27 March 2011

Sunflowers? Really?

Watched Anchors Aweigh during insomniatimes last night and was struck by, but unable to decide how I felt about, Kathryn Grayson's date-night dress:

It has a matching shawl/cape thing as well:

The movie also includes this amazing scene:

24 March 2011

Elizabeth Taylor

"I remember, she's screaming on the street, and I mean loud. But she looked good. She had these great eyes, just like Liz Taylor's..." -- Goodfellas

My first real memory of Elizabeth Taylor is from watching her and Burton in The Taming of the Shrew, which my parents had us watch for a family film night when I was in middle school. We'd been doing the Kenneth Branaugh Shakespeare movies and had begun branching out after we ran through them all. I was bowled over.

I was also a huge 10 Things I Hate About You fan--still am--and part of what bowled me over was the obviously favorable comparison with Julia Stiles. Forget wanting to be an indie rock chick and woo Heath Ledger (actually, I'll keep Heath Ledger); this was so much more awesome. And I've felt that way about her ever since:

I suppose I must also have seen National Velvet at some point during youthtimes, but I can't really remember it--I wouldn't have watched it on my own, but my sister was a horse person and so Mom would have rented it for her for sure. Eiiiither way: that's hardly the point! The point is, from my preadolescent love of Katharina onward, Elizabeth Taylor has been one of the coolest in my mental logbooks. Now, unfortunately, she is no longer on the planet. But in my logbooks she stays!

I also wanted to share a clip of John Waters, who is also on my list of loves, talking about Liz Taylor and a movie she made with Burton in the Sixties called Boom!, which is a film version of a Tennessee Williams play called The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. Waters describes it as "the ultimate drag queen role" and his entire take on the play is amused and amusing, about how drunk everyone was and how over the top it is, but it's so, so clear that he is presenting it with love, that he loves her, and I feel the same way and enjoyed his take on things. This is not meant (by me or Waters) with any disrespect...I just, y'know, don't really have anything new to say about Butterfield 8 or Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, so why not clear that arena for the pros and go elsewhere?

He starts talking about Boom! around 1:30, if you don't feel like listening to the EGS professor talk about John Waters. There are three more videos of the ensuing discussion, but things sort of veer on and off of the topic of the film throughout it.

And here's the trailer for the film:

I had to make both videos tiny in order to fit them onto my page layout...with the Waters one that doesn't really matter, since you're just listening to him anyway, but if you want to just go to the Youtube page for the trailer it's here.

23 March 2011

Vintage Knitting Pattern!

So. I've been drooling over (and frequently downloading) the awesome vintage knitting patterns a number of folks have been scanning in and posting on the internet for quite some time now, particularly those from A Rarer Borealis (which is where I found that hat pattern from a couple posts ago). I brought a bunch of my knitting patterns (as well as some magazines and other junk) along with me on a trip to the school library scanners this morning, in the interest of giving a pattern or two back to the ether (though mine are really nowhere near as fabulous as some of the ones I've found elsewhere).

Also nobody actually reads this blog, much less anyone I know is interested in vintage knitting, or knitting in general. But if somebody does someday I guess they can find this baby in the archives?

My gift to vintage knitting society:

Not sure how old it is exactly, etc. So if anyone has thoughts on that matter it'd also be awesome? I totally dig the little collar and the mid-length sleeves (that's how I wear my sleeves on nearly everything)...as well as the sweet bangle the model is wearing.

The pattern is here (click on each image to enlarge it):

Well! I hope someone sees that and thinks it's awesome. I certainly do. Up next will be one of the following:
a) a long, ill-conceived, stream-of-consciousness ramble that represents my best attempt to coherently explain my term paper topic and thesis; or
b) the beginnings of my summer reading list.

21 March 2011

Top Ten Reasons I'm Excited For Summer

1) Learning to speak French much better than I do now! I'm taking an FSL course and was astonished during the placement testing last week to discover that I am at a "low intermediate" level, then yet more astonished to discover this skipped me ahead by two whole classes! This should be depressing for someone who took AP French, but I thought I'd lost yet more fluency than that.

2) Moving into my new apartment. I'm (sadly) leaving my current place, where I've lived for the past three years, and my current roommates, who I love--but for a happy reason: the Boy is moving to Montreal for the year and we are going to live together! I've been casually looking for apartments as a method of procrastination and went on a couple visits this weekend, but it's not really real to me yet. 

3) Picnics on the mountain. I practically live in the park during the summer, and Parc Mont-Royal is the big one here. On Sundays during the spring and summer the Tam-Tams, a big crazy hippie drum circle, takes place on the mountain's eastern edge, and along with that comes the LARPers: 

They battle a little bit further up the side of the mountain and are addictive as hell to watch. I like to bring a picnic; a blanket and deck of cards; some beer; and as much of the tribe as will come along, and spend the whole day there, switching off between LARP-watching, sportgames in the adjoining clearing, lazing around in the sun, letting A beat us all at card games, and doing some form of arts and crafts. Speaking of which:

4) Having the time and inclination to make stuff. In the winter I work (or pretend to work) constantly and when I do stop all I want to do is curl up in a blanket and watch Buffy, trying to convince myself with extra layers and hot drinks that it will be okay and someday in April or May my bones will stop being so cold. In the summer, I spend a lot of time lazing around outside but I work on projects while I do so, and even for the less portable stuff I've got more energy and patience when seasonal affective disorder isn't killing me slowly.

5) POP MUSIC CLASS! That is, MUAR 392, "Popular Music After 1945," which I'm taking in May in addition to my French course. I can't believe I'm going to be spending a month getting university credit for listening to Dylan and the Shangri-Las and...also it changed K's life?

6) The Summer Picnic Diet: fresh baguette, cheese, grapes or mixed fruit salad, bean salad with vinegar and cumin, cold water, red wine.

7) Getting to wear summer clothes. This excitement is twofold for me: I'm excited for sundresses and sandals and cute tank tops because anyone would be after months swathed in giant wool things and heavy layers to get through Montreal winter, but it's made even more exciting because I've never really dressed for summer before. Since I've spent the last five years working at an overnight camp, running around in the woods and swimming in a lake every day, I've tended to shamble around in Soffee shorts, bikinis and beaters, with hoodies added weather-appropriately and flip-flops on my feet. Summer fashion was reserved for 1-2 days off a week. I've never done a whole summer in "real clothes" before and I'm excited to amass some.

8) Time with the tribe. Most of us are sticking around (including C and K, despite the fact that they're graduating and peacing out of Montreal unlike the rest of us slackers), and it'll be good to have a nice long catch-up time with them all sans work stress and crazy hermitation during projects.

9) Getting up in the morning and having coffee out on the fire escape. This one really needs no elaboration.

10) My birthday! Which will a) be my first in many years not occurring in the woods, at work; b) hopefully also get to be my housewarming party for the new apartment, and will at that provide good motivation for me to unpack and get settled promptly; c) make me an age palindrome (hey, 22's boring, I'm trying). I have high hopes!

20 March 2011

The Livin' Ain't Easy...Yet

Big presentation tomorrow, on research topic and process for my term paper in British history--the culmination of a good month or so of work (or intended work). And all I'm thinking about right now is:

a) This pattern, which is supposed to produce this hat...

...and which I think I'm definitely going to start making soon, and

b) What I'm going to do over the summer, which is months away from being a pressing problem (my schoolyear job doesn't end 'til late June) and yet SO much more interesting to fret over than my current academic woes.

Summer in general is on my mind, and so the part of me that wants that absurd hat is being battled by the much larger part that is looking forward to wearing my flowered sundresses and buttonfront red shorts all the time. I re-Superglued the soles of my brogues and want to wear them more once the ground is clear enough to allow it.

Am also thinking maybe of using that ridiculous giant spool of lace trim I picked up at Goodwill to make some bobby sox. I really need socks with my tennis shoes to avoid Death of Stink Foot, and all my winter ones are either wool (many handknitted by grandmother) or giant and black. And how cute would it be to have little bobby sox and sneakers to wear instead of flip flops? The tribe spends a lot of summer in the park playing sportgames, after all (by which we mean chasing around after K's pink softball in very rudimentary games of catch, rather than anything serious) and I often tread on painful things after shucking sandals.

I've never spent a full summer in Montreal before. In fact, I haven't had a summer not spent out in the woods at Y camp since...well, ever, really. This whole summer's going to be a wild adventure for me--hopefully a fun, educational, French-speaking, financially solvent adventure at that! So since we all love lists, I think I'm going to make my next entry one, all about how I love summer. Catch you in a few minutes!

14 March 2011

New Toys

Two things I love (and I don't expect these choices to be too controversial): cool stuff, and awesome people. I got to enjoy both today.

I had a date this morning to go do a Craigslist purchase pickup out at Metro Radisson, which is waaay out east on the green line. The poster was selling two old movie cameras and a typewriter (though these are just representative photos I pulled off the internet):

1) A Kodak Brownie home movie camera.

It's a Model 2, and according to the Internet Model 2s were on the market from 1956 to 1959, so it's from somewhere in that time period. It's awesome: super compact, tiny little thing, still in the original box with the picturesque little home-movie frame on the front (though mine is a girl in a tennis outfit instead of a mother with a baby).

2) A Bolex Super 8 camera:

This one's from 1967. I mucked around with it a little, looking through the viewfinder and figuring out what the knobs were for and stuff, and it was also really cool. Apparently they both still work, though I'd just intended on picking them up as curios; I'm thinking I might try to use them if I can find film...why not, if they still function?

3) This sick typewriter:

All 26 letters and 10 digits work, unlike my last attempt, and--most exciting of all--it's its own case. There's a cover that snaps onto the edges and, it having a base of the appropriate material, it becomes a case right around the typewriter. Super cool! And also more space-saving than the alternative.

When I got to the address I'd been sent, however, not just fun technology but a truly delightful set of people were waiting for me. The seller and her husband were crazy hippies with a love of old stuff and were actually planning to leave the country, and trying to get their nice vintage/old belongings into friendly hands before they were forced to dumpster it in their building's trash service. As a result, I left with not just the things I'd come for but an entire rolling suitcase full of vintage clothes, camera and lighting equipment, shoes, costume jewelery, and so forth. They also gave me said suitcase, and were trying to pass on their floor lamp and some other pieces of awesome that I, alas, simply couldn't carry home on the bus with me.

All in all, they were super nice--he chatted about politics and photography (he's a photojournalist), and she gushed about vintage and handed over garment after garment that "I just can't take with me, and you'd appreciate it, right?", and their thirteen-year old son wandered in and out of the living room in bell bottoms with shoulder length hair.

I'm wearing one of the dresses I got right now--it's a seventies caftan/housedressy thing made of an almost terry-ish material with rainbow stripes going every which way--it feels like Joseph's coat of many colors (I in fact believe the Joseph costume we had in Sunday school was someone's mother's housedress of the same style and era!), and it's making me really happy at the moment.

Cool stuff is cool. Awesome people are awesome. A day that involves both is bliss, no matter HOW much homework I still have to do before bed...

07 March 2011

El Greco

Just finished up a short assignment doing a visual description of this painting for art history class:

It's El Greco's Christ Carrying the Cross and I think it's a really interesting painting. I love the simplicity of it: just big swathes of dark color, everything very simple, with the extremely detailed face (if you find a bigger copy of it somewhere on the internet, this is more obvious): it's clear where the focus is supposed to be. And how calm everything looks, with the really dark sedate colors, the super unemotional look on Jesus' face, even his grip on the cross: he doesn't have one. He's not carrying it over his shoulder so much as he's embracing it. Embracing the instrument of his own execution. Just stone calm, unafraid, looking up to heaven, embracing freaking death.

06 March 2011

Finally got some sewing time yesterday evening and today...though at the expense of not doing any real work at all! Yesterday evening made a dirndl skirt out of an old bedsheet I pulled out of the fabric pile, all the while curled up on the couch watching old movies. It's this black-and-white leopard print, and I lined the waistband (sort of) with this red binding tape I got in a grab bag at Value Village awhile back...I'm pretty satisfied with how it came out. It was especially fun sewing on a sheet while Scarlett O'Hara was prancing around onscreen in her dress made of curtains!

I cut out a couple bags this morning based on this pattern (it's reversible(!)--one with the same leopard print lined/reversed in red, and one with this cool green viney print cotton and this Curious George fabric(!) that I have from God knows where. Finished the leopard one, though it's not going to be reversible after all--I didn't quite figure out how the straps worked until it was too late and so they're sewn together in a not entirely smooth matteris. Haven't started putting the Curious George one together yet, but I'm thinking of adding a couple pockets--maybe a patch pocket onto one side and a zippered one set into the other? The pattern's so simple, it couldn't be too hard to adapt a little.

It was nice to spend some time on the machine, considering how long it's been since I've actually followed through and had the time to finish a project--the remains of the Kasia skirt off Burdastyle are still folded up in the corner of my craft table, regrettably--though I find myself, as always, regretting the time I didn't spend doing the million and one things I had to do: homework, research, prepping lesson plans for the kids I tutor, working in InDesign, doing the dishes...ah well, Sunday's always there for that.