Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Thursday Quick Takes

Filed under: Knitting,Movies,Rats!,Spinning — folkcat at 1:42 pm on Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hope you’re all having a great week! I’ve been keeping busy here in New Hampshire.

Illegal firecrackers going off mere yards from our home are an annual problem here every Fourth of July. So many of the neighbors are the type who just don’t care, and the houses are so close together.

Gryphon and I decided to avoid the issue altogether this year. We went to the movies.

A little dark, but that’s what it really looked like at that moment. We visited the Milford Drive-in (celebrating 50 years in business), and saw Wall-E.

You are hereby ordered, if you haven’t seen it already, to go. Immediately. As quick as you can manage, at least. It’s that good. I’m not saying anything more, it’s worth seeing with as little knowledge of the story as possible.

Not for the Faint of Heart

I finished my shawl last Thursday. Attached the border and everything, except for blocking and weaving in ends. This is what it looked like Friday afternoon.

Ametrine Shawl - finished?

Here’s what it looks like today.

I know, I know – some of you just gasped, others felt a little faint. Fact is, I examined the results carefully and decided they weren’t good enough, darn it. My gauge had lied and come out smaller, the whole shawl wouldn’t block as large as I wanted, and I absolutely didn’t like the way the border fit around the corner of the shawl (the pattern is designed with no extra ease there, so it cups).

So, yes, I frogged a very nearly complete object. It’s the right thing to do if you know you won’t be happy with the end result. And honestly? I love knitting entrelac so much that I’m kinda secretly thrilled that I get to do it again!

I’ve cast on for a base of 27 triangles instead of the 25 called for in the patten. I’m working with a needle a size larger than before, and so far it’s giving the correct gauge. I’ll re-calculate the border when I get to it, and I’ll include a little extra so it can be properly eased around the point.

I was calling this my Ametrine Shawl, for the combination of purple with yellows and oranges. I think now I’ll call it my Ametrine Phoenix Shawl, for being born, returned to its source material, and reborn better than before.

Spinning

Progresses fairly rapidly.

I’m managing up to an hour at a time now, and it’s coming along well. This is around half of the fiber spun. I can’t wait to ply this (it’ll be my first chain-plying) and see how it comes out. The singles are very thin, I’m guessing I’ll get fingering weight or maybe a little thinner when I triple-ply it.

Reluctant Model

Here’s what happens when I try too hard to get a picture of the Ratties for you:

Nose of a sleepy Leonardo

Leo gets pissed at me for disturbing his sleep.

Sorry…I tried!

Clearing the Air – or, at least, the shelves

Filed under: Announcements,Daily Life,Movies,Uncategorized — folkcat at 5:41 pm on Sunday, May 25, 2008

I’m still alive. Life is stressful. Costs are rising, and Gryphon is still looking for that extra income we need. The rats continue to do well. I continue to enjoy EQ2, also. Lola’s Ratonga doppleganger, Lolah, is now level 25 and climbing.

I continue to craft, slowly. The sock I was working on has been started over. The smaller gauge on the size 1 needles wasn’t working out, so I went back to my old reliable size 1.5’s. The new sock is about 6, maybe 7 inches along the foot, which is about an inch or two more than I’d gotten to on the first try.

The Adult Surprise Jacket is on hold for the moment. The weather has been warm enough not to want the bulk on my lap. That’s okay – I’ve got the socks to work on, and I’ve started knitting a small supply of dish rags again, too.

Video De-Cluttering

VHS. VCR. I still have a VCR, and multitudes of VHS tapes. Since DVDs and TiVo entered my life, however, the VCR gathers dust, and the tapes take up space on shelves and in boxes.

I’ve actually started weeding out my less viewed DVDs by putting them up at www.half.com. If you want to see what’s for sale there, you can look for the seller folkcatart. The movies are generally good ones, viewed once and kept nicely. They’re just not movies I want to have available to watch over and over again.

Half.com will also list VHS tapes. But from what I’ve seen, I’m not sure how well those move there. So it occured to me to wonder – would any of you be interested in an opportunity to acquire my VHS tapes? I was thinking I could offer them once or twice a week, for the cost of shipping. Maybe I’ll put them in sets like theme packs, tapes all of a similar genre in a bundle.

What do you think? Any potential takers?

Catching Up With Monday

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Braiding,Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Knitting,Movies,Rats! — folkcat at 3:05 pm on Monday, April 14, 2008

I know, I didn’t post on Friday! Sorry about that, but you know how somedays you just don’t wanna? And I mean, don’t wanna anything? Friday was one of those days.

So, let’s get caught up. I didn’t wanna anything on Friday, but I’ve been keeping busy enough every other day! My apologies to anyone on dial-up, there are a lot of pictures in this post. And that’s even after putting several after a page break!

Lucet Work:

Thursday night at Panera, I spent my time frogging some eight to ten of my earliest prototype socks. Yes, that’s a lot of time I spent knitting them. But none of them came out fitting well, some of them are knit from Sockotta, which I have learned I don’t like the feel of on my feet, and I just wasn’t wearing any of them. Better to reclaim the yarn and put it to other uses than have space taken up in the sock drawer with dead weight!

I’ll be working on turning most of those yarns into lucet braids rather than new socks. Maybe some of them will wind up like this:

Silk/Angora Beaded Lucet Necklace

That’s a necklace I made on the lucet on Wednesday. The yarn is the same thrifted silk/angora that I showed a cord of the other day. The beads are Japanese 6/o seed beads, white with a pearl finish. I pre-strung the beads on the yarn before braiding. I wasn’t sure how many I’d need, so I just counted out a hundred and went from there.

I began the cord with an inch and a half of plain braid. Then I began introducing the beads, one every fifth stitch. The bead would be slid down after pulling the right hand loop to tighten the previous stitch, but before placing the right hand loop over the horn of the lucet. Once the bead is in place, you must hold it with the fingers of your left hand (if working right handed) so that it doesn’t get caught in the loop you’re picking up over the horn. You want it staying right next to the braided cord at the center.

When you turn the lucet to do the next stitch, pulling the right hand loop to tighten the stitch you just made will lock the bead in place. It’s not going anywhere now.

By working a bead in every fifth stitch – with four plain stitches in between – each bead is placed on the opposite side of the cord from the previous one.

When I had the length I desired, I worked another inch and a half of plain braid, then finished off the cord. I added some lace end crimps (used to attach a clasp to a thicker cord, like a leather or waxed cotton lace – or a lucet braid!). Then, just a matter of a jumpring or two on either side, and a spring ring clasp. (I chose a spring ring because that’s what I had. I would have preferred a lobster claw.)

Silk/Angora Beaded Necklace Close-up

The resulting necklace is pretty, lightweight, and makes very economical use of beads. In the end, I think there were only about 80 to 90 in the finished necklace – the “gauge,” if you will, was about four beads to an inch of cord.

The current lucet braid in progress is made from a sportweight cotton yarn. Red Heart, to be exact. I have had this one skein in stash for, oh, at least twenty years, with absolutely no memory of where it came from. It’s making a nice cord, almost like a heavy cotton twine or small rope.

Sportweight Cotton Lucet Cord In Progress

I’ll be working to as long a length as I can. The purpose of this cord is for an experiment – can I cut lengths from a longer cord, and make finished ends on them just as if I’d braided to that length to begin with? I think it should be possible, with an understanding of the structure of the cord and how the cut ends will behave.

EverQuest 2

Lots of fun! My Ratonga assassin, Lolah, completed her betrayal of Freeport and endeared herself to her new home city of Qeynos. As part of the process, she had to leave her evil career as an assassin, and take a job as a ranger. That’s okay – the skill sets are much the same!

I’ve also been experimenting with new characters – a gnome defiler in Gorowyn, and an Arasai troubador in Neriak (Arasai = evil fairy). Both are evil characters, technically.

In the Kitchen

Mostly ordinary white bread coming out the machine, our utilitarian daily loaves. I’m also looking into some vegetarian slow-cooker recipes, with the intent of making more healthful foods for us to eat. And this weekend, Gryphon made another amazing pizza. Our toppings this time were fresh slices of plum tomato, strips of baby spinach leaves, and pepperoni. Yum!

Movies

I had the opportunity this weekend to see Across The Universe. Amazon Unbox was offering a 99-cent special to rent the download on your TiVo, and I’d heard such good things about it. They were all true! If you have the opportunity to see this movie, please do. Julie Taymor, the director (who was also responsible for the stage production of The Lion King, among other brilliant achievements), is an amazing artist.

On Ruffled Rattie Nests

Probably the only one that exists, I imagine. It’s finished! I worked on it while watching Across The Universe on Saturday.

Ruffled Rattie Nest - Finished!

It’s a little hard to see the real structure. It came out a little bit like a knitted version of a strawberry pot – you know, with a big round belly and extra openings on the side for more strawberry plants? My Ruffled Rattie Nest structure has two such side openings.

Ruffled Rattie Nest - Side Portal

Ruffled Rattie Nest - Two Side Openings, One Top

The picture on my hand shows the through-and-through nature of the openings, as well as giving some idea of scale.

If you’re thinking of asking for a pattern – sorry, there isn’t likely to ever be one. I knit this so much as a make-it-up-as-I-go project, with most of the decisions I made being reactions to how the shape was building. The best I can do is offer some guidelines to those decisions.

Ruffied Rattie Nest - The Bottom

The base of this project was a roughly oval piece that I’d begun some time ago. Shaped like a toe for a very large sock, it was always intended for a rat nest. Then I saw someone’s hyperbolic knitting project, and got ideas.

I began increasing a stitch on a K3, M1 pattern. Every four stitches became five – that’s a 25% increase with every round of knitting. The nest got larger very quickly, until it only fit on a 60 inch cable needle with a lot of crowding.

At that point, I began decreasing with a K8, K2Tog. This reduced 10% of stitches every round. It took longer to get small, but eventually I moved the stitches down to a 32 inch needle. I then worked even for a while.

I needed to somehow make a more bowl- or bag-like structure out of this heavily ruffled oval piece. I eyeballed a section along either of the straight edges of the oval, trying to make them roughly equal. On the nest round, I knit around the first curved end, bound off along the first striaght section, then repeated that for the other end and straight side.

After knitting across the first curved end again, I then joined the two ends of live stitches and worked in the round. I decreased a bit through the first few rounds – I think it was K4, K2Tog at this point, but I can’t be sure. Then when I decided this top opening was small enough, I worked even until I ran out of yarn. Well, I left enough to bind off the edge loosely.

At that point, it was finished. But how would the Ratties like it? You’ll find those pictures after the break!
(Read on …)

Not an Inspiring Day

Filed under: Daily Life,Movies,Rats! — folkcat at 12:35 pm on Friday, March 28, 2008

Snowstorm, March 28, 2008

For some reason, I’m just not feeling motivated at all. So I’m going to skip my plans to go to the nursery for some herb plants for the kitchen, and stay home and knit.

Enchanted (Widescreen Edition)Maybe I’ll watch Enchanted again. Have you seen this movie? If not, and you’re at all a fan of Disney’s classic fairy tale movies, do whatever you must to get a copy of Enchanted into the house. It’s funny, and romantic, and heartwarming, and all that. Plus, loaded with subtle and not-so-subtle references to every Disney fairy tale movie ever made. Definitely worth multiple viewings.

Me, I’m inclined to play the apartment cleaning scene (the song is Happy Working Song) over and over again for the Ratties. “See,” I’ll tell them, “pay attention to how those rats scrub the toilet! And there they are washing dishes! Okay, now watch that tail-action as they clean the microwave!”

Sleepy Lola
Lola: “Yeah, sure, Mom. I’ll get right on that as soon as I wake up. Maybe next week sometime…”

Hey, I can dream, can’t I? *wink*

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Knitting Away the Weekend

Filed under: Knitting,Movies — folkcat at 5:27 pm on Monday, February 25, 2008

My mood was kinda down this weekend, so I sat and knitted a lot. Can you tell?

SG:P4(S1) - Almost There!
Socks for Gryphon: Pair 4, Sock 1 (SG: P4(S1))

Don’t worry about how very skinny that leg looks. It’s just that the K2P2 ribbing really pulls in the knitting. Which, on Gryphon’s size 13 feet, makes for a really funny looking sock.

The part from the little green stitch marker at the ankle, up to the needles, is what I did during the Oscars last night. And can I just say, how nice to have a real awards ceremony again after the yawnfest that was the Golden Globes “awards announcements”? Okay, no really memorable Oscar moments, but it was a competent, amusing, entertaining ceremony with good song performances, and a good distribution of the statues to deserving recipients.

Enchanted (Widescreen Edition)Oh, and the songs from Enchanted really made me want to see the movie! I mean, where else do you get a happy, fairytale princess singing about how the vermin are helping her lug the hairballs from the shower drain? For more laughs, here’s a link to the lyrics to the Happy Working Song.

If I get a decent amount of knitting in today, I will probably finish this sock tonight. Then I get to decide if I will start the second sock today, or wait for a fresh start tomorrow. Probably depends on how much I feel like moving from my knitting chair when I finish…<g>

WIPs and Bullies

Filed under: Knitting,Movies,Rats!,Reviews — folkcat at 2:56 pm on Monday, September 10, 2007

A bit of a rough weekend here. Lola started to be very aggressive with Sable, jumping on her and kicking hard enough to make her squeak. I was at my wit’s end trying to figure out how to handle it.

I finally went with timeouts. I set up Lola’s original cage with the bare minimum, and when she jumped Sable, I put her in the old cage for a one hour timeout.

I thought this worked the first time I did it. It was several hours before I heard the distressed squeaks from Sable again. But there they were, and Lola got another timeout.

After this next hour, it only took two minutes before she jumped Sable. I was at my wit’s end. Gryphon came home from work shortly after that (this was Friday night), and we decided that rather than have Sable keep getting beat up, we’d set up Lola’s old cage as living quarters for a day or two, and leave Lola in there until we figured things out.

I wasn’t the least bit happy with this, and neither was Lola. Having both cages around is very difficult, and the walls of wire dominate the living room.

By Sunday, we were willing to try putting them together in the big cage again. This time, we had one new idea to try – we took out the Wodent Wheel. This large object took up a fair bit of space on the bottom floor of the cage, and as much as I’d hoped Lola would take to it and burn off some of her energy, she never did. So it was crowding things, without contributing to their welfare.

I don’t know if removing the Wheel was what did the trick, or if Lola has become a bit contrite since her short stint in solitary. But things have been calmer since. (Touch wood, and invoke every other counter-charm against ill luck that I can think of!)

Having calmed down the Rattie situation, I got back to my knitting on Sunday, finishing the body of the Christmas entrelac bag.

WIP - Christmas 2007 knitting, entre-lac bag

Next up I need to knit two long I-cord straps. I think I have enough of the two shades of green to knit one strap from each. I’m certain I don’t have enough of any color to knit both straps to match. Two shades will at least look like it was somewhat planned, though.

Today at Shopping Jen: My review of the 1975 television production of Ballet Shoes. Did I like it? Don’t guess, just go check it out!

Socks, Riches, and Legends

Filed under: Knitting,Movies,Television — folkcat at 2:55 pm on Thursday, March 15, 2007

Obligatory Knitting Content

Gryphon’s first sock is completely finished, including weaving in the ends. The second one is an inch or two past the toe. And we’re going to stop by the LYS today so he can consider choices for his next pair of socks. Added later: We did, in fact, stop by the yarn store. Gryphon selected a nice Trekking XXL in shades of brown for the next pair. Hooray! I get to knit with Trekking!

Entertainment Notes

Cast of The Riches

I just watched the premiere episode of The Riches last night, starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver. I’m not sure what I expected, but I liked what they gave us.

In case you’re thinking of watching – it’s not a lighthearted, whimsical comedy. This is a story about people with a dark past, using a tragic accident to try to grab a little peace for themselves. The Riches are a family of Irish Travellers – think gypsies, conmen, thieves. Mom is just out of prison on parole, daughter has been ordered to marry a dimwitted member of another family by the “leader” of the Travellers, youngest son prefers to wear his sister’s hand-me-down dresses.

Life among the Travellers is by the skin of your teeth, always watching for the law, and considering your next mark. Through a series of events I won’t even try to explain – but including, among other things, that forced betrothal of the daughter, and the elderly, dying “king” of the Travellers losing power – our family finds themselves involved in an accident that forces another car off the road, killing the occupants.

They wind up taking on the identity of the couple killed – the Riches. The Riches had been moving from Tampa to a mansion in a gated community in Louisiana. No one has ever met them in person before – the house was even purchased over the Internet. As the pilot winds to a close, we see our Traveller family considering whether this rich, mansioned life is something they could possibly possess.

The message that came through to me in the pilot was about the thin veneer of civilization that we live with. We are able to fully relate to these characters, although they come from a background vastly different from our own, because we see that they have many of the same insecurities as we do.

I’m having trouble finding the words to convey what this show meant to me as I watched. So I’ll just leave you with a recommendation to check it out yourself. I enjoyed the pilot, and I’m looking forward to seeing where we go from here.

Loss of a Legend

bettyhutton.jpg

Betty Hutton may not be as well known to younger movie fans as, say, Judy Garland or Betty Grable. But she was every bit as large a star of comedies and musicals as they were. She passed away on Sunday, March 11th, from colon cancer. She was 86.

Perils of Pauline Poster

I’ve always enjoyed every movie of hers I’ve seen – among them, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Annie Get Your Gun (where she replaced an ailing Judy Garland), and Cecil B. DeMille‘s Academy Award-winning The Greatest Show on Earth. But when all is said and done, one of my favorite Betty Hutton films of all time has to be The Perils of Pauline, a fictionalized biography of silent film star Pearl White.

Betty Hutton gives a lively performance as Pearl White, a sweatshop seamstress accidentally turned actress. In the days before films, Pearl White was a not-so-great stage performer. But once she found Hollywood – or Hollywood found her – her over-the-top gestures were perfect for the screen, and her fearless bravado made for a great star of serial adventures.

Along the way, Pearl falls for the leading man of the stage company, before leaving him behind for the big screen. We’re treated to some wonderful love songs, as well as hilarious, crowd-pleasing, vaudevillian numbers. In the end, a tragic twist of fate brings the lovers back together.

If you’ve never seen The Perils of Pauline, I really encourage you to do so. Watch it, and you may wonder why Betty Hutton’s name doesn’t come as readily to mind as those of other stars of classic film musicals.

I Sure Hope the Movies Were More Entertaining Than the Oscars Were

Filed under: Blogfriends,Knitting,Movies — folkcat at 4:53 pm on Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar night last night – while the awards given seemed worthy to me, the show itself was very underwhelming. Ellen didn’t rise to the excellence with which she’s hosted the Emmys and Grammys before, there were some very odd, lengthy “bits” – like Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and John C. Riley singing about the plight of a comedic actor and how he should branch out into comedy. WTF?

And I’m getting tired of film montages that are nothing more than time fillers. Was there a real reason to have an entire montage of movies about life in America? It’s not like it was tied to an award, or a special theme of the evening, or anything. In fact, it would have been nice if there’d been a theme to the evening – it would have at least offered a common thread to all the mediocrity. Instead, everything seemed like a jumble of odd, disconnected bits, thrown in because there was time.

On the other hand, I think that the bits that worked the least well could have accounted for the 30 minutes or so that the show ran over…

Along with that, there was the embarassing performance of E! on the red carpet coverage that I wrote about last night. All in all, one of the most disappointing Oscar nights I can remember in a long time. I wanted to be entertained, and I wasn’t. Well, except for some of the ads that were really cute. It’s a sad commentary that I called Gryphon in from the other room more often to see a clever ad than to see a good bit on the awards themselves. (My favorite: the zoo keeper with the cold, and the elephant took the MasterCard into town and bought him hot soup, cold medicine, tissues, and a blanket. “Making it all better: Priceless!” Adorable!)

Knitting

Friday and Saturday I spent a lot of time working on the Carnival Glass Shawl. I’m about 75% of the way through the border now.

WIP: Carnival Glass Shawl, 75% of Border
WIP: Carnival Glass Shawl, 75% of Border

The pattern is still a fairly easy knit (once you ignore the badly-bungled “right side border” chart), though I find that I still drop a YO now and then. I’ve solved that by calculating how many stitches each side should have after a pattern row, and counting to make sure they’re all there. Touch wood, I haven’t had trouble with it since I started doing that.

As for Sunday – even a dull presentation of an awards show calls for more of my attention than the lace knitting can take, so my Oscar knitting was the Log Cabin Blanket.

WIP: Log Cabin Blanket, Sq. 2, Rd. 5, Log 2
WIP: Log Cabin Blanket, Square 2, Round 5, Log 2

I’m likely to be setting this aside for a bit to pick up another project or two. In the mail today, I received this gift from a very good blog friend, Claudia:

Blauband Gift
Froehlich Wolle Special Blauband, Color 7410

We had gotten into a discussion about sock yarns in e-mail, and Claudia offered this up to me on the condition that I “knit something for my sweetie” with it. I hesitated a moment – Gryphon has size THIRTEEN feet – but then remembered that his birthday is coming up (April 3), and this could make a nice birthday surprise for him. So Claudia put it in the mail, and here it is!

The other debate I had with myself was whether to tell Gryphon about it or not. It’s hard to hide postal arrivals from him – all our mail comes to the Post Office, and he’s the one who picks it up. I remembered then how much he enjoyed watching me knit his Christmas gift, the We Call Them Pirates hat, and decided he’d likely get the same pleasure with these socks.

And so, Claudia, Gryphon knows, and he knows the birthday gift is partially from you. And he’s pleased with it! (Though he has asked that I first knit a pair of felted clogs for him that I promised him last summer! These socks will come right after the clogs, though, I promise!)

Here’s a better look at the color, which is black plied with rainbow shades.

Blauband Detail

We both love the color, and I’m especially looking forward to seeing how it knits up! Thank you from both of us, Claudia!

Meanwhile, Claudia, who’s multi-talented (freeform crochet, knitting, and who knows what else?) is also the creator of a marvelous line of skin care products, and she sent us samples last week. For Gryphon, who has large, dry, crackly skin on his feet, she sent a tin of Heal My Heels, and for me, a sample of what I believe started the whole thing, Heal My Hands (in the Lavender Mint scent).

Disclaimer: Although I have become good blog friends with Claudia, I wouldn’t be reviewing her products here if I didn’t think they were worth endorsing. Claudia didn’t ask for a review, and beyond the free samples she sent – which were unsolicited – there has been no consideration exchanged, nor is there any expected.

I am hugely impressed with these products. I tend towards very dry hands, with cuticles that shred just looking at them. And with my asthmatic reaction to artificial scents, I’ve always had a hard time finding a hand lotion that I could use without bringing on an asthma attack. Our stand-by has been the hypo-allergenic St. Ives lotions for extra dry skin, which I usually have to order online because its availability at brick-and-mortar stores has been unreliable.

Heal My Hands, though – this stuff is wonderful. It takes a bit longer to apply, being made with beeswax and other natural oils, but it’s worth it. Since I started using it last Friday, I haven’t touched the St. Ives at all. The Heal My Hands seems to not only moisturize, it helps to protect the surface of the skin in a way that the St. Ives doesn’t.

And it’s a real treat for me to be able to use a scented product! I can’t tell you how much that means to me!

As soon as I can, I’ll be buying a full-size tin of Heal My Hands. If you’re interested in what I’ve said here, and want to learn more about Claudia’s products (which include balms for other body parts, and for pets, too!), you can visit Heal My Hands. She takes Paypal!

Later This Week

I’m hoping to get started on those felted clogs for Gryphon, from the Fiber Trends pattern that seems to be everywhere. I have a bulky weight wool yarn – some Combia-Minerva Icelandia – that I found at a yard sale last summer, and Kool-Aid dyed in shades of blue. I’m hoping it will meet the needs of the patten. If not, I’m sure I have something else in stash that will work.

I also plan to get the border finished on the Carnival Glass Shawl this week, and be able to start the edging. Once I’ve verified whether that chart is valid or not, I’ll be in the home stretch!

Oscar Night – Notes From The Red Carpet

Filed under: Movies,Special Events — folkcat at 9:14 pm on Sunday, February 25, 2007

What the heck – I said I wouldn’t do a blow-by-blow like I did for the Emmys last year, but as I watched the red carpet coverage tonight, I found my fingers wandering to the keyboard. So, not a detailed rundown, but a few thoughts about the work that E! did tonight.

E!’s coverage is not the best I’ve seen. Their assigned location for interviews along the red carpet is cramped – celebrities can barely move along before they’re stopped by the next reporter. Some of the gowns face possible damage as those with long trains can’t even move completely out of E!’s area when they stop. The next celebrity interviewed by E! winds up having to avoid stepping on the fabric.

I miss the Glam Cam they used at the Golden Globes, it gave a great view of the outfits.

E! has occasionally inserted a short, pre-recorded bit with Ellen Degeneres, behind the scenes inside the theater, and they’ve all been lame so far.

We keep getting abruptly jerked back and forth between Ryan Seacrest (who is doing the lamest job of interviewing that I’ve ever seen), and up on a nearby rooftop, Jay Manuel and Giuliana DePandi, who are using the “Glam-a-strator” to analyze the fashions. So far, my opinions have almost all been the exact opposite of theirs. They trashed Kirsten Dunst, and I thought she looked stunning. They loved Cameron Diaz’s look, and I thought she was a disaster. We did agree on a few – Helen Mirren, for instance, is absolutely gorgeous in a soft, wavy hairdo and a gown that nearly matches her hair.

Meanwhile, Giuliana’s own outfit is a pretty dull shade of olive green, and looks rather stiff to me. Her hair looks like it was pulled back in haste, with stray strings hanging down. As for Jay, well, he’s wearing a tuxedo that looks pretty much like any other.

Earlier, Giuliana was talking with Debbie Matenopoulos, another of E!’s red carpet correspondents. Neither said anything that made much sense to me – they were clearly trying to fill dead air. Debbie looked emaciated in a strapless red gown that was struggling to stay up. I swear at one point Giuliana was clutching Debbie’s hand to keep her from walking off camera – I think I actually saw her pulling Debbie back as she started to move away. And oddly, we haven’t seen hide nor hair of Debbie since, and no one’s even talking about her…

Ryan just as embarassing, if you ask me. He keeps talking about the crews and reporters working in the cramped space next to him, and making the E! camera turn on them. He keeps forgetting to ask about the designers responsible for the clothing. The crowded river of celebrities keeps sending big names past him while he’s still talking to others. And the rest of the on-camera folks aren’t helping any, as they make him ask questions like what underwear the star is wearing.

Which led to yet another embarassing moment, when they asked Ryan what he was wearing under his tux, he started digging around under his waistband and gave himself a mini wedgie to display the elastic of his Calvins. Meanwhile, Helen Mirren is standing behind him waiting for her turn to talk to him. Not only that, she’s actually chosen to come back down the row to him, having passed him by for the next reporter because he was talking to someone else when she came along. And there she stands, elegant and patient as anything while Ryan is displaying his underwear. Class will always out, I tell you.

Oh, my – nearly the end, and Debbie is back with Jay and Giuliana. She still looks a little off, shoulders hunched, eyes wide, attitude a little to “oh-gosh-wow” eager. Interrupting the others frequently with meaningless comments. Very annoying.

And yet, as awful as E!’s red carpet spectacle was this time – and it was certainly the worst I’ve seen in recent years – I still praise the goddesses every time that it’s not Joan and Melissa!

Disney Legend Peter Ellenshaw: 1913 – 2007

Filed under: Movies — folkcat at 1:16 pm on Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Peter Ellenshaw - 1913 - 2007

Just discovered via the Disney History Blog: Disney Legend Peter Ellenshaw, the master of the matte painting and special visual effects, passed away yesterday.

Film fans know who this man is. And even if you’re not that into the behind-the-scenes details of the movies, you know his work.

If you thrilled at the view of Captain Nemo’s secret base in the center of a volcanic island, you know his work.

If you boggled at the riches of a leprachaun king’s throne room, you have seen his art.

If you sat on the edge of your seat watching a massive spaceship perched at the event horizon of a black hole, you have known his skill.

If you marveled at the scenes of smoke over the rooftops in Mary Poppins‘ London, you have seen his work.

Peter Ellenshaw - Mary Poppins' London

Peter Ellenshaw made art, and he made us believe it was real. His skill is unsurpassed, though it may be equalled by his son, Harrison Ellenshaw. Harrison went into his father’s business and has made his own mark over the decades, including such films as Star Wars Episode IV & V, Escape From L.A., and the television series Xena: Warrior Princess.

The news of Peter’s passing is so fresh that not many sources have picked it up yet. If you’d like to learn a bit more about the man and his art, here are a couple of relevant links I found.

Jim Hill’s tribute to Peter Ellenshaw

The official Peter and Harrison Ellenshaw website

Peter Ellenshaw at IMDB.com

More about knitting tomorrow. For today, I may pull out a few pertinent DVDs, and remember a legend.

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