Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Grand Budapest Hotel

M & I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel after it came out - I thought it was perfectly marvelous and would like to watch it again and again. I thought practically every scene was a visual treat and I loved loved loved watching Ralph Fiennes in his role as Monsieur Gustave. I haven't enjoyed Fiennes so much since The English Patient, which I have seen precisely 274 times. I particularly liked the scenes that took place in small settings, like the elevator or the train car or a jail cell (spoiler?). Those reminded me of sets from The Darjeeling Limited, one of my favorite Wes Anderson movies.

Exterior shots of the hotel were very charming - like this one of the hotel sitting at the top of this craggy mountain.  The movie also brings the opportunity to use, in common parlance, the word "funicular", which one otherwise has rare occasion to do.  I had similar feelings about the movie Noah, which brought about a wave (GET IT?) of reviewers utilizing the wonderful word "antediluvian."  

So, I read that Anderson "more or less" plagiarized Austrian writer Stefan Zweig.  I'd never heard of Zweig - apparently he's quite popular in Europe - so I checked out a couple of books from the library. I checked them out with great happiness because the books were small and charming and I thought I was on the verge of a great discovery.  Zweig is a bit of a tragic character - he managed to get out of Austria in 1934 but near the end of WWII he and his wife committed double-suicide in Brazil.  Anyway, I start reading what I think it going to be a charming set of short stories, but, the three that I read ended in suicide and were depressing as hell, as you might imagine.  

He does do this thing which is sort of old-fashioned in literature now which is to tell the story through a third party, like, I met this person on a boat and they told me this story about this other guy they knew that went like this... I could probably write more intelligently about this if I had gotten a worthless literature degree instead of a worthless art history degree. In any event, Anderson certainly captures that quality in the movie by framing it in several layers.  It gives it a very fairy tale quality.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


I can't believe there's a movie about Noah with Russell Crowe and Hermione in it.  Part of me wants to see it, even though I think it will be really stupid.  To me, one of the most interesting parts of the whole Noah story happens after the flood's over and isn't generally covered in Bible School.  What happens is, Noah builds a vineyard, and one day he gets really drunk and gets naked for some reason.  Then, one of his sons, Ham, comes in and laughs at him.  This painting is by Giovanni Bellini, I think it's pretty funny because you can see Ham (in the middle) laughing like a little bitch.  

Ham goes and gets his two brothers to show them, but they do this weird business where they back into the room and cover him, and then back out again.
James Tissot "lalala we don't see anything"

Then Noah wakes up, gets mad, and curses Ham's son, for some reason.

Gustave Dore - Overreact much?
I learned this whole story when I studied art history - The Drunkenness of Noah has been a popular subject for artists.  Some scholars (and artists) assumed that some improprieties took place while Noah was passed out drunk, which seems fairly likely, as drunkenness and nakedness goes.

What I find interesting is that, while this appendix to the story of Noah is mostly unknown today, it was a very popular subject through the ages.  Here's a scene on a panel from the famous bronze doors of the Florence Baptistry, by Ghiberti:

And here it is by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: 

This last one is not famous, but I love the look on everyone's faces.  Ham's like, "Isn't this great?  Dad's drunk and naked!" and the brothers are all, "Oh, for Chrissake, pull yourself together."

Luini Bernadino

 I wonder if all this will be in the movie?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Grey

Since I've been sick all winter, practically all superfluity has come to a stop, including coloring my hair, which, yes, I usually do.  A few weeks ago I noticed that I was developing a Cruella de Vil grey streak in my hairline.  However fabulous de Vill might be, that grey streak is not for me.  A friend reminded me that Susan Sontag has a similar, equally fabulous streak.  But, honestly, I think I'm too young.  Aren't I?

Anyway, I stumbled into some exceptional overhead lighting the other day (the horror!) and realized that not only did I have a grey streak, that basically ALL my hair was coming out of my head just straight up silvery grey.  I should mention that I think grey hair is actually very beautiful on other people.  I myself am not YET forty years old, however.  "Not Yet Forty" is too young to have grey hair blasting out of your hair follicles like fireworks from a cannon.

I immediately made an appointment with my colorist but she just had a baby and is harder to schedule now so I have to wait a few weeks.

Meanwhile, I'm watching the Winter Olympics.  Everyone is so young, particularly my favorite, the lady snowboarders.  I don't know their names but the American girls seem mostly to be from South Lake Tahoe and they all wear their hair in two carefree side-braids and they're as cute as can be (aside from being kick-ass snowboarders).  Snowboarding is for young people, ie, people in their 20s and below.  M tried it in his thirties and spent the whole time on his ass and with a sore tailbone for months. There's a statute of limitations on being physical adventurousness, just like there is on moving yourself.  At a certain point, you hire movers, and you can't take up new sports.  You just can't.

Anyway, M & I are watching the figure skaters and, you know, every once in a while they fall down.  Sometimes from great heights, like however many feet it is for a dude to hold you on the crotch by the flat of his palm stretched above his head.  And when they fall, we go "Oooo!"  And then the announcers go, "Oh NO!  ALL their HOPES and DREAMS were just SHATTERED!"  And for a second, you get carried away, and think, "Gee, I think maybe all their hopes and dreams of winning a gold medal just might be shattered." And maybe they get the yips and fall some more.  Ooo!  and OH NO from the announcers ALL THEIR DREAMS ARE DESTROYED!  And then it's over, and you see two young people smile ruefully and shrug their shoulders.  I mean, these are people who don't have a single grey hair in their heads; it doesn't seem like their hopes and dreams are destroyed.  You can learn a lot from those damn kids about falling down and getting back up again.

Thursday, February 06, 2014


We got a new cat recently.  Her name is Sylvie.  She's a sweet puss and she's starting to get more used to us.  Poor little thing is only 3 1/2, but she's already been in a lot of homes, so it will probably take a while for her to relax with us and in our house.
Getting a new cat has actually been very emotional for me & M.  We had two trips to the shelter before we got her that ended in us leaving petless and in tears. All I could do was imagine the life of each animal we met flying before my eyes, only to end in agony and death 15 years later.  So strange, to see 15 happy years flash before my eyes and feel miserable.  It must be confusing for this little gal to see her two new adoptive parents quietly weeping over her all the time.  Could she understand, "Oh, I'm just mourning your eventual death which is, God willing, more than a dozen years into the future." I'm dying too, a fact that less easy to admit, or even that M will die one day, and so will everyone I love.  So, adopting a cat ended up becoming an existential crisis, but I'm glad we found each other.  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Dollhouse!

I finally finished my dollhouse!
This is the downstairs - kitchen and dining room.

Here's a closer pic of the dining area.

This is the stove and cooker.

close-up of sink and pots

The Bedroom 
The bathroom, my favorite

The whole upstairs

AND, I also made a video, in which I say the words "so cute" 50 times.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

My True Love Gave to Me

Under my dedicated tutelage, M has become an expert stocking stuffer.  This year he put a gorgeous dichroic glass necklace in there, as well as these cool nail stamps that I've been curious about for a long 
time.  They're these metal plates, and you put nail polish on them, then you scrape it off, then you put a stamp across it, then you stamp in on your nail.  Makes no sense, right?  But, somehow you figure it out after you watch 6 six you tube videos on the subject.  

Now I want to do my nails 6 times a day.  Here are some of my nails since then.  Cute, right?  

M also gave me a game called Ooga Booga that is quite fun too.  It's a memory game that also causes humiliation.  The best thing he got me is tickets to The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Chicago Shakespeare Co - we're going this friday I'm so excited wee!

My mom gave me a great present - a couple of books and this little relic from my childhood.  I think these used to be my sister's mice, but then they sort of became a family decoration.  My mom made these little felt outfits for them and she would put them around the house on the tree and stuff.  Anyway, I was actually thinking about getting some of my own and then I was like, well, the ones I really love are these ones, and then it's like she read my mind and gave them to me.

And my old old friend KT gave me some lovely cards that her Auntie saved.  Then, one day she brought a giant box full of cards and scrapbooks and newspapers over and we went through all of it!  Heaven!

Sunday, January 05, 2014


I've been sick since Thanksgiving with some unknown illness.  First the doctor told me it was an upper-respiratory thing, then pneumonia (I was tested for whooping cough!) and then Bronchitis.  I've been on two rounds of antibiotics and just finished a round of steroids and I still feel like utter balls.  So, that's been a drag.  I'm not very good at being sick and have a tendency to catastrophize the whole thing 'til I'm wallowing in a sad place that's like there-is-no-god-and-we-all-die-alone.  Anyway, I've been trying extra hard not to go to the Dark Place and figure out how to enjoy myself even though I have no energy at all and feel yucky pretty much constantly.

Side note: When I see people, this depressing interaction happens:
"K! How are you?"
Oh, not so great, I've been sick for like a month.
"It looks like you've lost weight!"
Maybe a couple of pounds, I've basically been in like a half-coma.
"Well, you look great."

Our society is really effed up, y'all.

See, that's the Dark Place, and I am not going there.  Let us go instead to the Pillow Place, which is a crrrrrraft I managed to finish.  First I made copied a template of a fox onto paper.  Did you know you can use your computer screen like a light box?  I just found a design I liked online, then held a piece of paper over my monitor and traced it.  Then I traced it onto one of my personal favorite tools in my sewing room: Double-Sided Interfacing.  Oh how I love you, Double-Sided Interfacing!  Then I ironed this cute little fox onto my fabric.  Basically I did it like this lady did, only I used a zig-zag stitch instead of a straight stitch around the image.  Then I put a fancy trim and a zipper in, and I tried a new zipper technique (for me) which mostly worked out, but on the last of four of these pillows that I made for some of my girlfriends, for some reason I broke no less than EIGHT NEEDLES.  And there was much screaming and cursing.  And thus were such obscenities screamed at my sewing machine that have not been heard in many a year.  But lo, the pillows were still pretty cute.

On the back I put this cute flannel - I was going for a sort of winter-cottage look.  Just in time for the several feet of snow that's been steadily falling on us for the past few days.

Stay tuned for more Xmas recaps and.... wait for it... Nail Art!  Oooooo yeaaaaaahhhh...