Sunday, June 28, 2009

Book: When You Are Engulfed in Flames

I overheard my daughter-in-law laughing out loud while reading this book, so asked to borrow it when she was done. David Sedaris is always amusing, and this book is no exception. In fact, I think it's the most enjoyable of his books that I have read. I had read several of the essays already in the New Yorker, but enjoyed reading them again.

My Rating: **** (out of 5)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Movie: "The Song of Sparrows"

In this Iranian movie from 2008, Karim, an ostrich farmer, loses his job on the ostrich farm and inadvertently begins a career transporting people and goods on his motorcycle in Teheran. Attracted by the free discarded materials from building sites in the city he begins accumulating them until he has amassed a huge pile of trash in his yard. After a fall from this pile, he regains his values when his family helps him during the recovery period. The beauty of the images in this movie enhance the slice of life portrait.

My rating: **** (out of 5)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Movie: Herb and Dorothy

I saw this movie in Berkeley with my son. It's a documentary about a middle class couple who managed to create a huge collection of art. Herb (a postal worker) and Dorothy (a librarian) married in the 60's and devoted their lives to collecting art. They lived on her salary and used his to buy. At that time abstract expressionism and pop art were already out of their price range, so they focused on minimalism and conceptual art, collecting works by such artists as Sol Levitt, Chuck Close, and Christo. When they reached the point where no more would fit into their apartment, they donated the collection (of several thousand pieces) to the National Gallery of Art.

My Rating: **** (out of 5)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Movie: "Up"

I saw this with my 9-year-old granddaughter and 3-year-old grandson. The 9-year-old enjoyed it a lot, while the 3-year-old was rather noncommittal. Ed Asner does the voice of grumpy Carl, who floats away in his house to avoid a forced move to a senior citizens residence. Unbeknownst to him, young Wilderness Explorer Russell is on the porch of the house and joins him in the adventure. Pixar animation is great, as always. I especially enjoyed the back story of Carl's life prior to when this adventure begins.

We saw the movie in Emeryville, which is where Pixar is located. I overheard another theater goer saying she was going to watch the entire credits to see Jason's name.

My rating: ***** (out of 5)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Two Days at Yosemite

Just returned from spending two days at Yosemite with my 9-year-old granddaughter. What a spectacular park! It's in a valley surrounded by immense rock faces and numerous waterfalls. We saw lots of deer, but no bears (we have mixed feelings about this). We hiked halfway up to Vernal Falls, a steep climb that took determination on the part of both of us. We also hiked to Lower Yosemite Falls and, of course, spent some quality time in the gift shops.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

DVD: "A Christmas Tale"

I liked this movie, although not quite as much as some of the critics. Catherine Deneuve plays the matriarch of a troubled family. She has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. The suitable donors are her black sheep son Henri, with whom she has never been close, and her mentally ill grandson, Paul. The entire family gathers at the family home in Roubaix at Christmas and proceeds to display their various disfunctionalities. This is a French movie, though, and there's no zaniness to be found. On the other hand, it's not a dreary introspective movie either. As A. O. Scott says, the actions of the characters don't always agree with what the characters say are their motivations - a lot like real life.

My rating: *** (out of 4)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Finished Object: "No Sheep in the Meadow"

I've admired this pattern for quite awhile, and recently decided to make it. However, after swatching a couple of sheep, I found them way too scary to impose on a young child, and decided to omit them.

The yarn I chose, Cashsoft, didn't come in the bright green shade I wanted, so I bought the pastel green that was available and over-dyed it with lime Kool-aid, my first dying attempt!

I'm very happy with how it turned out. Thanks, Tina, for the design advice.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Finished Object: Neipa's Cardi (version 2)

Pattern: Classic Cardigan from Debbie Bliss Essential Knits for Kids
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino

Modifications: I used a tubular cast on and tubular bindoff, a 1 X 1 rib, and my decreases were SSK rather than SKP.

I'm very pleased with the results. Now, to send it off to my grandson to see if this version fits! Wish me luck!