Georgia on my mind

After well over a year in progress, I can finally add my Georgia O'Keefe latch hook pillow to the list of recently completed projects, like the "six-year" afghan I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. I decided to open an Etsy shop, which motivated me to finally finish her off earlier today.

I'm pretty happy with the finished product and wouldn't mind keeping the pillow if it never sells. I have a few other images prepped, so this may turn into a series, although I'm not sure I want to make each one into a pillow. I'd also be open to custom orders, which I'm hoping the Etsy shop will help facilitate. At any rate, it's nice to have an outlet to show off my hand-made stuff. Also in the shop are the "chick flick" note cards I made a little over a year ago and wrote about here.

What other projects can I finally complete and put up for sale??


happy dances

"Show integrations." That's the term for advertisers' annoying tactics to get viewers of shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance to buy their lame-ass products, like Snuggle fabric softener, and Wrigley's chewing gum, two examples of this particular brand of sponsor for the current season of SYTYCD. According to this article, "Happy Dances are fun, spontaneous moves that release the freshness of Snuggle." "Happy Dances" also release a lot of anger and frustration in a viewer like me who understands that there's a time and place for advertisements. They're called commercials.


did you love it?!

I'm not sure I can keep this up all summer, but I figured I'd get off to a good start at least and post a few thoughts about last night's premier of the 4th season of SYTYCD. Admittedly, I enjoy dance rejects a lot more than bad singers. Call me a hypocrite, I don't care. I think it's pretty entertaining how amused the judges are by the bad dancers, brought to tears by the personal stories, and just generally pretty honest with everyone. You can feel good about poking fun at a guy who is clearly in love with himself.

It does bother me a little when they humor someone who's obviously a little unwell, like Sex (also featured in the clip above) or the Golden Inferno (that guy seriously creeps me out). Turns out his style of dancing is legit for those who aren't already familiar with Belgian Jumpstyle. Neal found this clip last night:

I actually find it a pretty entertaining style to watch, kind of like, as Neal pointed out, watching someone play Dance Dance Revolution. Ultimately, however, I agree with the judges. It's just not right for this particular competition, you know? And what's with that mask, anyway?

Otherwise, I thought Los Angeles produced some pretty excellent dancers and the producers decided to show a decent variety of styles, throwing in a couple of ballroom couples along with several poppers, some jazz, a few contemporary, etc. Unlike the judges on American Idol, generally speaking, the judges on SYTYCD lead me to believe they know what they're talking about. The only thing that bothered me about the premier was the Snuggle bear dance thing. Commercial breaks aren't enough anymore? Are the viewers of reality dance competition television shows really the target audience for fabric softener? Please, Fox, don't ruin a good thing...


man vs. boy

Yeah, I watched the American Idol finale, but only because there was nothing else on when I got home from my "Newborn Essentials" class last night and I needed something to watch as I inhaled a bowl of popcorn. We watched the just-recorded version, which allowed us to fast-forward through the commercials, hard at times to distinguish from the show itself. I wouldn't be surprised if Randy and Paula's decision to both wear red was somehow written in to their Coca Cola stained contracts, not to mention the gazillion times they reminded us that they were in the Nokia theater. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to see some SYTYCD 2007 alumni helping the hopeless singers out with their choreography. "I Got Rhythm"...yeah, not so much. I'm assuming the summer tour will be much like last night's show, and I can't imagine sitting through an entire live performance of that. I mean, honestly, how bored did Amanda Overmyer look?

But, anyway, enough complaining. Between the two Davids, I was surprised but pleased that Mr. Cook took the title, although even I was shocked to be enjoying young Archuleta's performances so much last night. At least he was kinda into it and I assume his awkward dancing is out of inexperience, not sheer boredom or embarrassment. In the end, though, whitey tighties trump briefs every time.

Needless to say, despite sticking out the season, I won't be returning to watch again next year. I'll stick to shows I know I'll enjoy, like SYTYCD, the 4th season of which premiers tonight at 8 (I can hardly wait! I'm not a big John Mayer fan, but I got excited when his "Waiting on the World to Change" came on the radio yesterday, because it made me reminisce about last season, minus the mid-song scream, of course.).

In other news, the wallpaper I produced for a group exhibition last fall will be included in another variation of the show (which will include the work of 15 artists altogether, some returning as is, like myself, some re-worked, some new) opening in Chicago tomorrow night. In fact, curator Janine Biunno is probably busy installing it as I type. If you're in Chicago, you can find the show, organized in affiliation with Harold Arts, at Heaven Gallery. As soon as Janine has returned and has time to distribute photos, I'll post a few here and on my website. I gotta say, it's nice to have one project included in two separate shows!


so you think you can sing

Having departed from the "art and stuff" posts to write a bit about cats and crafts, the next logical thing to catch up on, of course, is television. I haven't blogged much about my viewing habits of the past semester, but not to worry, I've been watching, and believe me, I've had my opinions. As any regular reader to this blog knows, I've never been a big fan of American Idol. But with the writer's strike coinciding with the need for some mostly mindless entertainment just about every evening, I decided to give it a go this season, bypassing the first three weeks of rejects, of course. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would for the first half of the season, I'd say. As the show was left with fewer and fewer contestants each week, though, I noticed my interest waning. I felt committed to watching for some reason, so I've stuck with it. There always seem to be a few contestants on competition-based reality shows that lose steam for one reason or another. You kind of forget what it was that made them interesting in the beginning (there's usually a very dramatic example of this on ANTM each season), but for the most part, the pool of contestants strengthens with each elimination. That's the idea, right? But on Idol, it seems almost completely widespread. The only contestant I can think of who I didn't get a little bored with, who actually seems to have improved over the course of the show, is Syesha, and she's probably the only reason I'm still watching. The thing that really gets me is how unfair the judges seem to be with her, telling her a particular song-choice is just not contemporary enough (is there anything even remotely contemporary about David Archuleta??) or criticizing her for doing something other than just standing there and singing. She's the only contestant who's even remotely interesting to watch, her rendition of "Fever" being a great example of her capabilities as a performer. Honestly, I think my main problem with this show is that I find watching people sing, particularly once they've been completely neutered by the show's totally bloated and over-commercialized production, incredibly dull. That's the great thing about So You Think You Can Dance (and I have more to say about this in a bit); you get the only enjoyable part of Idol, that is, listening to a familiar tune, but sung by the original, probably more talented artist, and, as a bonus, you get to watch a couple of hot dancers pop their booties to it! Anyway, as for all my other little gripes about the show, the reviewer in last week's issue of Entertainment Weekly was pretty much spot on, at least as far as I'm concerned. If all we're left with after tonight are the two David's, I'm not sure I'll bother to watch the finale next week.

What I will be watching, of course, is the two-hour premier of SYTYCD on Thursday. How the same channel and many of the same producers put out such vastly different shows is beyond me. Doesn't the teaser above simply give you chills? To each his (or her) own, I guess. Which reminds me, whenever I mention my love of SYTYCD to someone they assume I also watch Dancing With The Stars (which I most definitely do not, no offense to any readers who might). Well, I just happened to catch an episode a couple of weeks ago, which confirmed everything I was pretty sure I didn't like about that particular dance show. For one thing, it's all ballroom. I like ballroom as much as the next person, but the diversity of styles is definitely something I enjoy on SYTYCD. Not to suggest that the two shows are even comparable. Honestly, Dancing With The Stars is to SYTYCD what the slot machines in a roadside gas station in Fallon are to the Bellagio in Las Vegas. If you get my meaning.


leisure activities

With my final paper (perhaps forever?) completed and handed in by early this afternoon, I had some time to finally put the finishing touches on this crocheted afghan I started just about six years ago.

In a way, this blanket represents my journey from one art degree to the next, having started it right after my college graduation in the summer of 2002 and finishing it just a week before the conclusion of my grad studies. Yeah, that's an awfully long time to work on one blanket. I started it with the intention of giving it to a person who, well, months after I began, no longer seemed to really deserve a gift that was clearly going to take hours and hours of effort. I don't mean that in a bitter way, either, just that our relationship had gone from professional, to rather friendly, to almost obligatory until we no longer needed to relate. Why give someone like that a gift at all, let alone one that took so long and so much effort to produce?

So I guess it'll be a throw for the home now. Or a blanket for an extra long twin bed...I'm not so good with gauge, I think it is, so it's really long and narrow, easily 8 or 9 feet by about 3. I could always try and sell it, although at 6 years in the making, even at a non-profit arts job pay scale, I'd have to ask a six-figure sum to make it worthwhile.

And there's more where that came from. This blanket is the first in a series of projects I'm feeling motivated to finish now that I'm finally done with school. Stay tuned!


getting ready for summer

Once again this spring we decided to preemptively have Sophie clipped in anticipation of another hot and humid Boston summer; her long, cottony fur will be matted within the first week of consistently warmer weather. We decided this time, since we were going to the trouble of taking one cat in, to have Xander groomed as well. He doesn't mat at all, really, but he does seem to shed endlessly, all summer long. And not that cats need baths all that often, but it's been a long, long while for him.

So this year we took them to another local vet's office, one that has a handful of groomers who offer more than just an uneven clipping. Both cats were bathed, nails clipped, ears cleaned, and Xander received a thorough comb-through and "sanitary clip" (like a bikini wax for the boys), while Sophie got the works. We let them give her the full-on "lion clip" this time, blending into the fur around her face and tail (rather than the more extreme version of the popular style that results in a creature that looks more like a poodle than the feline you dropped off).

Here are the results:

Sophie looks like an entirely different cat. Initially I feel kind of sad to see her like this, but I really think it makes her feel much better, even before the heat and humidity kick in. And I think it would look more extreme if she hadn't put on so much weight over the past year, since we transitioned from controlled feedings (healthy weight, neurotic cats, but crazed owners) to self regulating (much happier owners, with fat cats). She looks slimmer without all that fluff, certainly, but it also reveals how much flab she's accumulated, which is bad for a cat, no matter what, but it appears to be interfering with her ability to keep her nether regions clean.

Here she is at the source of our problems:

It had been six or seven hours since she'd last eaten...Anyway, Xander's transformation was not nearly as dramatic.

His coat does feel a little thinned out (I haven't checked yet to see how his "sanitary clip" went...he's such a metrosexual), but he looks more or less the same.

Anyway, I feel like we did the right thing having them groomed and clipped, but it has revealed that perhaps the self feeding is not going so well. We recently cut out all wet food, but I'm just not sure it's enough to whip these cats back into shape. On the other hand, I really dread going back to controlled feedings. Man, if it's not one cat, it's the other.


(If you're curious, here's how she looked after a rather choppy clipping last year. And here's an image of Sophie in lighter days; this post also recounts the crazy food chronicles, if you're interested. Ironically, Xander, the cat seemingly the most obsessed with feedings, plateaued after a couple of months of self-regulating, while Sophie has continued to pack on the ounces.)