While I was knitting …

I didn’t knit as much as usual last week, instead I crocheted Jeff a sweet cat cave. I caught up with and finished this season of Legion and was thoroughly entertained, helped along quite a bit by the appearances of a very groovy Jemaine Clement (of Flight of the Conchords fame) and the – I guess – production/feel of the show, which I’ve mentioned before.

I’ve also been watching Feud: Bette and Joan, which is about the relationship between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford before, during, and after the making of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange star in the show and are fabulous. It’s really nice to see older women cast and starring as older women facing issues specific to older women in Hollywood and in general, even if the show is basically about the awful ways that we can (and do) treat each other.

This week, I also turned the TV off and started listening to a new podcast, S-town. The show is “about a man named John who despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it.” S-town comes out of Serial Productions, from Serial and This American Life, two other podcasts I’ve listened to and recommend. I’m only two episodes into S-town and already things have taken an unexpected and incredibly compelling and fascinating turn. In addition to listening, go to the S-town website; it’s beautifully done.

Well done but not exactly beautiful, I leave you with this gif of Bette Davis freshening her Baby Jane makeup. Happy Tuesday!

While I was knitting …

I started watching Legion a few weeks ago, having not read the comic and without knowing anything about the story arc. I’d seen previews for it and was initially attracted by … well, I guess by the feel of it. I like most sci fi and I love sci fi that feels like its of or from a certain era, and Legion harkens to the late 60s and 70s; some of the wardrobe choices, the set dressing, even the lighting, and later, the action sequences.

A quick synopsis/the set up: David, played by Dan Stevens of Downton Abby fame but practically unrecognizable as the same actor who played Matthew, is a schizophrenic patient in Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital. He’s been in and out of institutions most of his life but has settled into a routine. A beautiful new patient arrives (Rachel Keller) and shakes up his routine; they’re attracted to each other but there’s something more. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, so I’ll just generalize and skip to the part where we find out that David might not be schizophrenic after all, that maybe instead he’s got some very powerful abilities that he hasn’t learned to control and that explains the growing list of odd things about him and his past.

This set up really speaks to me; wouldn’t we all like to find out our biggest weakness is really our biggest asset, if only we knew how to use it properly? Okay, maybe not you, but I would certainly be happy for this to happen and in fact I’ve been trying to take that perspective with mental illness because I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 after dealing with depression since I was a teenager.

I also like that the show plays with the ideas of reality, dreams, and memories. At points, it’s difficult to tell what’s actually happening – are the characters actually experiencing this or is it part of David’s memory or is it a nightmare, and is that nightmare someone else’s nightmare that’s being manipulated? I should probably re-watch the episodes so far (I’ve watched 5 at this point) and maybe poke around the internet for some clues about the story arc, but I’m really enjoying not knowing.

While I was knitting …

It’s the HBO free preview week from my cable provider, so I spent much of the weekend finishing the sleeves on my cardigan and catching up with Game of Thrones using HBO on demand. I have Verizon FiOS, so if you do too, you might have free HBO too!

I thought I’d left off watching in the middle of season 5 but scenes from some of the later episodes were really familiar. I initially put this down to have read all but 1 of the published series; of course it seemed familiar, I’d read the book and inserted the actors into it instead of making up my own the way I usually do when I read. (You know, you get a sense of the character and sometimes when a book is made into a movie, the character on-screen doesn’t match what you have in your head or what the author describes on the page. One of the downfalls of book-to-movie movies.) But as I started watching season 6 I realized that no, I must’ve watched the whole of season 5 last year during the HBO freeview. Anyway, if you haven’t watched (or read!) Game of Thrones, yes, it’s as compelling as everyone says it is. IIRC, the book is a lot less sexy than the series but perhaps more violent. The plotting and scheming in both are fascinating and the main draw for me, along with some of the supernatural elements that pop up (ice zombies, magic, the old gods, and much more).

My husband and I also watched the latest The Walking Dead and, without spoiling it too much, I’m glad things are starting to look up. The beginning of this season was really hard to watch and it pushed my own personal limit on how much violence is too much. I’m still recovering from that – you can’t unsee these things – but I’m glad the show has moved  forward.

Because we continue to have spring-like weather (and I can’t post words words words with no pictures), here’s a picture of redbud (Cercis canadensis) buds from my back yard.

Naturally II

While I was knitting …

The sleeves on my Green Wood Cardi are taking .

At least I’ve had plenty of time to catch up on Victoria. Rufus Sewell does not disappoint; there is some chemistry between his Lord M. and Jenna Coleman’s Victoria, but that pales in comparison to what she and Albert have. A while back I saw The Young Victoria, which did a much better treatment (IMO) of the Victoria-Albert romance. However, Victoria (the series) has the luxury (need?) to develop other plot lines as well, and so we get several Upstairs-Downstairs type plot lines as well, all a bit tired but still intriguing.The costumes and set dressing are also well done, so when the plot thins, there are still things to keep me entertained.  Also, it’s lovely to see Eve Miles; I haven’t seen her in anything since Torchwood.

Thanks to The Peanut Gallery I got hooked on Taboo and watched the first 5 episodes (all that were available) over the weekend. At times it is cheesy and overwrought, but it’s interesting watching James (Tom Hardy) trying to keep 2 steps ahead of the Americans, the Crown, and the East India Company. Once again the costumes and set dressing are entertaining when nothing else is. The romantic thread between James and his half sister Zilpha (Oona Chapman) seems extranous at times, as does Zilpha in general; she seems to be there to lend a bit of 50 Shades of Gray to the show rather than to be a more fully developed character. No matter: her costumes are gorgeous. And it’s also nice to see Oona; I enjoyed her tightly controlled Marnie in The Hour.

I wasn’t knitting when I listened to podcasts this week, but I could have been. I drove my oldest son back to college and we listened to the final episodes of The Hilarious World of Depression which was – yes! – hilarious at times but also insightful and comforting. I’ve dealt with depression on and off since high school, so hearing other people’s stories is helpful. And it helps that all the people telling the stories are comedians: Dick Cavett, Andy Richter, Maria Bamford, Peter Sagal, Paul F. Tompkins, and others. There are 9 45minuteish episodes in season 1 and I sincerely hope John Moe is able to pull off more seasons.

I also listened to one of Paul F. Tompkins Dead Authors podcasts. Recorded live, Tompkins is HG Wells, who has travelled through time to bring a dead author from their time to the present for an interview. The authors are played by actors who may or may not have prepared for their role. I listened to Addendum vi: Beatrix Potter, featuring Lauren Lapkus which was hilarious. Tompkins is a great interviewer and Lapkus has some fantastic answers. I may have to turn the TV off and listen to more episodes while I finish the sleeves of this cardigan!

While I was knitting …

It’s been quite a while since my last knitting-related post. I’m still working on my Bohus cardi, The Green Wood. I started knitting the sleeves after we got back from New Zealand and I can’t say that they’re going as quickly as I would like. I’ve been distracted from knitting since we got back; since the election, I’ve been making phone calls, sending emails, signing petitions, and more in hopes of keeping our new president in check. I also marched in the Women’s March on Washington (it was amaaaazing and overall a very positive experience; the only downside is that I’m an introvert, so the crowds were a little difficult for me to deal with but it was worth it!) and am keeping up with 5 activist groups on Facebook, all related to the Pantsuit Nation/Together We Will/Women’s March movement. If you’d like more info on the groups or how to pitch in, let me know!

Back to knitting and what I’ve been doing while knitting. I started the sleeves while watching new episodes of Sherlock, but instead of finding them clever and delightful, I found them repetitive and not boring, but like they’re covering the same old ground again and again. Somehow the first 2 seasons managed to make old ground fresh again; not so the last 2 seasons. In season 3, Mary Watson and Mrs. Hudson were the only characters I was watching for; now I’m left with Mrs. Hudson. Unless someone convinces me that the last two episodes of season 4 are worth it (and not just for a gander at Benedict Cumberbatch), I’m not wasting my time with watching them.

Instead, I switched to The Fall, which has been on Netflix in the US for forever. I’ve loved Gillian Anderson since the first season of the X-Files when they were first televised and she is stellar in this series. All 3 seasons of the show were compelling, although some of the characters are rather flat and predictable, and I almost wish for new seasons focused on a fresh crime/suspect.

I’ve also been reading a lot on my Kindle while knitting since I’ve been back. I borrowed A Storm of Swords from the library to take with me on vacation and finished it in the motel in Rotura (though I didn’t knit while reading it). When I got back, I borrowed A Feast For Crows and finished it the other day. Martin can be a very compelling writer, but he also gets bogged down in detail that doesn’t contribute a whole lot to the story, especially in A Feast For Crows, so I admit there were a few chapters that I skimmed (particularly one of the chapters about the commander of an Ironborn ship and bits and pieces of Cersei chapters). Thanks to free previews of HBO, I’ve watched the TV series halfway through season 6 so am just now (I think) at about the same place in the plot in both mediums, despite the divergence the series takes from the book. Arya and Brienne of Tarth are two of my most favorite characters – I suppose that’s not all that surprising.

I also bought an An Unquiet Mind to read while on vacation since it wasn’t available in my library’s digital collection. I’m 85% through the book and highly recommend it for anyone interested in bipolar disorder both from a clinical viewpoint and as a first-hand account – the author, Kay Redfield Jamieson, is a leading researcher of the disease and suffers from it herself.

I’m not sure what I’m going to read next; I keep ordering books (actual books, not Kindle books) from Amazon and have a stack of them to keep me busy, including Pema Chodron’s Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living and Children’s Stories from the Northern Legends. I do know what I’m going to watch next, though; I’m excited to watch more of Victoria (I watched the first episode) so I can swoon more over Rufus Sewell.

While I was knitting …

This week marked the end of both season 2 of Indian Summers and season 1 of The Durrels in Corfu on Masterpiece Theater (PBS in the States). There were no surprises with either show; they both ended in a predictable happy and satisfying, though unrealistic, way. I won’t say more so I don’t give away any spoilers.

I returned to The Walking Dead this week, which has been piling up on my DVR since the premier, which I found very disturbing. I’m still not sure why the episode bothered me so much – it wasn’t any more graphic than previous gory episodes, but something about it just made the violence so raw and unnecessary – as with depictions of sex, a lot of times showing less of it is more interesting/exciting/enjoyable than laying it all out there. Anyway, having watched 2 (3?) more episodes and still not having caught up to the live broadcast, I can safely say that this season is just as enjoyable as the premier, though much less violent. Which is to say that I’m not enjoying it at all. Every season I have friends who stop watching it for one reason or another – a favorite character is killed off, the show depicted cruel treatment of dogs, something unbelievable happened; this may be my season to pitch it.

I finally had some time with Gilmore Girls yesterday. Last fall I watched the entire series on Netflix, having not watched it when it aired from 2000-2007 because I was busy holding down a full time job with two small boys, and then busy stay-at-home-momming 3 small boys during its original run. It’s fluffy, girly, surface entertainment, although all 3 of my much bigger boys got into it while I was watching it. The new mini-series definitely has all the hallmarks of the original: mostly witty dialogue, the fastest talking actors I’ve heard since movies made in the 30s-40s, the little dramas, the unrealistic turns the girls’ lives take. The only thing missing – and I’m about halfway through – is Suki/Melissa McCarthy. I know she does appear at some point, but it’s just not the same without her at the Inn, even with celebrity chef pop-ups, like Rachel Ray.

I also started reading again, and reading and knitting, which is easier to do with an e-reader. I used my Kindle to borrow A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3) since there’s no way I’m going to get access to HBO to watch the latest season of Game of Thrones. I know the series veers away from the books on some plot points, just as The Walking Dead series changes some of what happened in the comic book, but some Game of Thrones is better than no Game of Thrones. And reading something that requires more attention than the Internet is a good thing for me and my brain to do. I only hope I can finish the book before the lending period is over; I’d forgotten how long and complex the books are.


While I was knitting … November 8 edition

Saturday, I drove to Richmond, VA with a friend and her daughter, who’s taking a class from William and Mary for gifted students. I went along to keep Becky company and hang out while her daughter was in class. I somehow forgot to knit on the way down – it was dark when we set out and I wasn’t fully caffeinated yet. But on the way home, I was on a roll with the Green Wood Cardigan so I kept knitting while we listened to Radiolab, a National Public Radio show and podcast. I’m a long-time listener and supporter of this program. It’s hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich and is “…a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.” Sometimes Jad and Robert get giggly with the shear joy of discovery, other times they are somber and reverential. Some of my favorite episodes:

And more. I kind of want to go back and listen to them all again! Most are safe to listen to with children, particularly the early seasons. My kids have been listening to Radiolab since 2006 when they were 9, 7, and 2. Of course, the best way to see if an episode is appropriate for your kids/family is to listen to it first.

(I’ve always been upfront about swears with my children; I sat the oldest 2 down and went through all the ones I could think of to take the mystery out of using them and then told the boys that those a grown up words. As they got older, I told them that there’s a time and place for swearing and encourage them to think twice before using a swear.)

I haven’t been watching a whole lot of TV this week, beyond keeping up with Indian Summers and the Durrels in Corfu. I’ve been reading a lot of Facebook (bad), but also am about 2/3 through The Chronology of Water. I think I could probably read it while working on the Green Wood if I figured out how to keep the book open without using my hands. The Chronology of Water is a memoir, but it’s structurally different from typical memoirs; it’s not necessarily chronological. The writer, Lidia Yuknavitch, has lead an interesting life (to say the least) and she’s a good writer.

I did go to the movies again this week. Two movies in one week! Shocking! I took Ethan and Henry to see Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children on Halloween, which I briefly wrote about last week, and then Mr. Q (my husband) and I went to see Hacksaw Ridge on Saturday. I admit I wasn’t really up for another WWII war movie, which is all I knew about it when we went into the theater, and I did drift off somewhere in the middle. The battle scenes were ho-hum (they’re not really my thing) until the critical point where Desmond Doss stays behind. I wish I had read up on Doss before seeing the movie; I would have paid more attention and been a little more patient with the plot. I’d even go see it again just to see the heroics of the only conscientious objector to ever receive the Medal of Honor (the US military’s highest honor).