Archive for July, 2010

Happy Birthday, Harry.

July 31, 2010

In case anyone is still paying attention its Harry Potter’s birthday today (He’s turning 30).  Actually its also J.K. Rowling’s.  And a very happy birthday to the both of them.

I’ve been on a bit of Harry Potter kick lately.  (My love for the series really knows no bounds.)  I re-watched several of the movies over the last couple of weeks and decided that its been too long since I read the books.  So … I’m starting again from the beginning.  More to follow …

Click here for more on Harry Potter.


David Copperfield; kind of a douche

July 30, 2010

During the last week I’ve watched two adaptations of David Copperfield and my conclusion is this: he’s kind of a douche.  More on that later.

The thing I find actually more interesting than the plot of either version is that there are two which came out within a year of each other.  It does seem a most astonishing coincidence.  BBC and Masterpiece Theater put out their version in 1999 and then TNT and Hallmark Entertainment came out with another one just a few short months later in 2000.  I can understand how the two of them might have been begun in ignorance but surely the two productions must have been aware of each other as they proceeded.  It just seems very strange.  They both contain some fairly bright lights of British drama.  For the BBC verision: Emilia Fox as David’s ill fated mother, Paulien Quirke as the devoted Peggoty and Maggie Smith as his aunt Betsy Trotwood.  Also Ian McKellen, Imelda Staunton and Bob Hoskins not to mention the fact that young David is played by Daniel Radcliffe.  In his scenes with Maggie Smith I couldn’t help wondering Read the rest of this entry »

Terminator … by Joss Whedon

July 22, 2010

Apparently the Terminator franchise is for sale again (well it can’t get worse than the third movie).  I happened across this open letter to the ownership team by Joss Whedon offering to buy it out.  I can’t imagine anything better … plus its a very funny letter.  I’m not sure of its provenance but here’s the source.

An Open Letter to the Terminator Owners. From a Very Important Hollywood Mogul

Dear Sirs/Ma’ams,

I am Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind Titan A.E., Parenthood (not the movie) (or the new series) (or the one where ‘hood’ was capitalized ’cause it was a pun), and myriad other legendary tales. I have heard through the ‘grapevine’ that the Terminator franchise is for sale, and I am prepared to make a pre-emptive bid RIGHT NOW to wrap this dealio up. This is not a joke, this is not a scam, this is not available on TV. I will write a check TODAY for $10,000, and viola! Terminator off your hands. Read the rest of this entry »

Everything in its place

July 15, 2010

I hit on a little organizational project recently.  It started when KJ and I were celebrating the Fourth of July with our “Redcoat Turncoat” theme of movies – watching a bunch of British costume dramas but applauding any time we saw evidence of nascent pioneer/cowboy spirit.  We were talking about how to place some of our favorite period movies in context with each other and I suggested that it would be helpful to list them all in chronological order.  I immediately jumped to an eager mental picture of a beautiful graphic timeline showing all my favorite set pieces: Wives and Daughter, Pride and Prejudice, Amazing Grace, etc.  But before I could get to that I just needed a list so I threw together an excel spreadsheet with a few contemporaneous British monarchs and the dates of the first good BBC and PBS adaptations that came to mind.  Then I added a few more.  And some books.  And expanded my list of British royals and then threw in American presidencies too.  A few historical events seemed helpful in constructing a sense of the flow of time and the lifespans of some of my favorite interesting people and then of course I tossed in some architectural names and dates and pretty soon it was … this.

I’m not sure what its good for, really but I’ve had a lot of fun constructing it and keep thinking of things to add.  I think a graphic format is forthcoming – maybe for just a selected period – but it seems like its far enough along to share now anyway.  Thoughts, anyone?

Read the rest of this entry »

A Time to Talk

July 13, 2010

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, “What is it?”
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe into the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

–          Robert Frost

This should also apply to cellphone calls and gchat messages, I think.


Another Decision

July 7, 2010

On Monday evening I sat down to my sewing machine and pieced all the colored portions of the quilt.  It went like a dream – thanks to having been all planned in advance.   However I’ve not been entirely satisfied with the result.  When laid out on the bed over the white background fabric it all looks a bit … insipid.  I don’t like it as well as the simple navy cotton throw I’m using right now.  I think its a combination of the light colors of the fabric (somehow different than they seemed when whole) and the white walls in the room (curse you apartment regulations).  But then it occurred to me that the light colors might make a nice contrast to a darker background.  So I’m at another decision crossroads.  Thoughts anyone?

Happy Country’s Birthday

July 4, 2010

KJ and I celebrated by baking this cake (which was supposed to be blue on the inside but turned out green instead (oops).  And also by watching period British costume dramas.  Roshni aptly named it our Redcoat Turncoat weekend and we enjoyed it no end.  Happy Birthday America.

Less is More

July 3, 2010

Its a cliche at this point but I, for one, didn’t know it was an architecturally derived one.  According to the beautifully written piece in the Opinionator Thursday, the “phrase “less is more” was actually first uttered by a German, the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.”   I found this piece fascinating for a number of reasons so I’ve reproduced it below.  You can also find it here at the NY Times website.

I think the timing is particularly appropriate for the holiday weekend.  Rather than burying our heads in the sand of Rah Rah American Patriotism, I think we can aim a little higher – for a new path that will actually improve our standing in the world and our own lives.  Taking a renewed interest in how we can make our offices, public buildings, and homes both “less” and “more” couldn’t be more timely.

When Less Was More


We tend to think of the decades immediately following World War II as a time of exuberance and growth, with soldiers returning home by the millions, going off to college on the G.I. Bill and lining up at the marraige bureaus.

But when it came to their houses, it was a time of common sense and a belief that less truly could be more.  During the Depression and the war, Americans had learned to live with less, and that restraint, in combination with the postwar confidence in the future made small, efficient housing positively stylish.

As we find ourselves in an era of diminishing resources, could “less” become “more” again?  If so, the mid-20th-century building boom might provide some inspiration.

Chicago's Lake Shore Drive

William Zbaren Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed these towers on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive in the 1940s. They were recently renovated.

Economic austerity was only one of the catalysts for the trend toward efficient living. The phrase “less is more” was actually first uttered by a German, the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who like other people associated with the Bauhaus emigrated to the United States before World War II and took up posts at American architecture schools. These designers, including Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, came to exert enormous influence on the course of American architecture, but none more so than Mies.

Mies’ signature phrase means that less decoration, properly deployed, has more impact than a lot. Elegance, he believed, did not derive from abundance. Like other modern architects, he employed metal, glass and laminated wood — materials that we take for granted today but that in the 1940s symbolized the future. Mies’ sophisticated presentation masked the fact that the spaces he designed were small and efficient, rather than big and often empty. Read the rest of this entry »

Layout (on a very dirty floor)

July 2, 2010

OK.  I’m back on track with the quilting.  I’ve got all the pattern pieces cut (except the white borders) and I delayed actually piecing them long enough to lay the whole thing out on the floor and have a look.  I’m still pretty pleased with the overall effect although somehow the green/yellows seem a little more washed out in place than they did as full fat quarters.  But basically I really like it.  Its amazing how fast the cutting process can go when I don’t have all my own waffling and decision making process to wade through .  Using someone else’s pattern is certainly a major time and stress saver.

Now I’ve got all the pieces stacked and ready to start sewing and pressing. (By the way, the table is all painted and done but I haven’t photographed it get – I’m playing with a couple of different room layouts to accomodate the new round shape first.)

Right now, I’m pretty excited to see this quilt top come together.   I’m not sure if sewing will begin this weekend or not, as my sister is visiting for the holiday but either way I have a feeling that piecing this quilt top is just going to fly.  And as I haven’t had my sewing machine out of its case since April it feels like more than time to get started!