Monday, December 31, 2012

Patricia's 2012 Book Awards

83 books were read this year, although, as with the movie awards, that isn't entirely true as I know I read at least one book (Ahem, the Art of Fielding Ahem, best book I read this year) twice.  83 books is a pretty good number.  Not too many, not too few.  You can read all of these reviews by clicking on the "Books" tag, or you can become my friend on Goodreads and find them that way.

Best book with no words on the page
The Disciples
James Mollison

Best holiday read aloud with your Significant Other
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares
Cohn & Levithan

Best book set in Indianapolis, Indiana
and
Funniest cancer book I've ever read
The Fault in Our Stars
John Green

The "You've got 20 minutes?  Read this, it's wonderful" Award
What now?
Ann Patchett

Incredibly boring book I slogged my way through and then couldn't stop thinking about
Private Life
Jane Smiley

Book that inspired movie that is pretty much a scene-by-scene reproduction of the book
also
Author name that I love because it's simultaneously 1)Hawai'i native pride 2)kind of hippie 3)makes me think of Thomas Jefferson
The Descendants
Kaui Hart Hemmings

Book with so many fine details I could give it 12 awards but instead I'll just tell you to read it, dammit
Why we broke up
Daniel Handler

Really awesome YA kick-ass female character who I needed to get to page 150 before I fell in love, but then boy did I!
also
The "reading reviews of this book on Goodreads makes me think people are really weird" award.
Graceling
Kristin Cashore

Cookbook where I love not only the food but also the author's syntax
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter
Jennifer Reese

Best use of old-fashioned photos as narrative prompts
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Ransom Riggs

Most fabulous of the Anne of Green Gables books, especially if you can get the version edited by Lefbvre
Rilla of Ingleside
L.M. Montgomery

Best territorial Oregon story I've ever read
Trask
Don Berry

Hands down, the best book I read this year and perhaps so far this decade
and
Even if you don't like baseball, you might want to read this
and
Excellent read aloud
and
How many awards do I have to give so you will read this book?
The Art of Fielding
Chad Harbach

Book about disaffected youth I almost gave up on because of attitude, but persevered and was rewarded by some rather amazing prose
Please Don't Kill the Freshmen
Zoe Trope

Book I should have liked because it was full of elements I love, but didn't really ever cotton to
The Sisters Brothers
Patrick DeWitt

Best Picture book that had me laughing aloud in the house like a crazy woman.
Chloe and the Lion
Mac Burnett & Adam Rex

Best mystery set in London
Sister
Rosamund Lupton

Most delightful Internet concept to be translated into book form
Dear Photograph
Taylor Jones

Funniest book I read that was written by a feminist
BossyPants
Tina Fey

Funniest book I read by a sleepwalker
also
Book I kept wanting to read aloud to Matt, but managed to restrain myself.  Mostly.
Sleepwalk with Me
Mike Birbigla

Best multiple perspective book I read this year
and
Best recommend by Ms. Sara K.
Wonder
R.J. Palacio

Best book to encompass every plot point that doesn't involve aliens or guns
Jane Eyre
Charlotte Bronte

Most interesting subject award
The Man who Quit Money
Mark Sundeen

Book I adored as a teenager
Vision Quest
Terry Davis

Best YA book I read this year
and
Best historical fiction book I read this year
and
Best reason to relax the "no more WWII books" rule
Code Name Verity
Elizabeth Wein

Best reimagining of the Peter Pan story
Tiger Lily
Jodi Lynn Anderson

Best overall concept, excellently executed
Every Day
David Levithan

Best book I read set in a small Montana town
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Emily Danforth

Patricia's 2012 Movie Awards

It would be incorrect to say I watched 108 movies in 2012.  Because I watched TV series too, and they are marked down on the same list as movies.  Also, I saw a few movies more than once (ahem Magic Mike, ahem Moonrise Kingdom) and my list doesn't account for that, either.  I have 108 entries on my "movies watched" list for 2012 and that uniquely qualifies me to give out awards.  So, without further ado, here are the 2012 Patricia Movie Awards.  You don't like the awards I gave?  Well, that's what the comments section is for.

If you want to read my individual reviews of each movie, you can use the search function, or scroll through the "three sentence movies" tag.

(In chronological order of viewing)

Best movie to flip the "Before Sunrise" concept on its head
Medicine for Melancholy

Best silent film of 2012
The Artist

Best version of Hamlet to exclude the "alas, poor Yorick, I knew him Horatio" line (note that I was NOT a fan of this action)
Hamlet 2000

Best series that had me regularly collapsing on the couch, weak from laughter 
Flight of the Conchords, season I

The movie in which I spent a lot of time staring at the actor's cheekbones
My Week with Marilyn

Quality flick and totally recommended, but not so much if you want to relax after a stressful week
The Grey

Marilyn Monroe movie I liked quite a bit and much more than the 2012 movie about the making of this movie (see "cheekbones" award above)
The Prince and the Showgirl

Avengers Assembly movie which I found strangely moving on second viewing
Thor

Best hilarious and sweet movie about a family keeping secrets from each other
City Island

Avengers Assembly movie that has the best "How it Should Have Ended" short
Captain America

Movie where I finally "got" the Kenneth Branagh thing
Hamlet

Best movie I completely enjoyed while watching and then couldn't tell you what the heck happened after it was over.
The Avengers

Best movie I would have enjoyed more if I hadn't seen the preview so many damn times
also
Best performance by actor playing a hotel manager ever
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Best guilty pleasure that did not hold up to a second viewing
Snow White and the Huntsman

Best use of 65 minutes of my time on a rather grumpy day
Glee, the 3-D Concert Movie, 2D version.

Best Horror Film I saw all year, and not just because it was the only horror film I saw all year.
also
Best use of "merman" as plot device
Cabin in the Woods

Movie who felt the need to tack on the traditional ending in a way that made me very grumpy
also
Best movie I got the boyfriend to watch the entire film only because he was worn out from a race
He's Just Not that Into You

Most awesome incorrect Historical Fiction Action movie with hot/nerdy lead
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

Best movie you probably haven't seen
A Perfect Getaway

Movie I liked much, much, much more than I thought I would
Five-Year Engagement

Best movie I saw this year?
also
Best movie that I was still thinking about long after the DVD ended
Winter's Bone

Best overuse of adjective for underwhelming film
The Amazing Spiderman

Best movie I couldn't really hear very well
Batman: The Dark Knight Rises

Best movie to launch me on a surpisingly delightful personal film fest
also
Best movie I saw four times this year
Magic Mike

Series that inspired the most gushing discussion emails rife with exclamation points
Downton Abbey seasons 1 and 2

Most surprisingly funny remake of 80s TV series
21 Jump Street

Best Adaptation of Shakespeare I saw this year
She's the Man

Best movie with four main actors I really like
Stop-loss

Best dance film featuring a foster child as a main character
Step Up

Most surprisingly affecting movie
The Vow

Best probably correct historical fiction movie
The Eagle

Most perfect film in which my front teeth dried out because I was smiling the entire time
Moonrise Kingdom

Very interesting ensemble cast about a very interesting event
Battle in Seattle

Nicholas Sparks film I liked, even though I thought it was going to be very, very lame
Dear John

Worst film I watched in the Channing Tatum Film Fest
also
Film where Channing Tatum's 10 minutes on screen were far and away better then the entirety of the film
The Dilemma

Best of the kind of "awesome woman" film I would love to see more of
Haywire

Movie I wanted to like, but did not
I'm Not There

Best movie with an interesting concept
Limitless

Best movie saw in a movie theater with no air conditioning on a 90+ degree day
 Men in Black III

Most surprising big, dumb action film that I liked
GI Joe, Rise of Cobra

Best movie made by my Public Radio Boyfriend
also
Best movie to accurately cover that post-college-figuring-things-out life stage
Sleepwalk With Me

Best comedy I saw this year
Friends with Kids

Best tense/dramatic movie you probably haven't seen and would love
Take Shelter

Best movie to reassure me that wearing socks with my dresses during high school wasn't lame, it was actually fashionable
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Best movie to practice deep breathing while watching
The Hurt Locker

Best "pretty good" movie that I bet you haven't seen
10 Year

Movie with great concept poorly executed
In Time

Best Romantic Comedy I saw this year
Ira and Abby

Best movie with a female lead where said female lead is not prostitute, etc.
also
Highly recommended film
Trucker

Best boy-in-Scotland-instead-of-girl-in-Ozarks Winter's Bone-type of film.
also
Film where subtitles are needed, even though English is being spoken
Sweet 16

Best movie with great sci-fi concept very well executed
(Note that this award is totally different than the award I gave to Limitless. Apparently it was a good year for cool concepts)
Looper

Best drama with lesbian couple I saw this year
also
Best "look it's Peeta!" sighting
The Kids are All Right

Really mediocre movie that didn't even have the decency to be bad enough to make fun of
The Trouble with the Curve

Best movie I resisted seeing for too long
The Savages

Best movie I was expecting the be okay, but was actually awesome
The Tourist

Best movie I watched even though the cover told me absolutely nothing about the story
Beautiful Thing

Best movie for setting and costumes
Anna Karenina

Best movie that I thought would be very tense (and it was) but also was quite funny in places
also
Best "toast" to come from a movie, ever.
Argo

Absolutely worst movie with female lead where she's not a prostitute, but might as well be
Jolene

Best remake I liked better than the original
also
Second best "Look, it's Peeta!" sighting
Red Dawn

Best TV series about High School, ever
also
Best individual performances by every actor making the collective whole amazing
Freaks and Geeks


Books read in December 2012

Five books!  Only five books!

Read
Othello
Shakespeare
For once the "modern analysis" at the end of the book gave me a very interesting insight into the play.  As usual, I enjoyed the performance much more than reading.

The Fault in our Stars
John Green
Matt and I read aloud
John Green makes for good read aloud.

Liar & Spy
Rebecca Stead
Read for Mock Printz
I enjoyed this book, the last I read for the Mock Printz Workshop, but I think it's not a YA book. In fact, the library agrees with me, shelving it in the Juvenile section.  The prose was lively, the characters interesting.  I even put aside things so I could finish the book, which is always a good sign.  Also, two boy characters.   Always a good thing for the boy readers. 

Memoirs of Hadrian
Marguerite Yourcenar
Read for Kenton Book Group
I did not like this, Sam I Am, I did not like Hade-re-an.  The first person perspective made me feel as if I was trapped on an endless phone call with someone who never let me interrupt his soliloquy and ask clarifying questions.  There was a lot of surface and not much detail.  When I read historical fiction, I like to learn about the historic period in question. Hadrian's endless blathering meant that I got a glimpse into things I might find interesting, but there was never any follow up on those things.   The book club member who chose the book began by apologizing for choosing it, because, though it is his desert island book, it is not a "book-club" kind of book, not being very linear.

Days of Blood and Starlight
Laini Taylor
Ah, the tricky "middle book" in a series of three where one must build plot, maintain characters, and juggle what happened in the book before this one with what will happen in the book after this one.  Taylor does a good job on all fronts.  We, who don't have a clear memory to every plot point are looped back in with grace and there is inner struggle between the two ill-fated lovers.  Even friends manage to make the transition to the second book.  All in all, it was a pretty gripping read.  I'm a bit impatient for the third in the series.

Three sentence movie reviews: Freaks and Geeks

Perhaps the most perfect TV series ever made about high school which manages to encompass in 18 episodes what most shows don't manage to convey over years of airtime.  This was just as good as the first time I watched it and I marveled again how each character--adults and teenagers--was fully formed and incredibly nuanced.  I also fell in love with Busy Phillips' amazing portrayal of concrete-covered-marshmallow Kim Kelly.

Cost:  Free from library
Where watched:  at home.

poster from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0193676/

*I feel it important to note that the teachers in this series are mostly of the grumpy and put-upon variety, not the "let's make an inspiring movie" variety.


Three sentence movie reviews: Promised Land

I'm a great fan of Gus Van Sant, but I've noticed that his "blockbuster" style movies tend to wander a bit in the middle and this one was no different, giving me time to contemplate a variety of things.* But even with that meandering, I enjoyed this film: the plot, the acting, the Van Sant trickery of it not really being about the purported topic, but instead being about relationships.  There were a lot of authentic looking locals too, which is important, in my book.

poster from:  http://www.impawards.com/2012/promised_land.html

*such as:

  • What month is it, exactly?  It seems still cold, but kind of spring/no snow.  Is it March?  April?
  • I wonder if the suctioning sound my fancy hot tea mug makes when I press the button to drink is bugging the lady next to me?
  • Well, now that lady next to me is mouth breathing, so I guess if she was annoyed by my mug, we are even.
  • Nice effect of peeling paint on the basketball gym.  I wonder if they had to create that, or if it was there.
  • Where have I seen that Rob guy before?
  • I do enjoy that Rosemary DeWitt.
  • I'm not sure how the bartender could do that many shots and still stand up, let alone work in any sensible fashion.  It seems she should have cut herself off.  Don't they have bartender training in Pennsylviania?
  • I think "Promise Land" would be a better title than Promised Land.  The former works on a few different levels the latter, not so much.
  • My mom (who was the person sitting next to me who was NOT mouth breathing) even had an observation. She leaned over halfway through and said, "I'm sorry, but  if he's a farm boy, there's no way he wouldn't know how to drive stick."  Very astute observation.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Truth on labels?

Oh look!  No High Fructose Corn Syrup.
 
But wait!  What's that first ingredient again?
 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: Magic Mike


If your friends are visiting from out of town and your aren't sure what to do, perhaps this movie will fit the bill.  It was my fourth outing (since the end of July) with Mr. Magic Mike and I can say I still found the movie full of its enjoyable self, dark sad strippers notwithstanding.  If you've seen it, already you will know when to watch your friends' reaction when the penis pump appears in the left-hand corner of the screen.

poster from:  http://www.impawards.com/2012/magic_mike_ver8.html
(I'm starting to run out of posters)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: Red Dawn

My expectations were EXTREMELY LOW for this film, low enough that I greatly enjoyed myself despite the fact the brother of Chris Hemsworth was a bit goofy-looking and the women didn't have much to do other than bat their eyes.  There were some quite fun moments, it didn't drag endlessly in the middle like the original and Peeta was in it!  I'm not sure why they felt the need to set it in Spokane, Washington when it was filmed in Michigan, but whatever, it was fine.

Cost:  $3.00*
Where watched:  Kennedy School

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2012/red_dawn.html

*I was bored while waiting in line to pay, so to kill time I got out my three dollars and fanned them aesthetically   The man behind me said, "It only costs three dollars?" in a voice of awe.  I told him indeed, that was the cost.  "But just for residents, right?"  Nope, everyone gets to pay only three dollars.  "Really?"   He was amazed.  I'm pretty sure he was not from around these parts.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book Nerd.

I was waiting at the front door before Powell's opened, so I had time to examine the "snowballs" hanging in the window.
 
How nerdy am I that I can identify the author of this snowball/book?  It's from one of Mollie Katzen's cookbooks.
 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Series: Train crossing over, bicycle crossing under

Multiple attempts at trying to capture the delight in riding a tiny bicycle under tons of steel.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Let's talk handkerchief skirt construction.

As I said before, overall, I'm quite happy with this skirt.

However, now we will deconstruct it a bit.
It's a handkerchief skirt, meaning two squares placed at 90 degree angles, with a circle cut for the waist. I got the idea from the book Bias-Cut Dressmaking by Gillian Holman.  The book itself was too involved for me in general, but I really liked the brief instructions for the skirt.  If you have interest in  bias-cut garments and some sewing experience, you might want to check out this book.  There is a huge section on all forms of underwear, which was interesting and which I will never make.  The book seems to be quite expensive right now online, but I got my copy from the library.  The author photo cracked me up, so be sure to take a look at that if you get the book.

 
The directions in the book were quite brief and glossed over how one would add a waistband.  However, I have just purchased the quite excellent Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing by Gretchen Hirsch (still on sale at Powell's for $24.50!) and in her instructions for making a dirndl skirt she covers waistband construction.  So that went off without a hitch.  The waistband came out quite well.
 
Something that did not work well is that the circle cut for my waist was much, much too large.  I suspect that my half circle I free-handed on the pattern was not entirely spherical in nature.  But I also might have fallen victim to something called "bias bag."  In order to make the skirt fit, I had to take in six inches.  SIX!  I did this by making four pleats, which I feel just enhanced the two-color effect of the skirt.  I did, however, error in making the pleats face all the same direction  After I finished, I remembered that the two in front should have faced each other, as should have the two in back.  This is one of those errors that probably only I notice.
 
As mentioned in the initial post, this was my first time making bias tape.  It was pretty easy, especially with the taffeta  which wants to do whatever the iron is encouraging.  I was was leery of the orange material, though, afraid it would melt.  Instead of taking the time to test a swatch so I had good information (sewing really highlights how incredibly impatient and lazy I can be) I just sort of assumed it would melt and instead of nicely pressing, kind of just shoved everything into shape and through the machine.  I also made much too much of the orange bias tape, wasting a good hour of my time.  Learning from that, I measured exactly what I needed for the taffeta.
 
I took along my sewing friend Julie to pick out material, as it is the part I hate most about making something.  I sometimes get caught up in an idea and that idea doesn't translate well to wanting to wear the completed garment in public.  Julie is fun to shop with because she likes to find bargain material and make wonderful things, and I'm a fan of that too.  I glommed on to the sheer orange early on, but the other layer was tricky.  Julie's color palette is different than mine, so I resisted her initial pushing of the beige sparkly taffeta.  But when doing a side-by-side comparison, she was quite right and I love how the beige sets off the orange while the sparkly sequins shimmer from beneath   The material cost me $15.00 at Fabric Depot's clearance room.  The zipper was about three dollars and the thread I bought was six dollars. 
 
Oh zippers.  You are the worst part of sewing.  Zippers aren't hard, but there is so much room for error.  And I have a history fraught with improper zipper installation, see below.  This zipper was more complicated because I needed to put a zipper where there was no seam and I'd not done that before.  Happily, the internet is one's friend for such things and I used this tutorial.  With a little background information from this post.  I think the technique worked pretty well for me, considering I was working with two layers of very slippery fabric.  I did err in marking my fabric with a Sharpie (again:  lazy!) and the opening at the bottom of the zipper was much larger than in the tutorial, but overall, I'm pleased with the fact I learned how to do this.  As for inserting the zipper, I was in the thick of "almost-done-finish-it-dammit" impatience.  So I just used the thread that was in the machine at the time, instead of re-threading the color suitable for the orange fabric.  And I kind of just jammed in the zipper, free-handing the seam.  So the border is wider at the bottom.

That said, the zipper does its job and I don't think it's something that most people (ahem, non-sewing people) will notice.   If they look too closely, I'll just spin and distract them.
 
The other thing that happens with zippers is that I nearly always put them in backwards.  It has been that way since the very first skirt I made.  I think to myself, "now, make sure you put this in the right way," and then some trance comes over me and the next thing I know I 'm looking at my newly inserted zipper and it's backwards once again!  If' I'm not in that lazy/impatient stage, I will pick them out and put them in properly, but I was in that stage with this project and I figured tearing it out would cause more damage.  So I left it as it was. Happily, backward zippers still work.
 
My favorite part of this skirt is that I used a closure I inherited from my grandmother.  She had a pack of these in her sewing kit and I'm happy to install it in my skirt.  I love the adjustable closure and the metal is much more sterling than I would have been able to buy today.  I've made a mental note to harvest this closure when I eventually donate the skirt to the Goodwill.

Also, I should move the closure over about an inch as I have a lot of waistband overlap.  I may never do this, or I might be able to muster up enthusiasm for the project while watching a movie.  And this view shows that I should have given just a bit more to the short side of the waistband because the lack of extra fabric means that edge wants to fold back like this.  Happily, this is something only I will ever notice.
 
Also, I think the zipper isn't straight.  But again, the way the skirt is constructed means not many people will notice.

Overall, I'm thrilled to have this skirt which I will wear multiple times this Holiday season.

New shoes.


They are Merrell with a Vibram sole.

Side note.  The Merrell website has a barefoot training program to transition you into barefoot running in 40 days. How cool is that?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12/20/12 Essay

Essay is on haitus for the rest of the year.

Three sentence movie reviews: Mad Men, Season 5

My plan to watch one episode per day of my Winter Break was foiled by the addictive nature of this show.  It's fascinating to me that I can be so wrapped up in television with a main character I would not like in real life.  There were great plot arcs of all my favorite characters, and the clothing was, again, the true eye candy of the show.

ps.  Great cover image.

poster from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0804503/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Attempt to capture laundry drying in window.


Not quite captured.  But this was the best shot.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Great gift.


I work in the office of an elementary school, so gifts find their way to me around Christmas and I'm very appreciative.  Most of them tend to be food.  That's usually a quite delicious thing.  Today, though, one of the gifts I received was just perfect, in my opinion.  It was from a Kindergartner and she made it herself.  I love homemade, I love when tokens of appreciation cost less then a few dollars, I love that I can use this, and I love that the gift shows  the effort the child put into it.  Well done, parents!

Friday, December 14, 2012

On reading the newspapers during an Oregon winter.


Even when they come wrapped in plastic, the rain sometimes has their way with them.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Essay: On "just checking in"

I got two phone calls on Tuesday night. This is two more than I usually get during an entire week. The first was from a member of Matt’s family checking to see if we were okay.  “Yes?” I said, confused as to why the question was being asked.  He told me there was a shooting in a mall near Portland and he needed to know if we were okay.  I let him know that I was home and Matt was at work and thus probably fine.

He signed off with, “Well have him call me when he gets home.”  I assured him I would, wondering why that was necessary as I had just told him where Matt was and it was nowhere near any mall.

Later that night a former roommate called because she just heard the news.  “Are you okay?”  I assured her we were.

Um.  This is where I have a problem with everyone needing to be in touch on a surface level all the time.  20 years ago if there was a mall shooting, or other such tragic event here’s how the thought process went.  “Do I know anyone there?  Could they be at the mall in question/other such tragic event? Probably not.”  And then everyone would move on.

Because really, what are the chances of me being at a mall outside of the city in which I live? In the afternoon?  On a weekday?  I can say that people who know me well enough to have my phone number should realize that the chances of me being at a mall at any time of any day are so small they actually approach negative numbers.

I see this at work a lot.  I once had a parent call because the guy who drove her child to school for the daily carpool hadn’t texted her that her child had arrived safely and he did that every day and could I check to see if her child was there.  Well yes, where else would she be?  And, better question, why are you calling me and not him and why do I need to humor your crazy?

Here’s the thing.  Matt drives to work in a car every single day.  I come from a family with a history of depression issues and, though I’m fine now, I’ve had at least one episode of major depression in the past.  I’m also overweight.  Matt and I are much more likely to die from these three things (cars, depression, health problems brought on by overweight) than any random gun violence that might happen in the same metro area as us.  But no one calls and checks in with us every time there is a metro automobile fatality and that happens every single day.  Friends don’t call me regularly to check my mood or what I’ve been eating lately.  There is danger all around, but it’s not the danger you are thinking of.

It’s good that there are people who care about us out there, but I’ve come to believe that it’s ridiculous for people to constantly cast themselves in the dramatic role of “worried about friend because situation happened near them.”  What if we hadn’t been home?  What if I had gone to a movie?  What if we were staying overnight at a hotel*?  Would the thought process have gone, “Well, I can’t get ahold of them so they must be DEAD!!!”  Or would people have just gone on with their lives?  I suggest that it might be a bit easier to go through life assuming that the people you know are avoiding death and trauma on a regular basis.  If tragedy finds your friends and family you will know soon enough.  In the meantime let go of some worry.  And maybe, if you want to, call them just to chat.

*We actually had plans to do that the next night, but the concert that was playing that necessitated the hotel stay was moved to March, so the mid-week in-town hotel trip was moved too.

Soooooooo Not True!


It's the slogan on the envelopes for a non-profit we work with.  It's a nice sentiment, but I've stopped caring about a lot of things in my 38 years.  And for good reason, too.

Monday, December 10, 2012

This headline tickled my fancy.


Somehow the juxtaposition of "fraud" and "grand" were quite delightful.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews:Beast of the Southern Wild

It's been sort of a "children/teenagers giving fabulous dramatic performances" kind of year for the movies* and this movie was of that ilk.  I was charmed and enchanted by the world of "the Bathtub" a place which, outside of the movie, I would not want any child to have to live.  Quvenzhane Wallis was amazing as Hushpuppy and Dwight Henry and Gina Montana also brought great performances to this pretty darn good film.

*Or at least movies I watched this year.
poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2012/beasts_of_the_southern_wild.html

Saturday, December 8, 2012

New Otz Shoes


They are quite comfortable.

The Skirt, completed

So here is the final product of my skirt making moment.  I'm pretty happy with the results.
 
I love the colors, but mostly I love that it spins.
 
 
 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Plot Ninja

One of the things that happened during the kickoff party for NaNoWriMo was that we all got a Plot Ninja.  We were all handed sheets of paper, and we wrote down an idea, folded up the paper and sealed it.  Then we exchanged the pieces of paper. The idea was that if you got stuck writing your novel, you would open up your plot ninja and incorporate it into your book.  I didn't need my plot ninja and had forgotten about it until I came across it today, while cleaning.  Not a bad plot ninja, eh?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Yellow sheets and sticky material

I confess that I write the titles of these posts on the fly when uploading pictures.  Often when I look at my list of posts to write I have no idea what the title is talking about.  But luckily I have the pictures to keep me in line.

Two men (not pictured, though I watched them work during recess duty) are pasting different colored sheets over the yellow material that they stuck up first.

I should probably find someone who is familiar with construction and tell me what is really happening. I'm quite sure I'm not using actual construction terms.

In which I become money

No really.  That's actual money.

One of the classes at school made money for a project they are working on.  I became the ten-cent pieces.  Nice, eh?  I love how I've also become my own country.  The United States of Patricia.  I like the sound of that.

Essay: Reflections on writing 52,082 words in 30 days.

Until this September, I never thought I had a novel in me.  In high school I attempted to write various novels now and then, but never got past the first several pages.  However, one of my resolutions for 2012 was to write one 500-word essay per week for the blog and in doing that, something shifted in me.  I wrote a 6,500-word essay in August about one moment in my life when things could have gone differently and that caused me to wonder how my life would be different if things had gone in that direction.  And that became a book.

But that wasn’t the book I wrote for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, pronounced Naah-know-WRY-mo).  For those of you not in the know, NaNoWriMo takes place in the month of November when thousands of writers across the country band together to write novels.  Or at least 50,000 words of a novel.  That’s a goal of 1,667 words per day which is more than triple my original 500-word essay goal, but is doable.

The rules for NaNoWriMo say you have to start your novel on November 1.  So the 36,000 words I had written on the book inspired by my long essay were set aside for a new book.  It turns out I have not only A book in me but TWO books in me.

To prepare, I outlined the new book and had sketched out the characters before I began.  I also attended the NaNoWriMo kickoff party for my region.  We all (and there were probably over 100 people in the room) went around and said something about our book.  I quietly groaned when we started, annoyed that we had to listen to everyone talk about their book.  But as people shared about their novels, I was surprised how much fun it was.  A lot of people in the room were “pants-ing” it, meaning they had no plan, but would just start writing.  I was interested to see how many people had their title picked out because I’m not one for titles, myself.  The first book I was working on is currently called “Chapters” because it’s longer than an essay and this current one has the catchy moniker of “Untitled LO YA fic.”  One woman even had written the blurb for the back of the book which she read aloud to us.

There were several fabulous story ideas in the room and a lot of laughter.  I got a sense of who had “won” (finished their novel) vs. who had not won.  Some people reported that their previous NaNoWriMo novel was published (some self-published, some e-book, some traditional published) and the mood in the room was giddy and full of fun.  I came home excited to begin.

The daily writing quota wasn’t terribly difficult.  I could meet the daily goal of 1667 words in about 90 minutes.  I do have the luxury of a 32-hour work week, and for me, November is the best month to embark on a writing project as I don’t work very much due to the school schedule.  I had a four-day weekend and an entire week off.  Because of that, I was able to write more words per day than the minimum.  My self-imposed quota during Thanksgiving week was 2500 words per day which I exceeded five days out of seven, with one day being a spectacular 3024-word day. That’s six times the 500-word essay word count.

I didn’t write on four days of the month (November 16 and then November 28-30. Once I hit that quota I flamed out).  But except for three or so days, I could sit down and crank out the words.  At this point I’m not sure how good the whole thing is, because one of the other NaNoWriMo rules is you can’t go back and edit during the month.  I’m also not finished.  I think there another 5000 words or so before I can wrap things up.

But is 50,000 words really a novel?  Not really, it’s kind of a novella-length.  However, I think that in writing 50,000 words that fast a lot of “fleshing out” is missing, at least for my book.  I think I’ve got a good overall structure and when I go back to revise I’ll put in more details.  I’ll also fix all my wrong word choices and spelling errors.

I liked the fast pace because it meant I couldn’t waste time on small details which would have tripped me up.  For instance, in my book I have a minor character who is a gossip.  She appears early on and then pops up near the end.  When she emerged again I couldn’t remember her name so rather than looking back to figure out where she was and getting caught up in earlier syntax I just wrote [earlier gossip] instead of her name and moved on.  Other characters just got quick placeholder names: Mr. Bioteacher, Ms. Englishclass, etc.

The fast pace also meant I had to produce every day, even if I felt like what I was writing was crap.  Most days when I peeked back (I only peeked, I didn’t revise) it wasn’t nearly as bad as it felt when writing it.  And sometimes something brilliant would just happen, a magical trick of the creative process that I have read about for years and was amazed when it happened to me too.

I noticed an interesting difference in attitudes about people participating in NaNoWriMo vs. people who weren’t.  NaNoWriMo participants are unfailingly supportive.  It’s like a thing.  Whereas I noticed that some regular people had a lot of questions, most in the vein of “so is anything really going to come of this?”  And for a lot of people, I think no, nothing will come of it, if you define “something” as “getting published.”  But I think that the point of the month isn’t to publish; it’s to create.  I think the crazily supportive NaNoWriMo community would agree.

I created a lot over the month. All those words, sure.  But also characters were built, relationships were built, story was built.  I am happy I made all of those things, and that’s where I win.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: Jolene

I loathed this movie because I could tell it was supposed to be a sort of "actor-flexing-her-acting-muscle" kind of film.  But because the actor was a women it was a troubling story of a sexually abused girl making the same bad choice over and over again in a frustrating way that had a lot of the actor in question being naked and not much other character growth.  I can see that picking a woman and watching all of her movies is a totally different experience than watching the films of a man.

Cost:  free from library
Where watched: at home.

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2010/jolene_ver2.html

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Scavenger Hunt pays off


I went looking for some of the things depicted in my Birthday Scavenger Hunt.  It was early Sunday morning and I found a dollar!   I suspect it was because the Santas were out the night before for Santacon.  Drunken Santas can't hold on to their money.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Skirt project

It seems that all that writing during NaNoWriMo pushed me in a "make something we can touch, dammit" direction and so here I am constructing a handkerchief skirt.

My two kinds of material.
 
This material was very difficult to make do exactly what I wanted to do.  But I persevered.
 
I made bias tape for the first time.  It was easy.  But I made too much the first round.
 
Prepping the waistband.

Stay tuned for the final product.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Requiem: Fox 40 Classic


This is not a picture of my trusty Fox 40 classic which I have owned since the summer of 1994.  There is no picture of that beloved whistle because after years of service, I lost it.  This is the replacement.  The original was black.  In 1994 I think they only came in black, unlike today when everyone can get their favorite color.  I bought the whistle the summer I was a lifeguard at Wild Waters, which was an awful place to be a lifeguard.  We rotated from station to station all day long, spending 7.5 hours per day standing in the sun.  If I had gotten a job at a public pool I would have been outside for an hour at a time, maximum.  If I ever develop skin cancer, I will blame Wild Waters.

When guarding the water slides we had to indicate when children could go, by motioning them forward as we watched to ensure the person in front of them was far enough along that they wouldn't collide. Because of that,  "Can I go yet?" is permanently in my book as the stupidest question ever.  "If you could go yet, I would have motioned you forward." I told more than one child in an exasperated voice after hearing the question for the fiftieth time that day.

I bought the Fox 40 Classic because the regular old whistle I was issued did not stand up to the rigors that is guarding at a water park.  Watching the pool portion was the worst as it was a frothing mass of unsupervised children, many of whom didn't hear me when I whistled at them to stop whatever rule-breaking activity they were doing.  I learned quickly that if you blow a normal whistle too hard it makes a very wimpy "cccaaaa" noise that inspires laughter from the few that can hear it, while the hoodlums I was whistling at carried on with their rule breaking ways.

The Fox 40 Classic, one of my fellow lifeguards told me, never does that because there is no ball in the whistle.  The air travels through chambers.  It's pretty darn loud too.  I ponied up the then-exorbitant fee of $5.95 for my own and, wow.  That whistle gets attention.

There was only one summer of life guarding for me, but I kept the whistle around.  When I started working at an elementary school and added "recess monitor" to my duties, I pulled out my trusty Fox 40 classic.  It's been causing children to cover their ears when I blow it at recess for over six years and it deserved more than to be lost somewhere between the playground and one of the K/1 classrooms.  But that's what it got.  Sorry trusty friend.  

We have a new story. On our block in N. Portland.

The next story has crept across the surface and has appeared in my view from the train.
 
From this side view it looks like the back side is framed up to its maximum height.  There also seems to be some sort of concrete gateway entrance between the two buildings.
 

Books read in November 2012

Full-on Mock Printz prep this month. Plus a great non-Mock-Printz-YA Novel which will probably be a top 5 favorite for this year.  And Dennis Lehane's new book, which I didn't like very much, alas.

Read
The Brides of Rollrock Island
Margo Lanagan
Read for Mock Pritnz
This is that kind of fiction that I think is supposed to be "literary" because there are a lot of words, and pretty, carefully written words at that, but not a lot of explaining because, I guess, the author thinks the reader should be smart enough to figure things out.  But when it's not really clear to me from the beginning what is going on, it's hard for me to attach to the book.  Also, I didn't find the characters very distinct from  one another, so I was always a bit confused.  That said, there are a few pages in the last quarter of the book that are beautifully written and if you "need" to finish the book, just keep waiting for them. They might make the whole book worth it.

Every Day
David Levithan
A very clever plot device (main character wakes up in a different body every day) executed brilliantly by Mr. Levithan.  This book questions the nature of gender, love, brain chemistry, sibling relationships, family relationships, body type, race, sexual orientation and probably other things I'm forgetting.  I couldn't figure out how he was going to end the book in a way that made everything okay, but he did it.  I will be recommending this for years, so you should go and read it now so I don't have to harangue you.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Emily M. Danforth
Read for Mock Printz
I recently lamented that all the up-and-coming actors in my age demographic have either become "too old" and disappeared (mostly the women) or have become established actors, full of gravitas (mostly the men.)  However, it seems the novelists in my age demographic are just now really getting started. Ms. Danforth would be a novelist in my age demographic who has set her story in the same period (more or less) when I attended high school which had a lot to do with my enjoyment of this book.

But!  I also liked that it was set in a tiny Montana town where a friend lived and worked after college and I have even visited that town so I could picture it in my mind's eye.

And!  I loved it was a coming-of-age novel about a lesbian as those are in short supply (at least I think so, I don't come across them often.)

Also! I loved the writing--at least three passages made it to my quotes page--and the characters were great. Danforth is quite good at capturing little details that made the story come alive.  The hair tucking of the young minister who looked like Jesus, or Eddie Vedder was one such example. This was one of those books I liked so much I was recommending it to people before I had even finished it.

The Quitter
Harvey Pekar
Read for Book Group
Eh.  It's a graphic novel, which aren't my medium.  And I'm not the biggest fan of Harvey Pekar's schtick.  I thought the art was a good fit for the time period, but I didn't love this book.

Live by Night
Dennis Lehane
Dennis Lehane, here are the things you do very well as an author:  You create fabulous characters, fully-formed, flawed, smart and smart-assed.  You write plots that are interesting, complicated, a bit dark and have a social justice bent to them.  These things are very good and will keep me always reading your books. But you know what you do better than everyone else?  Star-crossed love.  And when your book, interesting as it might be and this one was, does not have star-crossed love I feel a great sadness and find myself feeling a bit cheated.  So you maybe you want to move away from star-crossed love.  Okay, I'll still read your stories.  But I'll be patiently awaiting your next book with star-crossed love.

Ask the Passengers
A.S. King
Hey look, it's another book about a girl who likes a girl!  And it deals with that whole "questioning" issue.  That's a good thing.  I think there is a lot of questioning going on.  Overall, I thought this was a pretty successful book. The main character's relationships with her sister, family, friends and girlfriend felt pretty true-to-life.  The "ask the passengers" device never stopped feeling like a device.  But I kind of liked it.

Started and did not finish
Moonbird
Read for Mock Printz
I get a big heavy feeling in my chest when I read about species in peril because it seems to be too big of a problem for anyone to solve and the whole thing feels hopeless.  This book is about the amazing journey of a bird, but  it's also about the trouble his fellow birds are in.  I don't know what to do about that and dealt with my despair by putting the book down and never picking it up again.

Also, I found the prose rather breathless.  And that annoyed me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Just when I was ahead of schedule


I wash my face with a half-and-half solution of castor oil and jojoba oil.  I just had mixed up a new batch two days ago.  But sadly, I put it on an unstable surface in the medicine cabinet so look what happened when I opened the door.  Happily, it all ended up on the counter and was pretty easy to clean up.  It still set me back a good ten minutes, though.