Turns out the snow on the roof isn't 32 degrees, and doesn't keep your ice cream frozen.  Also, when marshmallow fluff thaws it becomes clear - and you remember exactly what it is you're eating.
Neither of these factors have stopped me from devouring large spoonfuls standing over the kitchen sink, although they probably should have.

Roll Series 002 - MIF 148


"prep" - curtis sittenfeld - 2005

My knowledge of boarding school comes directly from popular culture; the Baroness in "The Sound of Music" joking about how she'll manage seven children, a similar threat in "The Parent Trap," plus the boys of  "Dead Poet's Society" and "With Honors" all factor in there.  The largest chunk of information comes from "Gilmore Girls" even though Chilton was a day school, it was a Northeastern prep school.    I've learned many formative years are spent without parental influence, there are ample opportunities for co-ed antics, it is a direct precursor to the ivy league, and it's for rich kids or supersmart kids looking for the best education.  It’s something that is so far beyond my own sphere I can hardly comprehend it – good thing the same holds true for the novel’s protagonist, Lee Fiora, who attends the expensive school on scholarship though she isn't especially smart and doesn't add diversity.  We see this exclusive world through the eyes of a very complex character, so obsessed with observing the actions of others she pretty much loses her sense of self.  “prep” spans Lee’s entire 4 years at Ault, but Sittenfeld deftly moves between times for tidbits of needed information – what Lee thinks as an adult for example – which greatly helps the reader pull for Lee, even when you want to smack her.  Sittenfeld creates a believable world filled with “bank boys” and perfect “prefects” and a few outcasts, too.  I couldn’t help picturing every rich boy looking like Tristan (Chad Michael Murray) or Melissa Joan Hart's basketball playing crush in "Drive Me Crazy" (Gabriel Carpenter).  I felt more genuine affection for Lee’s parents than any student – they truly want their daughter to be happy (and her father is very funny) except when he isn't.  In some ways you think she would be happier back in South Bend, an average girl attending an average high school, but the view would not be nearly as interesting. 

“prep” was Sittenfeld’s debut novel, on many best of lists for 2005, garnering many comparisons to established male authors.   The cover is fresh, yet classic and completely recognizable, plus my borrowed hardcover has some lovely embossing over the belt buckle, quite a nice touch.  Since “prep” she has written two more novels, and I just remembered that I read her contribution to “THIS IS NOT CHICK LIT” a short story anthology by women authors.  I  also will be searching for her on NPR’s “This American Life” if only to verify that her speaking voice sounds how I imagine it does. 

Resolutions, Create

The goal of this one is to use a craft supply I've bought but never put to use.  Technically I already fulfilled this one with my guitar strap - so this one's bonus.  I reworked a metal tin gift card holder with spray paint and an Avett Brothers sticker.  Just to show how long I've been buying and holding on to potential craft supplies - these were 90% off after xmas (...2008) -and they are buy no means the oldest unused supply I own.  2 down, though, feels pretty good.

2 for Feb

Moved the sewing machine, finally. Rearranged the studio, again.

"Whip It" (aka Derby Girl) - Shauna Cross - 2007

Roller Derby is awesome, and that's a straight up fact.  It's one of those things I just know I'd be great at in my own head (like riding a mechanical bull,  boxing, etc) but would suck at in reality.  Sadly, the Greater Johnstown area hasn't had a functional skating rink since the mid-90's when Skateland closed it's doors.  Some of my best elementary school memories reside in those dingy rental skates, I would love to see it come back.  However, even if we had a rink and a derby league (rooftop derby jokes aside) it's not a sport I'd attempt without health insurance or being in better shape, but I sure do admire the hell of those girls that live it.  

I found Drew Barrymore's film adaptation fun and spot-on, especially her role in it - laugh out loud hilarious.  They did an excellent job casting recognizable yet believable actresses.  I guess I related to the women in the film more than the novel, as I'm closer to 30 than 20... I appreciated Juliette Lewis's character talking about all the years she's fought to find something she excelled at, and Kristin Wiig's character being a mom.  The derby girls in the novel are college age, not too many years separate them from Bliss.  Someday those years will become nearly meaningless, 27 isn't all that different from 24, but 19 is pretty damn different from 16.  The novel's Derby Girls have their freedom from parental figures, but the freedom feels less of a lifestyle and more of a potential passing phase, than the women in the film version.  

I was so excited to read "Whip It" after finishing the "French Lieutenant's Woman" because it seemed like the perfect piece of contemporary teen angst to counterpoint the heavy Victorian/Postmodern language of Fowles classic.  Unfortunately it wasn't.  Overall, and as evidenced by how much I enjoyed the film, I enjoyed the coming-of-age story.  However, I found Cross's teen speak increasingly cloying and bothersome, in the end I found it hard to root for Bliss.  

 There's a large chunk of indie rock culture built on knowing the most obscure bands before anyone else does.  Now, I love a pop culture reference, I had a black eye from the Gilmore Girls drinking game to prove it...but honestly, is the pro tools vs. reel to reel comment necessary?  Cross tries just a little too hard - which is where the film trumps the novel - it's way easier to include a sweet song than write about one. And...

 Would a 16-year-old in 2007 really make out to Pinkerton?  

I sincerely doubt it.

1) It's not a great make out album. 
2) Bliss would have been 5 when that record came out. 
3) She doesn't know the Velvet Underground and Nico, but quotes, "Why Bother"?  
Where's her "two years" of musical education coming from? 
4) I'm not buying it.  

I buy that the author would know and love Weezer's second record, I do, almost everyone I know does - those people aren't 16.  Authors should remember that songs/albums beloved in the mid-90's probably don't correspond with beloved albums of teens in the 2000's.   

Oh, and I think "Sam's Town" surpassed the hype, and the reference seriously dated the book.  

Cross's screenplay surpasses the book, I think she really got the story right the second time around. Drew Barrymore nails her directorial debut, if you ignore the blatant Cover Girl product placement and Little Joy shout out, that is. 

"Alice" - Jan Svankmajer - 1988

We Did It!
Kate and I watched all of  Jan Svankmajer's
stop-motion/live action adaptation of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland."

Resolutions - Nearly there.

Killed two birds with one stone last night.  Pictures to come.  Checked 3 items off my to do list for February in one day - feels awesome.

Resolutions, Learn

Meet my new baby, her name's Annabeth,
because she's petite and sounds great.  
I have committed all but one 1st postition chord
to memory - damn you B7!  I have also officially learned two songs. 

"The French Lieutenant's Woman" - John Fowles - 1969


Holy shit, I honestly can't believe I finished this novel with just over a week to spare!  I thought for sure I'd be pushing it all the way til the 28th and hoping for a leap year.  I felt victorious last night, but at the same time, I cannot quite decide how I feel about the book itself.  On one hand, I liked the postmodern aspects and the authors voice.  On the other hand, I don't know if I actually liked the book.  I also found myself racing to the finish, I have a deadline to uphold after all, so perhaps I'm being unfair.  I am very glad I read it for the simple fact of fulfilling my goal for the month and finishing a book that was given to me years ago.  Feels pretty good.  I can rent the movie now...

In honor of the Winter Olympic Games (and the final season of Lost):

“The Cutting Edge” (1992) remains my favorite film featuring the Olympics, figure skating, hockey, or D.B Sweeney.  Some people I know would argue in favor of “Fire in the Sky, but I will never watch it - alien abduction and giant needles - no way, man! 18 years later (holy shit - the actors are looking especially young during this viewing!) and still one of my all time favorite romantic comedies.   It features a pitch perfect “Opposites Attract” storyline, done a lot better than most romance novels, I might add.  With a novel the chemistry has to leap off the page – if the author isn’t selling, the reader certainly isn’t buying.  Too often I feel that the H/H don’t actually like each other; no matter how much hot sex they have.  Kate and Doug fight their attraction by fighting with each other.   Now for a favorite scene I didn't completely understand as a 10-year-old:

"You're falling for him."
"Yes. (rolling eyes)"
"You are, you're falling for him."
"...that's crazy."
"You think so?"
"You're nuts!"
"Am I?"
"Well, you see how we act together..."
"Yes, I do."
"...we never get along, I mean we're always fighting."
They fight, they skate, she breaks his nose, he declares his love, they skate, they kiss, they (presumably ) win Olympic Gold .

Resolutions, Cut and Paste

I admit, I have a problem.  I love glossy fashion magazines,  I get most of them very cheap at the library, but I should admit I am prone to an impulse buy at the checkout.  The growing problem can be found in the piles to be read and the piles to be taken for recycling that are taking over my house!  The plan is to contain pages will be neatly contained in corresponding folders.  I've been keeping 3-ring binders since my Metals class in college (the only skill I took away from it, I sucked big time...)  In an effort to control the piles of paper, I resolved to create a minimum of 5 pages per month.  February is done - Yay!  I focused on my color binder, and exceeded the 5 pages.  The images are from my camera phone, so the quality isn't great, but you get the point.  I remember reading artist Miriam Shapiro talk about the importance of play when creating art.  That's what the binders are for me.  They're usually collages from fashion magazines, and they aren't meant as anything but an artistic warm-up and inspiration. 

Resolutions, Do...

...something beyond my comfort zone.  Thanks to some good friends I fulfilled this one early this month. In return I found a sweet new hobby for exercise and fun, and the added bonus of something new to decorate!

Project Runway Season 7

It's like reconnecting with an old friend.  I am completely and utterly serious.  On top of that, watching a new season without shelling out money for cable makes me even happier, thank you hulu and!  As for the actual season - absolutely nothing shocking so far - no hookups, no cheaters, no real fights.  I haven't bothered to learn some contestants names, but I still get excited to watch (ok, sometimes skim) a new episode.  The bad news - no one this season is funny, at all (well, Anthony usually mildly amusing, but he is the editors' go-to for commentary, and he's no Jay or Santino).  The good news  - some designers are very strong - they have a POV and strong construction skills.  My money's on Emilio for the Final 3 - but I still don't have a favorite.  Amy is pretty cool, young and talented, and holding her own and winning a challenge.   The producers/editors of Project Runway really want the viewer to think Mila is a "villian" no one else likes.  She (Mila) wants the viewer to think they don't like her because they are jealous of her mad skills... seems to me like some tv execs are wishing and praying for the return of  Season One Wendy-esque manipulations.  But in reality they can't have much drama to work with (which is half the fun).  It's all pretty beige and boring at this point, just like Mila's dress for Heidi.  Hey-o!

"VOMA Dawning" Event 2/06/10

A benefit for VOMA a multi-disciplinary venue working to restore and repurpose St. George's Catholic Church in the Cambria City section of Johnstown, for art, theater and live music.   I finished a new painting within my Keeper Shelf series just for this event and silent auction.  Close friends Jacob Koestler and powerhouse siblings Brandon and Olivia Locher contributed work as well.  Unfortunately Mother Nature decided to dump 20+ inches of snow on the area - some people undaunted by the weather showed for a good time and a good cause. 

One for me, and one for you, Snorlax.

Getting Organized

Not for the faint of heart...  
The Positive (what's already done):

1)Fabrics wrapped on boards and sorted by color.
2)Smaller pieces in trays by color
3)Bookshelf sorted
4)Magazines contained - sorting system in place
5)Closet repurposed 
6)Shelving unit in place - Scrapbook paper easily reached and sorted by color.  Glue/Glitter/Stickers have homes. 
7)Made a ribbon rack.  
8)Home for stamps, punches, and mail.
9)Place for library books
10)Crossed quite a few Items off my project list!

The plan:

1) To hang as many tools as possible on the walls.  This will promote creativity with easy accesss and increase valuable floor space.

2) To create separate spaces for sewing/painting/crafting.  Essentially clean/dirty spaces kept apart to avoid oil paints on fabrics, etc.  This is actually a mental separation as well.  It's almost as if I couldn't possibly sew if the paints are out - will be working on that.

3) To use all the plastic storage containers I've accumulated, because they are brightly colored and too cheap to pass up.  Labels are key.

4) Right now I have a "limbo box" of possible projects, ideas that  haven't been executed yet, etc. Trying to make room for a "limbo shelf" - because I'm more likely to use it if I can see it.  

5) Conquering my obsession with paper...or maybe just beating it into submission. 

6) Come spring - I'm painting those ugly walls!

Above - The messy pile of fabric and a sad machine still in the bedroom...However, I made a good bit of progress Sunday evening - hung up a sweet lamp, made two rock lights, and worked hard to remove non-essential items (photo albums, writing notebooks)from studio. Below, the before picture of the "In Limbo" section.  Today that box is mostly empty - I found a home for photo cds in an old napkin holder and a basket for transistional studio items, and by that I mean snacks! Ha!  

A place for everything and everthing in its' place.  A girl can dream.

Bon appetit, Baby Fishmouth!

"Wonderful!"  This movie was great.  Good for Nora Ephron.  Good for Meryl Streep - she (of course) kills it!  Good for Amy Adams for being utterly likeable and adorable all the damn time.

My Favorite Nora Ephron Films In Order:

  • When Harry Met Sally - 
  • Sleepless in Seattle (tied for first)
  • Julie & Julia 
  • You've Got Mail
  • Bewitched

I just can't decide between my top two.  I consider both classics, near perfect romantic comedies.  I like Tom Hanks more than Billy Crystal, but I love the supporting cast of "When Harry Met Sally."  The Pictionary game makes me laugh out loud every viewing.  I do like "You've Got Mail" but I'm not sure I should, and "Bewitched" is good, not great, but has one of my favorite lines in any movie.

Julie & Julia is a better film than Ephron has made in years.  I loved how it switched time periods with little visual cues, for example, the heroines use the same orange pot.  I loved both couples, especially their strong supportive husbands.  Also, I will admit to cooking tofu with butter, instead of my usual olive oil, after watching this movie, I wouldn't recommend it.

I can't help thinking about the other Nora Ephron movies I really love, how they revolve around writers and each film keeps up with current technology.  Meg Ryan's character in "You've Got Mail" owns a bookstore, loves "Pride and Prejudice," and writes a children's book after her store closes.   The characters Annie and Sally are both journalists.  Sally writes for The New Yorker,  while Annie is a reporter for the Baltimore Sun.  Nicole Kidman plays a witch turned actress - she does not fit in with this observation.  Ignore her.  Amy Adams plays a would-be writer who starts a blog which is eventually published.  Which leads me to the thing about technology and Ephron.  She keeps up pretty well.

Julia Child's has a pen pal she's never met in person but has corresponded with for years. Forty years later, 1989 era NYC, Sally's love grows through autumn walks in Central Park and late-night phone conversations.  Four years after that we find Annie in her sweats and French braid plugging away on her typewriter compelled to make contact with a stranger's voice heard only on the radio.  Enter the Internet and AOL in 1998, who provide the ultimate modern twist on an old story - love through (dial-up) instant messages. Times change and forms of communication change with it.  Blogs are common and instant forms of expression - anyone can have one, not just the pros.  Julie Powell's blog became a best-selling book and who else but Nora could have translated it so well into film?

"A Whole New Light" - Sandra Brown - 1989

Like Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele, Sandra Brown has so many books published I don’t know where to start. As with Ms. Steele and Ms. Roberts, I never particularly felt I was missing anything by not reading them. The thing is, I love a ‘friends first’ plot line, it’s right up there with unrequited love from a young age and marrying the wrong sibling for me. I’m a sucker. These characters - friends? Maybe. Shitty, sexist, and whiny? Definitely. I read the first two chapters, but honestly could tell from the first page I didn’t like the author’s writing style. Also, I really do hate the contempory 80’s romance novels, and I'm done wasting time with bad romances. Oh, and check out the difference in those covers.

"Not Another Bad Date" - Rachel Gibson -2008

Not another bad romance. Wow. I really haven’t been reading much lately. I feel more inclined to post about good movies I’ve seen (Julie & Julia, Whip It, Inglourious Basterds) rather than good books. I been a little burnt out – in fact I haven’t found a book that I loved in months – it’s hard enough to actually finish them. I’ve been in a contemporary mood, and for some reason (probably the crisp and bright covers) I think Rachel Gibson will fill the void JC left (Jennifer Crusie, not Jesus Christ, HA!). I want a nice fun read with normal people, no suspense, no mystery, no otherworldly beings – just people falling in love. AHH! Why is it so hard to find a good one? Just one, half as good as “Bet Me” would do!

Something about Gibson’s writing rubs me the wrong way. Her heroines aren’t stick think model types, and while I do like that, she focuses on their flaws in a way that comes off as vapid. In the case of “Not Another Bad Date” I knew I should have stopped reading about 12 pages in, when the hero’s dead ex-wife is in line for Heaven. That’s right., the afterlife. She has to fix the messes and selfish choices she made while alive in order to get past those pearly gates. Sigh. I just gave up. See she (the evil ex) was dating the hero, he dumped her to begin courting the heroine, only to find out the ex is pregnant. Marries the preggo ex, blah blah blah. My main issue with this book comes down to one thing – as college sweethearts, I buy that – but I never believed that the H/H liked each other as adults. They wanted to jump each other sure, but something was off in their non-sexual-chemistry interactions. So fuck it. I’m not wasting my time with books I don’t like.

Goals and Resolutions Part One

Three years ago I made a resolution to read one classic novel per month, and that classic book's title would start with the same letter of the month I’m trying to read it within. My plan started out great with “Jane Eyre” a book I should have read ages ago, even though I do prefer Jane Austen to the Bronte sisters…I kept it up through February reading Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” of which I don’t really have an opinion either way, but I’m glad I read it. Then I thought, what could be better than “Middlemarch” for the month of March? Huh. That book is huge, I got about 10 pages in started a new job while finishing my two weeks at my first job and gave up on the idea. Last year I didn’t even get past New Year's Eve. But this year I’m the queen of resolutions and good intentions, so here we are.

For my purposes a ‘classic’ is a book I should have read; perhaps at a different high school or college but for whatever reason, haven’t. I freely admit romances have become my go to read for the past 8 or so years, because they're entertaining and comforting and I love them. However, after a while they can start to feel like the literary equivialent of too much junk food. So, time for some whole grains and veggies.

January 2010 – “The Joy Luck Club” - Amy Tan - 1989.
A hugely successful debut novel about the complex relationships between mothers and daughters woven through and around complex ideas of national identity. Very good.

1 down, 11 to go.


Lots of snow Friday night - went for a walk Saturday morning...