Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Big Changes and a Moment of Rattie Zen

Filed under: Daily Life,Rats!,Television — folkcat at 1:13 pm on Monday, June 2, 2008

Hi, everyone. I know it’s been a while. I’m not sure I’m ready to post several times a week yet, but I can deal with posting when there’s news to report.

A large part of why I haven’t been posting is that most things haven’t changed. Gryphon is still looking for part time work or a better paying full time job. We’re still struggling to find ways to get by more cheaply. This has all been going on for five months now. I find it a wonderment that we haven’t gone completely down the drain yet, but Gryphon is something of a miracle worker when it comes to managing the budget, and he’s kept us (barely) above water so far.

There aren’t many places we can cut the budget anymore. At least, not without changing our lifestyle pretty seriously. And, well…today we took a step that does exactly that.

We cancelled cable television. Which means that, in our little valley between two ridges with no TV antenna, I will not be receiving television programming over either the air or the cable wire.

What? you’re thinking. This is the woman with three TiVo’s who watches a lot of television programs, who’s a fan of the media in a way most people never imagine. How can she give up television?

The answer is, I’m not. I’m just giving up cable television. I’ll be cancelling one of the TiVo’s (which will be offered up for sale some way or another) that is no longer under a contract, and keeping the other two. I may not have a television signal coming in by either of the conventional means, but the remaining TiVos can still download movies and television shows from Amazon UnBox. It makes sense to keep them active, too, since they’re both still under contracts that would require a large cancellation fee.

Besides Amazon UnBox, we’ve re-activated my NetFlix account. There is a multitude of programming that I can get on DVD, and they also have thousands of hours of both television shows and movies available for instant viewing on your computer.

So I’m not giving up television at all. What I’m doing is becoming far more selective about what comes into the house. Instead of having to make my selections from the shotgun programming of cable television, the largest percentage of which I’m not interested in, I’ll be going directly to those programs that I know I want to watch.

Past seasons of shows I never got to see, such as those that were on pay cable channels, I can watch on DVD. Most of the better new shows these days either stream for free from the network website the day after they air, or are available for download from Amazon UnBox or iTunes very soon for a modest price.

I’m really very excited about this. I feel that it’s a vast improvement, an elimination of the chaotic input from cable and broadcast television that I had to filter significantly to get what I wanted. It’s like a music afficionado who gives up listening to radio stations and switches over to getting the good stuff on LPs and CDs.

We called the cable company today. The change happens….tonight!

Your Moment of Rattie Zen

One of the Rattie Rugs got shoved so that it hung over the edge of the middle shelf the other day. Lola decided it was a comfy place to snooze. And the lens on my camera phone was actually small enough to fit between the bars of the cage, so I didn’t have to disturb her by opening the door.

Comfy Lola

May we all find a moment in our lives as relaxing as this! Enjoy!

The Winner is; and, Other Matters

Filed under: Announcements,Contests,Knitting,Rats!,Television — folkcat at 1:56 pm on Monday, September 17, 2007

The Random Integer Generator has spoken. The winner of the book, Suss Design Essentials, is Lee. Congratulations, Lee! I’ll be e-mailing you shortly for your address.

Don’t forget, Freebie Friday happens every week – be sure to check back this Friday to see what I’m offering!

Emmys

Generally, this award-show slut was pleased with the Emmys last night. This must have been a tough one for the voters – every nominee was truly deserving, if you ask me. I can’t say I was disappointed with any of the results.

The show was also well paced, with entertainment spots as often being comedy bits as song and dance numbers.

The only jarring note for me was the hand of the censor on the proceedings. I was puzzled when the show suddenly cut away from Ray Romano in the middle of his speech, leaving us without his voice, and looking at an odd view from somewhere around the ceiling that didn’t even show the stage.

The same thing happened two more times, proving it wasn’t just an error in the control booth. The consensus in the news reports is that the performers who were censored used expletives, and were cut for those. Since individual stations could face fines if such words get out on the air, I can almost understand that. But why, then, didn’t they just bleep the sound and leave the actor on screen, so we’d have a clue what happened? Why the odd, static shot from the ceiling somewhere?

Okay, stepping off my little soapbox now. Thank you for indulging me.

Knitting

The latest entrelac bag, with the desert theme, looks much like it did the last time I showed it. So, no new picture there.

The reason for that is simple. I spent most of the knitting time this weekend working on a project I can’t blog, because it’s a Christmas gift for someone I know reads here. I finished that project, with great results. But, of course, I can’t show you a picture of that, either.

There should be photos real soon, though, as I’ll be getting back to the entrelac bag now. And having finished one Christmas gift, I need to start planning the next one…

Ratties

The Rattie Sisters are learning to cope. It’s kind of nice to have Sable requesting intense cuddle time now. She’ll just lay there on my chest, eyes closed, while I stroke and stroke her whole back with my hand in a way that no Rattie could ever duplicate for her. You know it’s feeling especially good when she can’t help but make little chirping noises.

Lola is getting more Daddy time, and she loves it. I don’t think I’ve mentioned before how she loves crawling around under fabric. Any fabric. Even the fabric that you’re wearing.

She got under Gryphon’s shirt yesterday while hanging around with him, and didn’t want to come out. He decided to get his supper anyhow, and simply went to the kitchen with her in his shirt, crawling ’round and ’round him.

This led to a re-enactment of a scene from Alien. You know the one, right?

Lola Belly Buster
Belly-Buster Lola

Can’t see what I’m talking about?

Can you see her now?

Belly Busting Lola Detail

No Socks For You

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Knitting,Stitchery,Television — folkcat at 1:47 pm on Monday, June 11, 2007

Did I finish the socks I was working on? The ones I promised a modeled photo of today?

That would be a “no.”

Gryphon and I got going great guns on errands and things this weekend. And while it means we got a lot done, it also means I didn’t really turn my thoughts to knitting when I got home.

I did, however, start working on another project that’s been calling me since I finished the last embroidered rock.

SIP: Dinosaur

He looks impressively large in this picture, with nothing to give you a proper scale. In fact, it’s about 8 inches from the tip of the tail to the front of the piece, and it stands about 5 inches tall. Not too bad, though it will be the largest piece I’ve done yet.

The thread in this case is DMC floss, color #69. When I work with floss at this scale, I use all six strands without separating them. The technique is the same, basic blanket stitch embroidery that I discussed in my How To Embroider a Rock post.

SIP: Dino Detail, First Band

In this close up of the side, you can see that the first part I stitched, on the left, the color bands go completely around the body. It was only after getting to the second light colored band that I realized I could work short rows and keep the shades in the areas I want. As you can see to the right, the second dark band doesn’t completely circle the body – it sits as a stripe on top, with lighter color thread at the belly.

It’s going to be fascinating to watch this build. Unlike the rocks, I want to have more control over the placement and direction of the color patches, so I’ll be watching the shape of the body carefully and making decisions about stitch direction based on what I see happening as I go.

Once again, I found myself completely sucked in while I worked on this piece. I stitched during the Tony Awards broadcast, and was able to pay some attention to the show. Don’t worry, I caught all the important bits. It was just as well I was stitching along, though, because the Awards captured my interest less than usual this time. All the big buzz – and most of the awards – went to shows that I’ve not been seeing hype about over the course of the year. As a Broadway fan who doesn’t get to be right in Manhattan seeing what the theaters are up to, if a show doesn’t make much splash on the general news, I know nothing about it. It’s hard to get excited about shows you have no connection to, even if that connection only comes from news stories.

Our household errands weren’t purely utilitarian. One of the items I came home with was this little girl:

Sunnie Doll

The box names her “Sunnie,” but I don’t think that’s going to stick. She’s an “Our Generation” doll, made by the Battat Co. and sold at Target. Our Generation dolls are meant to be an inexpensive alternative to the 18″ American Girl Dolls.

Sunnie is the same size as the 18″ standard girl dolls, and will wear the same outfits. No, she’s not a gift for some little girl I know. Unless you count me as a little girl. I’ve just been wanting a doll to create outfits for, and finally spotted these at Target the other day.

There’s a distinct quality difference compared to a more expensive collectible doll, but for the price I paid ($19.99), she’s not bad at all. And anything I make for her will still be usable if I find a chance to get one of the better quality options in the future.

My brief foray onto the web to find knitting patterns for her has been disappointing, however. Everything seems to be knit with worsted weight yarn, and looks ultra chunky and lacking in style. The scale of worsted is just all wrong here – imagine if you knitted a cardigan for yourself holding a couple strands of bulky weight together? That’s the effect I’m seeing out there so far.

I’ll keep looking – I may just need to dig deeper to find the patterns that are meant to make nice, elegant outfits, instead of quick knits for grandma to knit that will wear hard for a child at play. Eventually, I may even create some of my own patterns. Who knows?

Friday is…

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Television — folkcat at 12:59 pm on Monday, April 2, 2007

“P” Day!

I suppose I need to explain that. You might remember that on Friday, I posted about a need to organize my days a little differently. I suggested that I might assign different crafts to different days of the week, so that the things I really want to do will get proper attention.

I sat down and made a list of the crafts I want to be doing. I realized that most of them came under four cohesive categories:

  • Spinning
  • Knitting
  • Needlework
  • Quilting.

Each category includes several sub-types. For instance, Needlework includes cross stitch, needlepoint, and crewel embroidery; Spinning includes any activity that creates yarn for me to use, such as recycling thrift-store sweaters. All things that naturally go together, and so I grouped them under the same larger category.

I had this short, leftover list of other crafts that didn’t go with any of these categories, but didn’t really go together, either. Until I realized they all had something in common. Can you see what it is?

  • Papercrafts
  • Perler beads
  • PixelHobby
  • Polymer Clay

That’s right – the common element is they all start with the letter “P”. And that’s how Friday has now become “P” Day.

For the other crafting categories, I used a little common sense to place appropriate activities on days I have public crafting outings. Thursday, then, being Knitting Around at Panera night, became an obvious choice for Knitting Day. The rest, I assigned with a roll of the dice (plus a quick reality check to make sure the result worked).

Under the new system, I’ll start each day with the “compulsory exercises” – blogging, working on the book, fitting in some sort of exercise. After that, I’ll spend some amount of time on the craft category of the day. Then, once I either come to a natural stopping point in the craft, or I feel satisfied with the amount of work I’ve done, I’ll be able to choose freely from anything I want to do – or not do – the rest of the day.

Because my Craft Days only number five, I’ve only assigned them to Monday through Friday. For the first time in over a decade, there’s actually something to differentiate my weekend days from my weekdays! On weekends, I’m leaving myself free to do whatever I want, and I no longer have to feel guilty for not spending the time advancing some project.

Last Friday was my first “P” Day. As you might guess, having just gotten in this new PixelHobby craft kit, that was the project I chose to work on. Here’s a photo of a baseplate in progress:

PIP (Pixels in Progress): Native American Dream Catcher, Plate 3 of 12
PIP (Pixels In Progress): Native American Dreamcatcher, Baseplate 3 of 12

That’s a clear plastic baseplate, covered with tiny little pegs, placed over a chart that shows you where the little colored pixels go. You use tweezers to pull the pixels off of their plastic square, then you just push them down on the appropriate pegs.

There are four charts to a page, and each chart only shows four colors. That way, they can keep the symbol use simple – they only need four easy to see and differentiate symbols for the entire project, no matter how many colors it uses.

It also means that each baseplate usually needs multiple charts to complete it. Our project uses 35 colors, and the baseplates seem to have between 4 and 6 charts each to accommodate them all.

In a way, this is like paint-by-numbers, because the charts show you exactly what color goes where. It’s also a bit like Perler Beads, only on a smaller, more detailed scale (there are ten pixels to an inch, which means 100 per square inch). And the pixels stay in place all by themselves, no glue, no ironing!

PIP: Native American Dream Catcher, Baseplate 1 of 12
PIP: Native American Dreamcatcher, Baseplate 1 of 12

The design we chose is called Native American Dreamcatcher. It’s a collage of images related to Native American mythology and spirituality. Both Gryphon and I have totem animals represented among the images, so it has mutual appeal.

As you can see, it’s not one of the photo-realistic images, but it still has enough detail to make an impressive piece. There are twelve baseplates in all, each worked separately (making it easy for both Gryphon and I to work simultaneously on different parts of the design). Later, they’ll be assembled together using clear tape on the back, and then they can be framed for display.

So, Friday is “P” Day. What’s Monday, though? You’ll have to tune in tomorrow to find out!

Quickie TV Note

If you watch The Apprentice, are you also glad to see Tim fired? That whole nonsense with getting involved in a romantic relationship with another contestant was bound for disaster from the start.

I can see the story as a Lifetime Original Movie, though. The Apprentice: Fired for Love – The Tim & Nicole Story. I even know exactly who should play Tim.

tim-apprentice.jpg
Tim Urban of The Apprentice: LA

20060322fred.jpg
Fred Savage

Separated at Birth? Spooky, to say the least!

Getting in The Loop

Filed under: Television — folkcat at 2:43 pm on Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Am I hitting a March doldrums? I knit barely a half inch on Gryphon’s second sock yesterday. My energy levels have simply been miserable this week – I can barely gather enough power to change the channels with a remote control! I hope to make more knitting progress today, though, as I’m taking a personal pajama day, and planning to watch the second disc of Season One of Veronica Mars. The NetFlix envelope has only been sitting here for oh, I think two and a half weeks now. Good thing I didn’t bother paying for a level that gets me more than one disc at a time, huh?

The Loop (Fox)

I’ve mentioned a few times in the last week that I was sent a DVD to review. After the delays of having a DVD player die, then rise from the grave to become an undead zombie, I have finally finished watching, and can tell you all about it.

The show in question is The Loop. It’s a sitcom that aired on the Fox network about a year ago. If you’re as confused as I am (I didn’t remember the series at first), it may be because Season One consisted of only seven episodes that aired in March and April of 2006, and we’ve heard little of the show since then. If you blinked, you might have missed it.

Cast of The Loop (Fox)
The Cast of The Loop

The first season has been released now on DVD, and you know what? I wish I hadn’t missed this show! Season Two is currently scheduled to premiere on June 9th, and I plan to have my Tivo ready to catch it.

The show is about the balance of work and play in the lives of 20-somethings. Our main character, Sam Sullivan, is 23 years old, fresh out of college, but working in an important position at a major airline in Chicago. Meanwhile, he’s still sharing a house with his brother and two female friends, all of whom have more casual “jobs” (if any at all), and can afford to take the time and energy to party regularly.

So there’s our primary conflict – Sam wants to do well in his job, but he doesn’t want to leave behind the more carefree lifestyle of his roommates (one of whom is his own jobless slacker brother; and he’s had a crush on one of the women since they met as college freshmen). How Sam handles this juggling act is the basis of every episode, and he does it with luck, bravado, and more than a little bit of ability at spinning a bad situation into a good proposal for the airline.

Oddly enough, I was strongly reminded of another, classic, sitcom as I watched The Loop. Like The Loop, it had a protagonist who was juggling a straightlaced job with a wild home life. Like The Loop, the main character kept getting caught up in the crazy antics of friends and relatives at home, trying to keep them from affecting work, but always getting caught and having to create a clever explanation that saves the day.

The classic series? Bewitched!

Think about it – Darrin worked at an advertising agency, one of the most straightlaced careers one could imagine at the time Bewitched began. His wild homelife was populated by his wife, Samantha, a bona fide, magical witch, and her friends and relations. As crazy things inevitably happen at home, Darrin unwillingly gets caught up in them, all while trying to create an irresistable new ad campaign for the latest client.

In the end, he usually gets caught by Mr. Tate and the client, and having to explain why there’s a donkey in the living room, or a monkey on the roof, or why…you get the idea. With Samantha’s help, the situation almost always winds up spun as a clever advertising concept that completely wins over the client. And once again, the day is saved, and Darrin gets to keep both his job and his wacky home life.

The same thing happens in The Loop, only in this case, our main character, Sam Sullivan, gets to be both Darrin and Samantha. He gets caught up in his roommate’s schemes and games, and winds up in freaky situtations, often dressed oddly. His bosses at the airline catch him looking or doing something weird – and he has to explain how it’s actually his clever presentation of his proposal for whatever project the airline is working on at the moment.

I really enjoyed watching this series, and I look forward to more. The stories are fast-paced, the setting of the executive offices of the airline industry feels fresh. There are several actors in the show that I respect. Bret Harrison (the lovestruck kid next door on Grounded for Life) stars as Sam Sullivan, our main character. Grounded was one of my favorite shows, and I’ve been delighted to see their alumni appearing in several programs this season. Mimi Rogers, who always gives strong performances, is an executive who supported hiring the young college grad, and who frequently, and humorously, skirts the edges (heck, dances on the edges in roller skates, even) of sexual harrassment towards him.

There is a quirky visual style to the show that I enjoy, too. Frequently, instead of expository lumps of dialogue, we are given instead a freezeframe with a small caption. (Reminds me of the captions with genus and species that would appear beneath the Roadrunner and the Coyote.) The captions give us a context for what we’re seeing, and help to move the story along quickly – for instance, the first time we see Sam and roommate Piper in a bar together, captions below each reveal to us that he has a crush on her, and she has no clue. It’s a storytelling shorthand that is used with wit, but fortunately, not overused. Frequently, I’d find myself chortling at the captions before the scenes themselves made me laugh.

Bottom Line?

The Loop, in my opinion, is quite worth watching. No, it won’t appeal to everyone. But I enjoyed the characters, and I liked the storytelling style. And it clearly borrows intelligently and well from the grand tradition of classic sitcoms.

My advice? By all means, pick up the Season One DVD and get caught up on this series if you missed it the first time around. Or watch it again and refresh your enjoyment of it before the Second Season begins on June 9th. Even though I only just discovered it, I just might do that myself!

Monday Momentum

Filed under: Knitting,Television — folkcat at 12:34 pm on Monday, March 19, 2007

I’m going to try to regain some, at least. After a weekend much upset by snowstorms, undead DVD players, and more, I’m hoping to get back on track today.

I did have a good round of television yesterday. My friend who normally comes on Friday nights to watch some shows with me came on Sunday afternoon instead, after the roads had been reasonably cleared.

Raines

Among the programs we checked out was Raines, the new detective show with Jeff Goldblum. I rather liked what I saw – beautiful, artistic camera shots, a strong nod to the film noir style. The twist comes in Goldblum’s character, Raines’, hallucinations. He has a tendency to “see” the murder victims. They talk to him and all that.

But lest you think we’re looking at a Ghost Whisperer or Medium rip-off – not at all. Raines is pretty clear in understanding that his visitors are hallucinations. Their appearance and behavior change based on what Raines has learned from hard evidence about the victims. They are never able to tell him anything that he doesn’t know himself.

So why do it? Aside from giving the Raines character a quirky attribute – and quirky is so “in” these days – they give us something we can’t get from any other detective show. We, the viewers, get to see Raines’ thought proces. It’s presented visually on the screen for us. We watch his facial expression, and we know he’s realized something – but then, the appearance of the latest victim’s hallucinated form changes, and we know what he’s realized.

We also get to see the biases and assumptions that Raines has to overcome as he learns about the victim. A young woman who he believed to be a simple college student turns out to be a paid escort – and suddenly, his image of her has b00bs two or three sizes larger, her hair is all teased out and overdone, and her make-up stops just short of qualifying her for the clown car. But as the hallucination talks to him, he realizes he’s making unwarranted assumptions – and her appearance returns to the more normal college student again.

I liked Raines. I liked the style. I like the clever writing that shows us not only what he’s learning about the case, but the mental process that gets him there. This has become Must See TV for me.

Into the Home Stretch

I did a modest bit of knitting this weekend. Not as much as I’d have gotten done if I’d felt better or been less distracted by reality. But I can say with a sense of accomplishment that I turned the heel on Sock #2 for Gryphon yesterday, and I’m now in the home stretch. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect that he could wear these next weekend.

WIP: Socks for Gryphon, Home Stretch #2

We’ve already got the yarn for the next pair, but I may interject another project in the meantime. It’s not like I’ve got any shortage of works in progress!

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.

Crafting Jen, the Progress Edition

Filed under: Daily Life,Knitting,Television — folkcat at 3:24 pm on Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Weather

Excellent progress being made towards spring, with sunny skies, temperatures in the mid 60’s, and rivers of melting snow running down every hill towards the river. Indoor temperatures are climbing towards the 80’s, so we’ve got windows open and even a fan running.

Should I open the betting pool on how long before I insist we install the air conditioner?

Socks

I knit along mindlessly on the first of Gryphon’s socks yesterday, then realized I’d gone about 11″ from heel to top of leg. So I decided to stop, put it on a waste yarn, and wait until Gryphon could try it on to see if it was long enough.

He’s declared it “very close” in leg length, and “a perfect fit” everywhere. I have enough of the Special Blauband yarn left in this first ball to do, oh, maybe an inch of plain P2, K3 ribbing at the top, then I’ll bind them off.

WIP: Gryphon's Socks, Number One, to the Cuff

It’s still on the needles, and the foot is about three inches too long for the blocker, but I think the sock shows off nicely here! Too bad it’s such a dark yarn, you really can’t see the rainbow colors well from this distance.

While I waited for Gryphon to come home from work for his fitting, I got started on the second sock.

WIP: Gryphon's Socks, Number Two Toe

No nonsense about Second Sock Syndromes here – after all, if you set out to knit a pair, knitting it all twice is just how it’s done. You won’t catch me complaining about something that I knew when I signed up for the project!

Gryphon is so pleased with the results already, we’re making plans for me to knit more socks for him. Which means, I’ll get to justify taking him to yarn shops to peruse sock yarns that he might like. Works for me!

Exercise

I’m continuing to consistently alternate between a little marching in place one day, and my Armchair Macarena the next. Yesterday was a Macarena day, today will be marching. It’s annoying to have to take time for either, but I know the long term benefits outweigh the short term aches and pains. So I’ll do it, I’ll do it…

Today

Today’s plans bring more sock knitting – I want to get that first one finished and off the needles. But beyond that, I need to spend a bunch of time on a few special projects.

One in particular is a bit different for me – I was sent a review copy of the first season of the Fox sitcom The Loop on DVD, so I’m going to watch that. I never saw the show when it first aired last spring, so I’m coming to this with completely fresh eyes. I’ll let you know what I think in a day or two.

Otherwise, I’m going to be doing my best not to sweat all over my work – it’s so hard to keep a comfortable temperature in this apartment!

Stealth Romance on “How I Met Your Mother”

Filed under: Television — folkcat at 1:41 pm on Tuesday, December 12, 2006

How I Met Your Mother Table.jpg
Jason Segel as Marshall, Alyson Hannigan as Lily, Josh Radnor as Ted, Cobie Smulders as Robin and Neil Patrick Harris as Barney, on CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother”

I’ve talked before about how much I enjoy the CBS show, How I Met Your Mother. My theory at the time was that Ted (the show’s protagonist, who some years in the future is telling his teenage kids how he met their mother) had found his romantic destiny in a woman he met at a wedding.

Another theory bandied about by fans is that Ted is actually destined to wind up with Lily – who is engaged to Ted’s roommate, Marshall. I pooh-poohed that, thinking that Marshall and Lily seemed too tightly bonded.

Well, since then, Lily broke up with Marshall mere days before their wedding, and left for San Francisco. After Marshall spent the summer totally devastated by this, Lily came back and begged forgiveness. They are finally back together, and nearly got married in Atlantic City earlier this season before Lily called it off again – this time, saying she really wanted a wedding that went well and felt right.

Lily and Marshall are still together at this time, and they seem strong. Except…

Caution to those who have not seen this week’s episode yet: Spoilers Ahead!

In last night’s episode (Dec. 11), Lily discovered the old answering machine that Ted and Marshall had unplugged over the summer she was away. There was a message on it from Ted to Marshall, trying to lift him out of the deep depression he was in over the break up. In it, Ted called Lily a….

Well, the word used in the show was grinch, only narrator Ted, telling the story to his kids, promptly explained that the word he used wasn’t grinch, but another one that sorta-kinda sounds like grinch, and is often applied to females.

Lily was horrified that he could have called her that. Ted tried to explain that at the time, he was just trying to help Marshall, and that, well, she was in fact sort of grinchy all summer.

Yeah, Ted – that helped.

Ted and Lily had a huge argument, and he left to cool off. Ted realized that he had to make this right, so he went back to apologize. Seems he and Lily, who met back in college, have a traditional way to apologize – the apologizer brings the other a beer. So he takes a mug of beer all the way back to the apartment, only to find that…

The Winter Wonderland that Lily had decorated for the holidays with, and which Marshall (who was off writing an important paper for law school) was depending on seeing as his reward for writing his paper, was gone, along with Lily.

Now Ted realizes he’s not only made Lily unhappy, but he’ll leave Marshall unhappy as well. Christmas ruined for the whole household, over one little answering machine blunder.

Ted goes off to find Lily and really apologize this time. He gets to her apartment, and again, the conversation devolves quickly into an argument.

He leaves, and comes to a conclusion: he’s ruined Christmas for everyone, he should go away for the holiday after all and spend it with his cousins on Long Island who are so Christian they reject all the pagan trappings of the holiday.

Meanwhile, Marshall comes back to the apartment to find that Lily had relented and brought back the decorations. He walks into the anticipated Winter Wonderland, carrying a box.

Seems that, instead of writing a paper, he was actually running around to many UPS package centers, trying to locate Lily’s Christmas gift. He finally finds one that admits the box left on a truck five minutes ago. Running down the street, he catches up with the driver, who explains he’s short on time, and Marshall will have to climb on and look for the box in the back while he drives.

Marshall finds Lily’s gift, but meanwhile learns that the driver doesn’t expect to be able to deliver all the packages before the end of the day – and it’s Christmas Eve! So he determines that he’s going to help make all the deliveries possible, and we see a montage of Marshall handing packages to smiling people.

So, Marshall makes Lily all mushy already with how sweet he was to help make Christmas happy for so many people. Then, Lily opens her gift and finds out he got her an Easy Bake Oven. “I’ve always wanted one – and this exact model, too!” she exclaims. “How could you ever have known that?”

Well, Marshall explains. Seems he’d wanted to give her a jukebox for Christmas, a little one that dispensed candy (I think). But when he told Ted that, Ted said that wouldn’t be a good idea. Then, after a moment’s more thought, Ted explained that he knew exactly what Lily would want.

Flashback: Eight years before, Ted and Lily are lounged out in a smoky dorm room, obviously stoned. I forget why the conversation went there, but Lily told Ted she had always wanted an Easy Bake Oven, ever since she was a little kid.

Back to Today: Lily is awestruck by how Ted remembered that about her from so long ago. And now, she feels remorseful about their arguments and how he went off to a relative’s home – and not a favorite relative, either – instead of spending Christmas with them as planned.

We see Ted at dinner with his relatives next, treading carefully through the minefield of allowed topics and banned pagan Christmas traditions. He’s clearly not very happy. Even gifts are forbidden in this family – the mom says they’ll give them all to charity. At which, the daughter, Charity, lights up for a moment, before being told “No, not you. Needy people.”

The doorbell rings, and Ted excuses himself from the table to answer it. It’s Marshall, Robin, and Barney. And Lily, with a mug of beer in her hand.

Lily apologizes, but reiterates that Ted shouldn’t have called her a grinch. And it’s clear that they’re once again using grinch as a stand-in word, because the son from this religious family has come over to see who’s at the door, and suddenly calls out, “Mom, what’s a grinch?”

Mom gasps, horrified. “Mom, what’s a grinch?” the boy asks again. Seeing Mom’s reaction, the whole table full of children start chanting, “grinch, grinch, grinch, grinch…

Ted realizes what a horror show they’ve inadvertently inflicted on this family, and how upset they’ll be with him. So he grabs his coat, and he and his friends hightail it back home.

The End.

So there we have it. Not an overtly romantic moment between Lily and Ted. But I couldn’t help but feel the depth of emotion between them over these issues. And look at Ted, remembering a wish of Lily’s like that for so long, and then making it happen when the opportunity arose.

My theory has changed. Never mind Buttercup, off there at pastry school in Europe. I don’t think they know it yet, but I think now that Lily and Ted are, in fact, destined to be together. And I think the writers, clever beings that they are, will show us a long, slow, building of little, stealth romance moments like this one.

X is for…

Filed under: ABC - Along,Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Television — folkcat at 2:10 pm on Wednesday, November 29, 2006

xena12 logo_edited.jpg

I can’t believe I’ve been fretting over what to do for “X is for…!” At least I remembered in time that, in addition to the Connie & Carla movie props and costumes I wrote about before, I own several costume pieces from the popular television series, Xena.

Xena Cotume Pieces on Display

This is how they were displayed in my bead store, back in the fall of 2004. The cropped jacket and the belt are the costume pieces here, and the piece of burlap hanging in back with rattan is actually a prop window covering used on the show.

I never was able to pin the jacket down to a specific character – more likely, it was worn by an extra someplace in a crowd. I did find that the Gabrielle character, Xena’s co-star, wore a top made from the same green beaded fabric in one season.

The belt is the best documented item I was able to acquire. It was worn by a savage warrior character in an episode called “The Price”.

Still from "The Price" showing costume belt

Here we see Gabrielle showing mercy to a dying enemy warrior on the battlefield. If you look at the bottom right, that’s the belt.

The other two costume pieces I have from Xena are these bracelets.

Bracelets from Xena, Warrior Princess

One is strung with simple pressed glass beads on elastic. The other? Even more anachronistically than the first, it’s made of beads strung on safety pins!

How could they get away with that on Xena? The suspension of disbelief, for one. Plus, it was probably worn by an extra in the background somewhere, and if visible on screen at all (I’ve never managed to spot it), it was for only a fleeting moment and probably in motion. So it would look like crude metal and rough gems, if anything.

So there we have it – I was able to come up with a personally meaningful “X”, without resorting to “Xmas” or “X-treme” or anything like that! Yay, me!

Next Page »