Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
You may have noticed that I've been gradually moving my Arts and Crafts necklaces to the new Made to Order Necklaces section of my Etsy shop, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com. (I've also been including photos of me modeling them, as I think it gives shoppers a nice visual of how the necklaces look on.) I made the move because I want to start wearing these necklaces myself and have never been comfortable with the concept of selling gently used items, even if they are my own creations. By making these necklaces made to order, I get to "keep" them as well as offer them to my customers. Because I hand craft the magazine beads, each made-to-order necklaces will still be one of a kind. Best of all, I don't need to worry about feeling depressed about sitting on huge chunks of unsold inventory. Who knows. I may even start marketing my totes this way.
We narrowed down our movie choices to The Bounty Hunter, Hot Tub Time Machine, Date Night, and Death at a Funeral. Well, I narrowed it down. If I'd left the bf to it, then we'd be dealing with secret missions and gratuitous bleeding. As it were, Death at a Funeral was the only option he could stomach at the time, so we went with that. Based on a (reportedly stodgy) British film of the same name, Death featured an all-star cast including Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan, Danny Glover, Loretta Devine, James Marsden, and Luke Wilson, among others. The trailer had been hilarious, so I expected to be choking on hiccup-induced laughter. But it didn't happen. I think it was one of those cases of too many big stars in one movie. Also, all of the best jokes were revealed in the commercials. (Don't you hate when that happens?) What was left was a lukewarm jumble of confusing plot twists. That having been said, Tracy Morgan was the one standout. He just has that comic gift of getting all upset about the pettiest, most ridiculous of situations to the point where everything coming out of his mouth is hysterical. James Marsden was another high point, as I'm never one to knock him going shirtless. Even if he was the (sort of) bad guy in The Notebook.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on a Canadian graphic novel series. Not being a comic book kind of girl, I came more for the kookiness factor and for the Michael Cera. And although the story was an odd one, strangely told, I wasn't disappointed. Cera stars as the title character, a hapless twenty-two-year-old bass guitarist for an obscure rock band in Toronto. He has no job and is dating a seventeen-year-old Asian girl named Knives, much to the amusement of his friends and family (including his sarcastic and gossipy sister, played by Up in the Air's Anna Kendrick). Indeed, their relationship is pretty flimsy. Never-been-kissed Knives is the most naive seventeen-year-old on the planet and shadows Scott with pathetic puppy dog eagerness. Scott is just going through the motions, still hung up on Natalie - now superstar rocker Envy, the girl who broke his heart. At least he is until he meets Ramona, the girl of his literal and figurative dreams. The quintessential badass indie chick with a past, Ramona moved to Toronto from New York to start a quieter life. An enigma to everyone, she dyes her hair a different day-glo shade every other week and trails a string of broken-hearted suitors in her wake. Although I appreciated her edgy independence, I found her a little morose. But Scott was instantly smitten, summoning all of his courage in Cera's signature delightfully dorky way to fend off her seven evil exes.
So far, this may sound like every romantic comedy about young, misunderstood people ever written. And in some ways it is. But in other ways, not so much. Take the presentation. As each character is introduced at the movie's beginning, a little box pops up on the screen offering up said character's stats, kind of like in VH1's Pop Up Video. When Scott and Ramona go to Ramona's house on their first date, they fly there ("there" being a single door suspended in space). And, as Scott defeats each evil ex, a shower of tokens explodes onto the screen. Watching it all, I felt like I was inside a video game, as I'm sure the director intended. Although this sometimes made concentrating difficult, I give full points for originality.
As always, Cera is perfect as the endearingly dry and witty David-type guy going up against the proverbial Goliath. After battling Ramona's seven evil exes (the final and most evil of which is a record deal-wielding Jason Schwartzman), Ramona proclaims him to be "the nicest guy she ever dated." Knives (who's been lurking in the background sporting Ramona's hairstyle since being dumped early in the movie) bows out gracefully, and Scott and Ramona enter an enchanted and otherworldly realm of happily-ever-after. Little pink cartoon hearts abound.
Being a girl and all, I wasn't impressed by the many and special effects-laden fight scenes. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the edgy humor of this off-kilter little tale almost as much as I enjoyed its celebration of that timeless and much-hearted theme, misfits in love.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
So, The Wedding Girl. I d0n't know if I'd call it a novel of substance (it seemed pretty frothy to me), but it was markedly different from the more larger-than-life Kinsella adventures we all know and love. It's about a twenty-eight-year-old girl named Millie (terrible name, I know, as it conjures up images of old ladies bent over their knitting. But then, maybe it's a British thing.) who is engaged to Simon, a millionaire's son. They're happy enough, save for a few little details. For instance, Millie dresses more conservatively than she would like because she thinks Simon prefers it. She also pretends to read newspapers when she'd rather be reading celebrity magazines. I was put off by this; after all, how can you marry a man when he doesn't even know if you're a pumps or sneakers kind of girl? (Personal style, as we all know, speaks volumes about one's personality.) But despite this ripple, things seem to be going smoothly for the couple. That is, until the wedding photographer recognizes Millie as a bride he saw coming down the courthouse steps ten years ago. After this hairpin turn of events, we learn that Millie married a gay American man, Allan, when she was eighteen, so he could stay in England with his boyfriend, Rupert. She never told anyone and lost touch with Allan. She also never got divorced.
Terrified that the photographer will reveal her secret to the vicar, Millie confides in her godmother, the single and glamorous Esme, before finally setting off to London in search of Allan. This would be a good place to mention that this is one of those novels that dips into every main character's head. For example, we find out that Millie's sister, Isobel, is seeing Simon's father, Harry, and is pregnant with his child; that Millie's father is planning to leave Millie's mother; and that Rupert is now married to a woman and is a born-again Christian. To me, this was what made the novel interesting. By revealing each character's back story and thoughts, Wickham renders each as sympathetic, stripping any one character of "good guy" or "bad guy" status. (Come to think of it, maybe this is where the substance comes in.) From my creative writing workshop days, I know that the third-person omniscient viewpoint is one of the most difficult for a writer to work with (my professor always advised us against tackling it). So, I was impressed by Wickham's skillful use of it here.
Of course, the vicar finds out about Millie. And of course, it wasn't the photographer who squealed, but the unfairy godmother, Esme. Apparently, she's some man-hating nut who was once jilted by Harry. Simon is outraged and calls off the wedding. But things don't remain messy for long. The rift between Simon and Millie shakes things up in such a way that it seems to bring out the best in everyone - including themselves. Isobel and Harry get engaged, Millie's parents decide to stay together, Rupert decides to leave his wife and come out of the closet for good, and Millie tells Simon the truth about her wild wardrobe and her penchant for gossip columns. Amused by her final confessions, he says he's always known the real her and loves her more than ever. To top it all off, Allan turns out to be dead, freeing Millie and Simon to marry.
Although the conflicts were tidied up a bit speedily at the end, I enjoyed this story. Like all of the Wickham-Kinsella books, it offers a humorous yet insightful peek into the minds of twenty-something women and has the makings of a great romantic comedy.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Now, the third surprise I did notice. We'd had these mini cutting boards from Target since we'd moved in two years ago, and although we'd always intended to display them, it never happened. So I was more than charmed to see them hanging cheerily against the stark kitchen wall.
The bf knows I like to craft as kooky a space as possible, and I was touched that he'd taken it upon himself to humor me. (Did I mention that he also scrubbed the kitchen floor? He would be annoyed if he knew I wrote that.)
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Purple. Violet. Lilac. Lavender. This frilly fancy has them all. And on that note, I think I'll retire and have some chocolate chip mint ice cream. Apparently there's some book out there about blogging called No One Cares What You Had For Lunch, or something. I, of course, will be ignoring such advice. So you can expect the food-filled updates, inappropriate snack accounts, and anecdotal culinary disasters to keep coming :)
I'm proud to introduce my biggest "go big or go home" corsage necklace yet - Mellow Yellow! Once I saw all those sweet ribbon flowers and ornamental birds in A. C. Moore, I was powerless to stop myself from cramming them all onto a single felt disc . . . But then, I like a necklace with personality, especially when it's paired with a retro-inspired polka-dot top. I just listed this one in my Etsy shop, http://www.thetotetrove.etsy.com/, and was surprised to find that my homepage format had changed. (I'd read about this upcoming development somewhere but forgot that it was being implemented today.) The items seem bigger, or maybe they're just arranged so you can see more of them. Or maybe there are more of them. Darned if I know. What was clear was that the shop announcement is now teeny-tiny with an option to read the rest of the text in a dialogue box. Also, the navigation menu is on the left instead of the right. This seemed really weird to me, but now that I think of it, a navigation bar really should be on the left. Isn't it funny how you can get used to something, even when it's wrong? Although I'm not completely at home with the new layout yet, I must admit that the images look more enticing. Hopefully the shoppers agree :)
The second treasury came from Victoria Elizabeth QOC, http://www.victoriaelizabethqoc.etsy.com/. Naturally, I hopped over to her shop to check our her creations and discovered adorable, whimsical costumes and clothes for little girls. Her treasury is a Barbie explosion of hot pink glamour:
It was interesting seeing how one of my items fit in with two different collections. It just goes to show that the possibilities on Etsy are endless . . .
Monday, August 16, 2010
From time to time I have the pleasure of hearing that one of my pieces is included in such a collection. This evening seller tararosie, www.tararosie.etsy.com, was kind enough to hand pick my Medium Pink Fierce Flowers Sparkle Tote for her "It's a Jungle Out There" treasury. Check it out here. And if you like what you see, then click away!
- Saw Dinner for Schmucks with the bf. Had dinner at Red Robin and dessert at Rita's.
- Rode bikes with the bf and went to the beach.
- Saw Eat Pray Love with my mom and went shopping.
- Finished my Mellow Yellow, Purple People Eater, Orange You Glad, and Brown Sugar corsage necklaces.
- Read other people's blogs.
- Worked on my Etsy shop.
- Did laundry.
- Continued reading The Wedding Girl by Sofie Kinsella.
- Made a pasta dinner.
- Exercised (a little).
By Sunday night, I was amazed by the all the stuff I'd managed to cram in. During our bike ride, the bf and I had passed a flea market breaking down at the Brigantine football field. I watched vendors struggling with their crates of sunglasses and what have you and couldn't help but think that I would've been spending my weekend the same way. Loading and unloading, setting up and breaking down, chasing wind-strewn necklaces across the blacktop, driving back and forth, updating all my inventory and expense files, etc, etc, etc. Realizing that it was all behind me, I felt only one thing - relief.
Basically, it's the story of Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts), a writer who decides she's no longer in love with her husband (Billy Crudup), a guy who's only crime is that he's a dreamer who changes careers a lot. So she gets divorced, has an affair with a much-younger actor (James Franco), and travels to Italy, India, and Bali (insert cliche here) to find herself.
The premise seems promising. I mean, what woman doesn't want to run away from her life every now and then? But Liz's journey fails to live up to its potential because it lacks depth and direction. Once an inveterate eater of salads, she embarks upon a "no carb left behind experiment" that results in weight gain and the need for "big girl jeans." Once afraid to talk to God, she seeks out gurus and meditation experts and swallows their beliefs without examining them. And of course, once relationship-challenged, she finally falls in love, sailing off with a guy she's known for only a couple of weeks. To be honest, I found all of this to be pointless and boring. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why a woman would need to travel the world to "have a relationship with her pizza" and meet a decent guy. But maybe that's because I'm a homebody in a smug relationship with no compunctions about stuffing my face full of carbs.
I also couldn't understand why Liz would want to stay in some broken-down apartment in Italy with no running bath water or an ashram in India where she was required to scrub floors. Equally baffling and unrealistic were the quick, close-knit friendships she seemed to forge with just about everyone she met.
I can't help but think that this movie wanted women to accept Liz as this enlightened feminist role model when she was really just an emotionally unavailable victim of her own made-up problems.
But enough with the snarkiness. Surely I can come up with something good to say about this movie. Julia Roberts did a fine job playing Liz and probably infused the character with more likability than she deserved. The scenery in Bali was lushly breathtaking. And one of Liz's Italian friends says that Americans work too hard and enjoy too little, slaving away at 9-to-5 jobs all week only to collapse on the weekends, spending the entire time in their pajamas in front of the TV. I couldn't argue with that one.
To be honest, I enjoyed Dinner for Schmucks more.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
For me, one of the highlights (naturally) was when Chelsea reveals herself to be a Golden Girls fan on page 34:
"About an hour later the phone rang right in the middle of a brand-new episode of "The Golden Girls." My favorite character was Bea Arthur (Dorothy). I've always felt we had similar senses of humor, although I imaged myself having a better body when I hit seventy, not to mention highlights."
On the whole, the book is fun, raunchy, and sometimes a little disturbing. But it was a good ride, and I'll probably end up reading the two others she has out. For now I've dipped back into my chick lit comfort zone with some Sophie Kinsella. Well, to be more accurate some Madeline Wickham (that was Sophie's pen name before she hit it big with the Shopaholic series). More on that once I finish.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
So, how was it? A little slow at first. And definitely weird. It also had a faintly European flavor, which was probably owing to the fact that it was based on the 1998 French film Le Diner de Cons (or to us, The Dinner Game). It became more farcical and dramatic as it built to its (admittedly predictable) conclusion. Steve Carell stole the show as Barry, an IRS agent who creates diorama "mouseterpieces" featuring dead mice in elaborate settings such as the Last Supper, Orville and Wilbur Wright's first flight, and an extravagant picnic starring little girl mice in red wigs emulating his ex-wife. Barry is the well-meaning moron who wreaks havoc every time he tries to "help," the ultimate schmuck who is destined to take first prize at Tim's (Rudd's) boss's competition dinner for idiots. Yet despite his annoying personality and fondness for dead rodents, I must admit that I was genuinely charmed by Barry and his mouseterpieces. Call it the artist in me, but anyone who would devote so much time, detail, and love to such an off-putting craft couldn't help but emerge as endearing. Jemaine Clement's role as an out-there, oversexed artist was interesting too, although in a creepy and decidedly not endearing way. It was strange seeing him with long hair, no glasses, and a tan - not to mention actually getting chicks - when I've known him as only the hapless nerdy musician on "Flight of the Conchords." Speaking of which, the Choncords' friendly stalker, Mel (Kristen Schaal), also made an appearance as Tim's quirky secretary (she is just as odd as she is in Conchords and wears some fabulously kitschy pins).
Overall, Dinner for Schmucks wasn't laugh-out-loud funny. But it was fun to watch, and to this comedy-starved moviegoer, well worth the trip.
Friday, August 13, 2010
A rare shot of the bf in his natural habitat.