Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Oscars 2007

Nominations are out! I've held off on making my best of 2006 list for movies because I haven't seen everything from last year that I wanted to see.

So far, I have seen the following Oscar nominees: The Pursuit of Happyness (Best Actor), The Queen (Best Actress, Best Director, Best Film, Best Original Screenplay, and others), and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Art Direction, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects). This is a pathetically small list! I am hoping to see The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine, Dreamgirls, and perhaps Letters from Iwo Jima before the ceremony. I also sort of want to see Blood Diamond (though I've heard the film is only so-so; it's apparently a case of good acting in an average movie) and United 93 (if I can stomach that).

Friday, January 19, 2007

Highland Triangle #2!

I have been knitting like crazy lately, so I am through 5 out of 6 repeats of the main body pattern. Then on to the neverending border.... I don't have pictures, but the shawl looks just like the last one, so it shouldn't be hard for you to use your imagination.

In other news, I have been sewing, and I made two new regency dresses. You can see pics at my livejournal.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Best and Worst of 2006: Installment Two

Next up, books! Note that the books included here are from those I read in 2006, not from those published in 2006. I'm not that up to date on my reading material. Also a warning: I didn't get much time to read for fun this year. Even when I was riding the subway to work in the summer, I spent most of my time reading The Economist. So this list is short. *Sniff*

The Best:
1) Daughter of Fortune and Zorro, both by Isabelle Allende. Allende has an amazing voice. She carefully crafts a detailed world for her characters, but doesn't let the environment overpower the story and plot (unlike some talented authors...I'm looking at you, Tom Clancy!). Both of these books examine the immigrant experience with breathtaking honesty and poignancy.

2) Jane and His Lordship's Legacy by Stephanie Barron. Barron's Jane Austen mysteries is one of the best historical mystery series I have ever read. Although early installments were a little obvious (as in you could spot the villain well before the reveal) and mired in their attempts at historical scholarship (Barron frames the books as lost letters and manuscripts by Jane Austen herself), Barron has managed to get past the gimmicks and write engaging stories. This entry is the best of those I have read (I haven't yet gotten to the newest book, which was just released), a fitting end to the Jane/Lord Trowbridge relationship. I'm just not sure where we go from here, as Jane died relatively young, and the series is now nearing the last years of her life.

3) Cavalcade by Walter Satterthwaite. This is the third mystery in the Phil Beaumont and Jane Turner series. In it Jane and Phil investigate an assassination attempt on Hitler. It's a really weird book, but Satterthwaite makes his characters accessible and really tries to take the darkness of his subject matter seriously. But not too seriously. If you want to check out this series, I would recommend starting from the beginning, though (with Escapade). The previous two entries were stronger.

Honorable mentions to Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding and North by Northanger by Carrie Bebris. Just some chick-lit goodness.

The Worst:
1) The Edwardian mystery series by Marion Chesney. These mysteries are on crack. Chesney just likes to jump from one situation to the next, without any explanation, and then suddenly reveal the murderer in a cliched final reveal scene. Skip these.

2) Yet again, all the books I didn't get to read this year. Damn you, lack of free time!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Best and Worst of 2006: Installment One

Yes, it's that time again! Time for Gloria to make pointless lists about what sort of books, tv, and movies she was into this past year. I know I'm running a bit late, but bear with me; I've been dealing with end of semester stuff.

Let's get the ball rolling with TV.

The Best:
1) ER. This has been at the top of my list now for two years in a row. This is probably because it is my favorite show ever. I realize that this makes me a little biased. However, this show has also been surprisingly successful for NBC during it's 13th (!) season, so much so that they decided not to put it on mid-season hiatus. Season 12 ended strongly, with a massive shoot-out in the ER and with Abby going into labor. Season 13 has been even tighter, with effective guest appearances by Sally Field and Forest Whitaker. But now Laura Innes is leaving! She made Dr. Weaver an interesting and compelling character for 11.5 seasons. Yet, I have faith in the show's continued strength. Even John Stamos is working for me (I got over the Full House connotations).

2) The Closer. This show just keeps getting better. The second season had more zany moments, which really endeared it to me. Even the mysteries are getting less stupid. Kyra Sedgwick is doing a wonderful job, and the entire cast meshes incredibly well. This is the series that will restore faith in the police procedural.

3) The West Wing. It's over! The show ended after 7 years. I was very impressed by their ability to rewrite things after the untimely death of John Spencer. They managed to honor his work while still carrying on with the plot. I'm still a little miffed at the way in which things ended for Toby, but at least he didn't go to prison. And Bradley Whitford finally got me to love Josh, despite the fact that he's a self-righteous bastard. Somehow I like John Wells' softer Josh better than Aaron Sorkin's crazy "I know what I'm doing so just do what I say" Josh. I know, that's blasphemy, but I respect John Wells and Aaron Sorkin. It was a fitting end to a great show.

4) Veronica Mars. I started in on this show just this season. Then Mike and I watched the DVDs of seasons 1 and 2 in about a week. Suffice it to say that I am now obsessed with this show. Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring are phenomenal. Plus the mysteries are compelling (if a little oddly plotted and paced--I hate how they sometimes drop things for episodes at a time). I do think that the Lily Kane case is the best arc the show will ever have, and that it suffers now because of it. But I'll still watch for the Logan and Veronica scenes alone. It seems unlikely that this show will get another season (they only got a 20 episode order for this one). I just hope Logan and Veronica end up together in some suitably happy relationship.

5) Heroes. This show creeps me out. The gore in the indestructible cheerleader scenes is a bit much for me. But so far it has been really well constructed, with tight cliffhangers. And it balances a lot of characters effectively. I've been a fan of Adrian Pasdar since he had a recurring role on Judging Amy, so I'm pleased to see him, even if he is playing a horrible person (though I am sure he will be redeemed somehow). It is also great to see Milo Ventimiglia and Greg Grunberg (of Gilmore Girls and Alias, respectively). Plus the Tim Sale artwork is beautiful, as always.

6) Scrubs and 30 Rock. All hail the return of Must See TV Thursdays! I am not normally a sitcom person, but these two are just too much fun to pass up. Plus, they're on right before ER, so it's no big deal to turn on the TV a little early. At first I was puzzled by 30 Rock, but Alec Baldwin kept me coming back. But now the show is genuinely hilarious. Scrubs has always been strong, and it is just rolling through what looks to be another great season (apparently its last, as Zack Braff is not coming back).

7) Gilmore Girls. It's weird without Amy Sherman Palladino, but Gilmore Girls is still trucking along. At first I was afraid that the dialogue was going to get just fake enough to become annoying (it's not as if it has ever been that natural). But the new show runners seem to have ironed that out. I really hope Lorelai can just settle down and be happy. Christopher is trying so hard to make their relationship work. The Rory/Logan storyline is getting a bit boring though. Somehow Rory is just not as cute as she used to be. I did love the knitting episode. Lorelai even had a shirt from Craftster!

8) Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. This show has SO much promise. Great cast, great director, great writer...but somehow it's not quite right yet. Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry are really working it, as are Amanda Peet and Steven Webber, but the plots and dialogue aren't really singing. Many of the situations feel stilted (after having watched West Wing and some Sports Night, I keep thinking, "...and here is where we get the patented Aaron Sorkin touchy feely scene...and here is the classic freak out scene...etc."). But Nevada Day was nice, and I still have faith that this many talented people will make something of this show.

Honorable mention to Without a Trace. There is just something about Anthony LaPaglia that is watchable.

The Worst:
1) Alias. Arrrrrrrgh! At least they brought Michael Vartan back. That and the fact that Victor Garber's Jack ended the show credibly are really the only saving graces. I would prefer to forget that seasons 4 and 5 ever existed.

2) CBS for canceling Smith after only a few episodes. I was very intrigued to see John Wells working on a show that had such unlikeable characters. And the first episode was so well made that I thought it could be a feature film. A good feature film. Ah well, better luck next time.

Highland Triangle #1 Finished!!

Ta Da! (Click for a bigger pic.) I finished Highland Triangle #1. Only 2 more to go! This pattern was actually quite enjoyable to knit, and it wasn't a bad introduction to lace. I used about 3/4 of a cone of Brown Sheep Nature Spun, on US 10 Denise circulars. I have to say I was surprised by how big it came out. I wasn't expecting something this wide. But that does make it very snuggly. Considering that I didn't touch this for weeks at a time, I was also surprised by how fast it knit up. I started it in the middle of October, and I finished it right at the end of December. My hope is that I will be able to speed things up a bit on the next two. And I already started the next one.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!!!!

Man, sorry I went so long without posting. December got sucked up by finals. Anyway, I finished two classes, International Trade and Cross-Section Econometrics. I only have Industrial Organization to deal with during reading period. Plus, I have signed up to present a research paper in February at the International brown bag. I am not anywhere close to being ready for that, but I think I can get something together this month.

Christmas was nice. Mike and I spent most of Christmas weekend watching 1.5 seasons worth of Veronica Mars. That rocked. But it also made all the episodes blur together. I guess that just means we'll have to watch them again!

In knitting news, I have FINISHED AND BLOCKED Highland Triangle #1. I even started Triangle #2. I will have pics soon.

Also, I Play With Pins and Needles has tagged me to list "6 Weird Things About Myself." Let's see....

1) I like eating ice cream for breakfast. Mint chocolate chip is my favorite breakfast choice. But not for when I'm eating ice cream for a snack. Then french vanilla or cookie dough is better. I haven't indulged in a breakfast sundae in quite some time, though.

2) My nose makes a squeaky noise when I blow it. It's really embarrassing sometimes.

3) I have a fear of geese.

4) I love the way my parents' dog smells at the spot on top of his head between his ears. My sister calls it the "puppy corn chip smell." Somehow that scent reminds me of home.

5) I have a friend from high school who has repeatedly given me a stick (as in a twig from his backyard) for Christmas. It started as a joke many years ago, for some unknown reason.

6) I collect those souvenir spoons you see in vacation spots. I have hundreds.

I tag Jessie, and anyone else who wants!