Saturday, February 28, 2009

At rest

I'd sort of forgotten what it's like not to be scheduled to death, so this weekend has been a strange one. There are things I would like to do--a film to watch, taxes to file, Watchmen to finish reading--but none of them must be completed. The clock is mine. I'm not entirely certain how to handle all of this free time.

One thing I have done is knit. The 1x1 ribbed scarf is progressing nicely. The yarn has been blissfully free of "bonus" bits in it, and I'm intrigued to see how the colors shift. This scarf might be a little bold for me to wear, but I like what I'm seeing so far.

Knitting, napping, reading, TV, and the movies...not a bad way to kick back for a couple days.


Friday, February 27, 2009


When I went to the yarn shop today in search of something for a scarf, I didn't intend to get Noro. In fact, I wasn't looking for these colors. I was thinking of something green for the Scrunchable Scarf.

The scarf will be for me. That pattern is just the sort of simple knit that I feel like I need to get me going again. As I walked the aisles I saw a couple of nice shades in Cascade 220--Olive and Shire looked like potential winners--but I continued to look anyway.

I passed by the Noro and remembered that I'd considered making my own 1x1 ribbed scarf like the Christmas gift I knit for my mom. I doubted that I'd see anything that would be more subdued--I associate Noro with bright colors--but then I stumbled upon the yarn pictured above. It seems to be predominantly brown with shades of blue and green. I had to get it.

Since I hadn't been planning on getting this yarn, I ended up buying less than I know I'll need. I would have checked my Ravelry project page ahead of time if I knew this yarn is what I was going to get. If only I'd listened to the yarn shop employee instead of trusting my faulty memory. I don't expect I'll have any trouble getting another skein, but I'm mildly annoyed at having to make an unnecessary trip.

That goes away, though, when working with the yarn. My previous experience knitting with Noro turned up the knots and sticks and vegetable matter. Since I'm using 100% wool Kureyon this time instead of Silk Garden, I'm beginning to think that some of the stuff I initially pulled out last time was silk. Oops. Other than inconsistencies in the strand's thickness, this yarn has been free of problems so far.

I knit on the scarf for a couple hours tonight and felt some of the day's sluggishness vanish. Ah, so this is what I've been missing for recent weeks.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009


To break my weeks-long streak of non-knitting, I decided to pick up a ball of cotton for a dishcloth. I went to knit night for the first time in weeks with the intention of using the time to cast on for my first project in about a month.

I set up shop at our table, reached into the ball, and pulled out the end. The mess of a mass was wrapped around itself. As I worked on untangling it, I found several knots. So, for an hour and a half I sat there picking through knots. Eventually I had to cut the yarn because there was just no undoing them all.

Was it time well spent? That's debatable. I salvaged more yarn than if I'd clipped it immediately. On the other hand, the ball cost two dollars. It's not like I was going to be out much if I needed to cut and move on.

It occurs to me that how I tackled this problem is indicative of how I go about trying to solve other issues. I plug away in search of the solution, even if the effort doesn't always meet with the desired result.

In this case, all that persistence probably wasted time that could have been better used knitting.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It came from down under

Back in December 2007 my International Scarf Exchange 5 pal included Tim Tams in my package. These Australian chocolate biscuits were awfully good. Needless to say, they didn't last long. They also aren't easy to find in the United States.

Or they weren't until now. I learned that Pepperidge Farms was making them temporarily available but couldn't locate them until discovering that they're only in Target stores through March. You bet I went to one tonight and bought a few packages of these delicious cookies. Hoarding may need to occur.

They seem like something very apropos for teatime. Since such a thing doesn't exist here, I may have to indulge in an afternoon coffee every once in awhile for enjoying a Tim Tam or two.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Grease is the word

In an effort to be less insufferable today, I turn to an entry about food. My recollections on Rax have netted more site traffic than many entries and are apparently the subject of someone's Facebook page, not that I can see that conversation.

At a work event tonight I had some pizza from a place that was the favorite from my college days because it was cheap, it was tastier alternative to the dining hall, and delivery was free. I hadn't had any in awhile--maybe a year--but with that first taste I was ready to devour an entire pizza.

I restrained myself, of course, but what a powerful experience to taste that food again. I hold no illusions that it's not objectively good pizza, but there's something very appealing about it. So what's the key to making it so addictive? My college friends and I determined that it must be the grease.

The joke among my circle was that they didn't make these pizzas in ovens but that they dunked them in deep fryers. The little pools of grease in the pepperonis were proof positive that these things were soaked in the stuff. Oh, delicious, delicious grease. Strangely, extra grease was not on the ingredients list.

The size we would get depended on how many of us chipped in, but an extra large was pretty common. It was so common, in fact, that it earned its own name. I believe I'm the one who dubbed it "The Bastard". From then on we rarely referred to it no other way. Legend has it that one time it was even ordered under this name.

The extra large pepperoni from this establishment earned its illegitimate name because of how it treated the digestive tract. If it was eaten at late hours, which it often was, the inevitable result was being rudely awakened in the middle of the night with intestinal distress.

Eating this pizza again brings back memories of late nights hanging out in the dormitories. Let's hope that's all that returns this evening.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Slow show

The month of no knitting continues. Seriously, could things slow down just a little? Here we are nearly two months into the new year, and I'm not sure where all that time went. It seems like ages since I last picked up the needles because, well, it has been a long time.

This kind of hectic schedule is part of the reason why I initially started knitting. More than anything at this moment, I need an idea, no matter how boring. Let's face facts, it probably will be boring, and I'm OK with that. I have been thinking about doing a scarf for myself, but here's the amount of thinking I've put toward it: "Hmm, maybe a scarf..." No consideration of yarn, color, or pattern.

Maybe the winter weather and windowless office gets to me more than I realize. There is a certain oppressiveness about this time of the year, although it's not entirely related to all things meteorological or architectural. Work has been busy, and there has been some discouraging news there.

Knitting-wise, I suspect that what I need to do is just start something, anything. Staying disengaged from it isn't going to make me any more likely to resume. I'm not disinterested in knitting. I'm just not feeling motivated. Perhaps it comes down to having had a bunch of tasks that needed to get done, which makes it harder to carve out time for something that doesn't fit within the rigid, deadline-oriented structure.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009


I'm off to an Oscars party. Knowing that show I'll be getting back late, so I'm dropping a quick post to get my daily minimum allowance of blogging.

Above you see what came in the Sticks N Stitches goody bag.

In last night's entry I neglected to mention that I enjoyed speaking with the fellow knitter next to me and her husband. After asking if everyone there was a knitter, her next question was what my Ravelry screen name is.

I'm sure there are plenty of knitters who've never used Ravelry and have no idea what it is, but how indicative of the site's popularity and influence is it that Ravelry is taken for granted as just another tool in the knitter's bag (so to speak)? And that site is still in beta.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sticks N Stitches

The second Sticks N Stitches took place at tonight's Columbus Blue Jackets game. (Perhaps I ought to qualify that statement by saying it's the second one that I know of.) Like last year, I came away with a nice haul at this year's event. You'd never know I didn't win one of the door prizes (and honestly, pretty much anyone else would likely be more deserving of the additional gifts).

LittleWit, who organized our local celebration mingling hockey and knitting, did a fine job coordinating it all and soliciting donations for the goody bags, including the pink corduroy messenger bags from Namaste that stored the other freebies. All right, even if I don't feel like knitting is a challenge to my masculinity, you're not going to see me toting around a pink bag. I have to draw the line somewhere. Still, I can appreciate how impressive of a get the bag is.

I landed all knitting magazines--no crochet here!--and a skein of Caledon Hills worsted wool in the Moose colorway. Maybe another hat is in my future.

The Blue Jackets laid an egg against the Anaheim Ducks, so the game itself left something to be desired. The Sticks N Stitches part, though, was run exceptionally well, especially in comparison to my experience at a Stitch N' Pitch last summer. Unlike last year, I do not expect any non-knitter rants appearing in next Sunday's letters to the sports editor column. It probably didn't hurt that a youth hockey team was seated behind the rows of knitters, but we all were contained better this year despite the game being sold out.

So, great work LittleWit. From my vantage point the attendees seemed happy. Hope you enjoyed your ride on the Zamboni during the first intermission.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Women's work

Blogging about the 1975 film Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles seems better suited to another place I write, but here it is nonetheless.

I'm guessing most of you haven't heard of it, let alone seen it. There are good reasons for that. From what I've read, it's never been distributed on home video in the United States. Also, it's 201 minutes of long takes of a widowed mother of one doing domestic work, often in real time (or long enough for it to seem as such). One other thing...she also brings one john into her home each afternoon.

It's a highly regarded film, particularly among feminist academics, and it's easy to understand why. Essentially Jeanne Dielman documents the mundane life of the housewife and the affect it has on her. The soul-crushing length and tedium is the point. For example, when Jeanne rises in the morning, we see a lengthy, unbroken shot of her making the coffee, getting the table ready for her son's breakfast, and shining his shoes. However long it took to do it as how long the static camera stares at Delphine Seyrig, the actress whose terrific performance is critical to the film.

Anyway, this was not a place where I expected to see knitting, but there's some quality knitting time in this art film. On the first day Jeanne gets out the sweater she's making for her son and knits awhile. If only she spent as much time knitting in the film as she devotes to some of the other household chores. (She knits briefly again on the second night.) Of course, knitting makes sense as something to have her doing because practically everything the character does could be marginalized as women's work.

Jeanne's needles fascinated me because they looked like those I commented on when writing about that B-movie with an extended sequence of knitting. The straight needles appeared to have metal tips kind of like Knit Picks Options, but the rest of each needle looked like flimsy plastic or something that gained a curve with use. Were these de rigueur in the '70s?

There's one other knitting-related scene. As a knitter I say the scene is too brief, which is not a complaint I imagine gets leveled at a slowly paced film nearly three and half hours long. You see, there's one scene where she goes to a yarn shop to find the right yarn that she needs to finish the sweater. (She is probably visiting a craft store as it looks like bolts of fabric are in the background, but that's close enough.) I'm embarrassed to say that this scene passed for some serious excitement for me. Then again, this is a movie in which tension is found in a scene of Jeanne peeling potatoes.

If I sound dismissive of the film, I'm not. I liked it, perhaps more than I expected considering the imposing running time. It works as intended and lives up to its reputation. Nevertheless, I'm well aware that most of you would consider it to be pretty boring, but then again, it's unlikely you'll run across it anyway.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Darkness on the edge of town

The dark clouds in the news and around the office have me concerned. How much of it is real and how much of it is overreaction or self-fulfilling prophecy is hard to say. It's not necessarily one particular thing but the constant drumbeat of negativity that's beginning to get to me.

I learned something today at work that evolved from initially disappointing to potentially troublesome. Perhaps we are misunderstanding what we know and it won't be as big of a problem as it seems. Perhaps it is as bad as we think it might be. At this point more information is needed, but even if it turns out to be something minor, I could do without this uncertainty and worry in the meantime.

I'll allow for the fact that it could feel worse because I am tired from the busy academic quarter and all of the work I've been doing. Still, when there's a sense that a lot of people are on pins and needles, it reinforces the idea that my perceptions aren't overblown.

(I'm being vague on purpose, but I want to make it clear that my job isn't in jeopardy, to my knowledge. Today's news, which arrives on the heels of some other stuff, could mean that doing my job may become more difficult, not that it won't be there.)

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Remember, remember

You always have to take pop science reporting with a grain of salt, but supposedly knitting can help keep one from suffering memory loss in old age. Granted, the study's results may not be terribly reliable, especially when its author says, "Of course, the challenge with this type of research is that we are relying on past memories of the participants, therefore we need to confirm these findings with additional research." I'm just hoping the knitting counteracts the memory loss supposedly brought on by watching a lot of television.

You always have to take pop science reporting with a grain of salt, but supposedly knitting can help keep one from suffering memory loss in old age. Granted, the study's results may not be terribly reliable, especially when its author says, "Of course, the challenge with this type of research is that we are relying on past memories of the participants, therefore we need to confirm these findings with additional research." I'm just hoping the knitting counteracts the memory loss supposedly brought on by watching a lot of television.

You always have to take pop science reporting with a grain of salt, but supposedly knitting can help keep one from suffering memory loss in old age. Granted, the study's results may not be terribly reliable, especially when its author says, "Of course, the challenge with this type of research is that we are relying on past memories of the participants, therefore we need to confirm these findings with additional research." I'm just hoping the knitting counteracts the memory loss supposedly brought on by watching a lot of television.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009


More projects at work await, but for now I can sit here and breathe a sigh of relief that the most demanding portion of this time of year passed earlier this evening. Four half-hour TV shows in three weeks--double the usual load--is a lot of work considering all of the writing required, to say nothing of the editing and general busy work that is involved as a hyphenate. I'm not totally thrilled with everything, be it my writing or performance, but it doesn't matter because IT IS DONE.

Sure, things never seem to slow down, but I know I am through the worst. To top it off, I turned out decent final products. I guess I know what I'm doing after all. With more time I might have been able to do better, but these days I'm resigned to "good enough" as the standard.

If left to my own devices, I would probably be tempted to tinker and refine indefinitely. I have a very strong perfectionist streak in me, and while it can be helpful when it comes to the details, it can also be paralyzing. The need to finish something, to proclaim it done and leave it at that, helps offset the perfectionism. It's why deadlines are a saving grace and why the immediacy of blogging allows me to loosen my grip and just put whatever out there.

It's why I have a deep appreciation for productive artists. Give me a band or a film director who release new works every year or two than those who take a decade between projects. Succeed or fail, I'd rather see the work than go without while they toil endlessly trying to craft something just so. There are bound to be missteps, but the stumbles aren't as big when another effort will soon follow.

In my own work I feel like I do more of the stumbling, but I suppose I'm willing to accept looking bad as I plug away at what I'm doing. It doesn't mean I'm satisfied with the miscues or lesser attempts--far from it--but at least I feel like I'm trying to get somewhere or, on fleeting occasions, have reached it. Tonight I arrived at one of those destinations. I'm going to enjoy it for the brief time I can.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

President's Day

I can't remember the last time I got President's Day off. It is not treated as a holiday at work because Martin Luther King Jr. Day grabs that lone honor for winter quarter. I don't believe we got it off when I was a college student either, so unless my employer in my temp days after college (and before my fulltime job) granted it off, the holiday has gone unobserved in my routine since high school.

Believe it or not, President's Day really was a holiday I looked forward to as a kid. We didn't go on vacations very often, but one trip that we usually made was to Toledo every mid-February. I know, Toledo in the winter (or Toledo at any time) doesn't sound terribly exciting, but it was the chance to get out of the house and spend a couple nights in a hotel.

The purpose of the trip was for my dad to get the business and family's taxes done by his accountant in northwest Ohio. Come to think of it, I'm not sure why there wasn't someone in the Dayton area who could do them. Nevertheless, it made for a fun weekend trip.

The big attraction for us kids was the hotel. I can't remember its name, but I can picture it as it's where we stayed pretty much every time. The building on I-75 south of the city didn't stand out in any way on the inside or outside. It was just the thrill of being in a hotel. Plus, it had a large indoor pool. I guess we were easy to please.

If we weren't swimming , we were probably watching TV. I recall being sprawled on the floor watching an Olympic hockey game from Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. (No, I didn't sleep on the floor.) Hotels also meant HBO, which meant being lured by the siren call of the magnificent theme music and open introducing the next movie. If the timing was right, we could seeFraggle Rock and The Beastmaster. Or maybe it was Dragonslayer...or both. I never saw it, but Super Fuzz always seemed to be on in those days.

President's Day was for going into downtown Toledo. In those days the city had a brand new shopping center called, I think, Lakeside. The first year it was open may have coincided with when we made these trips, but by the time we stopped going, I recall that it was nearly empty save for seniors getting their walking exercising.

It's funny the things that one remembers, but one other memory that sticks out in my mind was hearing a street corner preacher on a downtown corner near the accountant's office building. We didn't spend much time in the accountant's office. Usually we were just there while we waited for my dad to finish up the time he spent with them. I recall being intimidated by the guy yelling hellfire and brimstone in the big city, so you can imagine how shocking it was to go up high in this office and still hear him inside. That guy had a set of lungs on him.

Now President's Day is simply a day without mail delivery, but for those years when it meant a weekend family vacation of sorts, it was something greatly anticipated that I remember fondly.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nothing to see here

Please excuse the non-activity today. In an effort to keep lurking illness at bay--I can feel it coming on--I slept for the better part of this afternoon. Then, with news that heating and cooling people will be in my apartment on Tuesday, I spent the evening straightening up the place. Both efforts were necessary, but there's not really anything to say about them.

If I don't start knitting soon, this blog is going to become a disaster zone, if it isn't already.

Anyway, enjoy a photograph of this tree. (Actually, it's of the stadium behind it.) I snapped a shot of Ohio Stadium from my car on the way home from my first of two trips to Ohio State yesterday. Perhaps you've seen it before with a blimp's eye view.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009


Columbus has been the only North American stop for the exhibition Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms. It was a major get for the Wexner Center and for the city, but leave it to me to wait until it's nearly gone to visit it.

I had purchased a ticket for tonight's Times New Viking ♥ The Velvets, a concert celebrating the exhibition's closing. The ticket was also good for admission to the galleries, so I went down first thing this morning to check it out.

I'm a little more than passingly familiar with Warhol's work, but I certainly don't have a deep knowledge of it. This exhibition certainly could have changed that as I could have spent a few days consuming all of his film and TV work. For instance, Empire, a single shot of the Empire State Building, lasts slightly longer than eight hours. It was one of several projected films in the galleries. Another space was set aside for monitors displaying all of his television work. Factory diaries and other videos line the walls leading to the galleries. It's more than one person can take in.

Frankly, it's more than I would want to watch. I sampled bits from several pieces, but for me Warhol's film work holds greater appeal in concept than as a viewing experience. My impression is that he foresaw a future in which daily life is treated as though we are performers, whether in so-called reality television or in the videos uploaded to YouTube.

Seeing his reproduction of products--the Campbell soup can paintings, plywood containers painted to look like cardboard boxes of Brillo pads--made me think that such work predicted the idea of brands becoming artistic and self-expression. People wear clothing where the brand is the focus, as if it says something about them. As far as I know, Warhol saw it first.

I returned this evening for the Times New Viking concert, which saw the trio joined by a violinist and another guitarist while pixelated Warhol and Velvet Underground-related imagery was projected behind them.

The rock and roll drones were fun to hear even if TNV's versions were, shall we say, pretty rough around the edges. Then again, Lou Reed and Nico would never be accused of meeting the traditional definition of vocal excellence.

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Friday, February 13, 2009


Some mysterious illness wiped me out for the previous 30 hours or so. Considering what happened on the last Friday the 13th, I'd be inclined to believe the day has worked its black magic on me again, if I were superstitious. Anyway, whatever I've had started yesterday and has mostly dissipated by now.

I'm going on three weeks now without picking up the needles. True, I've been exceptionally busy, which is why I haven't bothered making anything, but I'm also short on ideas. I don't know what I want to knit. I'm thinking that it might be good to make another scarf for myself, but with life having been so hectic, the idea of even searching for a pattern or deliberating over yarn choices just sounds like work.

I guess that qualifies as being in a rut, although it's equally a product of being worn down. I suppose that if I were to look on the bright side of this 30-hour malady, it did force me to take it easy for the first time in awhile. I was going to push my way through two films and try to get some writing done. Instead I could only make it through one and then slept for a few hours this afternoon. I don't feel 100%, but I'm feeling better than before.

I'm going to need some strength. Tomorrow looks to be a long day, what with squeezing in a visit to the departing Warhol exhibit, going to campus to do some work, and attending the Times New Viking plays The Velvet Underground concert that's tied to the exhibit. Sure, some of that should be fun, but as I've found amid the hustle and bustle, even things done for pleasure can be be less enjoyable when you're exhausted.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Assorted items

Nothing of interest going on here. In the meantime, here are some knitting-related links that may or may not appeal to you:

-Fanboy/fangirl culture collides with knitting in the form of Hobbit booties and knitted lightsabers.

-The group Knitting for Dolphins opposes the U.S. Navy's plan to utilize dolphins from San Diego to protect the submarine fleet in the Northwest and is making sweaters in symbolic protest.

-Opening her own knitting studio in Massachusetts is among the things that actress Karen Allen has been up to since Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

We are beautiful, we are doomed

In addition to a tornado watch, there's been a high wind warning around these parts today. Early this evening the view from my apartment was of a typically overcast day. Suddenly, rain was blowing so hard that I couldn't see what was in the distance. It didn't last for long but, later on as I headed out to see seven-piece Welsh indie rock band Los Campesinos!, pictured above, I hoped that I wouldn't get picked up by a gust and be deposited in Virginia.

The wind wasn't bad when I left home, but it seemed like there were a lot of lights out as I drove south on the highway toward Ohio State. The electricity was flowing, and the night of rock and roll began with Titus Andronicus.

Can't say I know anything about the New Jersey five-piece. Their fifty-minute set was all right, but that's the extent of my comments.

Los Campesinos! played a solid and energetic hour-long set. I was a little surprised that the band seemed more laidback and humble compared to the bratty attitude that comes through on the albums. The silky female lead vocals traded off nicely with the sandpaper-like male lead vocals. A cover of Pavement's "Frontwards" was a nice surprise as was lead singer Gareth Campesino and one of the guitarists hopping off the stage on the stage at separate points during main set closer "Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks" and performing among the crowd.

While the band from Cardiff hoped to spend the post-concert time enjoying a little night life with Columbus' Times New Viking, I ventured out into the whipping wind. It was blowing harder than before. My car got pushed around somewhat on the interstate, but the bigger obstacle faced while driving was the downed pine tree at the entrance to my apartment complex. I had room to get by it, but suddenly I had visions of a tree branch through the sliding door on my apartment's west side.

The bright blue tarps needed from September's windstorm still cover most of the apartment buildings' roofs. They loudly flapped like enormous bats swooping upon me as I exited the car. Then I saw more shingles scattered about the parking lot, sidewalks, and lawn. Fortunately the only "damage" I suffered while gone was a power outage and loss of some Top Chef and Life on Mars recording. I can deal with that.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You make the call

The culmination of my recent workload arrived tonight and was followed by discovering I'd locked my keys and cell phone in my office. Those items are still in my office as I had to dash off to see the new and thoroughly unnecessary (and boring) horror movie remake/reboot.

While this non-knitting stretch has produced some entries that have pleasantly surprised me, that ain't gonna happen this evening. Instead, I bring to your attention the case of the so-called knitting drummer. Is he doing anything that truly approximates knitting or drumming? Analysis here (beginning at 1:38) proves inconclusive.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

In dreams

Last night I dreamed that I was in a vast, frigid plain that stretched border-to-border across the northern part of Illinois (but south of Chicago). It was a wasteland that was essentially walled off from the rest of the state at the north and south ends. I don't remember why I was there, but at one point I got in a car to drive.

The car quickly built up speed and became uncontrollable. (At one point I was driving backwards.) Try as I might, I could not slow it down. In the dream I could feel how depressing the brakes did not make a difference. I tried throwing it into neutral, which also had no effect, and even into park. That car had a mind of its own. Eventually it did stop, but I have no memory of how that happened.

Although Illinois didn't factor in it, this story may sound familiar because part of this dream was reality back at Thanksgiving. The experience alone was distressing enough, but with this latest vision during sleep I realized that the car that resisted slowing down manifested a recurring dream from my childhood and one that perhaps has continued through my adulthood. (I don't know when the last time was that I had it.)

When I was kid, well before I had a driver's license or temporary permit, there was one dream that would pop up time and again. It might start out differently, but inevitably it would end with me in a car, or behind the wheel of a car, with a mind of its own. It was out of control and could not slow down. It would tear around the streets of my small hometown before shrinking (or find some way to fit into a smaller space) and diving into a hole.

The most common thing the car would disappear into was a grate by the post office. I also have a memory of the car going into the ground floor level of the elementary school, although once inside it seemed to be in more of a sewer system. Or maybe that was after going into the grate. As best I can recall, once the car disappeared down the hole, that was usually the end of the dream.

Since I'm armed with a psychology degree, I can do an interpretation that's meaningful to me now. I have no idea when or why I had the dream as a kid, although I can guess. It's been powerful to acknowledge this dream's role in my sleeping life. It's so vivid that in my mind's eye I can still see parts of that childhood vision as clear as day. I just hope I'm not visited by it again any time soon, although I'll take the dream any day over the real thing.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Down by the old mainstream

Thoughts from an evening wasted watching the Grammys...

It's been years since I've watched this awards show, but I'll give them credit for devoting the bulk of time to performances. More rock, less talk indeed.

How high was Whitney Houston? Moderately, I'm guessing.

Man, is that stage patter some lame stuff. That general store joke Justin Timberlake read was deemed worthy?

There were a fair number of brief audio dropouts during the telecast, especially during the performances. Is it possible that these aren't technical malfunctions but anti-piracy measures?

I'm assuming the switch to black-and-white during the hip hop summit was purposeful, but it sure didn't seem to have a reason. (I've since been informed it was established as a Rat Pack tribute, but they didn't even stick with b&w through it all.)

If a pregnant M.I.A.--due today, by the way--was going to perform, couldn't they have given her a little more time to strut her stuff? I'm a little surprised they didn't censor "get high" from "Paper Planes", although she never got to the parts (gun shot sound effects, weed references) that probably wouldn't have made the cut.

Katy Perry's fifteen minutes are due to be up any day now, and her thoroughly uncharismatic performance at the Grammys ought to hasten her departure. Yeah, yeah, your song is "controversial". Enjoy it while it lasts because this is exactly the sort of thing that will be mocked five to ten years from now in a "what was the public thinking when they made this a big hit?" way.

When people recite songs lyrics to make them sound important, they almost always sound stupid, not poetic.

Is Robert Plant going to let Alison Krauss speak?


Seriously, Radiohead--or Thom, Jonny, and the USC Marching Band--were killer.

Other best performances: Estelle and Kanye West and Paul McCartney backed by a Foo Fighter while he sang "I Saw Her Standing There" as if it were still fresh,

I could really do without the march of CBS stars introducing performers. ABC doesn't send out the cast of Grey's Anatomy on the Oscars.

They really don't give away many awards on the show, do they? This is more like a multi-act concert interrupted by trophies being handed out.

I see, Robert Plant was just waiting until they won the night's final award to let Alison Krauss get in a few words. I've read that their album is a good one, but once again the Grammys go with the choice of something safe and irrelevant as far as the scene is concerned.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Productivity rates

My knitting unproductivity--you might call it not knitting--continues. Perhaps it will resume by next weekend. At least the work that has been gobbling my time and/or energy will be mostly out of the way.

So I direct you to an article about an elderly Minnesota man who is accomplishing something with his knitting. That makes one of us.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

School's out forever

Yesterday one of my brothers sent me a link about the closing of the elementary school we attended. It sounds like the school board made a fairly quick decision to shutter the 90-year-old building at the end of this academic year and send the students to another building in the district. The public was made aware of the proposal on January 12. The school board vote came on January 26.

It also sounds like many people from the village aren't too happy about this, including someone who circulated a forged letter to district parents with claims that the school would be closed even earlier. A commentary piece about the incident suggests that anger about the closure was born fifty-odd years ago when the district began to take shape and my hometown's school was brought under the umbrella.

My mom remarked that resentments and suspicions have lingered among the locals for a long time because of the feeling that those in the suburbs look down upon the rural farming community where I'm from. (I wrote about the place and the school while passing through it last March.) Growing up I heard such disparaging sentiments, although I don't remember it ever bothering me that much. We did live in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, but I can understand the sensitivity of those who felt like they were perceived as hicks by those in the booming suburbs.

Obviously this school closure has no direct impact on me. I no longer live there, and neither does my family. I'm certain I know some people who still are in the village, but I can't say if any of them are affected. So my reactions to it are based purely in nostalgia and a sense of loyalty to where I'm from.

When I wrote about seeing my hometown a year ago, I mentioned that I feared it was being left behind. It seemed that many buildings had been torn down and that the community's appearance gave the impression of a place having a rough go of it. News of the only school in town closing confirms that sense.

I understand that times are tough for school districts and that it may be more reasonable financially to close this building than do what's necessary to keep it open. I also understand why people distrust those making the decision. I am saddened to think that the school, the center of the community for almost a century, will be no longer. There's probably a very real fear that the village may be swallowed up by the township or a nearby suburb. Would that be better for the community? I don't know.

My grandmother and other relatives went to this school for every grade level. My father attended there up through his freshman year of high school (I think) until ninth through twelfth grade were no longer held in the building but moved to the district's one high school. My three brothers and I went there through sixth grade.

The kids who get moved and can no longer walk to school will be fine learning elsewhere. They will adjust even if the parents and older folks do not. Still, as someone with no vested interest in the matter, it's strange to see a part of my past, a place whose halls and rooms I can see like I was there yesterday, slipping away so early in life. My hometown is losing a school, but in my mind what's being lost is a building with personality (even if it's left standing) and the history of a village and family generations who were formed in these halls and classrooms.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Scattered stuff

The end is in sight in regard to my heavy workload, but for now it means more random stuff...

To throw a bone to the knitting crowd, considering that is sort of why you're here (or so I assume), here's a cool featurette about the mini knits in the stop-motion film Coraline. The movie itself, which opens Friday, is pretty great. Finding a good new movie at this time of year is always a pleasant surprise, especially since I had no expectations going in. (For what it's worth, I know of Neil Gaiman and that he has a fairly substantial fanbase, but I came to this movie cold.)

Animal Collective's "My Girls" is an early contender for my vote on song of the year.

I don't recall ever seeing gas stations pulling the prices on their signs to indicate that they had no fuel. I've noticed the practice every now and then at a couple BP stations over the past six months. What's that all about?

Within the last four months or so I've received a couple messages on my voicemail from collection agencies/law firms looking for people who aren't me. I've had my home number for going on fourteen years--editorial note: yikes, that long?--and, to the best of my knowledge, have not had my identity stolen. I'm not concerned, but should I be?

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Dreaming of the stars

Ever wish there was something that existed and it eventually becomes a reality?

Tonight I heard a radio station promo about downloading the sports talk show as a podcast if you missed any of the live broadcast. Sports talk radio is hardly worth listening to live, let alone going to the trouble of downloading it, but I'm getting off track...

Yes, I know that previously recorded radio programming made available as podcasts are not anything new, but for whatever reason it hit me that we now have is what I wanted those many years ago when I couldn't hear a particular program.

I desired a radio version of the VCR. In other words, it would be a programmable device that could record a radio show at the appointed time. The instance I recall wanting it for the most was the airing of a Star Wars radio dramatization.

Like most boys my age I was into Star Wars big time. I collected the action figures and trading cards, read the picture books and novelizations, and even clipped the daily comic strip from the newspaper and glued each into a notebook. (It blew my mind to come across a site of someone who did the same thing and posted examples. Mine looked like that, bad cuts and all. I think I have that notebook somewhere. I really ought to try and find it.)

Going by the info on the Wikipedia page, it must have been 1981 or 1983--I'm betting it was the latter--that one of the radio programs was going to air on a local station. Keep in mind that home video was not the big business it is today. Seeing the films wasn't something you could do at a moment's notice. I wished we had one of the Star Wars Super 8 reels that were sold at Kmart so I could watch it on our home movie projector. Keeping all this in mind, just hearing the movies reenacted on the radio would have been a huge deal.

I don't know if it was an episode or the whole thing, but the program was scheduled for a night that we were going to help my grandmother look for a car. (Memories are notoriously unreliable when reaching back into childhood stories, so I'm going with the version of the story that feels true.)

I recall being none too pleased that I was going to miss part or all of the broadcast, although some time would be spent in the car going to the dealership in Arlington, Ohio. I'm sure I didn't miss everything. Memory tells me I heard some on the way home from the back seat of my grandma's brand new navy blue Buick, a car she bought in the early 1980s and owned until her death some twenty-odd years later.

Apparently those old radio productions are available on CD. The Star Wars dramatization was directed by John Madden. (Could this be the same guy who went on to make Shakespeare in Love, among other films?) I'm guessing The Empire Strikes Back was the one I longed to hear. Now I can check out an audio sample and get a sense of what it was that enthralled me as a kid. Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing that I didn't get to listen to it all then. Something tells me I wouldn't have remembered it quite as fondly as I have while writing this.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I was excited to open my mailbox and see a card inside. That's a rare occurrence, so this made a nice surprise on a long day. The return address didn't ring a bell, but the envelope had been addressed by hand...or so I thought initially. By the time I got to my front door I determined that the writing was just a font approximating handwriting and that what was inside was probably advertising. Sure enough, it was a card was from AT&T trying to persuade me to switch my cable service to them. They even went to the trouble of having the raised Hallmark logo on the back of the envelope. Boo!

Two days ago a light bulb in my living room burned out. I hadn't replaced it because I didn't have any on hand. Miraculously I remembered on the way home. I got one of those compact fluorescents because it's supposed to be a more environmentally-conscious alternative, although I doubt the promise of nine years of use. Of course, they've got the bulb encased in plastic packaging that is is impossible to open without a cutting device. Even then it takes a fair amount of effort to get the thing out. Boo!

I don't have another item, which means I fall short of fulfilling the rule of three. Boo!


Monday, February 02, 2009


I used to think that December was the busiest time of the year. While that month is packed, it's beginning to dawn on me that January and the first half of February are when I'm most overloaded.

I've been tired and anxious, probably because I have a lot to do and spend far too much time fretting about being able to accomplish everything. Forget about doing it well. I eventually break down to the point of just wanting it done.

Of course, I don't let go when I choose those times not to work on what needs completing. No, I pretty much make myself miserable contemplating what I should be doing but am putting off due to lack the energy or brainpower. I'm not procrastinating, not on all of the work, but whatever progress I achieve appears to be insignificant.

So here I am tonight staring down some writing I must complete for tomorrow while all of the other ton of stuff that needs to be finished in eight days looms. I'll feel so much better once the 11th is here, but for now the stress is weighing me down.

In other words, I haven't knit for more than a week and don't foresee doing any for at least another eight days. I'm trying to keep the blogging interesting, but I fear I'm exhausting whatever ideas may be at my disposal.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Super Bowl shuffle

Thoughts and observations from tonight's Super Bowl XLIII telecast...

For all of the reminders about getting 3D glasses at the grocery for best appreciating two of tonight's ads and tomorrow's episode of Chuck, I never saw any of the red and blue specs or a display.

Despite being eight years younger, John Elway sure looked a lot older than Lynn Swann.

It's a sign of the times that a song (U2's new single) appears in an advertisment (an NFL spot) almost a month before the album is in stores.

Madison Avenue has tried to convince us that the ads are just as important as the game, but if that were true--and I don't think it is--they sure laid an egg with the mostly uninspired bunch that aired tonight.

I thought the blatant product placement was kind of questionable in last night's Saturday Night Live MacGruber sketch, so I really don't know what to think now that I see that it actually is an ad.

Is Toyota aware that transmission isn't the first thing that comes to mind when some of us hear "tranny"? Do gearheads call it that?

Instant replay appeared to get the calls correct--I'd quibble with the fumble call on Arizona's final possession--but talk about draining the urgency out of what happens on the field. All the calls upstairs kills the excitement of the moment.

I really didn't want the Steelers to win, but at least the game was in question down to the final seconds. That's two Super Bowls in a row that have had pretty good finishes, which isn't typical for the championship.

The host network places such importance on the show they air after the Super Bowl, but it might help if the thing started on time or at a reasonable hour in the Eastern time zone. Tonight's actually started close to on time but still didn't begin until after 10:30 p.m.

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