Monday, October 31, 2011

Scary Movie Month 2011 - Part 3

Our third week of movie watching had no truly scary movies, but interesting, enjoyable, and fun movies with moments of hand-wringing, "eeks!", and marvelous shocks.

The Blob
(1958 - starring Steve McQueen)
I had never actually seen a Steve McQueen movie before this one, and I have to admit that this one didn't argue for watching more. Very odd to see actors clearly in their twenties playing teenagers. (I know this happens all the time, including some of my favorites, it was just especially jarring in this one.) Yet again, we talked all the way through --- the main topic of conversation this time (other than the usual predictions of how the terror was going to spread and how it could be stopped) was to note how this movie fits into the canon of late 50's movies that start to celebrate teenagers over adults. Now, of course, it seems most of our media does, but youth culture really got its start in the mid- and late-50's, and it is interesting (to film and music buffs like ourselves) to see some of the early examples of the shift.

Alice in Wonderland
(2010 - directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter)
My work friend with whom I talk about movies/comics/books asked why we included this when it is in no way a horror movie. Before watching I figured, well, pretty much anything that Tim Burton does is spooky in some way, and this is Scary Movie Month, after all, not Horror Movie Month. After viewing, I can say this definitely belonged, there are some really scary bits in it. Also some really interesting bits (it got us thinking about the roles available to women in Victorian England, for example), lots of beautiful ones, and of course it's always a treat to watch Helena Bonham Carter, I'm always fascinated by her performances and her ability to be so different in each. I found Johnny Depp's character to be really moving as well though I wouldn't say it was necessarily a big stretch for him (I thought his performance in "From Hell" (coming up soon) was better).

Arachnophobia
(1990 - starring Jeff Daniels and Harley Jane Koszak)
I don't have any problems with spiders, so this one didn't bother me as much as it did The Dude. First two thirds were kinda so-so and then the pace picked up and it got good and action-filled and fun. Another memorable cameo by John Goodman as well - he's always fun to watch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Scary Movie Month 2011 - Part 2

The next week's movies were not as satisfying but still had some good moments. 

Once Bitten
(1985 - starring Lauren Hutton and Jim Carrey)
The movie started, and right away we knew it was going to be awful, stupid and aggravatingly 80's, with caricatures instead of characters.  Five minutes later we turned it off. Not worth anyone's time.

28 Weeks Later
(2007 - starring Jeremy Renner (sigh) and Rose Byrne)
Oh, so much better. Interesting, thrilling, scary, heartbreaking --- everything what you want in a scary movie. I did watch significant chunks of it with my head turned and my hands up before the screen so I couldn't see the most disgusting bits. A friend of mine at work laughs that I love scary movies but hate gore. On thinking about this, though, I've decided that I don't mind gore so much as I dislike seeing pain, either in the moment it's inflicted or as people are suffering from it. A bloody, disemboweled dead body lying in gore or a quick bloody death --- no problem. But ongoing suffering --- can't watch it. None of these so-called "torture porn" movies for me.

Friday the 13th 
(the original 1980 version)
Boring, ho-hum, thought I would fall asleep, only good for the opportunity to mock ("Who's going to die next?" "Oh, she just said/did something sexual, guess it's her turn.") because really, as a nearly middle-aged mom I have no patience for watching teenagers behaving badly --- and then, boom, totally got frightened silly. The Dude says it was worth sitting through it just for that, he kept plying me with sugar so that I would stay awake long enough for the big scare. It worked.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Scary Movie Month 2011 - Part 1

Well, while I haven't managed to stay on top of writing about Scary Movie Month, we've definitely been managing to stay on top of our viewing! (More impressively, I've managed to stay on top of baking for it, as we like our snacks for SMM, and I've been avoiding buying chocolate this year.)

Here's the first week's worth of movies.

The Frighteners
(1996 - directed by Peter Jackson, starring Michael J. Fox)
Enjoyed this while watching, but then five days later couldn't remember that I'd seen it. That either doesn't say good things about the movie, or should just be chalked up to late pregnancy. I'm inclined now to say the latter, as I've been talking about it with people about it since, and have found more and more that I enjoyed about it, though my main complaint remains the same (the romance is accelerated to an insane degree to forward the plot). Also an interesting movie to view given where it fits into the Peter Jackson catalog (between Heavenly Creatures and Lord of the Rings) - it's certainly more Hollywood and big budget than Heavenly Creatures but I never would have predicted his ability to do LOTR based on this movie.

Rear Window
(1954 - directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly)
Not really scary, but filled out our Hitchcock viewing. Most of our discussion afterwards (and during - this was the year we talked through every single movie we saw...) centered around changing experiences of neighborhoods and neighbors, and changing expectations of marriage. This really isn't one to critique - it is a classic, after all.

The Mist
(2007 - from a Stephen King novella, with a disturbing performance by Marcia Gay Harden)
Oh, scary, scary, and so sad. I get sad just thinking about it. I don't think we did much talking during this one, except maybe to make predictions about who was going to die next. I do remember a couple of breaks for extra snacks/bathroom - probably to break the tension of all that scary sadness.

I hope to get caught up by the end of the week! Only eight more to go before this last weekend's worth.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Here's what I've read in the last week that has made me think...

Why I Don't Want to Talk About Race - The Good Men Project
"I don’t want to talk about race because it gives weight to a fiction that was created to oppress. It has no basis in biology and is a social construction in this country that was engineered to maintain access to free labor... Black people can’t talk to white people about race anymore. There’s really nothing left to say. There are libraries full of books, interviews, essays, lectures, and symposia. If people want to learn about their own country and its history, it is not incumbent on black people to talk to them about it. It is not our responsibility to educate them about it. Plus whenever white people want to talk about race, they never want to talk about themselves. There needs to be discussion among people who think of themselves as white. They need to unpack that language, that history, that social position and see what it really offers them, and what it takes away from them. As James Baldwin said, “As long as you think that you are white, there is no hope for you.”"

He provides a good reading list for those wanting to learn more, and I would add to that the book "Learning to be White: Money, Race, and God in America" by Thandeka.

And then a companion piece to that one:

I Talk About Race Because I Don't Know How Not To - Good Men Project
"As Locke points out, as long as only people of color are asked to speak on race and then dismissed for doing so, white people maintain the privilege of not having to recognize the way race affects their everyday lives. Just as we need “good men” who are willing to talk about how being a man uniquely privileges them and how dominant constructions of masculinity hurt them... we need white folks to have open, public conversations about how their whiteness affects their everyday lives and to speak up against individuals, policies, and institutions that perpetuate racial hierarchies by refusing to talk about race. Silence isn’t only consent; silence is like giving a system based in racial hierarchies a bear hug and cooking it a romantic dinner."

On a seemingly unrelated topic (except of course it is)...

Preventing Orphans - Sit A Spell
"Our hope in writing this post is to draw attention to this missing element in our conversations about caring for the orphan internationally.  We moved to Haiti to care for the orphan, and yet the only ideas we had for doing so were to either start an orphanage or help fund one.  Isn't that neglecting one of the most critical pieces of this puzzle? We're simply proposing that this question, "How can we prevent children from becoming orphans" be welcomed into the room when we're talking about orphan care."

Some really good, provocative questions in this post.

And then some quotes from longer pieces that stuck with me...

The Elizabeth Warren quote that has been popping up everywhere:
     "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did."

I like how it highlights the costs/benefits that usually don't get seen or taken into account...  but it also makes me think about other hidden costs/benefits, namely, that our country (and all industrialized countries) was built on slave labor and the profits from slave labor, and our ongoing economic growth and personal consumption continues to be paid for from slave labor, all around the world.

And then this piece from from "Ask a Quaker" (on Rachel Held Evans' blog).
     "Another characteristic of Quakers and the Bible is that Quakers have traditionally been serious about viewing the Bible as a message of today. For Quakers who relate to the Bible this way, the world is populated with Pharisees and Romans, Pharaohs and Ahabs, Pentecosts and still small voices. This means that any moment in the Bible is a potential new moment to be... Perhaps it seems odd to you to approach the Bible this way, but in many ways, this method of reading the Bible is actually similar to the way the black church tradition has read the Bible (especially Exodus)"

When I started reading the Bible as an adult I took it primarily on a metaphorical, poetical, and possibly a historical level --- especially all the bloody bits described in the psalms and the prophetical books. But the more I learn about all the levels of violence and oppression continuing in the world (rape as an instrument of war, modern slavery, genocide, torture), and the more I start to take these things seriously, the more I read these bloody bits (and therefore the Bible as a whole) as "a message of today" --- and as a "potential new moment to be".

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Isn't She Beautiful

My quilting frame arrived this weekend.

Plus a cutie who ended his naptime early to "help".

And now with my quilt in it.
I haven't gotten anything else done on it since ( I tried to get started this morning before the boys woke up but my thread wasn't cooperating). Hopefully soon.

I think she needs a name! Any suggestions? The Dude's guitars all have names, I think my beloved sewing machine and quilt frame need names too.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Making Progress & A Cool Website

I got home a little early last night and immediately undid the basting and seams I needed to, and then this morning a friend of mine canceled our breakfast plans, so after I dropped Buddy off I had time to put the quilt top back together. Still a little wonky but better than it was (and as good as it's going to get). And my frame is at the post office waiting to be re-delivered, so hopefully this weekend I'll be able to 1. re-baste the sucker and 2. assemble the frame and 3. get started on my quilting.

Not like I don't have enough other things to be doing in these next weeks.

If you don't already know about it, I recommend checking out the International Quilt Study Center and Museum's website, and in particular, their "Quilt of the Month" online display. Always very interesting. And the center is located in Lincoln, Nebraska, only five hundred miles from Chicago --- I'm hoping someday to go out there for a visit. Road trip, anyone?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

More Mistakes

So, here is a photo of the top layer of my quilt, laid on top of the backing so that I could trim the backing to the same size and thereby have a better chance of matching certain squares up.

The squares that look white are actually very faded denim.
You might notice that for the most part my points match... except where they very definitely do not, where the lower three rows meet the middle three rows. I had noticed this when piercing the top together but thought I could live with it. But the longer I look at it, the less I can live with it, especially since it won't take that much to correct it (I estimate redoing only four seams).

Except I went ahead and re-basted last night and correcting it would mean redoing the basting yet again...

I might mention here that I am 7 1/2 months pregnant and have been doing my basting on the floor since I don't have a work table big enough to accomodate even this little quilt. A bit on the uncomfortable side.

Bah. Guess I'll be unpinning again tonight. At least my new frame hasn't yet arrived, that would make it very hard for me to resist just plunging in with the quilting again.

Lesson learned? Aside from the obvious, of better checking how my panels line up against each other when piecing together, and being willing to correct mistakes when they happen, the other thing I've learned is to measure and cut my own squares, even if I get my hands on a bunch of precut squares that seemingly all measure the same. They won't.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

And Out It Goes

Monday I basted my quilt for Champ, put it on a frame, and started quilting.

Yesterday I undid it all.

Sigh.

I had pieced the back as well as the front, and while I thought it didn't matter if certain edges didn't line up, once I got started with the quilting I realized it did. At least to me. Thankfully it's a small blanket and I hadn't gotten very far with the quilting. (I also realized that the frame I had was NOT going to work for me and have since ordered a new one - hopefully it will arrive soon.)

I will give it another go tonight, using the basting tips from this blog.

And I wish I had thought to take photos on Monday, but I didn't, so now I have to wait until the weekend for the good afternoon light.

At least in the process of starting to hand quilt it I found (as I'd hoped) that I really enjoy hand quilting. A good thing, since this one at least needs to be hand quilted (old corduroy and denim), and also because I just like the looks of hand quilting better.