One meets a better class of person

Sorry for the radio silence. I've been busy with really boring things. More accurately, I haven't been busy at all. The wretchedly cold weather provides an excellent excuse to stay in, knitting madly and rereading the same books for the dozenth time.

Netflix and I have become good friends. With some experimentation, I've discovered which of the local post offices has the best service, so I've been able to cycle through my DVDs faster. I'd been irked at them for a while, since the Watch Instantly feature doesn't work on my PC laptop (wrong OS-- I refused to "upgrade" to XP.) or on my Mac (which I bought before they rolled out the Intel models, on my Dad's advice. Got a great deal, but wish that I'd waited). That is, until it dawned on me that my mom's old steam-powered POS PC, sitting abandoned and unloved, runs XP. Sweet! It takes an eternity to boot, leaving ample time for a trip to the kitchen or the petit coin, but it will stream Netflix. So far, I have ODed on BBC period pieces (I highly recommend The Duchess of Duke Street. It's Edwardian!), caught the first season of 30 Rock, and rewatched some old favorites. I had really forgotten how bad the drag is in Tootsie. It's a great movie, but Dustin Hoffman makes one ugly lady.

So I'm a total mouse potato now. Thank god I have a comfortable desk chair. Since it's on wheels, I can just scoot back and forth between my computers. I think the cat should be a bit more concerned about this than he is. All of this has been great for my knitting, since I find it hard to not knit while staring at a screen for hours. I have been tempted to knit at the movies, even, though fear of popcorn hands has prevented me. A more serious knitter might suggest not eating the popcorn in order to have unsullied wool, but that is impossible for me.

I decided to take a victory lap after finishing all of those Liesl sweaters for xmas. There were three in all, with a fourth in the offing. No deadline, since it's for me, but maybe before my birthday. I wish that I'd taken pictures of them before they went off to their recipients, because they all turned out well. Each was a variation on the pattern: high neck and 3/4 sleeves, wide neck and elbow-length sleeves, and wide neck and full length sleeves. It's an easily adapted pattern. After all of that, I needed a breather, so I've been working on socks. I have scads of sock yarn and this is the time of year that I want to wear them.

I woke at 8 am this morning. I'm not sure why. At 8.30, I was wide awake, with no likelihood of drifting back into sleep while listening to NPR. I'm not a morning person, so I had no idea what to do with all of this new-found time. I managed to get some paperwork done, which is so easily put-off, and de-pilled a very hairy sweater. I had to change the batteries in my pill shaver half way through. It could probably use another pass, but I don't have the energy. Then, I decided to go out, despite the below zero temps outside. I have a really great heater in my car and can dress in layers of wool. Two hats at once? Unflattering. Naturally, I ran into one of my friends from high school while wearing my bag lady get-up. After checking their stock online, I headed over to the local Borders to pick up a copy of Coraline. Yes, I know everyone else has already read it, but I've been busy dreaming about Professor Snape. The only copy they had of Coraline was in the independent reader section of the children's department. I've been an independent reader for a good twenty years, so that was less than thrilling. Lesson learned: likely in stock means nowhere to be found. Also, any moisture in your nose will freeze in this weather, no matter how well bundled you are.


How the light gets in

A list of films I have seen recently:
Perfume, screenplay and direction by Tom Tykwer. I read this novel a couple of years ago at the suggestion of my trainer at Lush, for its excellent, accurate descriptions of the distillation of essential oils. I found it unbelievably disturbing, so I was in no rush to see the film at the cinema. When I saw it on the shelf at the video store, I changed my mind. An excellent adaptation. It manages to evoke the intoxicating world of scent that Grenouille inhabits, as the book did, without resorting to scratch and sniff cards a la John Waters. Somehow, its synthesis of the novel surpasses the original. Tykwer manages to express Grenouille's unknown desire in a way that was unclear if not unwritten in the novel without hitting the viewer over the head with it.

Doubt. Wow. I really can't say much about this film without spoiling it. An incredible stage to screen adaptation that manages to retain incredible dialog without being too stagey. The use of feathers scattered by the wind from a tenement roof as a metaphor for gossip was incredible. I would like to discuss this film with someone else who has seen it. If you're interested, please email me.

An Awfully Big Adventure. I saw this film years ago, around the time that it came out. It's a period film about a rep company in England doing a production of Peter Pan and its exploitation of a couple of young apprentices. I'm a sucker for backstage dramas, but this has more in common with Greek tragedy than Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. Depressing, but worth seeking out.

Hamlet 2. Seriously awesome, despite being chock full of cliches. What backstage picture isn't? Steve Coogan plays his usual bumbling character, this time a frustrated actor/drama teacher who manages to put on a controversial show with suspiciously high production values. It definitely has that in common with the old Judy and Mickey pics. Much more irony and tongue in cheek. Oh, and a whole lot of bad ideas that somehow, improbably, pan out in the end.

Ira and Abby, another Jennifer Westfeld film (she also developed and starred in Kissing Jessica Stein). This came highly recommended by Zoe, so I bumped it to the top of my Netflix queue. I'm not sure that I agree with the film's message about marriage, but the other plots involving therapy and the excellent Judith Light. I've grown so used to seeing her in her supporting role on Law and Order SVU that I hadn't noticed that she's aged like a French actress. Why doesn't America produce more women of a certain age?

Becoming Jane. A total whim at the video store, like a box of lemonheads by the cash register. Well, I love Jane Austen and I like Anne Hathaway. My love of Austen is what kept me away from this when it was in theatres. It is well acted, well written, well art-directed. Looks like something off the Beeb. If you love Jane Austen, you will love/hate this film. Hate it for making Jane into a character in one of her own novels and love all of the little a-has buried in the dialog, like the Shakespeare jokes in Shakespeare in Love.

I'm trying to find a good balance between highbrow and lowbrow, art house and blockbuster in my viewing in the new year. It's not a resolution, because I don't make any, but a goal. All things in moderation, including moderation. I was watching the Anthony Bourdain marathon on the Travel network today, when I saw something that I really wish we had in North America: movie rooms. He went to one in Seoul and it looked ideal to me. Basically, it was a little screening room, showing a film that he picked on the way in. It looked cozy, but not too poky, like the screen at Film Forum or the small theatre at the Music Box.

Following my amazing experience of having the theatre to myself for Nobel Son (meh), I was overconfident in going to see Doubt the day after New Year's. The cinema's always packed on New Year's Day, but I'd really hoped for a sparsely attended screening on the second. What I got was exactly the opposite. I guess a lot of people took a long weekend for the holiday. I'm not as snobbish as I used to be, but I felt like a total curmudgeon. The theatre was about 2/3rds full, but the comments were almost incessant. I heard enough "mm-mms" and "oh no she didn'ts" to last a lifetime, which made me resolve not to go to that theatre again. I doubt I'll trek up to Cine Arts in Evanston (No annoying preshow ads, but thoughtfully chosen trailers and classical music! Swoon!), but I might head to a more upscale location the next time I want to see something on the big screen.

I can even follow my new sat-nav to that more upscale theatre. My grandparents gave me a TomTom for Christmas. I really like it, even though I hate their advertising. They should get a less annoying campaign, because they have a great product. I put it to the test on my annual trip to The Fold, a pilgrimage worthy LYS in the middle of nowhere. Serious nowhere, and I've gotten terribly lost going there before. The TomTom proved quirky but trustworthy. Some of the routing wasn't my natural inclination, but the user interface is fantastic. The turn warnings actually give you enough time to get over if you need to, which is my Mom's complaint about her Magellan. Hers is more like that annoying friend who tells you to turn just as you're almost across the intersection. You know, the friend that you mentally vow not to give a ride again. I think it's kind of funny, because her GPS got higher ratings in Consumer Reports and a better recommendation from the guy at Best Buy.

The reason for the annual trip to The Fold is the annual New Year's Day sale. Also, The Fold is the only LYS in the state that carries my fiber heroin, Socks that Rock. I talked my Mom into going, which took very little persuasion. She'd never been before and even braved the crowds of the sale on a sprained ankle. That's the mark of a true fiber enthusiast. It was a very polite, kind crowd, being full of knitters and spinners. Rarely will you see people wait so patiently and sociably in a half hour plus long line. I'm not really sure what my Mom bought, though she did give me a STR sock monkey kit afterward. If you haven't seen the STR sock monkey, you should definitely check it out. They are crazy, and everyone seems to end up making little monkey avatars. Mine will be pink and purple, because I'm apparently a real girly-girl. I happen to like pink and purple, but I'm sort of a professional tomboy. And no, that is not code for gym teacher. I spent conservatively, purchasing a skein of BMFA Twisted to make another clapotis (coincidentally in shades of magenta) and some STR medium weight.

One of my goals for the new year is to stash slowly. I know better than to say no new yarn, but when I survey my stash, I know that it is extremely unlikely that I will truly need yarn in 2009. I don't really make New Year's resolutions because I think they're kind of pointless. New Year's is an arbitrary marker that people use to contemplate their lives. Really, the year could start at any time on the calendar, as can life changes or those daunting "is this really my life?" middle of the night thoughts. Honestly, I couldn't wait for 2008 to end. It was, all hyperbole aside, the worst year of my life. When I stop to reflect, I realize that it was a lesson on all of the things in my life that I could live without. As Leonard Cohen writes, "There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in.". Well, 2008 put one hell of a crack in my life, in my ideas about my self and the world. For 2009, the light.


More later.

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