Archive for March, 2011

Felted Bun!

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

I have a nephew. He has a Bun.

Actually, he has a Bun and a Bun’s Mom. They’re two blue bunnies, gently stuffed, which he loves quite a lot. And rightly so.

For his birthday this year, I decided to felt him a Bun. Which—it occurred to me somewhat belatedly—might be a nonsensical thing to do for a budding five-year-old. I imagine him opening the box and running the following internal (possibly external) monologue:

“So . . . I already have a Bun. And a Bun’s Mom. And now here I am getting this new thing that looks sort of like Bun, but isn’t Bun, and isn’t as soft, and doesn’t come with a mother. So . . . point?”

Let’s nobody tell him that I spent like a million hours on it.

And in April when John’s in DC for work, he’ll present my nephew with felted Bun. You, of course, get an early peek:

Your Basic Bun

Your Basic Bun

His nose, I know, is funny. Partly, Bun the First’s nose is a little funny. And partly, I am a novice felter.

Bun and Friend

Bun and Friend

Bun and His Shadow

Bun and His Shadow

Bun's Bunny Slippers

Bun's Bunny Slippers

The cutest part about Bun is that he wears bunny slippers. Here you can see the less-than-perfect faces. Detail work is not easy, and I hope to improve over time. Either that, or make much larger felties.

Honestly, Bun is not my best work to date. But he’s special, because he’s all about my auntie love for my nephew. And is it not an aunt’s role in life to bestow odd, slightly off, borderline inexplicable handmade gifts?

I believe it is.

Sumo Chub (Live Free or Die Frying)

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Here’s something that happened yesterday.

John and I were walking about town, performing enjoyably Berkeley activities like turning in used electronics for recycling, browsing at the Tibetan Buddhist book store, and chomping on fresh farmer’s market fare, when we came upon a newish food joint: Sumo Grub.

First of all, if you are trying to earn my business, choosing turquoise and orange as your color palette is an excellent start. If you layer on top of that a logo of a joyful, happy, cartoon Sumo wrestler hefting pizza in one hand and a meatball sub in the other, you are going to practically have to obstruct my sprint into your store. And if, finally, your menu consists of a long list of junk foods, all of which you deep-fry, you’ve earned yourself an instant date with mah belleh.

The place was closed until 4 PM, so we returned for dinner. And . . . [facial expression of alarm and regret]. Meat was not an option*, and there were only two vegan items, both involving deep-fried tofu and not much else—plastic-tasting white rice and heavy peanut sauce in one case, lettuce and blunt sweet-and-sour sauce in the other. Both of which: ew.

*Conversation re: the meat:

Me: Where is your meat sourced?

Proprietor: What?

Me: Do you have any organic, humanely raised meat?

Proprietor: Our meat is old-school. [Beat.] But I’ve never had a problem.

And if you’re hoping that deep-fried Oreos, Snickers bars, and tiramisu could resurrect the entrée experience, your hope dies here. The only item that came close was the Snickers bar, since it melted into gooey goodness, but the post-meal lead-belleh rendered all things previous a mistake.

Too bad, Sumo Grub! We could have been something to each other . . . but no.

A Short Play in Repetitive Two-Word Phrases

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

A: Hello hello.

B: Hey hey.

A: Good good?

B: Somethin’ somethin.’

A: Here here!

B: Hubba hubba.

A: My my.

B: Hummana hummana!

A: Hey hey!

B: Sorry sorry!

A: Now now.

B: Sniff sniff.

A: There there.

B: Bye-bye.

A: Ciao-ciao.

Helvetica: the Movie

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Somebody, and I’m not saying who, is one entry away from her 200th blog post.

Maintaining le blog: entertaining diversion or burdensome obligation? Chetzi-chetzi.

John and I are about to make our yearly sojourn to this beautiful place, where we’ll be off the grid entire: no Internet, no cell reception, no electricity, even, save for some weak solar lighting. In other words, Heaven.

Before I go, I thought I’d leave you with a couple of impressions in the media department.

1) I’ve nearly finished Just Kids, and while I remain in awe of Smith’s unique vision and lifelong commitment to art, I’m also a little disappointed. The story devolves into a list of events: I did this, I met this person, and we did that.

It’s not that she never reveals what it felt like to, say, perform at CBGB in the early 70s, and she does continually return to her development as an artist. But it’s not enough to counterbalance the litany. I wish she’d chosen a select set of scenes and dived deeper—but maybe when your life has comprised such a stunning array of artistic encounters, it’s hard to choose.

2) At long last, Helvetica. I’ve been meaning to see this movie forever, and finally the iPad-Netflix 1-2 conspired to make it happen. (iPad + Netflix: perfect media delivery system or the beginning of the world’s end? Chetzi-chetzi.)

Helvetica is really wonderful—funny, smart, insightful. It’s such a delight to see passionate typographers and graphic designers wax poetic about the beauty of the font (or, in some cases, about its fascist world domination and/or bankrupt aesthetic banality). My favorite quote:

“We’re less obsessed with Helvetica than we used to be. We came to a point where we accepted that it’s just there.”

As a quick glance north will reveal, I’m a huge fan of Helvetica Bold, and I adore Helvetica Black—at least I had, until seeing this movie. It really is everywhere, and I don’t  exactly aspire to be Crate & Barrel. On the other hand, Andrew Zuckerman. Well, my friends, we live in the debate.

One gripe: Director Hustwit interviews about 20 people, one of whom is a woman. One.

Happy week! I’ll be back online in 6ish days.

Just Kids

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Readers, I have what John would call a bazillion amount of work right now. Which is good! But not for le blog.

Briefly, I’ll mention that I’ve been reading Patti Smith’s memoir, and what I am most struck by is her relationship with art. She is so clear on what art means to her, and what an artist is, and art flows from her without, it seems,  prompting or prodding. Which—where did that come from, given her seemingly banal suburban upbringing? (Where does it ever come from, I suppose?)

I am moved, too, that Smith holds art in such high regard. I would say that it’s her religion, but she also seems to have a religion, a connection with the sacred that is both personal and deep.

I’m only about halfway through, and the book is lagging a little; at the beginning it was almost breathtakingly sparkly. But I’ll keep going. I’m waiting to discover how she writes about Mapplethorpe’s death, since on the radio her emotional presence was stunning.

I Dreamed a Dream

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Yes, Les Misérables is a sentimental musical. Yes, its earnestness might be said to rise to a kind of self-parody. Yes, there are a lot of power ballads in there.

But travel with me back to February, 1987.

Say you’re fourteen years old. Say you’ve just read (an abridged version of) the novel for English class.* Which despite getting off to a slow start ultimately resolved itself into a very, very satisfying love-and-war story. And say you waited on hold with the Kennedy Center ticket office for nearly an hour to secure fourth-row seats to the show, which as of yet has no reputation, as it’s opening in DC before it heads to Broadway.

*This after having read an abridged version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame the previous year. Why so much Hugo, Mr. Gillard and Mr. White? Not complaining. Just curious.

Then, say, you go to the show. And though you are no stranger to Broadway, you are awestruck. Because to your fourteen-year-old ears, it is high art. And the voices are beautiful. And the music is hummable. And the themes are important. And you wish fervently to be up there, singing those songs, feeling those feelings, dreaming those dreams.

And say your parents buy you the soundtrack right then and there. And say you listen to that soundtrack, on a loop, for the next six months. While Les Misérables becomes a mega-hit.

Wouldn’t you have a special relationship with it?

And twenty-four years later, when Patti LuPone (who originated the role of Fantine) published a memoir, wouldn’t you buy it? Even though the free excerpt you downloaded on your Kindle was really, really bad?

[Hangs head in shame.]

I’m a girl, people. There are things I can’t resist!

And oh, this memoir. This tragedy of a memoir!

No, I do not expect LuPone to be a writer. But I do expect her publisher to get her a competent ghostwriter. And a coherent editor. Who together, presumably, would make sure that the writing actually made sense, and that the paragraphs had at least a modicum of internal logic, and that sentences that directly contradicted each other did not appear in immediate succession.

Weirder even than that: It’s superficial! It’s very bizarrely not about LuPone’s apparently hugely passionate feelings and is instead a whirlwind tour through her many tours, with a nod to this person here and that relationship there. It is, essentially, a heaping pile of plot. Which—what?

I dun get it.

I’m only partway through. So I’m holding out the weensiest smidge of hope that there’s something a little more toothsome in the Les Miz chapter. Though what are the chances?

Yeah. I know.

ETA 3/8/11: Patti LuPone did not do Fantine in America! Randy Graff did!

Hey, Randy Graff! You were awesome.

(I also saw Graff in City of Angels a couple of years later, for which she won the Tony.)

So . . . I finished the memoir. And while it does get more interesting (read: bitching commences), it certainly doesn’t improve by way of writing. And it doesn’t gain any depth. Aside from her diva-esque grandiosity, I have no sense of who LuPone is.

I feel empty and dirty now. Maybe I’ll YouTube some old Randy Graff clips and sing along.

ETA 10 minutes later: Patti LuPone is really freaking amazing. She YouTubed her way back into my heart.

Felting: I’m Feelin’ It

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Lo, I created the first felted alien and lo, that alien was lonely. So I said unto him, “I will felt you a buddy.” And lo, I felted him a buddy. And lo and behold, everybody felt better.

I present to you: Alien the Second.

He's a little freaked out.

He's a little freaked out by life.

He looks good against a blue friend.

But his spirits perk up in the safety of a good friend's crotch. (And whose don't? Ha! Kidding!)

Here we see him enjoying the company of the top-o'-fridge gang.

Here we see him enjoying (or, at least, tolerating) the company of the top-o'-fridge gang.

And here we see him lurking in corners, away from the party around the bend.

And here we see him lurking in corners, away from the party around the bend.

[Party.]

[Shudder.]

Together Forever

Together at Last, Together Forever

Welcome, Alien the Second! May your kind continue to grow in number and in cuteness.

Next up: a top-secret project for a relative. More shall be revealed!