I Did a Thing.

So, I’m not especially crafty. I mean, I would love to be really good at knitting and sewing and crafty this and thats, but I’m not. I’m more the Pinterest Fail type. Heh. But, that’s partly due to my lack of patience and my frustration when I’m not immediately good at something. But, I like the idea of sewing and I feel like it’s more within my grasp than knitting (I look at knitting how-tos and my eyes just cross). I have had an old sewing machine for a year or so and had been meaning to bust it out and do something, but never found the motivation. Then I saw the Fall for Cotton sew-along online via the By Gum, By Golly and Lucky Lucille blogs. I figured having a set of parameters and a time limit were good ways to kick myself into gear. So, last time I was home in the Bay Area, I dragged my mom to Jo-Ann and picked out pattern and some fabric. The I came home and crossed my fingers. I hadn’t sewn anything other than a pillow in middle school home-ec and a pair of pajama bottoms in a class a few years back (and the crotch totally ripped out of those after a few wears). So, let’s just say I wasn’t particularly optimistic.

Vogue V8789My pattern. Vintage Vogue V8789. The pattern said it was “easy,” so I figured that was a good sign.

Vogue V8789My pattern pieces all cut out. I had no idea if I’d actually be able to turn them into something. This step was incredibly tedious. In fact, I found the whole process of sewing rather tedious. Well, somewhere between dreadfully boring and incredibly tedious.

Vogue V8789Since I found the process slightly less than thrilling, I only worked on my dress in fits and starts. I probably only spent four or five days out of the month working on it. But, coming in right at the sew-along’s deadline, I finished!  Amazing! It’s definitely wonky in places (the facings at the armholes are a little puckered and weird, the gathers of the skirt aren’t evenly spaced, I think the hem is a bit uneven, etc.), but it’s a proper dress and it fits. I wound up making the skirt bit half as full as the pattern called for. That started out as me misreading the pattern, but turned into a conscious decision once I realized my error. I think it was for the best. I’d probably like the look of the fuller skirt, but I had a hard enough time dealing with gathering the skirt as it was. I also opted not to gather the cummerbund, preferring to just sort of zhuzh it myself.

This mofo. Oy. I had to turn a tube inside out when I made the aforementioned pajama pants, but I recall it being far easier than this. I spent half a damn hour dealing with this and was convinced it was going to cause me to totally give up. But, I persevered and got the damn thing right-side out. It then became…

Loop ButtonholesButton loops! I rather like these little guys. Maybe because I know what a pain in the ass they were to make. Heh.

So, there we have it! I made a dress. I’m still amazed. As I said above, I found sewing tedious, but I did actually like how in the zone you have to get when you’re working. You start in on something and before you know it hours and hours have passed. I’m not sure I’ll jump into something new straight away, but I’d like to try my hand at a cotton blouse or another dress. I only have a one-bedroom apartment, so sewing sort of takes over my bedroom, which, as someone rather obsessed with order in my home, throws me off a bit. Heh. But, I do feel quite chuffed at what I did.

Joe Henry is Awesome

I am going to see Joe Henry tonight at Largo (never have I been happier to live in Los Angeles), so I thought I’d write about how I discovered him and his music. It’s kind of a random story and I find it amusing, so, perhaps you will too.

Back in the day, Tower Records stores had a big kiosk of postcards near the front door. They were promotional postcards for bands, TV shows, movies, sneakers, and other stuff. So, one day after an album-buying trip in 1996, I spotted the postcard pictured above on my way out of the store. I had never heard of Joe Henry, but I thought the photograph on the card was really cool and so I grabbed a small stack of them. It didn’t inspire me to look into Joe Henry (though, being a relatively pre-Internet era, I wouldn’t really have had anywhere to look him up other than going and buying an album) or do anything other than enjoy the image on the postcard. I mean, there were a lot of crappy bands and things promoted on those postcards, so it didn’t seem to me like a thing to do.

Fast-forward to 1998 when Henry’s next album was coming out. I saw a listing for an episode of Sessions at West 54th, a defunct PBS show that aired live performances, that was to feature Joe Henry. I sort of laughed, putting the name to the face on the postcards I had picked up a couple years earlier. That piqued my interest enough to tape the Sessions episode and check him out.

Suffice it to say I was completely taken with his music. After, like, one song I was hooked. He’s since become one of my (if not my number one) favorite musicians. He’s seriously amazing, as I’ve mentioned all over the Internets before. I can’t wait for the show tonight.

 

NB: I love that this post contains references to large chain record stores, VCRs, and an exciting time before the Internet. I’m 35, things were different when I was growing up.

Cristina, Camp, and Candelabras

If there’s one thing I love, it’s camp.  So, if there’s a second thing I love, it’s Liberace. My grandparents have lived in Las Vegas for more than twenty years, and I’ve been visiting the (currently homeless) Liberace Museum for about as long. My house features many a tchotchke purchased at the museum’s gift shop.

Liberace Museum Turkey Feather Costume

So, you can only imagine how stoked I was for Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabara. From the day it was announced, I was ready. As the day of its premiere on HBO drew nearer, I knew I had to get my friends together to celebrate and watch. The campiness and fabulousness and Liberaceness were not to be denied. Now, because I currently live in Los Angeles and all my friends live in the Bay Area, the lovely Angela offered up her house and her party-planning prowess. Angela did the heavy lifting (and amazingly so!), decorating a la Lee’s “palatial kitsch” with gilded…well, everything. I brought some booze and a Jello mold. And my enthusiasm!

Behind the Candelabra Party Accessories

Guests were encouraged to dress up in Liberace-worthy duds. I opted for a sequined dress and big rings. (Photo by the lovely Adiel.)

The champagne was flowing! (Don’t worry, we weren’t getting children drunk. Club soda is just way more festive in a champagne glass!)

There were concoctions of dubious origins.

Silly photos were taken, featuring many silly faces. And apparently a beret made an appearance.

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And Lee himself presided over things.

By the time the movie started, we were all pretty well in the bag. We did not have an official drinking game, but made one up as we went along. There was enough fromage in the movie that we all pretty well instinctively knew when to drink. For instance, when this happened:

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A good time was had by all. A great time was had by most! (Put that on my tombstone.) I think we all need to watch the movie again because we were kind of drunk the first time, but I call that a successful evening.

Our next shindig will feature the classic film Willie Dynamite, which I foisted upon Angela and Steve when they came to visit me a few months ago. It really deserves a party.

Rectify

Rectify Aden Young

I’ve been meaning to get a post up about my trip to NY, but that’ll have to wait (probably until it’s been so long it doesn’t matter anymore). But, in the meantime, I’m going to tell you about the best show you’re probably not watching (and maybe haven’t even heard of)…

It’s called Rectify and it’s on the Sundance Channel. It was just picked up for a second season, and I couldn’t be more pleased. The first season, which is still airing (Mondays at 10), is only six episodes.You can likely catch up on demand (the first two episodes are even streaming on Sundance’s site) and it’ll probably be on Netflix shortly after the season ends in two weeks. And all of them are on Amazon already, so if you have $10 to spare, you can buy the whole season right now, like I did. And you should. This is the best thing I’ve seen on TV in a long time. It’s a very different show from anything else on the air. It’s slow and quiet and thoughtful. It makes you think about what it means to be alive, what is real, what is just… That makes it (and me!) sound sort of pretentious, and maybe some people would react to the show that way, but it’s really and truly an amazing piece of television. The basic premise is a guy, who was sentenced to death at 18 for the rape and murder of his high-school girlfriend, gets out of jail after 19 years based on some finally-tested DNA evidence. The show deals with his life after prison (the six episodes take place during the following six days), informed by flashbacks to his time on death row. There’s an overarching plot about the town’s reaction to his release, his potential re-trial, his guilt or innocence, with a bit of whodunnit mystery built in (because it is, after all, a TV show and not a Terrence Malik film–though it does look a bit like one sometimes) as well, but the series is really built around Aden Young’s amazingly powerful and quiet performance. This is a man who’s almost completely lost and overwhelmed and it’s an incredible thing to watch. I can’t recommend Rectify highly enough. Do yourself a favor and give it a shot. I was hooked after the first fifteen minutes.

Sweep!

Sharks Sweep CanucksBoom! Sharks swept the Canucks tonight! The first series sweep in Sharks history! The first team to finish a series this year. Can’t wait for round two!

NYC Here I Come

Chicken Livers Celeste NYCEvery year I take a trip back to NYC and I visit museums, see plays, walk around, drink, and eat at all my favorite places (and try to find somewhere new too).  The chicken livers from Celeste on Amsterdam are must-haves. That giant plate comes and I dig in. I eat nearly the entire thing and then gobble up a bowl of gnocchi and a delicious orange-blossom grain cake for dessert. That I managed to take even a blurry picture last year is amazing because all I wanted to do was dive in. Those chicken livers are one of the highlights of my year.

I’m off on a plane tonight and I can’t wait to hit the ground running. Well, that’s a lie. I take the red eye and all I want to do when I arrive is check in early and sleep, but, after that, I’ll hit the ground running! Follow along on Instagram to see all the shenanigans!

Ach, Mein Leben!

Berliner Weisse and Waldmeister SyrupI have never been to Germany, but if my experiences at German restaurants are any indication, I think I would enjoy it. Sausages, pretzels, schnapps, and the tasty concoction you see above: Berliner Weisse mit Schuss. Berliner Weisse is a semi-sour wheat beer and it’s often served mit Schuss or with a shot of syrup, usually raspberry or a lovely green woodruff-flavored Waldmeister syrup, which is my favorite (it’s also good in cheap champagne). Both ingredients can be sort of hard to track down (even many German restaurants have trouble getting them all year long), but it’s well worth it to try. (I found both in Las Vegas, which is, like, a drinker’s paradise, even far off the Strip.) The drink is light and sweet and refreshingly delicious. Plus, it’s probably the one beer you can confidently drink with a bendy straw.

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