Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ding! dong! the dress is done!

I delivered Amber's wedding dress to her last night. She seemed pleased.

I'm quite satisfied with it, overall. The colors came together better than I expected. I especially like the sleeves, and the oak leaf motif on the skirt.

The Flickr slideshow is here, for shots of the rest of the dress.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled house remodelling.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

thursday clarity

I like Thursdays. We have taiji class on Wednesday nights, of course, so I lose sleep but I gain clarity and mellowness.

My head was in a good place, last night. Watching that YouTube video of the ethnic festival performance, I realized that I am consistently leaning forward in my horse stance. This is not good, because it means that I am tensing at the hip and that creates a disconnect in the body line and robs you of power.

The good news is, once I've realized I'm doing it, I can pay attention and stop doing it. So I felt as if I had better ground connection last night, and that makes a lot of things go smoother.

I've also been pretty good all week about going home and doing a bit of practice, right off, instead of sitting down or fiddling around. I often feel at loose ends when I first get home, because I'm tense from the commute and fidgety from sitting down all day, and I can't decide whether to cook or clean or read or sew or what, and I feel resentful about all of it, so it helps to just pick up a sword and wave it around. Tuesday night I did just that: we went into the backyard and went through the broadsword form several times, just in the nick of time, since we were on the verge of forgetting it. Then we did a little longsword form, just for thoroughness.

I also got eaten alive by mosquitoes. Today I count sixteen bites just on my right leg. And yes, I put on repellent before I went out there; apparently they like me seasoned. We've been talking about building a bat house and maybe putting in a water garden with fish to eat the skeeters. In a couple weeks the weather will cool some and we'll probably do more yard work.

Yeah, my brain's rambling a bit. But I feel good, and motivated. I want to brush up my Chen-style form and I'll have to pester Sit about teaching me more sword form, because our schedule's been disrupted the last few weeks. Although I have kept up with it, so there.

Oh, and I've had two more queries about the Harley Quinn costume in the past fortnight. It's that time of year. I have decided, with an enthusiastic thumbs-up from the SP, to make another complete costume and put it on ebay. I calculate I can make on in a weekend or so, and if it sells like the last one did, I can make a clear profit. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

kung fu at the ethnic festival

The wife of one of my kung-fu brethren took a video of us performing. It's a bit shaky at first, but our form looks good and crisp. I like the way my white uniform looks in pictures.

Monday, August 13, 2007

movie reviews

I saw 2 1/2 movies this weekend. Two of them were quite bad. The decent one is still in progress, as I've been watching it in fits and starts while sewing.

We went out and saw Rush Hour 3 on Saturday. Yes, on purpose. Hey, we liked the second one, it was slick, funny and fast. Guess we should've quit while we were ahead. Not that we didn't get some laughs out of it, but it was ponderous, stupid, and the laughs were a bit forced. Honestly, if we could've just had 90 minutes of Roman Polanski riffing on violence in American cinema, it would've been a marked improvement. And how sad is that, when Roman Polanski is the funniest one in a comedy with two famous comedians?

We also rented something called "Played." It was astonishingly bad. It waffled between ripping off Tarantino in the L.A. setting, and ripping off Guy Richie in the London sequences. Also the plot was transparent and the characters were stupid. I happened to be sewing while it was on and got up to use the bathroom in the last five minutes. When I came back, the SP had switched it off and gone into the construction zone where he was slapping mud on the walls. "Who died?" I asked. "Pretty much everybody," he said disinterestedly.

The third movie is "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer," based on a German novel of the same name. I'm about halfway through it, and it's already been grimmer than the gangster flick, wittier than the comedy, and smarter than either. It's also quite strange and disturbing. The look of it resembles the Branagh "Frankenstein" or perhaps Les Miserables (more grime and gore in the same era). It's not exactly compelling but it's at least got me curious. I'm pacing it out for times when I can sit and hand-stitch and pay a reasonable amount of attention. It may not add up to anything--the ending is perportedly ludicrous--but I'll let you know.

progress in progress

I've been making this wedding dress for a friend of mine. I'm nearing the end. I'm past the part where it looks like nothing but a big mess. Last night I put the piping around the top edge, folded it down smooth and pinned it in place, and my husband said, "Hey, that looks like a bodice now."

The underskirt is finished. I overcast the bottom edge, instead of doing a folded hem, and it made the edge nicely ruffled, like lettuce. I think I may tint that underskirt. See, the dress is made from two different colors of changeable silk, both gorgeous on their own, but in certain lights they don't seem to coordinate. So I think I'll tint the brighter one to tone it down. Rather a terrifying prospect, frankly. It's taffeta and I don't know how the finish will react to being soaked.

The groom's vest is done and looks superb (I copied the SP's gambler vest and did a nicer job than the original, if I do say so myself). I need to make a cravat to go with it, which I shall accomplish tonight. I need also to put sleeves on the bodice, which I shall probably also do tonight. Then I need to bind the bottom of the bodice, add some trim (pearls, maybe?), and drape the overskirt, which is actually the fun part. I also have to hem the velvet cloak. I made the cloak back in May, but I've been putting off the hemming because silk velvet is a bitch to blindstitch. I'll have to do it by hand, and who wants a big lapful of velvet in August?

I'm feeling good about it. I'm into the fun part now. Plus I have a man with a lot of nifty tools who can cut steel corset boning when it's too long. A very generous and skilled man who put another coat of drywall compound on the walls of my office-in-progress this weekend. "I just want to get that part done so I can hand it over and say, 'Ok, your turn--go paint,'" he said.

I'm eager for that part myself. Lately I've been dreaming about a very nice split-level house with wonderful furnishings but no interior walls. The bedroom, dining room, office--everything but the bathroom is raised on platforms or sunk in depressions; separated by steps but open to the sounds and view of the surrounding areas. I think my subconscious is telling me it's time for some mental seclusion.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

silly man

“Though you yourself were raised to believe in demons, and in more recent years have been able to see and hear the spirits of the dead, you don’t entirely believe that demons exist, is that right?”

“I guess not,” Trace said slowly.

“And why is that?”

“I suppose because… all the things that demons are supposed to do, can be caused by somethin else. I’ve seen the causes.”

“Such as drugs, and madness, and war.”


“And you’ve never seen a demon.”

“Not that I know of.”

“Ah.” She looked approving. “Clever answer, Mr. Tracy. I suspect you have seen a good number of demons without knowing them. Unlike the spirits you see every day, which are pale fragments of living persons, demons are whole, sentient entities. There is a reason why the Judeo-Christian traditions portray them as evil tricksters. Many of them can assume the form of ordinary things in our world, either by possessing a living thing or mimicking its form. Many so-called mediums are unwittingly calling up demons in the guise of a customer’s loved ones.”

Trace was appalled. “I knew there was somethin fishy about that table-rappin.”

“Indeed. But let us refocus on our current problem. Something—we shall call it a demon, for the sake of simplicity—is precipitating the murders of innocents in the neighborhood. It seems to be connected in some way with a particular newspaper office, the Village Voice, and possibly this reporter, Mr. Reynolds.”

“But he doesn’t work for the Voice.

“That may not be relevant,” Miss Fairweather said. “Demons have been known to migrate from one host to another, particularly as they become familiar with their surrounds and gain strength. And they tend to gravitate toward a particular type of host, a particular character, if you will.”

“So what do you want me to do when I find it?”

“Exorcise it, of course.” Miss Fairweather looked astonished that he should have to ask.

Monday, August 06, 2007

would you like some starch with that fecula?

This weekend the SP and I went to a pretty nice Italian restaurant for their prix fix brunch buffet. Said restaurant is the offspring of a fairly well-known celebrity chef who shall remain unnamed; the august personage has very little to do with the story, I only mention it to illustrate that it was not the Olive Garden or somesuch.

Y'all are well familiar with my disdain for excess carbs; ergo I can only blame the waiter's seductive tones as he described the pasta special du jour. Spaghetti carbonara, pesto fetuccini, and ravioli stuffed with something.

Corn, as it turned out. Ravioli stuffed with CORN. How %*#^ing redundant can you get? I watched with dismay as the chef brought round a large skillet full of noodles and forked them onto my plate: easily three times as much spaghetti as I would eat in a meal I had cooked myself, and that was only a third of the offering. It had two tiny little bits of pancetta in the mix, and a vague tang of parmesan. The pesto fetuccini was green and basil-y, but also devoid of protein or fiber (I know the waiter said something about crab in the sauce. I know he did; we both heard it). And don't get me started on the ravioli. Limp, slimy, and full of something else slimy that Mom used to dump out of a Green Giant can when I was a kid.

The SP took pity on me. He'd thought it sounded good, too, but our mistake was obvious. He forked some onto his bread plate and handed over a few choice bits from his steak. Luckily for me, there was plenty of salad, cheese and cold cuts on the buffet so I didn't starve.

Oh, the pasta was okay. It was well-prepared and flavorful, for pasta. But I never did and never will understand the appeal of a plate full of three shades of flour. I felt guilty about throwing it out, but I'd've felt worse if I'd eaten it all.

And the most offensive part was, the SP had to pay $5 extra for his steak, but did I get a price break for the pasta? Hell no. Restaurants like pasta and rice for the same reason they serve fries with everything: it's cheap. And you can put a whole lot of cheap on the plate to make the customer feel full and think they got a good deal.

Bah. I am less enamoured with the Italian buffet today, even though they have terrific desserts.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

first chapter contest/romance contract

There's a writing contest on. Kind of an American Idol for romance writers, sponsored in part by Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster. I'm posting about it not because I'm excited or interested, but because I couldn't care less.

At one time I was so sure that a foot in the door, any foot, any door, would help my writing career. I don't know if I'm more cynical or more realistic, now. At any rate, I don't write romance, and I have zero interest in trying to dash something off in three weeks to try to get under the deadline. I have zero interest in trying to be something I'm not just to get attention. I guess that's maturity.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

from other discussions

Over on Kung Fu Monkey they were talking about the media in general, and in comments the talk veered toward the ever-popular "biased media!" debate. As I said in comments, my rabid-conservative ex-husband claimed the media was all full of pinko Commie fags, and my quiet but stalwartly Democratic SP insists they are all in the laps of conservative fat cats. If we are to deduce anything from this, I'd think it would be that the media is so overwhelmingly negative and focused on tearing down whomever is in power, that they will always seem to be against whatever you are in favor of.

Me, I don't care. Insisting that the media is biased is kind of like stamping one's foot and crying, "It's not fair!" It's childish, and it's more concerned with being "right" than having a meaningful discussion about a subject, any subject at all.

So even if you do perceive a bias in the media, acknowledge it, accept it, and adjust your bullshit meters accordingly.

ADDENDUM: The SP would like me to clarify that he is not one of the folks whining about the bias of the media. He doesn't deny that there is one, but he's good about searching out the better options, like NPR and the Christian Science Monitor. Which I think is the right attitude to take.