Sunday, May 25, 2008

Check it out

I finally took the time to install the amazingly cool Ravelry progress bars on my blog. Look! It's right there on the right. These are all the knitting projects I haven't touched in ages. Links to more details (hyperlinked project name) are only available for Ravelry members, alas, but clicking the little photos takes you to the larger image on Flickr. I added these in preparation for a big Getting Unstuck on My Knitting Projects post. Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Book: The Big Turnoff

Subtitle: Confessions of a TV-Addicted Mom Trying to Raise a TV-Free Kid

By Ellen Currey-Wilson

I got this one out of the new books section of the library, a delightfully sunny open spot where I know just which shelves have the memoirs on them. I figured this book was especially appropriate for TV Turn-off Week (I just had to get in one last mention, did anyone else who's reading participate this year?), and it was a quick read. It was a little bit difficult to read at times, because I recognized myself a bit in the author, and she seems like a bit of a whack-job in parts. I also was reminded in part why I don't want kids: I might be the same kind of parent, rather extreme about some things. That and all the horror stories my neighbors and others are constantly telling me about pregnancy and child-rearing. They don't mean them as horror stories, but to me they are. Losing your teeth to the calcium needs of the fetus? Being covered in someone else's vomit? Not for me.

Anyhoo, back to the book. It was decent. It might sound arrogant to say it, but often I read books and think, I could do better than that. One might not believe it from the quick posts I dash off here, but I really think I could do a better job. And maybe if I didn't watch so much TV (well, DVDs) myself, I would get around to writing a book some day, so until then I'll shut up and just say bravo to the people who do get it together to publish books. Meanwhile, it was good to read about someone else kicking the habit. I consider it TV to be of my worst vices, a shameful addiction. I want to just put the TV(s) in the attic for a few years, but it's my numb-out drug when things get too overwhelming, which is so often these days. I don't know if I would recommend the book, but I would recommend TV Turn-off Week next year. I might not even wait until next year to try it again. I got a lot of reading done (switching escape modes, I know, but one has to take it in stages sometimes, right?), and I felt happier overall. I definitely could use more of that.

Book: The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton

This book was one of the rejects on the day I picked A Dangerous Fortune, but I picked it up after finishing that one. I had gotten it on sale, I think, ages ago and then never read it. Either that or I inherited it from my mom, not sure. It was worth saving all this time, either way. I liked it. My vast ignorance of history serves me well in the genre of historical fiction, because I'm never quite sure how things turn out. Set in the 1850s in Kansas Territory, it's the fictional autobiography of a wife of an abolitionist settler. The really enjoyable part of this book was not so much the plot, which was good, too, but the voice of the narrator-heroine. It was also the perfect book to be reading as I passed through Gettysburg on my way to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. My Gettysburg and MDSW adventures are topics for another post, but I enjoyed visiting a similar time period in this book, just prior to the Civil War. I would recommend this book, to anyone really. It's a solid piece of fiction, exceptional writing, not quite a dandy good yarn, but with a story line that's certainly good enough to keep one entertained and interested right up to the end.

Movie: Starter for 10

I am so jealous of Alice Eve and Rebecca Hall. Why can't my job description include making out with James McAvoy? Seriously, I ask you. I only got this movie out of the library because he was in it, and he's my current favorite eye candy. It was actually pretty decent as a film. It could have been a lot worse plot-wise, and I still would have liked it for the visuals alone. The plot was a tad predictable, but I didn't mind. The second best part after dear James (actually, third best, because first best was really James in the DVD extras talking in his regular enchanting Glaswegian accent) was the 80s music. Ah, it took me back. University in the 80s, or in my case late 80s-early 90s, listening to 80s music. The Cure, The Undertones (who didn't make the soundtrack, oddly), The Buzzcocks, it was all there. And in at least one case, they played the whole song. I love a good musical transition in a movie, playing a whole song while moving something significant along. Plus, another happy ending. I recommend it, especially for anyone with a fondness for 80s tunes and pretty blue eyed Scottish men.

Movie: Martian Child

Watched this movie for the first time back in March on the plane on the way home from Scotland, but I had missed the first minute or two of audio fiddling around with the channel settings, so I wanted to see it again. It was nice to watch it on a screen larger than 8 inches wide, although it would have been even nicer to see in the theater because the imagery was so lush in places. John Cusack and a cute kid. I enjoyed it. Sad, maybe moving is a better word, in parts. Those abandoned child stories always get me right in the gut. But a good story, and good acting, and it was pretty, so overall I give it a thumbs up. Plus, happy ending, yay. Too few of those in the world.