Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

NY Time Review We saw the 2005 version of "Pride & Prejudice" today (A-).  The acting was good by everybody.  I'm sure everybody remembers the story from Jane Austin's novel of the same name... rural family with 5 marriageable daughters... two oldest daughters fall in love with handsome and rich men, but it takes the entire movie to get them together.  It's a romance, one of the originals that helped spawn an entire publishing genre.



Matthew MacFadyen plays Mr. Darcy perfectly - a sensitive and extremely snobbish man who is put off by the Bennet girls and their family.  Keira Knightley is Elizabeth Bennet, the proud girl who is the object of Mr. Darcy's reluctant affections.  MacFadyen and Knightly are both gorgeous.



It's nice to see Donald Sutherland play a good man.  I've been watching him be a monster politician in the Commander and Chief TV series and he's just despicable.  In this movie he is the lovable father of the Bennet girls who has learned to go with the flow of all the women running his life.



The woman playing Mrs. Bennet, Brenda Blethyn, has played many more serious rolls very well, most notably "Secrets & Lies".  She's a wonderful Mrs. Bennet.



I recommend this one if you are in the mood for a happy ending, beautiful costumes and beautiful scenery.



Sunday, November 27, 2005

Jarhead

We went to see Jarhead today (B+).  It's based on Anthony Swoffard's memoir of Desert Storm, in the early 1990s.  He's a trained sniper, but never shoots his gun at anybody while he is there.  The movie shows how he is trained, both mentally and physically for war... and then they send him to Kuwait and there is no conflict.  Nothing but months and months of boredom.  The young men fill their time doing the very crude things young men do, and becoming more and more stressed out.  Their equipment fails in the desert.  Their wives and girlfriends leave them.  Some of them are brutal sociopaths, some are cowards, some are just waiting to go home, and some want to be heroes.  Finally they see 4-5 days of action, but they arrive at places after the killing has occurred.  Then they are sent home.  And, according to Mr. Swoffard they are never the same again.



The acting is very good, especially by Jamie Fox.  What a difference between Jamie Fox's soldier and Jamie Fox's Ray Charles.  It really shows what a fine actor he is.



Bidwell and Backyards

Bidwell Park We went for a walk in Bidwell Park again.  One would think it's all there is to do around town.  Well, it is the nicest thing to do outside in Chico, or just about any other city.  It was cold this morning, in the 30's.  We bundled up - hat, gloves, scarf, down vest, fleece coat - and we walked for about an hour.  I'm so grateful that I can walk.  I would say I'm grateful that I can smell the good air, but I still have this head cold and can't smell a thing.




Home DepotAfter the walk we went for coffee and hot chocolate, a nice treat.  Then off we went to The Home Depot.  I have mixed feelings about big discount stores in Chico.  On one hand I think big stores suck the character out of a small town.  On the other hand, I like the prices offerred at the big stores.  Chico has kept their downtown alive by opening small specialty shops and restaurants.  And, they have most things the college students need within walking distance of the campus.



It is a shame that Chico has decided to help finance a new multi-story parking garage by raising parking meter costs.  It used to cost 25 cents for an hour's parking.  Now it costs 50 cents to park for an hour.  Humph.  In the back of my mind I still have the idea of taking my knitting to the City Council meetings so I can see how this little city is run.



Today's reason for going to The Home Depot was to buy an electric leaf blower, which I did.  I brought it home, plugged it in and blew up a storm in the back yard.  It does an okay job of getting rid of the leaves.  Now the third garden refuse bin is full of leaves so far this Fall, and my shoulder was saved the pain of raking all those leaves.



Friday, November 25, 2005

The Day After

A huge meal was eaten yesterday, and a good time had.  Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming....  A long nap today :-)



Ruso and Sammy This picture shows Ruso on the left and Sammy on the right actually touching.  This is a first!  They have been fed by the same keepers for two years and this is the first time Ruso felt safe enough to be this close to Sammy.  I think it had something to do with the warm sunshine coming through the upstairs window.




Pistachio and wisteria The cat picture was taken a couple of days ago.  This picture was taken this afternoon.  As you can see this morning's rain storm has knocked all the leaves of the pistachio trees, but the wisteria is not ready to give up it's leaves.  This is the view out of one of my loft windows.



Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Having Fun

Here is a fun piece of tech art, reminiscent of the New Yorker.



Here is a puzzle game.  This sort of thing could be part of an aptitude test, but I prefer to think of it as a game.



Both of the above links came from David Gordon's blog, The Deipnosophist (where the science of investing becomes an art of living).  According to the free dictionary, a deipnosophist is "someone skilled at across-the-table chit chat", a schmoozer :-)



Sunday, November 20, 2005

North State Symphony

Today's program included



  1. Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), La Valse, Poeme Choreographique pour Orchestre (1919-20)


  2. Alberto Ginastera (1916-83) Variaciones concertantes, Op. 23 (1953)


  3. Edward Elgar (1857-1934) Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85 for Cello and Orchestra (1918-19), Michael Reynolds, cellist


It was good and the Symphony played well under the direction of Kyle Wiley Pickett.  It was all music written in the 1900's, so it was a little more modern than I'm used to.  The music wasn't way out there.  There were lots of lush strings, harps, and a cello solo.  I liked the Elgar the best.  Jan liked the Ginastera.  We both like less modern music better.



I'm glad I went.



Yard Work

Yard Work The leaves are really falling now!  Today was the second time I filled a huge garden refuse bin to be taken when the garbage goes.  The picture on the left has two arrows pointing at work.  The one on the top is pointing to a plant that needs its Fall pruning.  I'm not sure what kind of plant it is, but it propagates by sending all kinds of runners out just under the surface of the dirt.  In order to keep it in check, the runners and their new plants have to be pulled up once a year.  Okay, that's done.



The second job was raking leaves, like the ones pointed to by the arrow on the bottom.  Now the garden refuse bin is full and I have to wait until next Wednesday for an empty bin.  Once per garbage pickup cycle is enough!



One would think that Fall has no blooms, but there are blooms aplenty on the Camellia plants, shown below.  And the Columbine is even making little last ditch efforts (last picture).



Camealia Bloom White Camelia Plant Columbine



Friday, November 18, 2005

Top Down Failure & Spiral Hat

Top Down Failure The picture on the left shows my Top Down Failure.  One of the sleeve caps is still on the sweater, but the other sleeve cap is in a spaghetti-like pile next to it.  I decided to give up on the thing.  I've been not working on it for years.  I don't like the yarn.  Recently I was feeling virtuous so I picked it up and started to add sleeves to the body.  Without realizing it I had screwed up the cable on one of the arms so it didn't match the rest of the sweater.  When I picked up for the sleeve caps, I picked up a different number of stitches for each arm, so the sleeves were not right.  Did I say I don't like the yarn?



So, the most charitable thing I can do is give all the yarn and the unfinished sweater to somebody else.  Does anybody want some Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn and an unfinished sweater?



EZ Spiral Hat Opininionated Knitter I went to a knitting get together today... the Chico Social Knitters Club, which meets at the Heartstrings Yarn Studio.  Since I had nothing on the needles because I had given up on the sweater, I was free to pick up some yarn for the hat on the left which is Elizabeth Zimmermann's Spiral Hat from her Fall, 1967, Newsletter.  Her newsletters have been republished in a book called The Opinionated Knitter.  What a wonderful designer, knitter, and writer she was!


Blue Spiral Hat The picture here is my version of it in the new yarn I picked up yesterday.  The yarn is an alpaca/wool blend so it's a little fuzzy, but it is lopi-ish, which is the yarn recommended in the EZ's newsletter.  The yarn is Nashua Handknits - Creative Focus Chunky.  It knits up loosely on US 10.5 needles.  The needles called for on the yarn label are US 9s.  The color, which is a little darker than my digital camera represents, is called Delft.  It's soft and easy to work with, and so far there have been no knots.



I'm hoping that it will hold it's shape well enough once it is finished and washed.  It's 75% Wool and only 25% Alpaca, so it should.



Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Prime

Prime movie poster The movie Prime (B-) isn't all that good, but Uma Thurman and Meryl Streep are still good actresses and fun to watch.  The male romantic lead is a hunk and easy to watch too.



The most fun line in the movie is when the Uma character is talking to the Meryl character about the hunky man, "His penis is so cute I want to knit a hat for it."



The Uma character meets and falls in love with a man over a decade younger than she is.  The Meryl character is Uma's psychologist, and ... the boy's mother.  It's quite a dilemma and it's handled badly by the Meryl character...  bla bla bla. 



I don't recommend it, unless you have a weakness for light romantic movies.



Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Walk in the Park

Bidwell Park Bidwell Park The color is coming out in Chico.  We went for a walk in Bidwell Park this morning.  The weather was beautiful.



The picture on the left shows the road through the park.  The picture on the right shows one of the jungle-like areas overgrown with vines.  In the picture on the right, there was a bright red tree that I'm sorry doesn't pop out like it did in person.



Private gate This gate must have been here for years, but we just noticed it.  Along part of the road there are fences.  Some houses back right up to the park boundary.  Some of the fences have gates in them so people can walk right out their back gate and go for a walk or run in the park.



The gate on the left is the most creative we've seen.  They applied wood to form a tree, and then they stuck apples made of wood in the tree.  It's pretty cute.



Friday, November 11, 2005

Finished Fingerless Mittens

Fingerless Mittens I made some fingerless mittens using this pattern from Kim Salazar.  Her pattern was easy to follow.



I used Meilenweit Cotton Fantasy sock yarn (45% Cotton, 42% Virgin Wool, 13% Polyamid).  Since they are for Jan to wear while she lounges in her cold dungeon to read in the afternoon, I'm hoping the cotton will keep them from being too hot to wear inside.



These are a fun, quick knit, even using fingering weight yarn and US size 1 needles.



The picture is taken after the ends have been tucked in, but before washing.  Click on the picture to see a larger image.



Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Norah Jones' feels like home

Norah Jones Feels Like Home Norah Joes always sounds the same.  But it's a nice "same".  The words to her songs are like country poems.  I would classify the style as pop/country/folk, maybe?  Maybe it would be classified as Norah Jones and that's all you need to say.



Jones plays piano and is accompanied by guitar, bass and drums on most songs.



I like it.  I'm glad I bought it.  It won't lift your soul to heaven like yesterday's Santana, but it's easy to listen to.  She occupies a place close to Willy Nelson in my heart.



A note about liner notes on CDs.  I like them, and you have to buy the CDs to get them.  At least I think you do.  I have downloaded entire albums from iTunes, but the liner notes don't come with them.  I know CDs are bulky compared to a digitized file on my computer's hard drive, but I do like those liner notes.  I care who the musicians are on each song, who wrote it, etc.  In some cases, like today's Norah Jones CD, you get the words to each song printed in the liner notes.



Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Santana all that i am

Santana all that i am Santana is a musical god.  His new CD, all that I am, is full of his wonderful guitar and guests too.  If you like Santana just a little, then buy this CD. 



People who reviewed this CD on Amazon were not happy because they think the guests aren't inspired, or they think Santana is stuck in some uninventive rut.  I loved the music of Santana, but I have to agree with them that his guests aren't all that great.



There are two Latin tunes to start off -- just wonderful -- "Hermes" and "El Fuego".  Santana's guitar just sings to your soul.



Next is Michelle Branch & the Wreckers with him on "I'm Feeling You".  Ms. Branch is new to me and I won't bother with her CDs, but Santana is underneath the song making it good.



Then there is a funky/souly/rocky/hip hop tune called "My Man", featuring Mary J. Blige & Big Boi.  Once again the guests are okay, but it's Santana's guitar that makes it good to listen to.



Steven Tyler is featured on the next song, "Just Feel Better".  It's a pop/rock thing.  Do I need to say again that it's Santana that makes it good?



will.i.am (funny name) is featured on the next one, "I Am Somebody".  I liked this Latin/hip-hop/rock tune.  It was positive and Santana floats throughout.



Toure Kunda (Ismaila & Sixu Toure) are next on "Con Santana".  It's Latin and wonderful.  Maybe it helps that I can't understand the words?  The percussionist, Karl Perazzo, is fun.  And then there's Santana's guitar.



Anthony Hamilton sings on "Twisted".  It's a soulful ballad.  His voice wasn't too overdubbed so you can hear that Hamilton can sing.  Santana's solos are heaven sent.



Kirk Hammett (lead guitar) & Robert Randolph (steel guitar) are great with Santana's lead guitar on "Trinity".  It made me think of flying over the Rockies, or sailing fast on the ocean.  It's spiritual.  It's good.



Sean Paul & Joss Stone on "Cry Baby Cry" are good.  It's good for dancing with a hip hop/reggae sound.  Santana is more in the background here.



Bo Bice sings on "Brown Skin Girl"..., another soulful rock tune with Bice's voice and Santana's guitar carrying it along.  Santana can find the space in a singer's tune and fill it with joy.



Los Lonely Boys might be the reigning kings of Tex Mex/Rock Espanol.  Here on "I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love" they join Santana's soaring guitar for an easy to listen to song.



The last song on the album is "Da Tu Amor".  Google translates it as "It Gives Your Love", which doesn't sound right to me.  This is a Santana guitar song with background vocals from the musicians. 



I think "Hermes" and "El Fuego", the first two songs, are the best.  Latin music is a good thing.



Santana, I bow before you, and wish you all the best.



Forgive me Santa

Christmas Songs, Diana Krall and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra Forgive me Santa for I have sinned.  I played Christmas music before December 1st.  Santa says my penance shall be listening to Santana's new album 3 times.



While in Costco today, I bought a Diana Krall CD, "Christmas Songs".  Besides Ms. Krall the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra is featured.  The orchestra swings on songs like "Jingle Bells", "Let It Snow" and "Sleigh Ride".  On songs like "Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep" there are strings.



Diana Krall is still my favorite living female singer.



Sunday, November 6, 2005

Fall

Chico in November Dogwood You can click on the pictures to see them more clearly. 



This year Fall in Chico isn't as splendiforous as it has been in previous years, color wise.  It was too warm to bring out many lovely colors, and then it started to rain.  The rain and wind knock the leaves out of the trees before they have had a chance to do their wonderful display.




Pyracantha We went to the Mendocino Forest tree farm [in Chico] today.  As usual it was lovely.  The Pyracantha (member of the rose family) is in full berry... lovely.



Bumper Stickers

No W



Bumper Sticker


Bumper Stickers



Bumper Stickers


I found this great bunch of bumper stickers today.  Don't you just love college towns?



If you can't read the words, you can click on a picture and a larger image will load from flickr.com.



The oldest sticker, "Dog is my copilot", was on a truck parked at a dog walking park.  I have to confess that all of these stickers, and more, were on one truck, but wouldn't it be nice if they had been on many cars?



The only words on my car say, "I'd rather be knitting" around the license plate.  I have also toyed with the following:  "Hang up and drive", "Turn signals are not optional", "Don't blame me I voted for Gore", "Don't blame me I voted for Kerry".



Friday, November 4, 2005

May the Farm be with you



Watch this flash movie. It's really cute. 



Really.



(I got the link from M-H's blog and couldn't resist passing it on.)



Thursday, November 3, 2005

Flightplan

We saw Flightplan today.  It was okay (B-).  Jodi Foster plays a distraught mom traveling with her 6 year old daughter.  They fly on a plain that Jodi helped design, so she knows it well.  They are bringing home a casket with the body of her dead husband.



During the flight her daughter is taken, but nobody believes that the daughter was ever on the flight.



So the rest of the movie is devoted to the drama and action surrounding Jodi's hunt for the daughter.



I like Jodi Foster and she is perfect for this type of roll.  Anybody weaker would have been unable to pull it off without looking silly.



Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Rambling

It's cloudy and raining off and on today, but I found time in between showers to do a little gardening and move the garbage cans in.  Early this morning I took a swim and it wasn't raining, so I lucked out there.  Not very exciting, eh?



Music makes housecleaning OK

I have an old Panosonic portable CD player which is perfectly functional (take that iPod).  It has an anti-shock function so it doesn't skip when I'm vacuuming or mopping.  So, should I put an iPod on my Christmas list?  I think not.

For today's floor cleaning experience I had Shirley Horn's You're My Thrill (released in 2001).  Shirley Horn (1934 - 2005) was a great jazz singer and piano player.  The Washington Post has a good bio of Ms. Horn.

Anyway, for each song this morning I changed the words in my head so the love songs were about yarn instead of another person.  I'm warming up for the knitting group get together this afternoon....



After swimming, weight lifting (a little), gardening (a little), and housecleaning, I won't feel one little bit guilty about sitting still and knitting.