Sunday, July 30, 2006

Miami Vice... a review

Just got home from seeing "Miami Vice." It was good... I liked it... I think... However, a warning to the faint of heart: I have never in my life seen such a hard movie, with the arguable exception of "Once Upon A Time In Mexico." It is that kind of film. Hard as the most adamant diamonds. Unlike "Once Upon A Time In Mexico" where the violence is like a sarcastic ballet, refined and calculated with savage and ironic grace, the violence in "Miami Vice" is crude, rough and harsh as a wipe out on a gravel road. If you go in for that sort of thing, I think you'll like it. The tension is also very high from the very first frame almost to the very last. If I was apt to, I would have ground my teeth. Where "Once Upon A Time In Mexico" had me saying "Hell, yeah!" as the credits began to roll, at the end, "Miami Vice" had me sitting in wide-eyed silence and shock at what I had just seen. There are many people who will probably hate it... or at least, be left sour. "Miami Vice" the movie is *not* like the television show of the 1980s, not in the slightest. It is the dark, grim, ugly, nasty seedy underbelly of Miami and the Caribbean shown in harsh relief. Be warned and use discretion when viewing.

That said, I must add - though it seems obvious - Colin Farrell is *hot*... like surface-of-the-Sun hot. He seems rather melancholy at the end of the movie (I'll not say why). Maria leaned over and said, "I'd go comfort him." I laughed, "We should all be so lucky!" I've never seen, nor can I imagine, anyone making that mustache and mullet-cut look that good and right. It's kinda disconcerting how good he makes it look in fact. Judging from my reactions to his films and interviews, I have a feeling that I would totally go for the decidedly dangerous, bad-ass, yet vulnerable, Irish type if I let myself go that way. Luckily - no doubt for all concerned - I have enough good sense and self-control to say, "Oh, that way madness lies; let me shun that."

Well, I've quoted Shakespeare, so I think this brief review is done.

Short addendum: I saw "Monster House" a few weeks ago with Lauren... Both of us found it shocking that such a film would be marketed to children. We pretty much hated it. And that almost never happens. Lauren figures that they probably wanted to make a film like that live action, but knew they'd never be able to get enough adults to see it and wouldn't be able to market it to kids that way, so they did it animated instead. I got the same impression. Both of us were sure we'd have nightmares that night. I did my best to block it from my mind for the rest of the evening and was able to escape nightmare-free. It was disturbing, both visually and also because of the twisted psychology behind it. I do not recommend it... Would much prefer the real-world violence of "Miami Vice" to the horrific, psychologically-scaring, possessed house of "Monster House."

Check this out!

If you knit or spin, this lady and her husband have tools to help. They seem like really nice people so I'm passing on the link to her blog. They lost their home in Hurricane Katrina but still live in the area (I think) as her husband works to clear debris in New Orleans as part of the Coast Guard. He apparently brings home usable wood he finds in the debris and they make lovely hand-turned nostepindes and darning eggs and the like. They really are quite pretty and if I needed any I'd so be getting it from them. I'd actually like a nostepinde at some point, but I don't really *need* it yet... and my spendable money is a bit tight right now.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


::pulling out my soap-box yet again::

I've refrained from commenting on the Israeli-Lebanese "crisis" so far because I realize that emotions run high with some people on this very volatile situation. But because of the shootings in Seattle today, I've got to make some comment and not just let it pass by itself. I wish that the Israeli military was more precise with their bombings, more careful in who they hit. I will not say all the things that I wish that Hezbollah would do... like die quickly... I wish that Syria would stay the hell out of it. They all use the Palestinians as pawns in this game. If the Middle Eastern world really wanted to calm the situation and treat the Palestinian people like equals in the faith, instead of sitting back, bidding their time and just watching where the chips fall, they would give Palestinians a chunk of land somewhere over there for themselves. I realize that this wouldn't appease the extremists, but then, nothing will, short of the wholesale destruction of the State of Israel, so I won't hold my breath for that.

I would like to point out that "Palestine" is the Anglicization of the Latinization of "Land of the Philistines" and the Romans gave the province that name after the Second Jewish War to punish and shame the Jewish people in their defeat... by giving the region the name of one of their most powerful historic enemies... So if the Latinized "Palestinians" hold to that name and so would indeed be "Philistines," their ancestral land would not be all of the present State of Israel, but rather would only be Gaza. The same present-day borders of Gaza were the borders of the Philistines' land in ancient times before they began their conquest into the rest of Canaan in the times of the Judges and it's what they had after the Davidic Monarchy finally defeated them... I kid you not... Personally, I'm all for letting them have their original ancestral lands back - Gaza - if they'd stop all this... But as I said before there are those who would not be appeased.

But the answer is clearly not to just go into a JCC and start shooting random people like this 31-year-old, Muslim son of a bitch did in Seattle. Six women shot, one dead, 5 critical and one had been pregnant. All they'd been doing was hanging out and being their normal groovy selves at a JCC... It's things like this that make me wish that we'd institute a Wergeld in this country. Because not only would they eventually fry that asshole - and he will fry for it and rightly so - but he would be liable to pay monetary damages to the state and to the families of these women, and if he couldn't pay it, then his family would be liable for it - not just his immediate family either, but his uncles, cousins, etc. as well up to the third degree relations, I think it was... And they'd *have* to pay it. They'd be forced to... They'd have to sell their house, cars, anything of value to raise the cash, and if they couldn't, then their wages would be garnered until the debt was paid off. The alternative in Viking times would have been for the family members to disown the guilty party and then the families of the victims would have been allowed to hunt the bastard down and kill him in whatever creative way they saw fit. But since we live in an ostensibly civilized society, that probably wouldn't be allowed in our hypothetical Wergeld laws. The Vikings also would allow the selling of family members or the guilty party into slavery to raise the funds, but obviously, that's wrong for our society and unconstitutional. Personally, I think that if we brought back some of this "familial honor" thing that we've lost due to our emphasis on individuality, where one's bad actions not only reflect poorly on them and have consequences for them, but also for their entire families, I think we'd have a lot less random crime. Sure, there's an element of insanity on the part of the perpetrator in cases like this, and as my mom said when I suggested this to her, people who commit random crimes usually don't have all that much money, but... they'd still have to pay for it. And I think that the strong familial ties that such a system engenders would probably cut the crime rate all by itself, which can be nothing but a good thing.

::putting soap-box away now::

Friday, July 28, 2006

Wow! What a week!

I've been busy. I've been on a "normal" sleeping schedule for the last two weeks, getting up between 7am and 8am and going to bed between 10pm and 11pm... That in and of itself is *amazing*!

I've gotten almost three pounds of wool entirely processed into 2-ply dk weight yarn, all of the gray and two lbs of the white, and today I started on the brown. I've been working on my needlepoint projects and the knitting projects that are currently on my needles. And I've made about a half dozen dishcloths. There is a sale at Michaels this week. Sugar & Cream for $1.00 per ball. So with mom's insistence that she wants cheap presents to give to her co-workers this Christmas, I've stocked up. I also joined a Monthly Dishcloth pattern Yahoo Group. There's some really nice patterns there.

Also, I've decided to start watching what I eat... yet again... Because I've put on some obvious weight. Only about 10 lbs as far as I can tell, but better to check it before it becomes 20 lbs than to just let it go. So I've been making sure that I don't snack between meals when I'm just bored and not really hungry... and I've been eating Special K Berries & Yogurt for breakfast, the 6" Tuscan Chicken sandwich on wheat from Subway (I usually don't like chicken sandwiches, but it's *really* good! Everyone should try it.) and a bag of Baked Lays potato crisps for lunch and whatever my mom makes for dinner... Been doing this since Tuesday. I also have been exercising. On Tuesday and today, I rode my bike up to Subway for lunch and then to Michaels for a bike basket full of yarn and back. That's about 4 miles round trip. On Wednesday, I did housework all day... Cleaned up the living room a bit, miscellaneous other things, and did 5 loads of laundry (I still have three more until all my clothes are clean... yet, I have way too many clothes apparently...) And yesterday, I went with Maria to her barn and rode her horse, Sky, for about 10 minutes before a storm blew up out of nowhere (seriously, it went from sunny and bright to black and threatening in about five minutes - we never saw it coming and it seemed to be centered right over the barn) and there was a lot of lightening too close to us so we had to go in. Got more of a workout getting Sky all tacked up and un-tacked and Maria did most of the work. But it was something...

Zinzi came over on Tuesday evening to visit, and then again on Wednesday to watch "Dangerous Beauty" because someone at work had said that Zinzi is like a Venetian Courtesan and she didn't know what that was exactly, but she knew Hollywood had made a movie about one so she asked me if we could rent it and watch it. She decided that it was indeed a compliment after seeing the film.

So yay... Been a pretty busy week... for me anyway.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Charity opportunity

Hey all you knitters and crocheters out there! Warm Up America and Save the Children are collecting caps for newborn babies in third world countries between now and January 2, 2007. They are trying to increase awareness of infant mortality rates in third world countries and empower people to make a difference, as well as get the government to do their part (don't ask me exactly what that is, but there you go...). Go to for the patterns and instructions for where to send them. Every cap that is donated will be given to a needy newborn baby in one of the more than 100 countries in which Save the Children works, including the United States. They only need one from each person and baby caps are very easy to make and require little yarn and ridiculously little time. Get some scraps out of your stash and knit one up today!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Quest for a pretty kitchen & POTC2

So on July 4th, Home Depot was having an uber-sale on refrigerators. When my parents told me of their plan to go buy one, I said, "Don't we need a new dishwasher worse than we need a new 'fridge? Since the 'fridge is still working and the dishwasher is older?" They didn't think so... So, my parents went down and bought this *huge* 6-foot tall, side-by-side stainless steel thing with ice and water in the door made by GE. It's really great! We put the old 'fridge in the garage next to my car. It now has all the stuff my brother bought to drink the last time he was home that the rest of us don't drink in it (mostly beer), as well as the proverbial jar of jam and thing of mustard, and all of our (read: my mom's ;D ) extra ice cream is in the freezer.

Well, Joe came over to help my dad hook up the water filter and icemaker the day after it was delivered. That was a week ago, last Saturday, while I was out seeing "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" (more on that later). That night, I got up to get a drink of water and noticed that there was something weird about how the floor felt underneath my feet. It was... bumpy... and making squeaky noises when I walked on it. I turned the light on and took a good look. The whole area in between the island and the sink, dishwasher and refrigerator is warped and buckled. Water was coming up from spaces between the boards. I dried up as much as I could, left a note that I didn't do it and went back to bed.

The next day when I got up my dad told me that they had found the source of the problem. The dishwasher had decided to start leaking... (Since at that point Dad had had several hours to come to terms with it and really upset anymore, I did take a moment to say, "Didn't I say you should have gotten a new dishwasher last week?" because I am just petty enough to want to point out that I was inadvertently right about something.) But oddly, not on top of the current floor, but rather between the Pergo and the subfloor beneath it. The Pergo in that area is unsalvagable. We'll have to have it pulled up and replaced pretty soon, and only about 2 years after having it put down. But, more importantly at the time, the dishwasher had to be unhooked and we couldn't use it for a week until a new one could be delivered. My parents went back down to Home Depot, where they gave them a great deal on a new stainless steel dishwasher to match the 'fridge... and almost match the beautiful Frigidaire oven we have. I wanted them to go to Famous Tate, since they usually have the best deals, and that's where we got the Frigidaire oven, and I'm amused that their showroom still looks like an old 1950s appliances shop, but they said Home Depot was a better buy... whatever. I wasn't paying for it so I can't really say...

A few days after the dishwasher was delivered and hooked up and working perfectly, my parents decided that they might as well finish the kitchen, since they had just about everything stainless steel now, and they went out and bought a stainless steel microwave at Best Buy. So now the whole kitchen is stainless steel... If only the floor wasn't buckled and warped, and the cabinets all functioned like the design lady at Home Depot had said they would, and the lighting was better, it would be a perfect kitchen. We just got to get those few little things fixed and then it will be perfect.

But as to the state of the floor, let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks that laminant Pergo floors are easier to take care of than real plank wood... they aren't! At least with real plank, they won't buckle if a little bit of water gets on them. Pergo will begin to buckle in a matter of minutes with as little as 1/4 cup of liquid spilled on it and left. And it will never go back to how it was before. Also, if you have something like a desk chair with wheels on it, like the chair I'm sitting on in front of my computer screen, it will in about 6 months begin to rub off the picture of the wood that is printed on the surface of the Pergo. Pergo says that this will not happen, but it does... I know from experience. You can't sand away and refinish problems on Pergo like you can with real plank... And I don't mean that thin, practically veneer stuff that they're selling in home centers and calling "real wood." It is, but it's not... Now, Pergo *is* *much* cheaper than real wood, and looks better longer than most carpet does (barring things like water spilling)... but really, it's the linoleum version of wood. Just like tile looks *way* better and is more durable than linoleum, real wood looks way better and is more durable than Pergo. Same goes for Formica vs. granite for counter-tops. I just don't like laminants...

On to "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"! I loved it! I thought it was not as good a story as the first one, in that the first one was a much tighter story, and this one seemed a wee bit sloppy to me. But I still loved it! Johnny was amazing, Orli was amusing... I hated what they did to Norrington's character, and I thought Captain Jack was a bit more toned down than he was in the first one... but those are really minor issues. Though I know some people had real problems with those changes. I can't wait for the third film to be out. And I made a killing on the Hollywood Stock Exchange! Cleared over H$2,000,000 on the moviestocks alone, plus several hundred thousand on the weekend call and seasonal warrant. If only it were real and not hypothetical money...

I also saw "Superman Returns." I adore Brandon Routh. He's *lovely*... And Kevin Spacey did an admirable job. Though the psycho-without-reason Lex Luthor of the comics and movies cannot hold a candle to the tortured soul of Smallville/Michael Rosenbaum's Lex and never will... ::sighs::

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Creeping frustration

I have been really busy most of the summer... most of the year... most of the last several years, if I'm to be honest. I seem to have very little time for artistic things. Now, knitting *does* get out some of my creative energies, but it's not quite the same.

I've been looking back at my old sketchbooks. I don't use my sketchbooks the same way that a lot of other people I know use theirs. I use mine to sketch out ideas for bigger projects, to record them until I have enough time to focus on them and actually do them. I'm no good at drawing... at least, it doesn't come easily to me. It's really hard to paint or draw realistically. It used to be easier, my freshman year of high school, but the drawing teachers at Blake kinda squashed all the desire to even attempt it right out of me with their restrictions and harsh, unyielding criticism. So I generally don't draw. I'm too methodical for it. So yeah... looking at my sketchbooks. I found several projects that I sketched out years ago. One is for a a water vessel called a "Miriam's Cup." The concept is a fairly new one in Judaism, to honor the part Miriam played in the Exodus. I want to throw it, or at least part of it with the rest being done with coils, in porcelain because porcelain has the proper plasticity. It won't fall apart the way stoneware, raku or terracotta would. Believe me, I've tried already with all these other types cause that's what Blake stocked. Unfortunately, it took until the last day of my Junior year to figure out what it was I needed to try it with and during my one semester Senior year, I had no time for the ceramics room. At home, I have no wheel, no money for a wheel and no way of getting my hands on porcelain. I have yet to find a supplier that will ship it in small enough quantities and none of the art supply stores carry it anymore. I checked during the later half of my senior year, having planned to buy a block of it and go over to Blake during after-school hours and work in the art rooms then... but couldn't do that... So I still want to make Miriam's Cup... But now, in addition to Miriam's Cup, I want to do some other biblical art.

I'm fascinated by the concept of the well and its connection to modest, yet surprisingly independent women. Rebecca, Rachel, Tzipporah, Miriam... all are mentioned in connection with drawing water from their wells. It wouldn't be a far leap to say that Sarah, Leah and Yocheved had connections to the same common domestic task, so necessary in the arid lands of their birth, but I can't recall the text being explicate in their cases. I want to explore that further, but as I write this, I really don't have time 'cause I really need to get back to my spinning. But I want to explore it artistically and soon.

There is a cross-stitch at Scarlet Quince of "Jacob and Rachel" at the Well by William Dyce. I think I have to buy it and stitch it. I think I really *have* to... I'm frustrated by lack of time which seems to creep up on me. I need to get a proper tapestry loom to stitch it on, and I really should finish the three cross-stitch projects I have going before I start on this one.

Eventually, I want to do art projects centering on each of the Matriarchs, as well as all the other major female figures from Deborah to Huldah (I know, she's obscure... somewhere in Second Chronicles, 22-23.27), fictional and historically accepted alike. It's gonna take awhile...

Elusive painting

I got caught up in a cross-stitch pattern website that I found a little while ago. Their patterns are gorgeous! I've never seen patterns so detailed! And they ask for suggestions for patterns if what one is looking for is not on the site already.

Well, there's a painting... I know it's out there somewhere... It's of a woman walking down a short flight of stone steps, starring straight ahead, with a jar balanced on her head, and at the bottom of the steps there is water... like a pool or something. She has dark hair and she's wearing robes. I can't really remember any other details. It's a Pre-Raphaelite painting, I think... and very similar to Leighton or Blair-Leighton or Dicksee or Waterhouse in style... I thought that it was called "Rebecca" or "Rebecca at the Well" or something like that, but I'm pretty sure that something would have come up in my searching if it was. If anyone has any clue what painting I'm talking about, I'd be most grateful for a message from you.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Environmental, Health & Agricultural News for July...

Brought to us all by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Find out more about them here.

Most important first: Due to lobbying by the big commercial food companies to make their job easier and our food less healthy and regulated, the House of Representatives has passed the National Uniformity for Food Act. This will wipe out state and local food safety laws, including laws concerning the sale of shellfish and milk, bringing everything across the country under lowest common denominator of Federal control, and making it more difficult for small family-owned farms and restaurants. The bill is now in the Senate for consideration. Please write to your Senator as soon as possible asking them to oppose the National Uniformity for Food Act. Click here to learn more about this bill and to write to your Senators.

I'm not necessarily concerned about this per se, but I do find it highly interesting. Apparently, the use of Bovine Growth Hormone to increase milk production in non-organic cows has been linked to human women conceiving twins more often than they normally would. The rate of the births of twins is twice as high in the United States than in Great Britain where the use of BGH in milk production is banned. The rate of births of twins is also *five times* higher in women who eat animal products in their diets rather than women who eat vegan diets exclusively... (Personally, I'm not sure how much I care for that statistic, since I cannot be convinced that vegetarian or especially vegan diets are necessarily healthier than balanced traditional ones. My first instinct would be to believe that women who eat animal products as a part of their diet are more fertile than women who eat vegan diets because of the proteins they get, rather than the BGH to which they *may* be exposed. I'd be more likely to believe this statistic if instead of comparing vegan women to non-vegan women, the study compared women who eat organic dairy, which does not contain BGH, to women who eat non-organic BGH-containing dairy, and the statistic was found to be the same. Because comparing vegans to non-vegans compares not only the consumption of dairy vs. those who don't eat dairy, but also the consumption of eggs, meat, etc. as well as other habits that go along with the vegan lifestyle, *none* of which are taken into account by this study.) BGH has already been linked directly to a higher rate of twin births in cows. It increases an insulin-like growth factor called IGF, a protein produced in the milk of both cows and humans, that promotes ovulation and may help early-stage embryos survive, according to the Journal of Reproductive Medicine. More information can be found here.

There are now 350 organizations who support the passing of the "Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), a bill to ban the use of seven classes of medically important antibiotics as feed additives for livestock and poultry that are not sick," including the Infectious Diseases Society of America. (Learn more about PATMA.) In related news, a bill funding the FDA to study the link between antibiotic use in food-stock animals and antibiotic resistence in humans was passed in the House of Representatives. It is now awaiting consideration in the Senate.

The Union of Concerned Scientists using the Freedom of Information Act has uncovered the failure of the USDA to enforce laws concerning the production of crops for pharmaceutical and industrial use. They found that the USDA did not do the manditory inspections and oversight in North Carolina pharmaceutical rice fields, even after the active hurricane season last year when other crops could have been contaminated. Read more about it here.

Two new reasons to eat your vegetables fresh and locally grown! According to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, if people in Iowa ate their five servings of fruits and vegetables a day every day for just three months out of the year, eating produce that is grown in Iowa, it would mean an extra $302 million and 4,000 new jobs for the Iowa economy. Now, apply the same principle to the state you live in... Do you get where I'm going with this? You can read the entire report here. In related news, a health insurance company in Wisconsin called Physicians Plus is currently paying people up to $200 a year to subscribe to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which supplies them with local produce. Read more about Physicians Plus program here. And go here to find out more about CSA programs and locally grown food in your area.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

More Reasons Not to Like China

::clears throat, taps microphone in preparation of PSA::

China is refusing to pay import "dumping" tariffs which it is required to pay for exporting agricultural goods from China into the United States. For every $5.00 that US Customs collects, China owes yet another $15.00 to the United States. The purpose of this tariff is to inflate the price of Chinese grown and produced agricultural goods so that the American farmers and producers can compete with the overall cheaper product that China produces. Customs says it can do nothing about China's refusal to pay until Congress enacts legislation enabling them to do so. Congress says "they're working on it"... Aren't they always? But until they get it worked out, US producers of these goods are loosing money at a staggering rate.

Most especially effected are honey producers, who have seen the price of honey fall from $1.50 per pound to $0.80 per pound in a very short amount of time. China is using Walmart-esque tactics, lowing the price of honey so much that they put their American competition out of business. The US producers are paying their workers $9.00+ an hour and their profits have hurt severely for it. So please, do *not* buy honey that is *not* labeled that it was produced in the United States. If it's not labeled that, more likely than anything it comes from China. China is stealing from America and does *not* need your help! The same problem is happening for American mushroom growers and crawfish farmers, although nothing has dropped as drastically as honey prices.

Chinese imports have also dropped the prices on other agricultural goods in the US though, not just honey, mushrooms and crayfish, so please read your labels on all fresh food, meat and seafood to make sure that your money is going to American workers and only buy good that are produced in the United States.

Thank you... ::stepping off my soap box::


The new issue of knitty was published July 5th. Unlike with the last issue, there are *a lot* of things I like in this one.

The Lacanau "shoes" (although I hate the colors...)

The Fetching, Capathia, and Knucks mitts...

The Perdita bracelets look awesome! Definitely on my list of things to knit soon.

The Muff

Lickety-Split and Dancing Lady socks

Tulip-Toes baby shoes

This Swell hat and this Sock Monkey too...

And these Manresa legwarmers are by far my favorite legwarmers I've seen on the net so far...

Allete angel wings and knitted calla lilies are both pretty nifty patterns...

That's almost every pattern they published in this issue... Don't know which ones I'll end up knitting, there's still so many other things I'm working on.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Mabry Mill

So my parents are actually getting into looking for real estate in the mountains now. Mom's looking for 10+ acre pieces and says even up to around 80 acres wouldn't be out of the question if the price was right. We want meadows as well as wooded parts and some water would be nice as well. As per Susan's suggestion, Mom's been checking in to Floyd, Henry and Patrick Counties. She told me she found several good looking options in Floyd, which sounds good to me. So I went to see what I could find on the web about the county in general, just because I was curious. And lo and behold, what do I find, but that the Mabry Mill is located in Floyd County!

Now, this probably is a moment (if they hadn't already) when most people would give a blank stare and ask, "So?" ...

So! When I was a small child, and actually right up til I was about 20, before we started work on the remod and rearranged the furniture in the living room for the first time in... well, almost 20 years... we had a pointillism drawing done by my parents' good friend Beecher of the Mabry Mill. Now, I had no idea that it was the Mabry Mill or even what the Mabry Mill was, but that's my favorite of all his pointillisms that we have, and actually the only one I could really stand. Most of the others are of owls, which creeped me out with their large, blank staring eyes when I was younger. Anyway, it's still around here somewhere, but don't ask me where. I wish I could find some of his work on the web, but we haven't seen him since before he and his wife devorced about 10 years ago, I can't remember his last name and my parents are asleep so I can't ask them... Oh, well... another day...

Was also checking up on the weather in Floyd and it looks like it so beats out Boone where the snow is concerned... We're talking mere inches on average as opposed to the 5 feet Boone gets every year! Definitely a plus!