December 30, 2012
Christoph Waltz spoke to Terry Gross on Fresh Air on December 19, 2012, to talk about Tarantino’s new movie, Django Unchained–which is the second of his films for Waltz. They talk about a lot of things, including Django, and how Tarantino finally found him, an actor who is fluent in English, French, and German, but also had the skills to deliver his signature dialogue. That delivery ability is what got him the part as the Jew Hunter in Inglourious Basterds, and it’s what won him the Oscar for it, too, easily. If you haven’t seen that movie, watch it for Waltz’s performance alone. Seriously. And if you have seen it, go watch it again. And call me and I’ll come watch with you.
In the meantime, read Waltz’s answer to Terry’s question, in which he perfectly explains Quentin Tarantino’s insane ability to keep us totally enraptured by seemingly pointless moments in the lives of his characters. I could swim in his dialogue, and he clearly agrees.
TG: So when you had your audition for Inglorious Basterds, how well did you know Tarantino’s movies?
CW: I knew all of the movies.
TG: You’d already seen all–?
CW: I had seen all Tarantino movies as they came out, as they were released. Starting with Reservoir Dogs, and I even had seen Death Proof. So I knew them all.
TG: So you already had an ear for what he was doing [in terms of dialogue and delivery of Tarantino’s writing]?
CW: In a way, in a way. I had a fascination. You know, even in Death Proof, which is somewhat, you know, not as easily accessible, but somehow watching Death Proof, I understood something about the dialogue, because these girls were driving in a car and one had her legs out the window, and the other one was just bored and getting on with it somehow, and they were talking about nothing in particular, for a long time… and… I was mesmerized. And I always wondered, what is it that I’m so interested in? There’s nothing interesting. But why am I captured, why am I at the edge of my seat, even though nothing is happening other than two bored girls driving along?
Exactly! But we are. The first time I saw Pulp Fiction, it was only a portion of it, playing on cable television (which in retrospect seems a shockingly inadequate way to watch Pulp Fiction), and I kept watching out of pure intrigue, because I loved how the characters were talking. That was it. I wanted to listen to them talk to each other all day. It was the superfamous scene at Jackrabbit Slims, the retro restaurant Vince Vega takes his boss’s (Mrs. Mia Wallace) wife to for dinner. I was in high school, maybe seventeen years old. I bought the dang DVD because I had to hear more, after I kept seeing only snippets when it aired on TV. Then over time, I devoured all his other movies. I even like Death Proof; yes, what is it about those girls that I’m so interested in, every time? But I cannot look away.
I would easily take Tarantino’s dialogue over Shakespeare’s any day. That is all.
December 27, 2012
This was one of those quilts I had to keep a secret while I was making it; at least, keep it a secret to the internet.
I made it for the daughter of a friend, who lives far away, and though our lives intersected in the same city for only a couple years, she made an important impact on my life — in fact one that she had no idea about at the time. We attended the same middle school for two years, and then we both moved away before high school began. Though we were in classes together during that fleeting time, we didn’t “hang out” after school or anything like that. But I found her entire presence inspiring. Okay, I realize this sounds very strange. But I remember tiny details like the binders she used, and her hand-writing — always in pencil — and I so admired the way she was nice to everyone, never trying to be cool or put on airs to anyone else. She was confident, solitary.
Little triangles in lovely colors
When I moved away and began high school with an entirely new set of peers, and began the loneliest and angriest year of my life, I sought to be like her, or at least the way I perceived her. And I think it worked, because I no longer cared to be “cool” for anyone; I was certainly always a nerd, in fact. Never one to really want to go to parties anyway. I was content driving to Macon alone to read books and magazines in Barnes & Noble on a Friday night. And I was nice to every single person in high school, perceived social pariahs included. It’s why I felt so strongly to run for student body president my senior year, the inaugural year of student council at our school: because I didn’t want one more friggin’ popularity contest, and I felt like enough people knew and respected me that they would vote for me over the bitchy girls in my grade. And I was totally right. I loved that people who were not “popular” got so excited about my campaign, as if they could finally feel good about a student-voted position in the school’s list of students who mattered. I’m just trying to give an example here, but what I really mean is that the way I am now, through pretty awful high school years, has shaped the way I am as an adult, and the confidence to remain my own person in the face of The American High School Experience can be traced directly back to one middle school classmate who inspired me with her confidence. It never seemed like she needed the approval of others to be happy, and as a confused 13-and-14-year-old, that was what I so wanted myself. That’s what I embraced when I moved, and she’s responsible for inspiring me. Simple as that.
Hexagons come together
I’ve never seen her since. But we have in the last few years become friends again via social media. So I guess you can say we are back in touch, in a way. This past fall, as I’ve been having a pretty rough time in the job market, she took time out of her already busy life (kid number two was impending, to boot) to help me with my cover letter and resume. She went above and beyond for me, and I really value the investment of time she made to help out someone thousands of miles away when she had plenty of other things on her plate.
All those little stray seam allowance triangles, so cute.
And there’s not a lot of ways I can thank her, being low on money, but I have my quilting skills. Since her daughter was to be arriving sometime around early December, a baby quilt was the natural gift. Alma Zoe arrived on November 24, and I believe the finished quilt arrived with not a week to spare beforehand.
One finished strip of hexagons
It is based on a quilt I’d pinned on Pinterest, but I made up the pattern myself, going off of that image. I love triangles in quilting anyway — but across the entire quilt, it can be a bit busy, and has been done many times before. I was drawn to this particular use of triangles, in a hexagon pattern, across only one part of the quilt, giving your eye a rest with the simple solid on either side.
Straight-line quilting detail
And I purposely used a darker Kona Ash grey, instead of my regular creams, whites, and beiges, because it’s for a baby, and babies make messes with food, split-up, poop, and any manner of matter they can get their grubster hands on. My favorite part of quilts as my art form is that, at their core, they are essential tools of warmth, and they serve a functional purpose. But they are also art. So it is important to me that anything I create also not be treated as too precious; it exists to be used.
Little pink squares for the backing fabric
Alma’s quilt came together quite quickly — that’s probably the most joyous part of making a baby quilt, the nearly-instant gratification compared to the larger beasts I usually assign myself. And every minute of thought and energy put into it was of pure love for a beautiful family, that I admire for many reasons.
December 26, 2012
Alma’s quilt, ready to head to Utah.
Dreary days like today put me instantly in the mood to watch the 1980 Stanley Kubrick interpretation of The Shining. In the first place, there is something endlessly fascinating about a wrier’s descent into madness, and not just because I can sit and say, “well, at least I’m not as crazy as that guy.” (I feel this way about the movie Secret Window, as well — there is an unexplainable comfort in watching a writer go insane.) But I adore Jack Torrance’s dark spiral into insanity, until he finally realizes the Overlook Hotel owns his soul, he was drawn to the place because it was in fact pulling him there. Meanwhile, the dangerous connection his father has to this enormous hotel with a spotted past is the very thing that drives Danny, his son, mad, as he suffers visions of the murder and violence that has marred the halls of the place. His “Shining,” the brain power that allows him to see events past, present, and future, warns him — often and vividly — that his father has a dangerous connection to the place, and that they should not be there. Jack inevitably tries to kill them both, in an effort to stop them from ruining his own relationship with the hotel, and dies trying.
It’s a story about what happens to your brain when you’re in solitary confinement, or under the influence of alcohol, or a lack of it. He’s a troubled alcoholic, with a troubled family life, and all that comes into fine clarity when the three are all alone, together, to mull over their troubles for months and months of solitude in the snowy peaks of Colorado. Much more simply, it’s a haunted house story, and those have always been my particular favorite. Haunted house plus insane writer, set against a snowed-in hotel with inconic architecture and design details, and I’m sold. But add to that Kubrick’s flair for the bold, the terrifying musical score, and the many unresolved questions you’re left with at the end, and it’s bound to be one of my most favorite films of all time.
The scariest of horror films to me are the ones that leave some things impossibly unexplained in other words, there can be no logical answer to resolution anyway, and so you are left pondering the events and the story long after the credits roll. The Shining does this. I’ve seen this movie probably fifty times, and I still find myself trying to figure it all out, only to decide that it can’t be done. Why this, or what was that supposed to symbolize? It doesn’t matter — it’s horror, it’s in your mind, it’s psychological thriller at its very best. And Stephen King wrote it during his darkest bought as an alcoholic himself. He remarks in his memoir how strange it is that he wrote the entire story of Jack Torrance without realizing that he was writing about himself. Darkness, indeed.
Beyond the amazing story, the imagery of this movie is absolutely classic. It makes me want to design my own home all around the theme of Kubrick’s Overlook Hotel. I adore the wardrobe decisions, I am obsessed with Shelley Duval’s style and facial expressions: it would not be The Shining without that horrified face and dopy sweater combos. I love the American Western and Native American motif influences throughout the entire hotel: the carpets and tile flooring, the furniture, the paintings and wall hangings and the antlers throughout.
I’ve heard before that Stephen King hated this 1980 interpretation of his book. I don’t know if that’s true. But I sure cannot get behind the 1990s-era miniseries that came out, supposedly a more accurate interpretation of the original story. It’s the iconic setting, this amazing hotel they found as the backdrop, it’s the musical score, it’s those actors, that make the whole thing so incredible. I cannot imagine anyone besides Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance. I’ve read The Shining, as an audiobook, and it’s incredible too – definitely worth reading it you’re into horror or thrillers or are a writer yourself. The mysterious happenings are much richer, and it helps you understand more about the film, and is scary and amazing as once. The ending in the book is far more satisfying and provides more answers and better closure than that of Kubrick’s film. But to me, these two works of genius stand alone from one another, and cannot be compared directly. They are a package set. And on days like today, I want to dive into both. But it’s that breathtaking imagery, and those spell-binding characters – the hotel and landscape themselves characters in this story — that I crave most. It’s a movie I find myself truly watching each time it’s on, not simply playing in the background. It’s an entire experience, and it’s kind of weird how often I can sit down and lose myself in all these magnificent components of film at its very best.
I watched it just a few days ago, when I grabbed these screen shots, and I am really itching to watch it again now, writing all this down. Maybe I’ll listen to the audiobook again.
“You must… correct them, Mr. Torrance.”
The moment Wendy realizes it’s all very wrong
Snowy motifs, I adore thee.
December 25, 2012
A finished modern sampler
Since my first foray into quilting, the motifs and quilts that appeal to me most have been those that lean modern. Bold, graphic motifs, simple but rich fabrics (often solids), minimalistic and often improvisational final pieces — this is what I am drawn to most. And so that is what I myself have mimicked, used as inspiration, and found immensely and continuously compelling. Most of my quilts have had little pattern to them at all, let alone instructions provided to me. But being a quilter, I understand the massive amount of skill and precision, and the investment of time that goes into each traditional quilt, the many squares on top of squares, the grid of tiny pieces, patchwork that creates a larger pattern when they’re all stitched together. I am equally in awe of quilts like this, and in fact have often thought I could not do them because I had not spent much time learning the foundation skills of quilting.
So this was my attempt to overcome those fears and lack of ability. Triangles, y-seams, circles – all things declared “scary” by quilters over the years, all conquered in an online quilting class I took over the summer. This is by far the most traditional quilt I have ever made, but I’ve made mine modern. A modern sampler, using a pretty unorganized assortment of fabrics I love. There was something very satisfying about every single one of these blocks, which I created over a three-week span. I left one block out of the finished quilt, the Dresden Plate (pictured below), because I hate the way it turned out, both the coloration and the size, and it was miserable to make as well. To take its place, I sort of improvised a Bear Paw square, which I was moderately pleased with, and which made it into the final quilt. You live and learn, and I know now that I hate Dresden Plate — too old lady anyway.
Card Trick and Ohio Star
I hate this square – it is absent from my final sampler
Whereas watching the points of my triangles come out crisp and seeing them created an Ohio Star was an absolute thrill. I loved making the Pinwheel so much, I went ahead and made its slightly-more-advanced counterpart, the Double Pinwheel. I took the Drunkard’s Path, a square I find usually quite boring and old-fashioned, and made an interesting wave-like motion with my arrangement of the tiny pieces within it. I turned it into something I love. I even had someone in my class say they were going to skip the block, but once they saw the pattern I’d created with the square, decided to make it and copy me. A great compliment! We also made the Modern Chevron, from Sew, Mama, Sew’s Modern Block of the Month quilt-along. While some members of my class hated it, I loved its fresh approach to a chevron motif, and loved the way it turned out. The Card Trick might be my most favorite block, and that is a tough call — but it was the most satisfying to see come together. What a great, classic quilting optical illusion, using fabric and thread. And how can I not mention those y-seams happening in the greatest optical illusion block of all, Tumbling Blocks. This one petrified me; turns out it’s not scary, but it is time-consuming and you must be seriously precise with your quarter-inch seam allowance. Not for the faint of heart, for sure. But so fun to have tackled it and come out with a beautiful quilt square.
The squares as I was working on them
Then I ignored the blocks, together in a pile, for about five months. I decided I would like to use them, as a throw-size sampler quilt, as a Christmas gift for my boyfriend’s parents, who truly deserve one of my pieces, for all their support, love, and kindness over the years. The sashing and border, in Kona White, took me way longer than anticipated, but made it look so crisp. I mitered the corners of the borders, because I just love the classic line of the mitered corner so much (even though I doubt anyone is looking to see whether I cut corners anywhere). I am being super frugal right now, so I used an old (stained, even) tablecloth-style fabric I found at Urban Outfitters years ago in the sale bin, as the backing for the quilt; the batting I purchased months before, anticipating that I would be making this for Christmas, luckily. I bound the quilt in a solid orange shade by Kona, which turned out so fun and bold.
For this quilt, I learned (or experimented, anyway) with another major quilting technique: free-motion quilting. I have never spent any time with this style, mostly because my own little sewing machine at home needed a few extra parts added on in order to rescue me from the feed dogs’ mind their own — pulling my fabric through from front to back before giving me an chance to try to make a wavy or curved line at all. I finally got the feed dog cover and the darning foot for this quilt, and the free-motion was so fun. It was also a lot of work, and took great amounts of concentration and arm muscle, but I see how people get addicted. I want to do more with it, for sure. That said, I am a die-hard straight-line quilting gal.
The McCrarys loved the quilt, which I finished at 2:07 on Christmas morning, with the hand-sewing part of the binding process. I’m happy they have it, because it means I’ll still be able to visit this little gem, with all those skills I picked up embedded into each of its squares.
From left to right, starting at the top left:
December 20, 2012
I’m a real-life Hannah Horvath (from Girls), sans the dramatic friendships, awkward sexual relationships, and hopefully, without the terrible decision-making. I’ve got too much education and student loan debt, and not enough experience in anything to qualify me for any job. Oh, except retail — Hannah’s own post-liberal-arts-education job is as a pretty awful barista in a coffee shop. I work part time as a sales associate at Gap.
As is the new game, I had an amazing full time job for ten weeks. It ends tomorrow, and I have no plan. I really really hoped, back in October when I began the seasonal gig, that by this time in the year, I would have found another opportunity and had something lined up for the New Year. I have my job at Gap; don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for that.
This week, I’ve gotten two notices on jobs I’ve more than qualified for, that they are moving ahead with another candidate. Three weeks ago, I inadvertently turned down a job offer by honestly responding in a phone call that I could not leave my current job with only three-days’ notice. By the time I called back a few hours later, to see if there was any way we could make arrangements due to a two-week overlap in work, I was told they had already moved ahead with another candidate. Another candidate, someone else, someone clearly better for this job. Don’t worry, there are other opportunities. Let me know how I can help.
I’m tired of false promises, and I’m filled with regret over graduate school. What was the point of training myself for a career field that has absolutely no job opportunities while I could have gone straight into the work force and at least got some actual work experience? Now I’m stuck with a master’s degree, but everyone wants that plus years of other accolades and experience. And I don’t have what the hiring managers see as real-world real-work skills to even be an editor, or marketing or PR manager for a company. More and more I doubt the choice I made back in the summer of 2010, even though yes, the job market for new grads then was possibly even worse than now. But when you’re down and out, you doubt and wonder.
I’ve been applying to jobs in earnest since January 1, 2012 — a full year of exhausting, depressing job searching. Being on this side of things, I have so much sympathy for those who have been out of work for many months and years, because I understand how absolutely disheartening it is to hear rejection after rejection, if we hear anything at all. It’s enough to make you throw in the towel and sit depressed on the couch. I honestly never, in a million years, saw myself as the graduate who would be in this position. I’ve always had multiple part-time jobs and worked hard for good grades in college. If there were idiots and slackers all around me, I was in the ten percent who was not. But it looks like I am still not out of the rough post-graduate phase.
I am not under any illusions: I don’t expect to be in charge, have my “dream job” or be a shoe-in for a position. I just want an interview, a chance to prove my skills and articulate my passion. And I just want a job that remotely relates to my career field (seriously, I could argue almost any kind of work) for a pay rate slightly above the poverty rate. I would like to be above the poverty level in 2013. I’ve been out of school now for eight long, confusing, disheartening, scary, real months. And counting. Floating between part-time, contract stints, full-time temporary.
December 19, 2012
Your daily dose of Christmas spirit. This is the conversation I’ve had via Facebook Messages with this girl, over the course of a few days. I have loved each dose of innocence and cuteness I get everyday as an emissary for Santa. Nothing like having a conversation with a kid who truly believes you’re an elf.
December 18, 2012
I love that there are kids like her in this world. Hope.
Dear Santa Claus,
By the time you read this you’ll most likely be tired of all the letters but who wouldn’t love fan mail?This year all I want for christmas is? well…. that’s the thing I don’t know what I want for christmas,I really want my mom to be happy and stop stressing about money and our home and family and relax for a change .she does so much for us already. I’m 11 years old now and really want a kindle fire and some american girl stuff if you have time but, I really want is for joy to be in the world and love to spread all around. The world doesn’t have to be a bad place you just have to change it and with a little faith and love and a little christmas magic it’s possible, and that’s what I want for christmas
-Madeline G. love you forever santa