Wednesday, February 24, 2010

All About Steve (2009)

I almost forgot that I saw this movie, but I did and it was even in a theater. And actually, it was rather funny and not your typical romantic comedy. Sandra Bullock is a fine comedic actor. It's not a great movie, but it's entertaining.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Saturday's Warrior (1989)

I have fond memories of the soundtrack to Saturday's Warrior and vague memories of my parents taking me to see a live production when I was little. We watched this 1989 production of the play while we were at my parents' house over Thanksgiving. I think I might be permanently scarred. The combination of cheesiness and 1980s fashion was too much for me. There's probably some pretty interesting psychological stuff I could get into (I used to think that looked cool?), but I'd rather not.

Yes Man (2008)

Yes Man is good! One of Jim Carrey's more thoughtful movies, funny but with something meaningful to say. I always like Zooey Deschanel, too. This movie is at least loosely based on a non-fiction book by Danny Wallace, which I'd like to read. Wallace sounds like the British version of A.J. Jacobs, doing semi-crazy stuff and then writing books about the experience.

The Proposal (2009) and Jersey Girl (1992)

There are a few funny moments in The Proposal. How could there not be with Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock? But there's no reason at all for the two characters to fall in love, except proximity and the fact that they're both nice-looking.

I'll say the same thing about Jersey Girl, which is not the recent Jersey Girl with Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck but an early '90s rom-com with Dylan McDermott and a girl that I recognize but can't name. It's all so unbelievable. Or maybe any girl can force the guy of her dreams to fall in love with her by getting into a car accident with him and then relentlessly and annoyingly pursuing him. Hey, I love Hulu, but their movie selection is limited.

17 Again (2009)

This was so much better than I thought it was going to be. My expectations were fairly low, but it had interesting characters and made me laugh. And the central message was important and relevant and made an impact.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My first big knitting project without a pattern

Beware of many knitting details below.

For Christmas, I got to give to my brother Colter, who is an artist and musician and one of the coolest people I know. He's interested in found objects and has created a lot of art using stuff he's found, whether it's someone's grocery list or a cardboard box or whatever. So I decided to knit him a sweater vest from already-used yarn. Ideally, I would have found some old sweater at a thrift shop, unraveled it and used that yarn, and I did try to do that. But the first sweater I found had been washed too many times or something and the yarn broke really easily. So my next best idea was to use yarn that I had knitted into part of a baby blanket about six years ago. Here's the beginning of Colter's sweater (on the left) next to a couple of panels of the blanket (on the right) before I unraveled them:

There's nothing quite like unraveling something you've knitted. You just pull and everything comes apart one row at a time. It's nifty and disturbing at the same time, because it's so easy to undo what's been done.

The main reason I chose to knit this blanket was to learn how to do cables, which I did, and then I lost interest, probably because its only purpose was learning to do cables, and I wasn't making it for anyone in particular. Anyway, I was happy to use the yarn for something else. (By the way, the yarn is Lion Brand Wool-Ease, 80% acrylic and 20% wool. It's from my earliest knitting days, when I hadn't yet discovered the expensive stuff. Since then, I've gone through a purist phase, when I wouldn't knit with anything that wasn't totally natural and usually expensive, to a more practical phase. Now I try to find yarn that's at least half natural but can still be taken care of relatively easily.)

So here's the finished product, displayed with enthusiasm and good humor by Mira:

I always knit from patterns (unless I'm making a dishcloth) but I almost never use the right yarn and often mess around with the pattern some. I've been fascinated by the idea of knitting something without a pattern for a long time, just to see how it's done. Colter's sweater vest seemed like a good place to start. I used Wendy Bernard's book Custom Knits, which is a great book. There are lots of patterns for beautiful women's sweaters in it, but she also includes directions on customizing patterns and on knitting sweaters from the top down with just measurements, no pattern. Colter's sweater turned out slightly smaller than I would have liked (although Colter claims to like it), but that's a gauge problem that I often have even with patterns.

I love knitting top-down sweaters! It's so nice not to have to sew pieces together at the end, and you can see how it's all coming together right from the beginning. Way fewer seams is also nice. That's how Leah's sweater was knitted, too, and the pattern is from the same book.

Zed is now 14!

Zed's 14th birthday was in January. Here he is wearing the hat I knitted for him:

If all our plans work out, he'll be moving out in about 3 1/2 years. That is just crazy.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Revisited classics

Here are a few movies I've watched again, with or without kids, in the last several months, and I like them all:

Ever After (1998): It's delightful to see the heroine saving the hero and herself from the bad guys. Also, I like da Vinci as a side character.

Legally Blonde (2001): I love this movie! Reese Witherspoon is a great actress. Not that this part is Oscar-worthy drama or anything, but she's hilarious and wonderful in it. And I always like Luke Wilson, too.

Mansfield Park (1999): The script takes many liberties with the story, but this time I noticed in the credits that it's based on the book and Jane Austen's life and/or her Juvenilia (can't remember exactly what it said). So it's not a true adaptation of one of her novels, but I really like it.

Wonder Man (1945): I have many good memories of watching this with my family, among them waiting for my sister Ally, probably about four at the time, to laugh hysterically and predictably at one part in particular. My kids loved it, too. Danny Kaye is delightful.

Last Chance Harvey (2008)

As far as romantic comedies go, this is much better than usual. But maybe it's more drama than rom-com. It's nice to see a romance between older, more believable people. I liked it.