Month: December 2003 (page 1 of 10)

An Australian Conversation

An Australian Conversation
Me: “Ugh, what is that smell? I think there must be a house on fire nearby!”
Snook: “Nah, it’s a barbie!”
Me: “What the hell are they barbecuing?”
Snook: “Mmm, smells like octopus.”
Me: *blink* “You can tell that from the smell??”

I live in a place where people grill octopi in their backyard. I can’t decide if that’s cool or weird.

Happy anniversary…

Happy blog anniversary to Robert (aka Catboy), and congratulations to him on joining our iPod revolution! You will all be assimilated.

Sock Monkey Tutorial

Sock MonkeySock Monkey Tutorial
As folks are always asking me how I make my monkeys, I finally took the time to document it in a tutorial. That’s everything you need to know from start to finish. A few of the pictures are a little blurry but I think you’ll get the idea. Let me know if you make your own!

Incidentally, the demo monkey seen here (in these season’s hottest color combination, of course) is for sale if anybody wants it…

Weasley Sweater

Weasley SweaterSorry for the silence… but I’ve been busy finishing my Weasley Sweater! It’s a seamless raglan in deep maroon with a great big gray “K” embroidered on the front. It’s 100% wool and warm as hell. It’s probably actually a little nicer than the ones Mrs. Weasley makes, but faced with a choice between filmic accuracy and my desire to not wear a lumpy boat-necked monstrosity, my sense of fashion won out. (Apologies for the lack of contrast in the picture; Snookums took it at midnight as soon as I finished the thing. I’ll post some better ones – and pattern notes for you knitters – tomorrow.) My costume for the Azkaban opening is taking shape… I just need to make myself a Gryffindor scarf and locate a grey pleated skirt. The Snook said I can use his black academic gown. Yay!

Update: Better photo and knitting notes added.Weasley SweaterFirst off, if you want to knit a sweater as painlessly as possible get Jacqueline Fee’s book The Sweater Workshop. It won’t teach you the basics of knitting, but if you already know how to knit and purl it’ll show you everything else you need to know to design your own sweaters. This is my third project based on the book (after the sampler and the Snook’s sweater) and it turned out great.

The wool is Naturally Guernsey DK from New Zealand in the Mackenzie (purple) and Dundee (gray) colors. I started by measuring one of my existing sweaters from armpit-to-armpit to get my key number. Everything else in the pattern is based on percentages of that. I wanted it to be a little big and baggy too (to match the ones in the movie). Then I knitted a swatch with a couple different size needles to find a gauge I liked. Once I had that, I started the body on a big 80cm long 4.5mm circular needle. I did about two inches of ribbing and then knitted the body up the armpits in straight stocking stitch. Then I set it aside and started the sleeves.

I decided to be clever and knit both sleeves at once on two circular needles. It was actually almost a little too clever for me but I got it in the end. I went with the “full” style sleeves from the book, which means that you do all the increases as soon as you finish the cuff and the rest of the sleeve is knit straight. It’s a baggier style which I like. Once I had knitted them to the armpit, I carefully joined all three tubes together. (It’s actually not that complicated and Fee gives you great instructions.)

Once everything is on one needle, away to the collar you go. I decided that since my jumper was going to be plain, I would liven it up with a decorative raglan seamline. (Raglan sleeves are like a sweatshirt, where you have a diagonal seam running from the armpit up the collar.) I used seamline “E” in the book, which consisted of PSSO, K1, and PSSO-R. Not complicated and I got into the rhythm pretty quickly. Eventually I had to stop going around and round and start going back and forth to prepare for the collar. I went with the standard crew neck setup but planned to do it as a rollneck instead. (For a rollneck you just knit every round instead of ribbing them.) Once I got the rollneck on, though, I didn’t really like the way it looked. So I frogged it back and did a conventional ribbed crewneck instead. Looks much better.

Next I had to graft the underarm openings, which again sounds difficult but isn’t too hard if you follow Fee’s instructions. Lastly, I had the Snook help me print out a large pixellated letter “K” to use as a pattern for the front. The letter had to be done as swiss darning (or “duplicate stitch”) because there’s no way to do intarsia when you’re circular knitting (unless you want to weave in a million loose ends). It ended up being somewhat like doing cross-stitch. Once that was done, I just had to weave in my ends and it was finished!

Smallpox Scabs

I think if I found an envelope full of scabs in an old library book my first response would not be to call the local museum, but rather to puke my guts out.

Friday Five

Friday Five:

1. What was your biggest accomplishment this year?
Hmm, I don’t know that I had a really big standout achievement. It was kinda like the first year of normality after a couple years of transition. I had the same job all year and the Snook and I were finally able to stop draining our saved London funds and start living within our salaries. I ate sushi for the first time ever. We marched in the anti-war demonstration in February. I made a quilt, ran my second 5K race, knitted my first sweater ever, and went on to knit one for the Snook. We flew around the world on the most amazing holiday. I actually drove a vehicle on the left side of the road. We started a vegetable garden. We threw a Halloween party where I had the best costume thus far in my entire life. It was a good year.

2. What was your biggest disappointment?
Not getting the job with Kazaa. I had a great first interview and I was basically told that the position – which they were creating for me – was all but mine. I then had a fun second interview when I got to meet the rest of the team. It would’ve meant a raise, better working hours, fun co-workers, and a shorter commute. I would’ve actually looked forward to going to work. After a month of being dicked around by the recruitment agency though, they finally admitted that Kazaa had decided not to create the position after all. Jerks.

3. What do you hope the new year brings?
My permanent Australian residency. It’s weird to think that they could still kick me out after two years of living here. Once I have that, I’ve only got two years to go before I can take out citizenship. Then I’m pretty much clear to come and go as I please. That’ll be our cue to head to the US and try to do the same for the Snook…

4. Will you be making any New Year’s resolutions? If yes, what will they be?
Definitely. I resolve to stick to my diet and lose those last ten kilograms. I resolve to run the 10K at the Nike Women’s Classic this year. I resolve to get a job that pays better and that I actually enjoy.

5. What are your plans for New Year’s Eve?
Currently nothing. The Snook and I have been having a very boring and restful holiday so far and I don’t imagine that will change.


Ebert has reposted his review of A Christmas Story along with a “Where are they now?” sidebar on the cast. Thankfully Mom sent me a copy of this a few years ago so even though I don’t have TNT, there’ll always be Ralphie at Christmas.

Movie Round-Up

Movie Round-Up
Peter PanWednesday afternoon the Snook and I headed out to catch Peter Pan, which I’d been eagerly awaiting. It didn’t disappoint. In a word, this movie is all about sex. Seriously. It’s about thirteen-year-olds figuring out about sex… all in a metaphorical way, of course. In the beginning I thought Peter was pretty annoying – why is he the only American? – but by the end I’m ashamed to admit I was swooning like Germaine Greer at a peewee football game. The joys of the film are not all pedophilic, either; Jason “Lucious Malfoy” Isaacs is villainously yummy as Captain Hook. I liked the many parallels that were drawn throughout the story linking Hook and Mr. Darling, Hook and Peter, and Hook and Tinker Bell. Incidentally, the film’s visuals play much better on the big screen than they did in trailers. I was expecting them to look rather cheap and cartoony but the effect is more like storybook illustrations. Highly recommended, but don’t take any thirteen-year-olds unless you want to hear them giggle the whole time. (Ebert says all this way better than I ever could.)

Spirited AwayWe’ve actually had Spirited Away for some time now but somehow we never got around to watching it. We should’ve popped it in sooner. It’s excellent. I wouldn’t characterize myself as a big animé fan – and some of the Snook’s favorites put me to sleep – but this was accessible, fun, scary, weird, and funny all at the same time. A little girl and her parents are driving to their new house when they get lost. They discover an abandoned theme park and her father wants to explore. Before long, he and his wife are transformed into giant pigs and their daughter Chihiro must try to rescue them. It doesn’t look how you expect Japanimation to look. I’ve never seen anything like Yubaba or Boh (the giant baby) before. I loved how Chihiro dealt with the River God. The story seemed surreal at first but it was logical and it never cheated. It reminded me a lot of Coraline by Neil Gaiman. We watched it with the English language soundtrack and the characterizations were great. (I’m still patting myself on the back for recognizing Susan Egan’s voice.) Again, very highly recommended.

Gosford ParkGosford Park is another one that we’ve been sitting on for too long. I wouldn’t recommend it unreservedly – I know too many folks that would never enjoy an ensemble English social commentary/comedy/murder mystery – but the Snook and I thought it was pretty good. At first the confusion of characters and plot lines was overwhelming and we spent a lot of time going, “Now which one was Lord Stockbridge?” and “Whose allowance is getting cut off?” But after a while you get the basic outline and things become clearer. We laughed at Ryan Phillipe’s ridiculous Scottish accent but were later forced to mentally apologize. (Sorry, Ryan.) The Snook and I confessed to a mutual and irrational hatred for Kristin Scott Thomas. Bob Balaban, as ever, was hilarious. Once the murder was committed, we had a lot of fun suggesting theories and motives. Neither of us were right in the end (but that’s only because you discount the real killer because of their apparent lack of motive). Oh, and if you’re a fan of Jeremy Northam at all, you must rent this film. He plays an English movie star and there are several lovely passages in the film when he plays the piano and sings. “Please God,” I thought to myself, “let that be Mr. Knightley’s real voice.” It was. Beeeeyoootiful.

Return of the KingAnd at last we come to it… The Return of the King. First, the good. (And now you’re getting ready to yell at me because if there’s “the good”, then there has to be “the bad”, right? I’m donning my flameproof vest as we speak.) The battle scenes were excellent. I was literally squirming in my seat. The CG characters just had a sense of weight that I never felt in the recent Star Wars movies. The big lumbering creatures actually looked real, and when they hit people you felt it. Sean Astin was wonderful and he deserves to be recognized. The Charge of the Rohirrim was just… awe-inspiring. I gasped in amazement. Okay, and now “the bad.” See, I just didn’t get into it. I didn’t cry (though I got a little moist when Theoden died) and I never really managed to suspend my disbelief. The things that I liked were all technical, but it never engaged my soul. In all honestly this is a problem I have with the book too. Maybe it’s a girl thing. I dunno. I was just never able to work up any real concern over the characters on the screen other than Theoden and Sam (and to be honest, I might not have identified as much with Sam if I didn’t already have such strong character associations with Sean Astin). I was looking forward to Eowyn’s big triumph over the Witch King, but it ended up a little too overly dramatic and “Conan the Barbarian” to be totally satisfying. I was totally bored by Denethor’s stupid dysfunctional family. And what’s up with cutting the whole Eowyn/Faramir relationship? They both disappear til the end. It’s a completely poor resolution to the whole love triangle setup from the second film. (I know, I know. “Wait for the extended edition.” But if that’s the case, then I’m even more annoyed because the Eowyn bits we saw in the film are obviously only there to appease the feminist critics. There’s no interest in resolving her storyline; just a grrrl power moment so they can put a female action figure in the Happy Meals.) Eh, even that rant makes me sound more involved than I actually was. I just kept wishing that Viggo would wash his hair and wondering why Arwen’s decision to become mortal resulted in her lipcolor fading and wishing that there were more Legolas close-ups and congratulating myself on lasting through yet another battle without needing to pee. I never got past that. Even now, writing about these four films, the one that lingers with me the most is Spirited Away. Maybe that says more about me than it does about the films…

Thoughts on World Idol

World Idol Reaction
In case you can’t tell from CouchCam, we’ve again borrowed a projector from work so our living room is reversed. Tonight we used this impressive setup of thousands of dollars worth of technology… to watch World Idol, of course. Why should the eleven judges have all the fun? Read on for criticism from the Snook and myself.Alex from Poland:
Kris: Bad song choice. She really should have gone for the crazy foreign girl Kylie/Shakira angle. Plus, hello? She has braces.
Snook: I thought she was very cute and she should have done a pop number. That’s what she did in the clip package and it looked like that suited her much better.

Alexander from Germany:
Snook: Lame!
Kris: I lived in Germany, and that, sir, is German pop music. He looks like an aerobics instructor.

Diana from Pan Arabia (or whatever):
Snook: That was just a bit bizarre. I’m sure she should be very popular in Iran. Or probably not, since she didn’t wear a thing on her head. The newly liberated people of Iraq will find her uplifting, I’m sure.
Kris: I liked her. I don’t know what she was singing about, but I respect the hell out of her for not giving in to the Western Diva Impulse.

Guy from Australia:
Kris: I really liked that arrangement. I wonder if he’s cashing in on all the Dulux song popularity? 🙂
Snook: Yeeeeeah, I like it. I think he sounds good.

Heinz from South Africa:
Snook: Just looked like your average, full-of-himself South African. You ever seen a South African? They grin too much. They’re like, “Hey, look at me!”
Kris: He’s super cute though. To me he looked like Josh Charles as Knox Overstreet in Dead Poets Society. Definitely Tiger Beat material.

Jamai from the Netherlands:
Kris: He should be in an adventure movie, and his name would be “Tech”, and he’d be the computer nerd.
Snook: I agree with the judges. He was a bit forgettable. Not bad, just…

Kelly from USA:
Snook: Uchhhh! I hated… Terrible outfit.
Kris: Speaking of the Diva Impulse… Seriously. It’s like she went shopping with Celine Dion. Very polished performance, but I totally agree with the Canadian guy that she gets a little ragged when she shouts too much.

Kurt from Norway:
Snook: He’s got a gap you could drive a bus through! He was pretty good though. He gets the vote from us hobbitses.
Kris: Awww, I liked him. He sang like Bono without being as pretentious or ass-like as Bono. If he only lost fifteen pounds and got his teeth capped…

Peter from Belgium:
Snook: Yeah! Rockin’! Belgian beer is good.
Kris: He kicked ass. I haven’t seen anybody head bang like that in ten years. He really needs to be fronting a rock band. I’d go see him.

Ryan from Canada:
Kris: I find him ridiculously attractive in a nerdy way. He’s like Elvis Costello crossed with Buddy Holly. I like the suit, I like the glasses, I like the sideburns, I like the song. I’m givin’ him a vote. He kinda reminds me of the guy from Tripod too.
Snook: Samson and Sharkey song! I’m SMSing Major. (In Canadian accent) He ain’t heavy, eh? He was interesting.

Will from the UK:
Snook: That sucked. That was offensive. Jim Morrison is rolling over in his drug-addled grave.
Kris: He’s so weird! He just stood there… and his mannerisms… and his bad, bad mullet… Can this be the same country that produced Robbie Williams?

Final thoughts:
We both thought the Polish judge was smoking major crack but he redeemed himself with his invitation to Guy to drink vodka together. Dicko was awesome and didn’t embarrass us at all. He gave great criticism and even made a few good jokes. (Thank God Holden didn’t go.) Were there, like, four British judges on the panel? Dicko, the UK guy, Simon, and we thought maybe the Belgian judge was English too (judging by the accent). That’s a little unfair… but I guess it’s not like they were going to send Paula Abdul in Simon’s place. Simon was an ass though and his comments to Kurt about there being a lot of ugly contestants (though ostensibly true) was just about the most backhanded “compliment” I’ve ever heard in my life. At least he wasn’t too rude to Guy. GO THE FRO!

Christmas Monkeys

Eames and the sock monkeysAt long last I can reveal that the surprise sock monkey I made earlier this month was commissioned by Matt of Scrubbles for his partner Christopher. They sent me this cute picture of their two sock monkeys reunited along with their kitty Eames. (Incidentally, Eames is the main character in a children’s book that the two of them wrote together. Christopher and Matt, that is. Not the monkeys.)

Oh, and by the way? I’m loving that quilt. Hmmm, perhaps my quilting energy is returning…