Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twilight (no spoilers... I think)

Hey, all! I went to the movies with Mari last night to see Twilight, based on the book by Stephanie Meyer. Subsequent movies will be made from the other books in the series. I've not read the last book in the series yet, but I plan to and I already know the biggest plot points.

I have to say, I hadn't read the last book yet because, frankly... Well, I couldn't stand Bella and Edward in the books. She's so whiny, wimpy, cranky and, to me, oscillates between her all consuming co-dependence on Edward and her need to assert herself by lashing out. In short, she's immature. Honestly, there's nothing wrong with that. Alot of 17 year old girls are, so the character is well written enough that I actually took a personal interest and found that if I were to meet Bella as I read her, I would not like her.

Edward, on the other hand starts out very likable and interesting to me, but as the series wound on, I found him to be forced more and more into some mold of perfection. While many readers love this Romeo and Juliet idea of doomed love and the idea of someone being so enraptured by you that they simply cannot keep away even at the risk of EATING YOU, I find it silly. Again, though, I am not the target audience of young women readers and this is not something I strive for in my own relationships. I'm older, married, and I hope a bit more savvy than I was at 17. So, Edward being idealized more and more throughout the books turned him into some sort of one dimensional, holy martyr who could do no wrong and became Bella's concious. Again, I'm not big on co-dependence.

The characters I loved are Charlie (Bella's dad), Alice (Edward's "sister") and Jacob (friend-turned-love-interest-turned-yet-another-supernatural-being). Charlie is stalwart and awkward with Bella. He is so convincingly drawn that when Bella hurts him, I hated her for it and my heart broke for him. He's protective and loving, but at the same time simply does not know what to do with the raging ball of emotion and clumsy elbows that is the daughter that suddenly decides to live with him. It's clear that he loves her dearly and can't fully express the depth of that love for her, that he's afraid of driving her away so he tends to stand back. In short, Charlie is a great dad trying to deal with a difficult situation and a woman-child he feels out of his depth with.

Alice is clever, confident, and sweet. She's that sassy girl you knew in high school who dressed well, but didn't tear others apart for not doing so. She'd give you a makeover in a minute, and just KNOWS you would love one, right? She is loyal from the moment she gives you that loyalty and when she makes a decision, she moves forward with it confidently and little wavering. With Alice, you have no questions about how she feels about you, because she has the wherewithall to be frank in her relationships. And, she always wants to help, while seeing how much fun she can have at the same time. Alice came into her own when she joined the Cullen clan and has shed many of the demons that plagued her in her previous life, only to turn those very demons into the angels on her shoulder that guide her in a most uncanny way. I like Alice because her previous handicaps didn't defeat her; she now uses them to her best advantage. She came from an awful situation yet she is cheerful and fiery; her joy and love of adventure is infectious.

I also really like Jacob. Jacob is the main character that is most fully formed, in my opinion. He just feels like a real person, flawed and fallible but trying his best. Naturally, because this series is all about Bella (some would argue it's about Bella and Edward, but I disagree), Jacob falls for her big time. She doesn't deserve him and I wish with all my heart he would find someone who truly does. Jacob is warm, friendly, helpful... but he's also angry at times and violent. He has prejudices that go further back than his life, and at times, he is completely unwilling to let them go. He is a friend to Bella before he tried to be anything else. He never pushes her, either to be close to or away from him. He lets her find her own way and is there to help her if she needs it. Through her friendship with Jacob, Bella begins to find her strength and voice. While with Edward, she is weak, obsessed, desperate and petty. Edward treats her like she is made of glass; Jacob teaches her that she's made of steel.

While I feel that Jacob deserved to "win" Bella if anyone did, I'm glad to know that he doesn't in the end. He deserves someone better than Bella. She wants to be who she is with Edward, not who she could be with Jacob, so let her go.

Ok, those are the opinions I went into the movie with. I wanted to go more to have a good time with my friend than anything else, so for me, even if the movie sucked, I'd already gotten everything I wanted out of it. We sat down about twenty minutes before the movie began and it was like a party in there. People were wandering around, talking to friends, lots of giggling and laughing, eatting munchies and just generally having a great time. There was that air of anticipation I've come to expect only at Star Trek premiers. The crowd was giddy! It made it fun to be there, through the millions of previews and commercials. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't just teenaged girls in the seats, either; there were men and women of all ages waiting to view Twilight.

The lights dimmed down, the screen went dark and... a squeal went through the crowd! A squeal! lol I loved it! I love true fans and how absorbed they can become in a story. I love that books touched the lives of all the people sitting there in that theater, even if it just meant taking their girlfriend out to see a movie.

I'm not going to go into a scene-by-scene review of the movie, because none of us really want that. ;) In fact, I'll end it for today and finish the movie review tomorrow.

See you then!

Friday, November 21, 2008

More prizes for the crochet design contest!

Prize update!

I've had two prize donation offers since posting this morning! Yay! More goodies!!

So far the prizes stand at:

* A set of handmade stitch markers, made by me. I've been making jewelry for years, so I promise that these will be pretty and functional. :) They will be House Unity Markers, so anyone who wins would be happy to have them.
* The Crochet Liberation Front First Ever Book, generously donated by Camanomade and featuring designs by hookers just like you!
* A set of mini skeins from SixDegreesArts, donated by the wonderful JenniPMcD, the amazing artist who creates the beautiful yarn with the artsy names!
* The winner's choice of an original pattern from the lovely Michelle and her wonderful Ravelry shop! She has a few designs in there now, but she is coming up with some new designs, too!

This is a great list! Let these prizes motivate you to design something! I know you can do it!


Crochet Design Contest, and Harry Potter!

My Raverly group, Harry's Happy Hookers, is dedicated to celebrating our love of the Harry Potter Universe through crochet. Frankly, there aren't alot of crochet patterns out there for HP lovers, so I thought we'd try a contest to see if we could come up with a few of our own.

So far, we don't have many prizes, but I'm hoping to get a few more offers for donations. I'm donating a set of HP stitch markers, handmade by me, and Camanomade of the Crochet Liberation Front has offered a copy of the amazing book Crochet Liberation Front First Ever Book, which is in and of itself a celebration of crochet designs by crocheters just like you and me.

Ok, here are the official rules! :) Please feel free to advertise this in your blog, anywhere and everywhere so that we can get tons of new designs! Also, if you know someone who might be willing to donate a prize, please have them contact me!

Harry’s Happy Hookers Crochet Design Contest!

This is a contest with the intent to inspire crocheters to design an original pattern related to the Harry Potter Universe created by JK Rowling. All patterns must be submitted to me, Jeannie/pretywtch, via email by midnight on January 31st, 2009. Judging will then take place and the winner will be announced on February 15th, 2009 in Harry’s Happy Hookers and here in my blog. The winner will receive any announced donated prizes via mail and their pattern will be used in the March Harry’s Happy Hookers CAL. We ask that the winning pattern be made available to Harry’s Happy Hooker’s members during the month of March for free or a very low price and can be distributed individually so as not to make it free for the taking to anyone and everyone. Judging will be done by Me and Anne as moderators of the group Harry’s Happy Hookers on Ravelry.

All patterns must be your own original work (meaning you can’t simply change the color of an existing sock and call it Jeannie’s Slytherin Walk of Fame Sock! and expect that to be considered an original design). They DO NOT have to be taken directly from any movie or still representation of the books, though that is a valid source of inspiration. Please, feel free to create something completely unique. All patterns must be written in standard American crochet terminology, with yarn, hook, and gauge information, though charts and other terminology in addition to this are acceptable. (This is simply because I’m only fluent in standard American, and if I have to translate 15 patterns, I’m going to go crazy and the prizes will never be awarded! lol) The pattern must include at least one picture of the final product and helpful photos of tricky parts or otherwise are highly encouraged. Please contact me directly through Ravmail for my personal email address.

Patterns can be in any form of crochet: filet, Tunisian, illusion, et cetra, as long as it includes a hook and fiber and is traditionally considered crochet. All patterns must have been tested by at least one person other than the designer. It is preferable that the tester be on Ravelry and puts up a project page regarding the testing, though no picture is required in order to maintain proper mystery and excitement!

Pattern Categories:
Wizarding Wearables-clothing and accessories, including jewelry, bags, et cetra (it is a plus to include sizing on these)
Home, Magical Home-afghans and afghan squares, doilies, dishcloths, home decor, adult bath accessories
Care of Magical Creatures-dolls, toys, Amigurumi, bath accessories for children (or the young at heart!)
Muggle Studies-an everyday object as interpreted by a Wizard “What, exactly, is the function of a rubber duck?”
Diagon Alley-anything and everything else!

Please take these categories as a jumping off point to help guide and inspire you, not as hard-and-fast structure that you must adhere to. Let your inspiration take you where it will!

You may enter as many times as you’d like, with designs being submitted individually. Each entry will be considered separately and must include:
Your legal name
Mailing address
Email address
Rav name (if applicable)
Tester’s name(s)
Pattern Category
Type or method of crochet
Name of design
Pattern as outlined above
At least one picture of the finished product
Are you a member of Harry’s Happy Hookers on Ravelry?
If not, how did you hear about our contest?

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. If you would like to donate a prize, please contact me directly.

Thank you and BB!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Isn't it interesting....

... how some people read other people's blogs, see something about them (no names, BTW) and get terribly offended? What did you expect? After all, you are reading someone else's personal thoughts, feelings, ramblings, maybe even rants... you're peeking in where you already know you're an outsider, a voyeur. Secretly, you're thrilled to see yourself mentioned, admit it. Then, when it's not the most flattering thing, even when you know it's that person's truth, honestly spoken yet not bitchy, you become offended and utter some vague threat, offer some illusive reckoning. The comments weren't even that bad, really, and seriously, nothing you didn't already know.

Well, what did you think would happen? What did you expect to find there? If it were about someone else, you wouldn't think twice about it. However... this was about YOU. So, it's clearly different and clearly Something Must Be Done. Should we all censor ourselves in our own forums in order to keep the peace? Should we only publish kind, thoughtful, and above all, flattering, complimentary, toadying comments about those we know and love? Maybe our thoughts should be that way, too. What if someone could see into my head? Maybe I should only think sweet thoughts, thoughts of loving kindness toward every person I deal with every single day. Then, one day in the not-so-near future, I could snap under the strain of my self-wrought falsehood and either commit homicide or suicide, depending on whether my caged loathing has turned outward or inward. I am, after all, not the Dalai Lama, and as far as I know, only one person is. As much as I strive to think only loving thoughts, I understand my imperfection.

I rarely intend to hurt anyone's feelings, and most people I know are the same way. However, if I read someone's blog, I understand that I am entering "Them Land!" It's all about them. If I appear at all, I am a mere accessory to their existence: I'm a pink plastic Barbie couch. You know what? That's ok, because on my blog, they are probably relegated to being a faux pearl ring. My blog is "Me Land!" Come on in! BUT, don't be offended when it's not about you. Don't get your feelings hurt when I rant about what stupid thing you've done now... again. Don't get snarky when I'm honest with my blog in a way you've made it impossible for me to be with you in person.

There is a simple rule regarding life that I think everyone should know and follow: You probably don't want to know what everyone thinks of you, so don't ask. The follow-up to that rule is: However, if you do ask (in this example by reading a blog), you better be ready to put on your big girl panties and deal. You knew what you were getting into and unless the comments include your name, address, phone number, picture, libel, or blatant, damaging lies, you really don't have a leg to stand on. After all... you did enter into "Them Land!" The passport does not guarantee a smooth ride. It's not fair to not allow anyone a place to be who they really are, deep down, in the dirty, sticky bits where nothing ever really stops hurting. It's not fair to amputate someone's anger, their defense, their hurt because it's ugly and it offends you with it's terrible truth. It's as much a part of who we are as the sunny smile and compassionate heart, the giving nature and the loving hands. It's not pretty, but it's not public, either. You opened the box, Pandora. Now you've got to take what you get.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Small updates

We'll be off to Alabama for the weekend to celebrate Grampa's life and mourn his passing with his whole, extended family. Sad trip.

I'll be absent from the debut of Elements at First Friday tonight. I'm really bummed about that; however, I know they are going to be GREAT! If you live around here and read this in time, please go see them in front of Two Broads on Broad tonight at 7PM.

I had blogged previously about NaNoWriMo this year. I had pretty much decided to do it, then all of the sudden, life hit. Being away from my computer for four days is disastrous in NaNoWriMo land, and I'm just too stressed out to concentrate. I would have overcommitted myself with NaNo, so I'll shelve the plotline I have in my head until next year.

Ugh, I'm sort of crappy to be around today, so I'll close and write on a happier day.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

End of Days

I'm sad to say that my husband's Grandfather died last night after a long, debilitating struggle with his health. Although I never knew him as a well man, and he declined drastically in the time I knew him, when he was lucid, his personality was warm, sweet, and funny. My kids, particularly my youngest, enjoyed him, and I'm glad they had the opportunity to know him, even in the limited capacity of his illness.

As I said, his abilities declined rapidly during the years I've known him. He didn't seem to enjoy life, when he was aware of it, anymore. His care has been taking a serious toll on Grandmother, his loving wife and caregiver. For her sake, I will not say what seems obvious to me. However, I will say that, now that he has gone to the eternal rest, I hope she will take some time to rest, heal, and grieve. I'm not quite sure what she is going to do with herself without him there, needing her.

My husband has been mourning the man he knew as a child for a long time. Jason felt that his Grandfather no longer had the quality of life he deserved, that his dignity was being stripped away at a time when he should be basking in the light of a life well-lived. It was painful for him to see his Grandfather's mind and health fail, to see his memories flee and the confusion in his eyes when he looked at his family.

I hope he has gone to something better, even if that is a simple end to pain, to confusion and fear, to struggle. I hope Grandmother, my mother- and father-in-law, and Aunt Sandy bear this as well as they can. They all have a strong faith, and a loving family. I hope it is enough.

We'll miss you, Grampa.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Day

I woke up this morning, and it felt like something fundamental in my world had shifted. Something had shifted toward optimism, toward renewal and healing, toward humility and gratitude, toward shared responsibility and the chance to try. My country made me so proud last night. Together, we elected our first President of color, and not just because he was a candidate of color, but because we feel he's the best man for the job. To me, that is the only reason to elect someone, but I recognize that voting for a black man took alot of people out of their comfort zones. And, yet, they did it anyway. How could I not be proud and humbled but such an act after eight years of sadness, fear, and marginalization?

I am full of hope and excitement for what the future will bring. I know it's not going to happen in a day or a year of days, but this is the first step toward reclaiming our country. We will start to build bridges around the globe rather than stockades and our children will be safer for it. We will value health and its care as a right rather than a commodity. We will cherish education for everything it offers our people as individuals and as a nation and not see it as a privilege of a very privileged few. Most of all, we will all work together and not expect a handout because a helping hand was not possible before. Please, let the motivation of election day last in my people. Don't let that fire, that drive, or that feeling of power die! Yes We Can now needs to be Yes We Will! We've made a promise with our votes; let's keep it.


On a different note, I was taking my son to school this morning, and I saw something that I haven't seen in about five years: fall color. Normally South Carolina experiences the change of season as a subtle, slow show of little note. This morning, though not the vibrant riot of color I'm used to in West Virginia, the trees lining the road to my son's school were a carnival of hue and shade. The cold snap we've been experiencing is bringing the color out. This morning, of all mornings, it seems to reflect the subdued hope in my heart, the longing for a better day and a better leader, the hopeful reservation that believes, yet understands the humanity involved. Like the trees here, it seems as a country we needed to experience the cold snap of hardship to really shine. Let me tell you, it was a beautiful morning.

(The tree shown above is typical of the trees we see here and is always of the most vibrant. They've always been here, always this bright in the fall, but until the trees around it took on color, too, they were the lone messengers of change.)