Monday, 29 January 2007

Reminiscing ... Dreamgirls and Dad

Last Friday, I treated myself to a movie. I do that quite often, and I've decided I really enjoy my Friday nights out at the movies! (Maybe I've turned into a popcorn junkie?) I saw DREAMGIRLS and thoroughly enjoyed a nice walk down memory lane. I was a big fan of Diana Ross and the Supremes back in the 1960s. My Dad and I both used to enjoy watching them on the Ed Sullivan Show, and I'm sure I owned every single "45" they ever put out. (Remember "Love Child"? "I Hear a Symphony"? Remember portable record players and "45s"?) Although Beyonce and friends didn't sing any of those tunes, the musical style, wardrobes, and their evolving hairstyles were enough to bring back pleasant memories. And for the record, Beyonce Knowles sounded pretty darned good, and young Jennifer Hudson has a real powerhouse voice!

That movie made me think ... once when Diana Ross and the Supremes were on Ed Sullivan, Diana's false eyelashes started coming unglued over one eye. Being the 1960s, they were some considerably long and thick false eyelashes -- not at all 'natural' looking. She never misses a note or a choreographed move during the song, and even managed to have a conversation with the host of that "really really big show" then walk confidently off the stage without letting on a single thing was amiss. I remember thinking to myself, NOW THAT'S A REAL LADY! My God! Why on earth would I equate false eyelashes falling off with being a real lady????? (Okay, I was maybe 11 years old ...)

And that recollection made me recall how my Dad never missed the Ed Sullivan Show (or the Red Skelton Show, or the Carol Burnett Show ... we moved into town in 1963 and got our very first television set that winter). Sometimes Dad and I had serious disagreements over which acts Ed Sullivan booked were really talented and which acts were duds. Although I adored the Supremes, that was the decade I was seriously discovering "Country & Western" music (Buck Owens, Sonny James, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Skeeter Davis ...) thanks to Radio KGA from Spokane, Washington -- 1510 on the AM dial -- and my new portable transistor radio in its green vinyl case. That obviously affected my judgment some. When the four British lads (shown on the left) appeared on Ed Sullivan for the first time in 1964, my elderly Dad watched and listened to them very intently, and proclaimed "THOSE FOUR BOYS WILL GO FAR -- MARK MY WORDS!" At the time, I laughed right out loud and replied they sounded like totally untalented amateurs and WHAT WAS WITH THAT ANNOYING "YAH YAH YAH" crap every second line in their lyrics??? Well! I didn't have to turn 30 before learning dear old Dad was indeed a wise man!

And that recollection reminds me that my Dad had amazingly eclectic tastes when it came to music. Or perhaps he was just amazingly tolerant. It's something that always amused me, considering he was born in the 1890s. He happily listened to everyone from Wilf Carter yodelling to Bessie Smith belting out the blues, and don't forget the weekly Canadian Tommy Hunter Show -- especially the closing gospel song -- as well as that Canadian Pig and Whistle (a musical variety show set in an English/Irish-style Pub), and he always enjoyed scoping out new musicians. He even had the patience to listen to the likes of Gary Pucket and the Union Gap, Janis Joplin, and Tiny Tim tip-toeing through the tulip beds with his irritating ukelele without bellowing "turn that gawdawful crap down!"! I think the only musician I ever heard him say anything seriously negative about was Frank Sinatra ... and that was directed at the man ("bloody mafia hoodlum!") and not at his musical talent. I consider myself to have fairly eclectic tastes in music today, but I am not as open to new musical experiences as my Dad was. If I don't really like it, I'm not listening to it, and you can't make me!

Dad and I did agree Burton Cummings and the Guess Who were "great stars-in-the-making" when they played on Let's Go on CBC TV (but we disagreed on Anne Murray -- I wanted to strangle that frickin' SnowBird!). Every Saturday evening these days when I listen to Randy Bachman's VINYL TAP on CBC Radio, I recall coming home from school and sitting down in front of the TV with my Dad to watch Let's Go before Dad started cooking supper. I wonder how many teenagers were that lucky?

Okay, now y'all know what an exciting life I lead ... I take myself to a movie on Fridays, I listen to CBC Radio on Saturdays ... I might as well confess CBC Radio is usually the highlight of my Sundays as well. (Don't you listen to Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe on Sunday afternoons???)

So last Sunday afternoon -- after the Vinyl Cafe --I wondered down to my favourite local book store + coffee shop for a wee break, and discovered a bargain books table. Yes! Books on sale! The only thing more exciting is yarn or fabric on sale! I picked up Timothy Taylor's "Stanley Park" for $7.99. I'm only a few pages into it (as I'm trying to write two seperate term paper proposals / outlines this week), but so far its quite fascinating. It starts with a trendy young Vancouver chef cooking and eating (illegally) a wild duck with his eccentric anthropologist father who happens to be living in Vancouver's famous Stanley Park in order to study homeless people, then nips back in time to the young chef's European training. I can't wait to see where its going to go from there!

What's that? Knitting, you ask? I finished both of the sleeves of my braided cable, bell-sleeved V-neck cardi ... and promptly discovered they were TOO SMALL! How annoying! Yes, I did a swatch and checked my tension before beginning, but I must have been more relaxed swatching than actually knitting the sleeves. So FROG IT! (I'll start the sleeves again when I quit growling at myself.) And Gryphon? Tomato? No significant progress to report this week. No aprons to report yet either. Maybe next time.

Monday, 22 January 2007

January update

Long time, no blog! Sometimes life just takes up too much time to sit at the computer. I still don't have a PC at home (being a poor starving student and all), and must find the time to sit in the public library or computer lab on campus in order to update the blog.

Well! As promised AGES ago, here are some photos of me "in persona" as SCA/medieval Emma of Oterburn:

(a) the plain linen underdress -- basic T-tunic pattern; white-on-white linen embroidery at neckline & cuffs, but you can't see it (TOO BAD! Its a nice wee decorative touch!) It's amazing how comfortable this is to wear, and how much easier it makes walking in the long gown.
(b) lacing up the purple gown -- OOPS! Methinks there's been a bit too much feasting at ye olde castle of late! (Now we know why medieval gowns LACED instead of buttoned . . . )

I'm not sure what that spot is on my purple gown. It's clearly visible in the photo, but I can't see anything on the gown itself. Weird light maybe?

(c) laced and belted; hair respectably contained by metallic gold snood under an ivory silk hat (it's a bit crumpled) held in place with a barbette. The red leather pouch on my leather belt looks rather deflated -- it is -- Emma certainly needs to save her coins for the next SCA event!
(d) warm wool cloak (such a delicious deep eggplant colour!); notice the basket and drop spindle -- one properly attired Northumbrian gal all ready to go out the door one 1306/7 winter day! (Or is that 2006/7?)

And in ye medieval crafty area of my life:

(a) Inkle Loom with purple & blue braid. One piece already finished, and second one on the loom. This braid will probably be sewn on the front straight edges of my wool cloak. Maybe -- if I don't think of something else I want to use it for. (What do you think?)
(b) Merino fleece -- carded / separated into skinnier rovings; spindle with a bit of spun stuff; my first (quite sad) plied yarn -- too much twist, not enough twist, lumpy, bumpy and uneven! You'll notice by the centre spindle that my technique improved heaps with practice! (Spinning with a drop spindle really isn't that difficult, much to my surprise. I've got a half dozen sizable skeins of decent 2-ply completed -- now what shall I do with them?)

See the fabulous olive/gold taffeta in the background of the last photo on the right? This will eventually become my next period gown. Also notice the rosary Emma will be wearing on her belt the next time she's out and about -- coral Ave beads and red Italian glass Paternoster/Gloria beads, completed with a red silk tassle instead of a crucifix -- not perfectly authentic (fake coral), but certainly looks the part.

And in the non-medieval crafty area -- since I certainly don't spend all my time as Emma:
Cotton fabrics for aprons. (Yes, I'm old-fashioned enough to enjoy wearing aprons. Get over it!) Actually, there are two more cotton prints -- blue hens and roosters, and red apples. For some reason they didn't show up in the photo, so I cropped them off. You know how you look in the drawer one day and think "Yuk, I don't wanna wear ANY of those faded, stained old aprons"? That's what I did early this month, and quickly took myself off to Fabricland. However, I haven't had time for a good weekend sewing binge yet, so I'm stuck wearing faded, stained old aprons for the moment.

I've got two counted cross-stitch projects on the go at the moment. On the left is a gryphon who will eventually become a cushion-cover. On the bottom/right is a tomato who will probably become a kitchen wall-hanging of some sort. (Okay, this isn't the greatest photo. We've already established I'm not the world's best photographer!) Both are worked on 22-count aida cloth, so they're hard on my eyes. When I get tired of gryphon, I work on tomato for a while, and when I get tired of tomato, I work on something else. (What? Isn't that how all crafters do things? Musical projects?)

Knitting? Knitting, you ask? Of course! I felt so incomplete while my right arm was in a cast last fall and wasn't able to knit! (It's healed fine now, thanks for asking . . . ) I don't have a photo to share of my latest project, but you can see it on page 86 of the Winter 2006/7 Vogue Knitting magazine . . . a braided cable, bell-sleeved V-neck cardi. I'm knitting it in basic white. (What? White, you exclaim!) Yes, white. I'm picturing it over over a plain tee or possibly a colourful sleeveless summer dress. I'm thinking VERSATILE.

Okay, this is a bit of a quick post as I want to do some "fiddling and tweaking" with the blog while I'm here today, and since I'm still a student, there's a paper and presentation due on Weds that also requires immediate attention.

Happy 2007 blogging everyone!