Friday, April 30, 2010

Making connections

I am not on Facebook for various reasons, although I've debated signing up for it. I hesitated to use Twitter, but I've found it to be a really terrific tool with unexpected benefits. That was never more apparent than last week while I was out of town at a film festival.

Example #1:

I arrived early at my destination and had time to get something to eat and pick up a few things that I needed. Newspaper-less, I caught up on the messages in my Twitter feed and found that an online outlet was asking if anyone was going to be at the festival and was interested in writing about it.

I was already there and intending to provide coverage on my site, but if someone was willing to pay me, who am I to say no? I responded to the tweet and then returned to my plans. OK, so I kept checking for a reply that never ended up coming, but this kind of opportunity would not have presented itself any other way.

Example #2:

I set up a column in my Twitter client to follow all hashtag activity for the festival. I was able to access the flow of comments about the event while in the middle of it, which was an interesting way to experience it. There have been things about the festival I've enjoyed and been irritated by, but I didn't necessarily have confirmation that others agreed. Some of the hashtag "conversation" supported what I felt worked and didn't work.

Example #3:

I am part of three voting bodies that gives year-end awards in cinema. Obviously I know the people in the local group, but I've met very few fellow critics in the other two. I knew that one of them was also at the Illinois festival, so I posted a tweet as a heads up to let him (#1) know who I am and that I would be seeking him out. (I believe he's based out of Seattle.)

Meanwhile, one of my followers in New York (#2), who I've "known" for several years through a film discussion board but have never met, saw my tweet and suggested I also say hello to someone he knew who was also at the festival. This guy lives in Istanbul (#3).

Person #3 saw #2's tweet and sent me a message telling me where he was at the moment. I replied that I was on the way outside but was held up on the stairs. (I should point out that I knew who I was looking for because #3 had been involved with panels and post-film discussions.) By the time I made it outside the rain was coming down hard, so I missed him. I posted another tweet with information about where my seat was and that I'd try to catch him later in the day.

A few hours later I was able to meet up with #1 and #3, as well as speak briefly with someone else they knew whose name is familiar from the community of film critics. I had a really good chat with #3--good thinking #2--and plan to keep in touch.

But what does it all mean, you ask? One criticism of the internet and social media is that it distances people from actual interaction. I won't deny that there is truth in that argument. In this instance, though, Twitter facilitated interactions that never would have taken place without the technology. (Insert various caveats about being smart and cautious.) It allows for connections to be made that may not have occurred to us or may have been difficult.

In other words, Twitter isn't just about letting the world know what you had for breakfast, although it can be that if you want.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

A knitting Community

Tonight's episode of Community begins with Britta, played by Gillian Jacobs, knitting what turns out to be an eye patch for her new shelter-rescued kitten. I have no idea if the actress knits, but whoever arrived at the decision to make the character a knitter couldn't have found a better hobby for her.

Britta defends herself against charges of being an old cat lady by saying that knitting is hip--and yes, fellow knitters, we know it is enjoying renewed popularity--but this character also tends to be tone deaf to how others outside a subculture perceive things. This defense struck me as similar to a sentiment I've run across every now and then on Ravelry threads: don't people know that knitting is cool now? (Answer: not really.)

What makes the hobby such a perfect fit for the character is that she is a feminist and progressive who can be painfully earnest about saying the right things and living the right way. If Britta had said something about the yarn being cruelty-free fiber, then you would have had proof someone had done their research. (Again, I'm just saying I've read some stuff on Ravelry.)

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that younger knitters are humorless, liberal feminists. What I am getting at is that the knitting resurgence started, in part, out of a feminist impulse to reclaim traditional women's activities.

It's in such a spirit that it makes complete sense for Britta to be a knitter. She would see knitting as a political act and appreciate the self-sufficiency the craft allows one to demonstrate by making things. I could easily envision her making small knitted gifts for the rest of her study group.

See, knitters get excited about seeing their hobby depicted and even write crazy blog entries about something that amounted to thirty seconds at most of TV time.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Turn it up

Stuck in a rut and wishing it would warm up. I'm ready to roll down the windows and turn up the stereo.

But for now blasting a favorite from one of my all-time favorite bands will have to suffice.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I was searching for some information on the top media markets when I stumbled upon a game site. I then vanished down the black hole of its quizzes and lost the rest of the evening. Seriously, I probably spent close to two hours seeing how well I could do on various challenges.

And that's why this is all I have tonight.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

En garde

I've used today to finish up some writing elsewhere about the out-of-state event I was at the past five days, so today you get a cat doing battle with a knitting needle.

I know, I'm scraping here.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Japanese yarn

I've made it home safe and sound, but I'm just a little worn out. Rather than leave you empty-handed yet again, here's some knitting-related anime:

That was intense.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

One more for the road

21st century communication technology is great. I have what should be a pretty interesting entry to write about it, but I'm dog tired at 3:15 a.m. I don't know good my film festival writing has been--probably mediocre--but I've done a lot of it.

That sleep sacrifice means I have to stall here again. I should get home tomorrow night at a halfway decent time, so I'll try to throw you a bone then rather than making excuses once again.

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Friday, April 23, 2010


What's going on in the world? Between attending panels and films, conversation and meals with a fellow festivalgoer I've come to know over the years, and writing blog entries about this event, I feel like everything beyond the walls of the theater or the city's border doesn't really exist.

Or maybe it's the lack of sleep.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010


The last two nights I've spent a couple hours writing up the film festival I'm attending, which has left precious little time to post something here. I suspect that's probably going to be the case for the next two nights as well.

As you probably know, I prefer to keep my identity pseudo-anonymous here, so I won't link directly to my other site. That said, who I am isn't a total secret either. If you go to this page, you'll see a list of people, myself included, who are covering the event. I suspect I shouldn't be hard to find for most of you.

Plus, now you have two places to read about how little I'm sleeping.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Checking in

Hey folks, just chiming in to say that I'm in Illinois at a film festival and have already stayed up way past my bedtime--2:45 a.m., to be exact--to write up the event on my other blog. If you know where to look, you're welcome to check it out in place of anything meaningful here today.

I hope to have a little more time to devote to this space the rest of the time, but I may be deluded in thinking that's possible.

I'm going to blame today's shortcomings on not being able to check into the hotel until their regular time. I burned too many minutes waiting to get into the room when I could have typed up something.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bombs away

Yarn bombing stories are blowing up! (instant rim shot)

Some folks in Austin have encouraged one artist to do a public installation. So the question is, welcome covering up of roadside eyesores or distractions for drivers?

I've yet to come across one of these in the wild. Have you?

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Monday, April 19, 2010


Stitch N' Pitch events are starting to pop up, so it's time for those outside the knitting world to take notice of this combination of needlearts and baseball. Are any in your future?

(I don't really have anything to add. I'm trying to get ready to leave town for a few days, but I want to stay "on topic" with the blog entries as I figure I've been overdoing it with the other stuff of late. Perhaps I'll be more entertaining in the near future.)

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Underwater knitting

If you're looking for a knitting challenge, how about knitting underwater? I don't mean knitting while on a submarine but sitting underwater and working on a project.

It seems like these UK knitters spend a lot of time troubling themselves with the small issue of getting oxygen, so I'm curious how much they actually knit while down there. I also wonder if splicing two strands of wool is really easy at the bottom of a pool.

The stunt was part of a fundraising event.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Passenger side

This weekend's Car Talk features a caller wondering about the safety of knitting while in the front passenger seat, specifically when the airbag deploys. (You can hear the call in segment 3 here, although this link will surely change by next weekend. I'll try to update when it has a permanent link.)

Can't say I've ever thought about this being an issue, mainly because it's not an option for me. I'm usually behind the wheel and thus, to state the obvious, not knitting.

The Car Talk guys give some good advice. Move the seat back as far as possible, whether it's all the way back or as far back without making a rear passenger uncomfortable. Don't hold your knitting at chest or face level. Perhaps most importantly, don't let fear get in the way of doing something you enjoy and that has minimal risk.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

La Vie en tricot

Within the knitting world it is common knowledge that Julia Roberts is a knitter. If a journalist is in need of a go-to celeb to represent knitting as trendy, she's inevitably the one whose name comes up. Rightfully so, I imagine. She's probably the top box office star who we know knits.

French actress Marion Cotillard doesn't have the same level of fame, at least in the United States, but you can add her to the list of celebrity knitters. You want more proof? Here you go.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wrong place, wrong time

You know, maybe knitting in the front row at a stand-up comedy show isn't the best idea.

(Note: the video has some not safe for work language.)

Can't say that I found the improv all that funny, although that has nothing to do with being a knitter. It just didn't make me laugh.

Knitting while a comedian does a routine is practically begging to get called out, though. If it draws looks in coffee shops and restaurants, I'm inclined to believe it might draw a little attention from a stand-up comic performing in front of you.

Also, the non-knitters don't understand.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

But are they knits?

Hmm, "10 Smart Clothes You'll Be Wearing Soon". Conspicuously absent from the list: jetpacks.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Turning the tables

Although I tend to veer off course, this is a knitting blog. I've been out of the loop lately, so tell me, what's going on in the knitting world?


Monday, April 12, 2010

Radio radio

Since I had an aftermarket radio installed in my car, I've spent a lot of time listening to a commercial-free HD channel that plays modern rock hits of yesteryear--or at least what the programmer defines as classics from alternative acts of the late '70s through early '90s. A significant amount of what gets played isn't heard anywhere else on the radio, so it's been nice to be reunited with old favorites and songs I forgot about.

For instance, take the band Icehouse. I'm not sure if they belong on that station but anyway... I hadn't heard them in a long, long time, yet both of the singles I'm embedding sounded pleasing to my teenage ears and keep me listening when they come on the radio. The production dates them--and the videos are very much of their era--but I'll defend them as solid pop songs.

"Electric Blue" may well have been my favorite song during my freshman year of high school. It must have been the basic power chords and obligatory saxophone solo.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Now that's a knife

While I tread water trying to think of things to write about, take a look at knitting with the largest needles, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The knitter did this in 2006, and as far as I can tell, the record still stands.

Here's a little more information about this particular record. For more Guinness Book knitting records, check this out.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010


Welcome to spring weather, I guess. Early in the week the temperature hovered around eighty. Overnight temperatures the last couple days have dipped low enough for frost to appear.

Long story short: I have a cold or something. Blah.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Mo' Mo

One of the most read entries I've written on this blog was about Mo Rocca's uncomplimentary comments about handmade sweaters and the Ravelers who made him a sweater. If hell is knitters scorned, at least you'll get a nice garment out of saying something negative about the handcraft.

It's been almost a year since knitters set out to prove him wrong about itchy handmade sweaters. Now Rocca has done a reevaluation about knitting.

Whether he sticks with knitting or not, it looks like everyone turned out a winner. Rocca got a sweater and new appreciation for knitting, knitters get recognition for their hard work, and Ravelry gets some great PR.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

For the kids

155 knit dolls--all unique--for charity.

I'm not sure why I like reading stories like this. Regardless, it's more edifying to you than some BS I come up with as a day's content when I don't know what to write about.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

No way!

Land sakes alive! There's a man who knits!

Seriously, though, it's a nice article and video.

(I've been wiped out from the muscle relaxants to help with the neck, so that's all I've got today.)

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Sing it

Zoning out tonight and sampling the new album from Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. (The video is from a previous release, not the latest one.) The hot wax on AM radio was a big influence during my early years listening to music, so these retro soul sounds from today really hit the spot. They also go well with the suddenly warm weather we're having here. Enjoy.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

Under the radar

Last Monday I went to the Southern Theatre to see Joanna Newsom in concert. I'm not a hardcore fan--the album covers and vocal technique have put me off in the past--but I've been won over by her new triple album. That wouldn't necessarily be enough to get me to pony up for a ticket, but I'm sufficiently plugged in to know that this is a pretty big show by indie rock (or whatever you want to call it) standards. Her current tour either hits big cities or prominent college towns--I think Columbus qualifies as both--and this appearance means it's unlikely she'll pass through again anytime soon. So I took a chance, bought a ticket, and ended up really enjoying the concert.

Tonight I'm going to see The xx. (Chances are you've heard them in the AT&T commercial with Apolo Anton Ohno that ran during the Winter Olympics.) The buzzed about band's show has been sold out for some time and is another feather in the cap of local bookers. There are cities bigger than this one that aren't getting it.

Aside from the obvious reason of enjoying the music, I'm also attending because it means taking advantage of what this city has to offer. Staying in Columbus wasn't an automatic choice when I finished college, although I liked the area and preferred to stick around if all things were equal. As things turned out, I remained here and have been happy to do so. It has, for me, the ideal qualities of where I'd like to live: the feel of a smaller city and its ease of navigation with the cultural benefits of a large city.

Not every group or artist I'd like to see comes to town, and seeing any of the three major professional sports means driving a couple hours. Nevertheless, without driving more than fifteen or twenty miles I've been able to see plenty of bands and films and even world-renowned filmmakers that don't always visit places bigger than here. It is pretty remarkable the more I think about it.

Columbus doesn't have the cachet of Austin, Texas or Portland, Oregon. It's more like a well-kept secret, but I'd like to believe that those in the know appreciate this city beyond its reputation of a college football-crazy cowtown.

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Sunday, April 04, 2010


The year to date has been an exceptionally busy one. The first month and a half was standard time-devouring stuff pertaining to work and the natural course of the calendar. Just when it seemed things would ease up the car accident and its attendant issues followed. Then I went to the film festival and returned to the office just as classes resumed. We're more than three months into the year, and I can't help but wonder where the time has gone.

There have been good things and bad things, fun things and tedious things. What there hasn't been is downtime. To be fair, some of that is my own fault. I've stubbornly stuck to doing what I want to do (or feel like I should do) when there's been this nagging sense that I ought to take it easy. Something like the film festival, as tiring as it can be, was good for me. I just needed more time around it to recover.

Today is the first day in some time that I've not been on task in one way or another. I went to the Easter service, picked up a few things at the grocery, and then came home to watch TV and sleep. It's been a restful day and a clarifying one.

You see, my neck has been bothering me since the prescription for anti-inflammatory meds ran out a few weeks ago. At first I thought I might have slept wrong on it and then tried to convince myself that it was just part of being tired. I haven't had time (or made time) to see a doctor, and since I don't have a regular physician, I'm sure how fast I might get in to see anyone anyway.

It's time for the excuses to stop. Clearly I'm still having whiplash-related symptoms, and I need to get it checked out. If I don't make time for recovery, who else will?

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Say uncle

The mystery has been cracked. My sister-in-law is pregnant.

The hints were there in the note and tiny item in the package, but the lack of coming right out and saying "we're having a baby" threw me for a loop. While I didn't think it was an April Fool's Day joke, I thought it might have something to do with Easter. The news came out of the blue and was so indirectly conveyed that I didn't know how to interpret it.

I guess I have some baby knitting to do in the upcoming months.

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Say what?

'Twas a long day away from home, which culminated in seeing one of the weirdest films I've ever seen. What could top that?

Upon my late arrival at home I removed the packages from my mailbox and found one from my brother and sister-in-law. I believe they made the trip from Texas to be at my parents' house this weekend. I'm the only one who isn't there, so I figured the package contained some small gift that they were giving everyone else.

Well, the package did contain a small gift in the form of a tiny sock, a note, and a piece of candy. The note is awfully coy about its meaning, but if I'm to go by the evidence, I'm inclined to believe that my sister-in-law is pregnant. If that's the correct guess, this is surprising news, yet I may be totally off base in my interpretation of this. I don't think I am, but honestly, I'm not sure.

Leave it to them to throw the biggest curveball in a day in which I see a movie featuring a piano eating a Japanese teenage girl (among plenty of other "did I just see that?" moments).

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

We are the champions

Winning the National Invitation Tournament doesn't come anywhere close to winning the NCAA Tournament in college basketball. Essentially the NIT is a consolation competition for teams that weren't quite good enough to get into the top one. Nevertheless, watching the University of Dayton claim the NIT championship tonight means a lot to me as a lifelong fan of the Flyers. My team, the one I've lived and died with for so many years, has won a title, even if others dismiss the accomplishment as meaning they're the 66th best team in the nation. (The NCAAs take 65 teams.)

In the college basketball pecking order Dayton is usually referred to as a mid-major, which means that they don't play in the top tier conferences, i.e. those that have the most money and pull. Dayton has a storied basketball history and is consistently among the attendance leaders, but they are always fighting for respect rather than having it automatically granted to them. (In fact, the bigger teams often won't play them except under the most favorable conditions because UD doesn't equal an assured win.) That they beat North Carolina, one of the premier programs and one I may loathe more than any other, to win the NIT makes the victory all the sweeter.

Yes, it's "only the NIT, but if I'm being rational, the chance of them ever winning an NCAA championship is unlikely. The way the deck is stacked means that the best Dayton can hope for in any year is a Sweet 16 of Elite 8 finish. Maybe there's a fluke year, like 2010 Final Four qualifier Butler, but it's hardly something to expect. The goal is always going to be making the NCAA Tournament rather than winning the NIT, but as consolations go, this one's pretty satisfying.

The NIT looms large in Dayton basketball history--they last won it in 1968--and growing up I would hear and was told that back when the Flyers racked up NIT appearances, it was more prestigious than the NCAAs. That's certainly not been the case for some time, but it adds more meaning to this title than it might for a school without that history. (UD ranks second all-time in wins in the NIT.)

So an NIT championship has value. The five Flyers wins in this tournament featured the kind of effort and execution that was lacking in many of the close but frustrating losses during what had been a disappointing season. The NIT showed what this team could do if everything was going right. As a fan I was proud to watch them give it their all. Plus, to see the underdog slay giant after giant and be awarded the trophy isn't something that happens very often. For one night, though, the Flyers, a team that has meant as much to me as any other I've followed since I was little, came out on top. In its own way, it meant I did too.

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