into the new tv season and only two shows have been cancelled. Last year there were far more cancellations by this time. The cancellations were a dumb reality show called Nashville and a show called Viva Laughlin. I watched the two episodes of Viva Laughlin and I didn't really like it, but I was willing to give it a little more time. It was about a guy who opens a casino in Laughlin, NV and is suspected of killing his former business partner. What made it really different is that the characters sang along to the songs on the soundtrack. Like in the opening, the main character is driving to and then walking around his new casino and he's singing along to Elvis singing Viva Las Vegas. It was weird. I'm kind of glad I'm not wasting any more time on it.

So, on to the other new shows. I'll go by what day they air:


Chuck (NBC)- I really like this one. Chuck is a computer geek who has a bunch of government secrets in his head. An NSA hottie and a CIA agent go undercover as his girlfriend and his co-worker to protect him/exploit his knowledge. It is totally illogical, but a ton of fun. I like all the actors in this show and their chemistry with each other.

K-Ville (Fox) - This one is ok. It's starring Cole Hauser and Anthony Anderson as post-Katrina New Orleans cops. In the opening it's revealed that the Hauser character is actually an ex-con. I kind of like that aspect and the post-Katrina fall out. The rest of it is kind of typical cop show stuff.

Journeyman (NBC) - I really like this one too. The lead character is a reporter who suddenly starts travelling through time (he has no control over where and when he travels) to fix something in the past - save someone's life or help them make a different decision or something. He's married and has a little boy, so this can be very inconvenient. He also has a brother, who is a cop, and who also used to date his wife, so their relationship is a bit rocky. Kevin McKidd from Rome plays the main character and I like him. This show fits into a trend this year (like Chuck), of having stand alone stories, with a little bit of an ongoing story too. So you can watch individual episodes and enjoy them and not feel like you're missing a whole lot, but if you do watch every week, you're rewarded with a bit more to the story. Last year a lot of shows that had an ongoing story were cancelled, so I think tv execs feel like people can't commit to watching a show every week.


Cane (CBS) - This is the only new show I watch on Tuesdays. It's an old fashioned nighttime soap opera. Jimmy Smits stars as the head of a rum company. He's a refugee from Cuba who was adopted by the founder of the rum company and sort of adopted, but he is also married to the only daughter of the family, which is sort of incestuous, isn't it? Anyway, Jimmy Smits is gorgeous and intense and I like this sort of thing.


Pushing Daisies (ABC) - My favorite new show. It's highly stylized and sort of wacky, but I love it. It's about a guy who has the power to bring things back to life, with his touch. But if he touches something he's brought to life again, it dies for ever. And if he doesn't touch who he's just brought back to life within a minute, someone else dies instead. Which makes him understandably a bit cautious about getting close to people. But his childhood sweetheart dies and he can't help himself, so he brings her back to life and doesn't put her back to death. So now they can't touch again, otherwise she'll die forever. But they love each other deeply. And every week they solve a murder mystery. Kooky, but charming. If you are interested in seeing one new show this year, check this one out.

Back to You (Fox) - To be honest, I've only seen the first episode of this show, so I can't make a good judgment. It seems like a decent enough sitcom, though sitcoms aren't my favorite types of shows. I've taped some more episodes and if I end up loving it, I'll let you know.

Private Practice (ABC) - The spin off from Private Practice. Another gorgeous cast. These guys are a little older, so they're more relatable to me. They seem a little more grounded. They still have their problems, but they seem less angsty about it. I like everyone in the cast, so I'll keep watching it.

Life (NBC) - Another one I really like. It sounds like it has a pretty good following, so hopefully this won't be cancelled even if there is no strike. It stars Damien Lewis from Band of Brothers as a homicide detective who spent 10 years in jail for a murder he didn't commit. As part of his settlement with the City, he gets his job back after he's exonerated. His time in prison has definitely given him a different perspective and I find it really interesting. He's also secretly trying to figure out who set him up for this murder. So, another show with a thread going through the season, but mostly stand alone episodes.

Dirty Sexy Money (ABC) - I like this one too. Peter Krause (local connection!) plays a down to earth lawyer who agrees to take his father's place as a wealthy family's attorney after his father's death. He suspects someone in the family may have murdered his father and figures the best way to investigate is to stay close to the family. The family are all messed up rich folks and their antics are highly amusing.

Nothing new on Thursday, but a whole lot of great returning shows!


Moonlight (CBS) - The show follows the life of a modern-day Vampire. It's sort of kitschy, but I find the cast attractive and enjoy the stories so far. I probably wouldn't watch it if it were on another night.

Women's Murder Club (ABC) - Although this show is on at the same time as Moonlight and I watch them both, so I must like them both somewhat. This one is about a group of 4 women who all work in the world of criminal law and support each other both at the job and off. I like the cast and I like the mysteries.

No new shows over the weekend, either. Saturday night is dead on tv and Sunday is just a lot of my same old shows.

The one show that I watched and gave up on was Big Shots, on ABC. I had high hopes for that show because I love the cast. But it was just so poorly written and unbelievable, without being tongue in cheek or fun. At least to me. I just didn't find any of the characters in the least bit realistic or interesting.

So, I've been impressed with the new season so far. Some really good shows that I hope won't get cut short with a strike. All of the networks now put their shows on the web so you can catch up with old episodes for free. So if something sounds good, I highly recommend jumping on the computer and catching up.

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