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November 2006

All Hallows Eve, or Possibly Afternoon

My Halloween costume in its entirety.

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Carl's RIP 2006 Autumn Challenge Ending today

The challenge was  indicating that you are taking on the Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.) Autumn Challenge.... pick out any 5 books that you want to read that you think meet the very open, broad criteria of being scary, eerie, moody, dripping with atmosphere, gothic, unsettling, etc. and vow to read them....*snip* .... It is simply a way to encourage reading around a specific, though broad, theme to generate discussion. And this is my absolute favorite time of the year so I want to do something to celebrate it.

My (Original) Five:

  1. Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
  2. The Strange Death of Mistress Coffin by Robert J Begiebing
  3. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
  4. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  5. Blindness by Jose Saramago

I think they all fit  "the very open, broad criteria of being scary, eerie, moody, dripping with atmosphere, gothic, unsettling"

The Five I actually read:

1. Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe. (Ha! On the list!!) I was much fonder of this book by the time I finished it. Really, it needs to be devoured as quickly as possible, and possibly with some  chemical enhancement to focus the mind and blur the intellect. The ending was a bit twisty and if Emily had stopped fainting or being such a good girl there wouldn't have been half the tension. I think my biggest peeve in the book was the two paragraph escape from the 400 pages worth of formidable villain, Montoni.

2. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Not exactly brooding or scary but it was a direct take off on Mysteries of Udolpho and that made it even more fun.

3. World's End by T Coraghessan Boyle. A very different kind of ghost story that wove through several generations of Hudson river occupants, most of them odder than the last.

4. The Smithsonian by Gore Vidal. An imaginative romp through the halls of the Smithsonian, history and time travel.

5. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach. And whoo boy, the "science" that's been used. This is a great fun read, I highly recommend it. Oddly enough, it's the quantum physics folk that give the most credence to an afterlife - energy goes somewhere basically. However! there are some very dubious experiments and thoughts over the ages. So nice to feel such superiority.

Hezekiah stops short at The Rug of Doom. What to do? What to do?

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She must get outside........and yet, - cannot touch - The RUG OF DOOM.

No knitting news other than I'm almost done with the second sleeve of the Retro Cardigan and really, I wanted to have the whole thing blocked by last Sunday. Boo.

Television: New House tonight! Yay!  At 9pm.

I'm mad at Heroes after last night, I really hope they didn't kill off my favorite character.


Daylight Saving Ends!

Sadly, not forever, but at least for this year.

Sunday.

I can't wait. I hate Daylight Saving Time. And I hate to break it to whoever keeps it going, but there is really no effective way of increasing the amount of sun we get every day. It's pretty much up to the sun, the earth's rotation, you know, things completely out of our control.

In knitting news, Mary Tudor is languishing while I finish up the Retro Cardigan, which is now part of a sleeve, a collar and a sewing up away from completion. Yay! It turns out that it's much easier to knit boring stockinette stitch while watching Gaslight than an Alice Starmore Fair Isle pattern. Who knew?

Gaslight Gaslight stood up well as a thriller. I'd like to think that it couldn't happen nowadays, but it's just as easy for a man to undermine a woman's belief in herself, isolate her and prey on her fears, all while telling her that he "loves" her for his own ends, whatever those ends might be.

I watched the 1944 version with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman first and then the 1940 British version. Interesting cinematic choices. The British version was much more upfront about what Anton/Mallon was doing to Paula/Bella whereas Cukor elected to let us wonder for a bit. Was Paula truly losing it? Or was he playing her? I wonder if that question was more open ended in 1944 because in 2006, Gregory Anton came across as a classic abuser, isolating, belittling, caressing and battering. (Naming the 1944 character Charles Boyer played Gregory Anton instead of Paul Mallon who was played by Anton Walbrook is either a nice nod or confusing as all get out when I'm trying to say who was who).

I think that making Paula the niece instead of Mallon the nephew made the storyline tighter. She wasn't the random heiress that Bella was, Paula herself was crucial to access to the house. The aunt was a world famous singer in Ingrid Bergman's version and a well traveled well heeled widow in the other, and yet both versions used the public concert scene to further the plot.

Joseph Cotten as the detective that ultimately exposes the lie was an eligible bachelor is the 1944 version but was played by Frank Pettingill as an older fatherly copper named B G Rough in the British version. (Trivia! according to IMDB, Sebastion Cabot was once his chauffer.) Interesting that Cukor felt obligated to provide Paula with a new love interest while the British version freed her from the clutches of her make believe husband and restored her to her family. Possibly because in his version, the aunt was all the family she had and she was dead. Dead and crucial to the storyline dead.

I much preferred Angela Lansbury's Nancy the housekeeper to Cathleen Cordell's, possibly because I love Angela Lansbury and she looked so dang young in this! but her housekeeper seemed more forward even if it was all implied rather than shown as in the 1940 film. All in all, great flick. Thanks to Jennifer and her FiberFlix blog.    

Finally watched Good Night and Good Luck (I've had it out from Netflix since Aug 15 - yes, this is why I lurve Netflix). Great flick. Interesting parallels between now and then. I think it was a wise choice to let Joe McCarthy play himself.

Television, or Look Away, Chris: Hugh Laurie is on SNL tonight. Tomorrow night. Whenever SNL is on. When is it on? I don't think I've ever watched that show on any kind of a regular basis. Dr Who tonight. I'm getting into Jericho which is bad because Bones is coming back (maybe, maybe not, who knows with Fox) and Secrets of the Dead all play at 8pm on Wednesday.

Sunflower Back to Knitting. Remind me, NO NEW PROJECTS! I actually love the ones I've got going. I can't wait to finish Mary Tudor and watching the pattern emerge is more exciting than I'm going to tell you in a blog. After picking up the Retro Cardigan last night, I'm so close to being done and it's such a cute easy TV knit. The Moll Shawl possibly will be done in time for the year end catch up at Knit the Classics . And yet, I've made another garterlac dishcloth, cast on and knit a few rows of a sock before realizing it and ripping it (no new projects!), pulled out my linen yarn to make a bookmark (no new projects!), started organizing my Elann Peruvian Wool for a Dr. Who scarf (no new projects!)

It's hard, I tell you. Mind you, I still intend to keep several projects going, but more along the lines of one complicated one that requires absolute silence (which is practically all of them, but shh.) one that's reasonably portable, one that I can do while talking and visiting.  

People who have actually finished gorgeous things and are making me jealous (not a complete list)

Moe, Lyssa (who is also starting a gorgeous FI sweater she's designing herself, but check out the cabled aran she just finished), JC's FLAK. Oh, this is fun. I'm going to have to start keeping track. Drop me an email if you've finished something or you know someone who did and I haven't mentioned it. June06_009


Progress. Glacial

Mmip_284 Mmip_283 Mmip_278 Mmip_280 The Moll Shawl, which is slowly being knit and is my carry-round knitting

The close up of the knitting is closer to the actual color.

Hezekiah, observing. Mmip_282 Wow, the hem on Mary Tudor looks terrible. It had better block out because there is no way I'm redoing it.

Rip_autumn_challenge_6 While I was viciously pruning my books Saturday, I ran across The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton, my next entry into the RIP Autumn Challenge.  Hopefully not terrifying ghost stories but they're probably exactly the kind that scares me the most. Clever imaginative ones.


Halloween Meme

I got this from Carl's blog earlier this month:

1. What is your favorite work of horror fiction? Hmm. I don't really have a favorite work of horror. Horror scares me. I actually hate being scared unlike a lot of people who thrive on it. I was going to say something cutesy-ish and name Nora Roberts or Danielle Steele but that's just wrong.

2. What is your favorite work of science fiction/fantasy? Like there can be just one? Gateway to Woman's Country by Sheri Tepper, just to name one of my faves.

3. Who is your favorite monster? My kittymonster!

4. What horror movie gives you the most chills? Geez. All of them. I'm a wuss.

5. Freddy versus Jason? As if I saw anything more than the ads on TV.

6. What is your favorite Halloween treat? Reeses!

7. Ghosts or goblins?  Ghosts. Preferably chatty happy ghosts with lots of gossip and historical tidbits. Knowing where a hidden treasure is wouldn't be amiss either.

8. What is your scariest encounter with the paranormal? Actually, I do have one, which, considering that I completely don't believe in it, is a little creepy.

I was on a road trip with a girlfriend and we were on Hwy 1 (up to Portland, I think). It was about ...well, midnight, actually and she decides that she absolutely has to pee, which I refuse to allow her to do in my car (I know, I'm just like that )and because it's dark and scary and freaking late at night I don't particularly want to stop. (Also it's possible that I've inherited my Dad's driving gene which means NO ONE STOPS UNTIL WE GET THERE).

But anyway. We're on that long stretch of beach/mountain/twisty road before it goes inland with not a lot of open populated anything. So she finally talks me into stopping, (possibly by threats and intimidation) and then makes me get out of the car (evidently so that I could help shriek hysterically if anything happened). She wanders off a few feet, and then comes back. We get into the car and drive off. Not saying a word. Right next to where we got out of the car, not 30 yards away (Approximately. I couldn't guess 30 yards accurately if my life depended on it, the point is, it was FREAKING NEXT TO WHERE WE WERE) the lot was fenced with that old wrought iron with the word "CEMETARY" strung over the entrance and the gravestones and engravings were clear in the moonlight.

We didn't say a word until we got to the motel, a couple of hours later. And then both said the same thing at the same time, "Did you see that?"

And it wasn't there on the drive home. I've never seen it again, and I've driven that road plenty.

9. Do you believe in ghosts? No. Why?

10. Favorite Halloween costume? Oh, undoubtedly something slutty. I was the cutest kitty cat in a black lace dress umpty ump years ago and BFF's husband managed to NOT get a picture. The one picture I actually posed happily for. Grr.

Knitting! I finished the Pirate Mittens! Did the final thumb this morning. If I did them again, (which I probably will, those are some cute mittens) I'd take fewer stitches for the thumb and put them on holders and pick up stitches at the sides - it was a little strained. Mmip_275

Whining... I had a migraine that wouldn't go away last week and a deadline Monday. Not a whole lot of knitting was done. Uh, he Pirate Mittens? I picked them up Thursday night, I think, and basically randomly knit them. I had to drop half the stitches to fix the design. Thank goodness it was the final inch or so, but I stayed far away from Mary Tudor. Until tomorrow. Mmip_272

Notice how that little side design of two white stitches one black between two solid black lines? Three solid lines. And then the first time I "fixed" it, I did 3 st in whte. Whoops.  I used Gems Topax Pure Merino wool yarn and I have to say, I love that yarn. Soft, easy to knit, dreamy. Good thing I bought lots.

Read: The Smithsonian by Gore Vidal. Twisted, as you might expect. All about T and his adventures as a mathematical genius in a time warp at the Smithsonian in 1939. Huh. Not very descriptive. T is a 13 year old student who would rather play baseball and who, because his Algebra test was boring, doodles the next step on Einstein's theory. Or possibly the atomic bomb because they're all quite obsessed with it and Germany. He's invited to the Smithonsonian where he meets historical characters like Charles Lindburgh who befriends him, along with Grover Cleveland's young wife, Frankie. Most of the Manhattan Project scientists show up and there's a fairly reasonable explanation of the exhibits and their life after hours. (Reasonable to me, as I've always suspected it.) It was a good read. There was dabbling in the past to "fix" the future, but I think it was the history behind it that made it such a compelling read.

Who's Sorry Now by Jill Churchill. I actually started and finished this book this morning (I woke up r-e-a-l-l-y early). Enh. It was okay. She seemed a little off her game, but maybe she was trying to be ...stiffer? more formal? since it was a Grace & Favor mystery. I read it, but it seemed a little disjointed.

Reading: Gulliver's Travels. Whoo boy.

TV: No House tonight. [pout]. Law & Order Criminal Intent though. And Secrets of the Dead is back on Wednesdays on PBS at 8pm. Final episode of Season Three Project Runway Wednesday!

A&E is burning off their episodes of MI:5 on Saturday from 11am to 6pm (Pacific time). This is an absolutely brilliant spy series from the BBC that they've just choked off for some reason. True, Tom is gone and surfaced as Mr. Darcy, but still! They managed to air maybe two episodes - at 11pm - before it vanished. Until now. Grrr. Blog_pix_025

Gratuitous puppy pic! Who I have not seen in ages due to said deadlines and general badness as a BFF.


An Embarrassment of Riches

.........or the cool stuff that Amanda Cathleen (aka Mistress Stash Enhancer) sent me! Check this out! Blog_pix_104 Kitty cat paw measuring tape! Oh, and the box it came in..........do you see all those wrapped gifites?

Isn't that notepad cover gorgeous? And the cards! I should have fanned them out.

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Fat Quarters and their inspiration:

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And, of course, the yarny goodness:

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And now, thanks to Susoolu, the word for the day: xenagorabibliomania. That is so utterly and completely descriptive of me. I'm always reading strangers book titles. I just have to. I try to do it surreptitiously, but that doesn't always work. And for anyone who is vaguely interested, I picked up World's End by T. Coraghessan Boyle. It's a nice segue back into more contemporary times, what with his shifting storylines from the 1700's to the late 1900's while following three intertwined families in the Hudson area. It's also odd as all get out, but that's TC for you. I just wish I was better acquainted with the geography and the history of the area, I'm betting that would enhance the reading even more.

Progress on Mary Tudor -

Blog_pix_105_3 I think I wasn't stranding the yarn long enough on the first shading (although it sure doesn't look that bunched up on the needles) and the yellow yarn was almost receding but I think I've got it now. With a bit of blocking [crosses fingers, prays and throws salt over shoulder] (something should work, right?) it should be fine. (Notice the lovely personal and private view of the project, since I know how some of you are.)

So. Which is worse?  My knitting or my photography skills? Oooh, but look! You can see the pattern there!

Oh, so obsessed with this right now.


I FINISHED IT!!

Mysteries of Udolpho, that is. What, you thought Mary Tudor? The Pirate Mittens? Hahahahaha. 

And not only did I finish every last page and insipid poem of Emily's but I also finished Northanger Abbey. My heartfelt thanks to Jane Austen for gently mocking Ann Radcliffe and her ilk. I was going to read The Castle of Otranto next but I absolutely had to read something written in this millenium so I picked up David Rakoff's Don't Get Too Comfortable, which fit somewhat nicely in the RIP Autumn challenge. He has some pretty thought provoking pieces in the book; a bit about the Log Cabin Republicans, the Alcorans, the group out of Scottsdale, AZ who have Ted Williams on ice for the coming cyrogenic regeneration, plastic surgery, fasting, Paris designer runway shows among other riffs on contemporary casual bigotry and unexamined mores.

So what do I read now? The Machine's Child by Kage Baker? Gulliver's TravelsHer Majesty's Spymaster by Stephen Budiansky? A lovely fluffy thriller by Jill Churchill or Monica Ferris?


Pictures

Look! Amazing progress! Those stitches represent something like, oh, I don't know, a day out of my life. Hezekiah is in awe.

It's actually a bit easier now that I realize how and what I'm doing. AS only has two colors per  knit & purled row, so it's pretty easy to purl, once I switched to one handed purling (left-handed) and set up the colors so that they don't tangle at all. Four more rows to go! On the hem. 

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Chocolate Swap Swag from Allison! Isn't that yarn gorgeous?  Chocolate_swap_1 Check out her site ......if you dare. Mwhah hahahaha.

And in mindless viewing, Smith has already bit the dust. Yup, cancelled.

Dr. Who and Battlestar Galactica (BSG's premiere) tonight. I have to say, I didn't hate Ten. I still miss Niiiiiiiiine though. OTOH, I would like to catch David James Elliott in Close to Home and check out Men In Trees, not to mention, Law & Order tonight.


Knitting without Pictures

After a somewhat hysterical reading of Alice Starmore's instructions for her Mary Tudor pattern, I leapt to the conclusion that the whole da damme thing was going to be knit in garter stitch IN THE ROUND. Which translates into purling every. other. round. Mary Tudor is a Fair Isle pattern! I thought making those pink mittens in the round in garter stitch was hellish, this put it in the pale.

After searching for errata and taking a very close look at Knit Knot's picture of her Mary Tudor (and possibly re-reading the instructions) Knit_knots_mary_tudor I realized that it's only the bands. Why on earth would you knit them in the round? If I'd known that, I'd've set the steek stitches up and knit it flat for the first 10 rounds. (That's Knit Knot's Mary Tudor pictured, mine has an entire four rows of the hem completed so far. And that's after pretty much working on it all day long yesterday. I had been unhappy with the cast on stitches (thanks to Stephanie, this time I used the Twisted German Cast On which I thought I'd been using but hadn't) (and I realized after about the fourth run through on that tutorial that it was from JenLa! JenLa also disbanded their California Knitter's Ring and have a California Knitter's Page going).......ah, where was I?

Oh yeah. I'd yanked off the cast on stitches and redid them approximately three times before their imperfection no longer bothered me. (I was going for perfect but OTOH, I'm not going to live forever, you know).

In other knitting news, the Pirate Mittens continue to be thumbless and not quite done because I decided to frog and fix the first one (I missed the top row of the skull and didn't quite grasp the shaping at the top the first time), the EZ Suprise Mittens still need massive seaming, The Retro Cardi has got its own tote, I found the Log Cabin Blanket, but sadly, not completed by elves or cats or any helpful knitters, and Its Jacket continues to languish. And those are the only WIP's that are even on my radar.

Let's see if RheLynn can identify this picture from the National Gallery of Art. East_coast_125_2 She managed to identify the last picture, Morning in the Tropics by Frederic Edwin Church because she recognized the influence of the painter's mentor! Is that an amazing eye or what? (not that I know the answer. Pretty. That's what I know. See the castle perched in the hillside? It's a fantastical painting, that's what I remember. It's also gorgeous.)

Oh! And in OTHER news, I got my Chocolate Swap Chocolate_swap swag from Allison yesterday! I got yarn that hasn't even hit the stores yet! (Neener, neener.) It's soooo beautiful. Brown and pink. I might actually have to knit a pair of socks for Socktober.

And chocolate! Chocolate bars, chocolate and something drink mixes,  grand marnier pecan....the chocolate covered cookie dough didn't make it through the night, I'm sad to say. Pictures to come later when camera, computer and me are all in the same place.

Rip_autumn_challenge_5 In reading news - [excitedly] it looks like I'm going to finish Mysteries of Udolpho soon! Woot! Woot!  I've got about 50 pages to go. I have to say, as much as I felt as if I've slogged through the book, as little as I have ever felt like dashing off extremely bad poetry at the drop of a hankie and as drawn out a reveal as Lost, it's not half bad. At least so far. Let's see how lamely she wraps up the other unexplained occurences. There's an awful lot of classism in the book, the poor silly peasants are mocked for their innocent dumb superstitious ways whereas the heroes or heroines of the book, if they succumb, is because of their delicate sympathetic imaginations. And the overcoming! Bravely putting on a brave face and completely subjugating their wishes. Thank heaven I don't live back then.


Mindless Viewing

House is not on tonight. Why? Why? They're playing repeats of Friends and Seinfield on Fox at 8pm. I suppose it's so stupid football can run overtime. And that is why I'm not watching Friday Night Lights at 8pm instead. Yes, because of an irrational hatred of football pre-empting my shows, I'm not watching a show about football.

Law & Order Criminal Intent is at 9pm and Smith is on at 10pm though.

NCIS is on at 8pm but since I haven't heard Mark Harmon's Gibbs is back, I'm still not watching it.

Did anyone catch Heroes last night? I'm starting to think this is a show that would've been better to catch in its second season and marathon watch the backstory because it's a bit dull. I like the premise and some of the characters but the Flying Kid Brother is a Big Whiner and the Cheerleader is just too cheerlead-y. The stripper is the one character I really like and she's the one that caused my eyes to roll in the back of my head. I mean, of course there's a stripper. But so far, she's had the most interesting story.

Dr. Who on Friday nights again! This week & next, you can watch David Tennant play Dr Who Friday on the Sci Fi channel at 8pm and then watch him play the young Casanova on Masterpiece Theater Sundays at 9pm on PBS. But I still miss Niiiiiiiiiiiiiine.

Wednesday night at 10pm is going to be the hardest.  CSI NY and Project Runway: The Reunion.

Knitting updates to come. You know, if I happen to have any knitting progress. East_coast_126

I love this picture. They let me take it at the.....Portrait Gallery? One of the Smithsonians.