Thursday, August 13, 2009

Man...

...am I glad I forced myself to learn LaTeX last year. It seemed sort of stupid at the time to spend two days reading tutorials and typing up nonsense, but it is really paying off now!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Buttercup Bag

I made a Buttercup Bag (free pattern!) recently. It takes a fat quarter of fabric for the outside and another fat quarter for the inside lining. I found that the triangle-shaped scraps from the last A-line skirt I made were enough. I did have to flat line the lining fabric to some heavier cotton twill to keep the purse from being too floppy. I also inserted cotton webbing into the handle to make it stronger. The outcome is a nice, small shoulder bag.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Skirt!

I realised recently that some of my favorite skirts are getting a bit ragged. The weather has been so bad most of the summer that I hadn't started wearing skirts most days until the past week or so.

I thought this was a perfect time to try out a new book I recently got, Sew What! Skirts. They have instructions for drafting a basic A-line and a basic straight skirt to your measurements. Then there are lots of customization ideas. I tried the A-line with a side zipper, and I am very happy with the results. Now I have my own pattern to use again and again. Not bad for an 11 USD book (on Amazon).

Plus, and this was super exciting for me, I learned to use my serger! I got it as a wedding present over a year ago, and I hadn't even opened the box until this weekend. But Mike helped me get over the fear (knives! two needles!), I successfully figured out threading it, and I was able to use it to finish the interior seam allowances.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Movie Review: Harry Potter 6 (Half-Blood Prince)

You know what the problem is with the Harry Potter movies? They've been coming out forever. By the time they all come out, a decade (give or take) will have gone by. There's nothing per se wrong with this, but it means that I never remember everything that happened before when I go to the theater for the current installment. I could fix the problem by watching them all again before each new release, but that would mean subjecting myself to the sketchiness of the early movies. I nearly fell asleep in the theater during the first one. I also don't own all of them (only movie 5). And reading the books in a marathon session beforehand, like my husband sometimes does, probably won't help either. Then I'll start focusing on all the little (and big) things they changed to translate the stories to film, which will also annoy me.

Leaving aside this fuzzy memory feeling, Harry Potter 6 was a good experience. The movie was exciting most of the way through (though it was a bit episodic), and Daniel Radcliffe turns in a solid performance. They got really lucky in casting him, since there wasn't a lot of evidence he could act in movie 1. He happens to have matured into a dependable performer.

Green Day at the TD Banknorth Garden, 20 July 2009

I saw Green Day (with opening act The Bravery) last night. I have gone to see them in the past, but the last time was a little over 7 years ago. I was impressed with their performance. They were just as good as I remembered them, with better production values (they were not as flashy on the previous tours I saw them, probably because they weren't as popular at that time). Billie Joe was, as usual, very into audience interaction, calling up three people to sing Longview and another kid to play guitar on Jesus of Suburbia (which is quite an ambitious song to try that with, btw). Their set was of good length too, over 2 hours, I believe. Much longer and I would have collapsed from too much dancing! Plus, The Bravery was also impressive, with the lead singer really delivering melodic, energized vocals. He did have a weird habit of sitting down on the stage or facing backwards while singing, which looked odd on an arena stage. But it made me want to buy an album by them, regardless. I'll check out their itunes offerings tonight.

The Boston Globe review is here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Movie Review: Taken

This was an incredibly simple movie. The always watchable Liam Neeson plays a retired spy who left the business in order to spend more time with his teenage daughter (played by Maggie Grace). He reluctantly grants her permission to travel to Paris with a friend, even though he's nervous about her safety. Of course, it turns out that his fears were warranted, as his daughter and her friend are almost immediately kidnapped by a human trafficking/prostitution ring. The rest of the movie follows Neeson as he works to save his daughter.

There is nothing special about this movie. The action sequences are tight, but not groundbreaking; Neeson's performance is solid but not astonishing. However, at only 1.5 hours long, it doesn't wear out it's welcome, and it is clear that it doesn't have delusions of grandeur.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

??????

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. So this is the natural progression from zombies?

My husband Mike suggests the following next installments:
Northanger Abbey and Neanderthals?
Persuasion and Pirates?
Mansfield Park and Midgets?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Movie Review: The Quiet American

I got this through Netflix. An interesting little film about a journalist in early 1950s Vietnam, before the French pullout. Michael Caine stars as the journalist Thomas Fowler stationed in Saigon, living with his Vietnamese mistress Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen). Fowler's comfortable life is disrupted when an American aid worker, Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser), arrives and begins to compete for Phuong's attentions. Pyle is idealistic and energetic, committed to defeating the communists in Vietnam and hoping to offer Phuong the marriage that Fowler cannot. This love triangle goes through a number of tense battles and then ends predictably in tears. Meanwhile, the war in Vietnam continues, and it appears that the French efforts against the communists are being supplanted by those of enterprising locals. But is unclear who is funding these new players...

Overall, I found the movie a bit odd but still thought provoking. The love story and the war sequences are not well-integrated, but it was interesting to see a film about the Vietnam conflict before large-scale American involvement. The book by Graham Greene upon which the movie was based was published in 1955, before all of that occurred. But given that this movie was released in 2002, my watching of it was colored by what I knew was going to happen in Vietnam during the 1960s.