Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I found a dream...that I could speak to...

I'm a sap, I admit it. Not the biggest Beyonce fan, but I thought she did good here. And how great it is to see their undiluted happiness? Won't last long as the pressures of one of the toughest jobs on the planet makes itself manifest. But I gotta say as a selfish citizen, I feel a lot better with Barack Obama at the helm than anyone else at the moment.

The other landmark for me:

Oh man. The thing that kills me about this is that Seeger mostly doesn't *sing* the song--he's more busy listening to everyone else singing it, and feeding the audience the lines. So great.

In the squares of the city
By the shadow of the steeple
by the relief office
I saw my people
as they stood there hungry
I stood there whistling:
"This land is made for you and me."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's called bargaining

I made white cake cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting for Steve's birthday (and mine too if I can make 'em last that long). The recipes for both are from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook. The white cake is one of my all-time faves, very easy to mix up, a tasty texture, and lo-cholesterol because it only uses egg whites instead of whole eggs.

But that still doesn't mean I should have more than one a day, especially since I made Steve biscuits with sausage gravy for his birthday breakfast yesterday morning. And red wine risotto with a lot of butter and cheese in it (and some raddichio) for his bday dinner. I mean, enough's enough, right?

So...maybe I'll have a beer instead. Once I've had one more glass of water to make sure I stay hydrated. That'll counteract the beer. Somewhat. I....guess.

Knitting injury

So I'm knitting a sweater that has been the bane of my existence--but I'm learning a lot. I keep going on to ravelry (kinda a facebook for knitters) to look at pictures from all the other people knitting this same sweater. There's more than 1,000 of people who've posted pix of their versions of the sweater up there right now.

But I've been making slooow progress, and was blithely knitting away with bamboo needles , when all of a sudden I pushed the needle a little too hard--and a bamboo sliver shoved its way into my index finger. And because the bamboo was pretty pale it was impossible to get out. This happened about a week ago and the sliver is still sitting in my finger. Doesn't really bother me too much and I'm keeping an eye on it--it's slooowly working its way out.

Unfortunately it changed the way I held my hands as I knitted, and yesterday I noticed some carpal tunnel symptoms emerging, to the point where I felt pain traveling all the way up my arm. I'm on a knitting fast for a couple days until it clears up (it already feels a lot better) but I want to pick up that damn sweater so bad. It's calling to me, I swear! Man.

Maybe I can hold out one more day...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Scene study #1

“Y’all was rotten kids. You was, you was rotten kids. Made my life here hell.”

The Color Purple has stirred a lot of controversy in its time. The book, when it came out, had a lot of angry reactions. The movie had the same, much of it for different reasons than the reaction to the book. Haven’t seen the musical, but I’m not a fan of those, so I doubt I’m missing anything there.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read the book or seen the movie. I have issues with Spielberg in general, although I think he has the potential for mastery—Jaws and Schindler’s List being two very different examples of this.

One thing about The Color Purple that always impressed me is that in this film rest a few shining jewels of scenes. The below is lengthy, but there’s so much within it. I’ll post the link and then my reactions below that.

There is so, so much meat for an actor and a filmmaker here. Gotta say I am a total sucker for good ensemble work, and this is a great example of that. The writing allows for several front-and-center speeches, that’s true. But there’s also a great balance of personalities and the natural cadence of conversation around a heavily-populated dinner table.

Exchanges of tension and psychological breakthrough are very condensed here, but also move quite naturally. I would be willing to bet this went through several rounds of rehearsal, just to make sure the timing was right. Goldberg speaks, sitting, Winfrey follows. Goldberg stands during her outburst, pounding her fist on the dinner table. Chong squeals and squirms out of her partner’s grasp, standing, and Goldberg sits back down as Chong stands up. Written out in direction it sounds contrived, but it’s pretty natural when acted out in this scene.

There’s also lighter touches. The young boy next to Goldberg who gets a scornful smile on his face as he watches Glover berating Goldberg is a disturbing touch that was probably pretty visible on the big screen. Shug’s husband, a genial, well-groomed man who is pretty much the antithesis of Glover’s character, accepting of every dynamic but ready to navigate it and get out while the getting is good. I enjoyed that performance here.

The editing is also pretty impressive. For some reason the moment that strikes me most, other than some of the close-ups, is the scan of faces towards the end of Goldberg’s angry outburst, hearing the last pound of her fist while not seeing it. It’s almost as if we’re sitting at the table too, looking away from her but still hearing her rage.

One last thing—the music. I find it annoying, especially early on in the clip. Most of the scene is without music, and I think it’s more effective that way. The clink of knives and forks on plates, the ambient chatter, laughter at things people say—all that is accompaniment enough, as there's plenty going on in this scene as it is.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I am Rachel, call me Lame.

Happy New Year. All the best hopes and wishes for every one of you, domestically, nationally, and internationally.

I've been supremely lame with this blog lately and no mistake. One of my New Year's resolutions is to be better about blogging and keeping up with long-suffering friends (Bettina, I'm talking to you). I've had to keep my mouth shut on a lot of stuff, and i think that was part of what gave me some blogger's block.

But still, I did have plenty to chat about, so I'm sorry I dropped off the map so abruptly.

At any rate, now that the holidaze are over I can kick my ass into gear and get back on the blogging/job-hunting train. I've got a couple irons in the fire re: jobs, but wanna keep quiet on the web for obvious reasons. Will tell a couple of sagas once I'm gainfully employed, I promise.

In the meantime I did a crapload of knitting for Christmas presents, most of which came out well. One hat for a brother-in-law is too small, but I'm hoping it'll be expanded enough to fit his head when I block it. Fingers crossed. All in all I knitted:

2 pairs of cable mitts (my pattern)
2 hats (Habitat pattern from Jared Flood, knits up great)
3 scarves (2 Noro ribbed scarves [I used Jared Flood's version], one lace scarf, my pattern)
1 stuffed toy dog--for my niece from the book World of Knitted Toys by Kath Dalmeny. At least, it's supposed to be a dog--looks more like a mouse. But more importantly it'll stand up to a fair amount of drool and pulling.

I also made one pair of earrings, 3 necklaces (most of which I still need to mail out), and a bottle of strawberry vodka (I marinated it--didn't distill the vodka itself--I'm not that much of a nutcase).

I'll post some pix as they come available. Here's one of the "dog":

Gotta say, it's been a watershed time for me creatively. A lot of my design ideas have been panning out, which feels really good. But for now I'm working on a sweater Interweave Magazine, the Tangled Yoke Cardigan, just to give my knitting brain a chance to recharge. I'm taking the yarn from a sweater I knitted ages ago and never wear. Gotta love recycled yarn.