Monday, August 31, 2009

Couch to 5k - Day 1

That's right, between Erin and Meghan, I've decided it's time to get off of my keister and start exercising again. It's good for me, and let's face it, if I ever want to sport a gold bikini, it's a necessity.

Today's progress:

C25k- day 1

Today's soundtrack: The Full Monty (Broadway)

Things I've learned: Dancing on an elliptical is hard. And a little treacherous.

Why yes, Virginia, there IS knitting!

While the knitting that has captured my heart (the Tangled Yoke Cardigan) has evaded photographic evidence, I've started a pair of Rick Socks:


Ok, these are the humble beginnings, but I've made a few adjustments (shocking, I know), and I'm digging on all the twisted stitches and swirlyness of the pattern. Alas, four pattern repeats in, I found myself drawn back to my Tangled Yoke cardigan.

Part of it is the pattern itself; it's written clearly, and I especially appreciated the caveat about the cable chart- where Eunny assures the intrepid, suspicious, frequently-attacked by her knitting- knitter that, yes, the stitch count will change. Go with it.

So, with Eunny's assurances, I leapt in with both feet. (Without a lifeline, which I realized may have been prudent AFTER I had done the set up row. Eunny, I'm depending on you. Don't let me down.) Row 1 worked out, after I kicked myself for omitting one knit stitch per repeat (my fault, not Eunny's), so I'm feeling optimistic about rows 3-18.

I'm making liberal use of my stitch markers, color-coding to my heart's content, and using six of my ten colored highlighters to differentiate the different cables:


I'm not often a monogamous knitter, but I'll say it again, not only am I enjoying knitting this, but I'm super-excited about wearing it. I have a set of glass buttons, whose vintage is purported to be the 1800's. (No pics of them now, but they are PERFECT.) Andrew has declared this to be my Rhinebeck sweater, but at the rate I'm going, I might have time to knit TWO.

(As I typed that, I almost fell off of my chair laughing. Time to stop huffing wool and get on with my day.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Midsummer Night's Dream - a Review

Event: A Midsummer Night's Dream - Shakespeare Santa Cruz
Cost: Our tickets were comp'ed, but you can buy tickets here. (They range from $13-$48.)

Aldo Billingslea (Oberon) and J. Todd Adams (Puck) in SSC's 2009 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Photo: Shakespeare Santa Cruz

The Review:

I read A Midsummer Night's Dream in college, and maybe it was the teacher, but I didn't think it was funny. I'll be honest, it was the teacher. (This is the same guy who told us that he was writing a book about how Claudius committed all of the murders in Hamlet, instead of Hamlet himself. He was unamused when I declared that using his logic, Ophelia was just as likely a culprit.) A good teacher can nurture a love of Shakespeare, a bad teacher leaves dirty fingerprints all over your opinions and interpretations.

Mom and I packed up our Festival Glen bag (seat cushions, blankets, warm clothes), and went in with an open mind. (Remember, I wasn't a big fan of Romeo & Juliet until I saw SSC perform it last year.) The Midsummer cast captured us from the beginning scene, where the actors from the play-within-a-play start the show with a STOMP-esque opening number. The show just got funnier from there.

This production featured contemporary clothing, and some props that made the show both more current, funnier, as well as more accessible to the less-literary crowd. (I seriously may have hurt myself laughing when Hermia declares her undying love for Lysander while clutching a copy of Twilight.) We also thought it was terribly apropos that Hermia calls for Lysander "
What, out of hearing? gone? no sound, no word?" - with a cell phone.

However, the modern props don't overshadow the classic elements of the play- the fairies, nymphs, and other forest creatures are there, in all of their glory- especially J. Todd Adams (pictured above), plays an athletic, built, and cheerfully impish Puck. (I might also mention here that, wow, he is BUILT.) There were a few Cirque-worthy flips and tosses in there that only added to the authenticity of the character.

Miles Villanueva (Lysander) and Lenne Klingaman (Hermia) had phenomenal chemistry, and both Mom and I found ourselves cheering for them. While their counterparts who played Helena and Demetrius were not so compelling, they played nicely off of the obviously better matched pair. (I mean, really, when you get down to it, Helena and Demetrius don't really have chemistry because Demetrius has love dust in his eyes.)

Evans Eden Jarnefelt (Demetrius) was delightfully loathesome, while Emily Kitchens (Helena) just seemed a little too hysterical for my taste. Her pacing and repetitive hand gestures were overused, and whining her lines was also a poor choice. Alas, I don't direct.

Scott Wentworth played a hysterical Bottom the Weaver, with his lovely baritone voice filling the glen, terrific comic timing, and his dashing good looks. (You'll notice that I gush about the handsome actors. SSC evidently hires incredibly talented, impossibly attractive people.) I mentioned in my Julius Caesar review that he's super-talented, and I can't go on enough about it. (I'd let him warp my loom anytime, if you get my meaning.)

Titania (Lanise Antoine Shelley) and Oberon (Aldo Billingslea) commanded the stage with unmatched presence. The scheming seemed good-hearted (where I read it to be spiteful and malicious), and both played the characters sympathetically.

It seems a little obvious to say that Mom and I laughed our way through this production, but really, this was side-splitting, hysterical laughter. I would definitely reccomend seeing any production done by SSC, but moreso, take your kids and teens. It is my opinion that a good initial impression of things like classical music and theater create long-lasting love of the arts.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

With age comes wisdom. And crumbs.

How is that the older I get, the less able I am to eat without dropping crumbs in my cleavage?

In other, less crumb-y news, last Friday night I cast on a Tangled Yoke cardigan out of my Tallulah handspun. Last night, I finished the body part, and started the sleeves. (Since this is a yoke sweater, I'm farther from being finished than it sounds.)

I have to say, I'm in love. This sweater is on size 4 US needles, and I am making serious progress. (Really, the only thing slowing me down is doing two sleeves at a time. I'm getting faster.) I have my next yoke sweater (out of handspun) planned, and a third one that I'm considering designing. I might be a fickle knitter, but when I'm infatuated with something, I'm unstoppable.

Gotta go. Sleeves await me.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Julius Caesar - a Review

Event: Julius Caesar - Shakespeare Santa Cruz
Cost: Our tickets were comp'ed, but you can buy tickets here. (They range from $13-$48.)
julius caesar
Chris Butler (Cassius), Aaron Walker (Cinna), Matt Gottlieb (Caesar), David A. Moss (Casca), and Scott Wentworth (Brutus) in SSC's 2009 production of Julius Caesar.
Photo: R. R. Jones

The Review:

In order to be totally honest and forward with my review, I have to admit that we finished watching HBO's "Rome" about two weeks before we attended Julius Caesar. It feels a little tawdry to say that the Bard is competing with HBO, but let's face it. With the "All Roads Lead to Rome" special feature on, Andrew and I learned all sorts of interesting historical tidbits, along with the ... historical interpretation that HBO did.

We saw the play with HBO-colored glasses on. Neither Andrew or I had read Julius Caesar (somehow, in school I read Hamlet five times, Taming of the Shrew thrice, but never Julius Caesar), so we went in with a blank slate. With Shakespeare's work, this is sometimes good, and sometimes... less good. In this case, we already had a peripheral knowledge of the storyline and characters. We all know how this play ends, so I really don't need to do a spoiler alert, right?

Let's start with the basics: minimalist staging and modern dress, which I really like. There is also nothing that compares to sitting in a grove of redwood trees, watching excellent theater, bundled up and snuggling with your date.

Saying that the writing was excellent seems foolish, so let's focus on the actors- which are what really makes or breaks the performance of a classic work. Julius Caesar was played by Matt Gottlieb, who was particularly commanding in the role, but when playing across from Calpurnia (Emily Kitchens) there was a genuine softness that really speaks to the talent of the actor.

The other really standout actor was Scott Wentworth, who played Marcus Brutus. Wentworth boasts a beautiful baritone voice that carries across the glen with no need of amplification, and an enviable acting range. The audience follows along through his good intentioned beginning (to take down a tyrant) through the reality of having slain his friend, to his own tragic end.

Despite the fact that the histories are not my favorites of Shakespeare's work, I would still give this show two thumbs up. The acting is stellar, the setting is divine, and watching well-performed classics is always enriching.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sock Summit Synopsis!

So, I'm back from the Sock Summit, and I'm sicker than two dogs. In the event that you didn't know, we did daily Sock Summit Field Updates over at the shownotes blog. Portland is great, and wow, do I have stories to tell.

But not right this second.

For now, I'm going to go and try to get better- there's no rest for the wicked, and I need to be in fighting shape for Sunday's wool auction!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shipwrecked! - A Revew

Event: Shipwrecked! - Shakespeare Santa Cruz
Cost: Our tickets were comp'ed, but you can buy tickets here. They range from $13-$48.
Dierk Torsek (Louis), Mike Ryan (Player 2), and Karen Aldridge (Player 1) in SSC's 2009 production of Shipwrecked!
Photo: R. R. Jones

The Review:

I really enjoyed this show! When we were seated, I noticed that there was minimal set, a rack of costumes, and a few instruments off in a corner. In a day and age where flashy costumes and ostentatious sets seem to be more important than the content of the show, I applaud the minimalism. (The minimalism says, to me, "This show stands on it's own. We don't need no stinkin' distractions.") It was roughly 1 hour, 45 minutes long with no intermission.

The story itself begins as an adventure story, and then seamlessly shifts into a commentary on the fluid and delicate nature of memory. Andrew and I found ourselves captivated by the story, suspending disbelief (despite the absence of flashy costumes) and following along while Louis de Rougemont tells his fantastic tale.

The story takes a dark turn towards the end, when he decides to publish his tale and is personally (and professionally) destroyed by the public scrutiny he is subject to as an author. (I think this is partly due to the fact that fiction was considered sinful, I think, at this point in history, but I can't find my notes from 18th century lit in college.) The audience experiences the same shock as the protagonist- how could his story NOT be true? We've seen the whole thing, from his perspective.

What it really reminded me of was the episode of Buffy where she is in an asylum, and is made to question whether or not slaying vampires, etc, is all a delusion. We, the audience, had suspended disbelief through five and a half seasons, and accepted that - in the Whedonverse- all things supernatural were possible, and in one episode, WHAM! Reality hits like a ton of bricks. Vampires aren't real, and teenagers don't save the world.

In a red-pill-versus-blue-pill moment, Buffy chooses the Whedonverse. In Shipwrecked!, Louis chooses to prove his story, and there is a moment at the end where he strives to prove that his experiences were real, while his reality cracks and his story rains down around him.

Despite the slightly gloomy ending, it was a good show, and definitely worth seeing. Shipwrecked! led to a discussion about the fragile nature of memory- and how subjective it can be. (For example, take witnesses at a crime scene. No two people will have seen the same thing.) We talked about oral history, and the natural embellishment that can happen as one tells a story.

So, I'd give it two thumbs up, because despite a less-than-cheerful ending, we still left the theater feeling good.