Camping in the USA quilt

Inspiration taken from this pin which I saw while on holiday in Summer. The appeal of this one was the simplicity – just strips and squares making up strips. Then I realised I could use the theme of the quilt as well, as I’d bought some charm square packs that would fit the camping/outdoors theme. Once I’d tracked down the two sets of charm squares (one little one larger) and went through my stash to find other fabrics which matched the theme. I finally got to use some Cowboys stuff I’d bought ages ago.

I made some of the strips wider and some of them narrower to give it some interest, then when it was big enough gave it a thin white sashing and a cheater quilt border since the pattern and colours seemed to match.

During the course of sewing it up I was wondering who it was for and then I realised – I have a friend who went on a one person camping trip through the States. My old nemesis Fraser. So once I had the quilt top together and knew it was for Fraser, I had the perfect donated vintage star wars sheet to use for the backing.

I didn’t do too much interesting with the hand quilting, I just followed the lines for the most part. I picked out a couple of foxes, hedgehogs and merit badge looking things in the various fabrics but it was straight forward handquilting.


Dazed and Confused (1993)

Dazed and Confused
Written and directed by Richard Linklater
(number 254)

I have seen this before. I think I had it pitched to me as a kind of similar film to something like Empire Records and I really, really hated it. It’s not like Empire Records. It’s like the dark side of Linklater.

I have no idea if any of the hazing rituals and weird traditions depicted in the first hour of the movie are accurate, I’ve never gone to an American high school, and I wasn’t around in the time period depicted (1976) and I’ve never been to Texas, where I do understand things are a bit more extreme. But I do know that watching all the hazing is deeply uncomfortable to me. I’ve talked before about how unsettling I feel watching bullying, and this is like, long drawn out, protracted sequences of bullying of multiple kinds. Straight up violence to the boys, and emotional and sexual manipulation of the girls. Torture, no matter which way you look at it.

And then there’s this weird thing where Mitch, who’s had the crap beaten out of him is basically picked up by one of the seniors (Pink) and it feels so much like a homoerotic grooming, and the same thing happens to that one sophomore girl. But then the freshman boy hooks up with the sophomore girl so that there’s no gayness at all and everything’s straight and I don’t even know which way I wanted it to go because I don’t even like them.

Then there’s random destruction and damage to property and drugs and stuff, and I’m just like ‘meeeehhhh’. Linklater does a good line in people talking at night but this isn’t my favourite of his.

Does it make me love the people? I dunno. Like, Linklater knows people, he’s a genius at humanising his characters and making them real. But these characters all just seem like annoying assholes for the most part. Lots of these actors became more famous after this though.

Plus there’s lots of homophobic language all through and I know that it’s whatever, it’s accurate for the time and maybe the ages of the characters but it’s still wearying to watch.

Bechdel test: Yes, lots of this, lots of scenes of women talking which is cool. Mostly about each other and how they’re bitches, etc, but yeah.I dunno. It passes.

Best line:

Ms. Ginny Stroud: Okay guys, one more thing, this summer when you’re being inundated with all this American bicentennial Fourth Of July brouhaha, don’t forget what you’re celebrating, and that’s the fact that a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn’t want to pay their taxes.

Pink: You cool man?
Mitch: Like how?
Pink: okay

State of Mind: This film has a great soundtrack. I’m glad Linklater made it so he could go on to make better films, I do not enjoy this movie. Disagree with it being this high up on the list, if it even had to be here at all. Is it that important to record American teenagers being asses to each other?

Watched movie count

Selvedge quilt

I started to make a selvedge quilt a long time ago. Basically in between other projects or even concurrently, I’ve been sewing together strips and scraps of selvedge and leftovers from other projects into loose log cabins. I don’t like cutting off the sewing machine thread in between bits, so having a basket or two of strips beside the machine means it’s easy enough to have this going. I think I moved up to Auckland with three or four decent sized log cabins, that was two and a half years ago now and I’ve been pretty consistently sewing since.

At the start of the year I realised I’d been doing this long enough I could make a quilt of it. I used a couple of mismatched blocks to change things up a little, made sure the log cabins were the same size and sewed them together with wide white borders. It was kind of weirdly tall and thin so I made use of the long pieces of strips I’d been sewing together as well, with an eye for just this kind of use. The piece I used for the sides was so wide I was able to cut it in half lengthwise so there’s some symmetry there. The top and bottom is mostly leftover square shapes which I sewed into a long piece.

I did this while I was on my summer holiday, got it assembled and pinned, and then left it for a while so I could get some more urgent baby quilt projects done. For the backing, a huge leftover piece of cheater quilt fabric which I had from a baby quilt project.

Once it was time to pick it up and hand quilt I had to think about who was going to receive this beauty. Not everyone would appreciate a ‘leftover bits’ quilt, and it’s so bitsy, so many different fabrics. Then I thought of the perfect recipient and became excited to finish and give it to her.

I picked out a couple of details to showcase, but as you can see from the closeups there’s a lot going on in this quilt. I love it to bits, and I hope Alexis and her cat, Toby, do too.

The Bourne Identity (2002)

The Bourne Identity
Directed by Doug Liman
Written by Tony Gilroy and W. Blake Herron based on the novel by Robert Ludlum
(number 373)

I disliked this movie quite a lot when I first saw it back in 2002 because I found the violence a bit to realistic and it was uncomfortable. Also not a great treatment of the woman character? Maybe?

But the thing I really like about this movie, is that many years ago at Kapcon, I was part of a game called Being Matt Damon which Nick ran, and we all played different Matt Damon characters meeting up to save our buddy Ben Affleck. I was School Ties Matt Damon, Jon was Jason Bourne and he had a lot of the best lines of the game. We’d all be talking and trying to plan or whatever and he’d be like ‘I’m in Marrakesh! I’m taking down some terrorists. I call these guys.” and it was magical.

I watched this with Anna, who had never seen them before but as it’s a blockbuster was keen to give it a go. (I watch most of the weird stuff and war films without her.)

I love Franka Potente, by the way. This movie made me want to watch Run Lola Run a lot.

So, the movie is based around a central mystery: who is Jason Bourne? and once you know the whole mystery it’s pretty hard to be involved in the suspense. Maybe I just don’t like action movies enough. I certainly wasn’t taking it as seriously.

Jason: I just had a meeting as Jake Kane
Marie: I just saw Jake Kane’s body, in a morgue here in Paris. But if you’re Jake Kane..
Me: then who’s flying the plane?

I dunno, I guess this was groundbreaking at the time because it’s largely not a funny action movie. It’s deadly serious and all the men are very tough and the body count is very high. I don’t know. Because it was the first time Ludlum’s book was made into a movie. The violence is realistic.. or at least, it probably was at the time. I guess more movies got brutal after this one? Things like Batman Begins and… I dunno. Other brutal action flicks, they’re probably able to be made because of the success of this one.

Does it make me love the people? I mean, I love Franke Potente going in so she had an advantage. Yeah, I think generally she acts in a way that’s consistent with a modern woman, she doesn’t just accept shit from him, she questions him and outsmarts him at the hotel and generally is a useful character, couldn’t be replaced by a sexy lamp.

Bechdel test: No. We have Marie and Nicolette but they’re never in the same scene.

Best line:

State of Mind: Anna, five minutes before the end: what just happened? Who killed who?
Me: some guy… with a gun? shot someone.. and they died? I guess?
Anna: that could have been anyone in this film.

once the silly happy ending occurs, me: It’s over.
Anna: thank fucking god.

Generally I didn’t enjoy it this time but mostly because I felt unengaged in the suspense and generally bored with the action sequences. Anna was disappointed, she felt it had been hyped a lot because it was a great movie but she just didn’t like it.

Watched movie count

L’Avventura (1960)

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Written by Elio Bartolini, Tonino Guerra and Michelangelo Antonioni
(number 293)

Gorgeous sixties fashions, thin and disaffected beautiful Italians and complicated relationships. I actually found this movie a lot more accessible than I feared it would be. It was hard to track down in the first place, no torrents, not at my local library – I had to hire it from Aro St Video and then it arrived on a week where I had very little time to myself to watch it. Finally I watched it on a bright but misty Sunday morning while Anna had a much needed sleep in.

it’s a but of a slow film and very much about the characters – how unhappy they are, how they deal with Anna’s disappearance, how they lounge about on the volcanic island looking concerned.

The locations are gorgeous, very alien – the weird shapes of the volcanic islands they tour through, the slopes all looking rather like an old sci fi movie. The gorgeous sixties helicoptor which looks now like a work of art to me. The men lounging around in all in one lounge suits, the women in strange gathered at the neck wrappers made of lace. Stylistically gorgeous. The plot is a little less engaging.

Essentially it’s a movie about mood. It’s a movie about rich people being sad, being sad in beautiful clothes in stunning locations in Italy. I’m not sure I can recommend it..

The scenes where dozens or even hundreds of men appear just to stare at women are truly horrifying though, n

Does it make me love the people? I dunno, they’re all sort of horrid aren’t they? I mean, yeah it sucks when your friend disappears but drowning it out with a sad love affair doesn’t really make you a good person. They’re all a bit rich, disaffected and solemn for me. I guess it could have been a more engaging treatise on humans dealing with loss but it didn’t quite grab for me. Maybe because I kept wanting the women to kiss when they were alone together in their bedrooms and boudoirs.

Bechdel test: Yes, over and over. Early on Anna and Claudia talk about how actually there wasn’t a shark and Anna made it up. Claudia and Patrizzia and Giulia all talk about where Anna has gone. Lots of named women named characters ­čÖé

Best line:

Corrado: Giulia is like Oscar Wilde. Give her all the luxuries and she will manage without the little necessities.

State of Mind: It dragged, and the people are pretty repulsive. I was happy when it was over, but the styling is brilliant and it’d definitely a beautiful movie. One that you could happily have stills from as art up on the wall. But yeah, I maybe didn’t need to watch a two and a half hour movie to know that rich people can be sad.

Watched movie count

Secrets and Lies (1996)

Secrets & Lies
Written and directed by Mike Leigh
(number 294)

I sort of knew going in that this was going to be one of those awkwardly sad dramas. I’ve heard people refer to it before, I’ve heard people groan in reference to it. Well, I wasn’t..disappointed? This movie is a long, unflinching look at people who’s lives are sad, small and disconnected – even from the people they love. It’s so awkward, it’s so depressing.

The plot is around a woman tracking down her birth mother, getting to know her family and how very dysfunctional it is.

Cynthia is the cornerstone of the movie and absolutely the saddest character, she reminds me of one of the messed up mums in a Jacqueline Wilson book. She’s so afraid of everything – afraid of her own feelings, afraid of being left alone by the people around her, afraid of the world around her.

The party sequence is so horrible. It’s like watching one of the most awkward family gatherings in the world, and knowing most of what’s about to happen and dreading it. Dreading it so much.

Does it make me love the people? I love Hortense, because she’s so lovely and sweet. I love Maurice because he’s trying so hard and is so painfully repressed, he tries his best, he really does. The slow build of the connection between Hortense and Cynthia is very sweet.

It reminds me of the movies I would go see in the film festival without thinking too much about them. The movies would be slice of lifes. Little true stories about people’s ordinary lives and how messed up emotionally those ordinary lives can be. The pain and the pressure and the little hurts family members can dish out to each other. It’s not a fun thing to watch, it’s not a popcorn movie, but maybe it teaches us a little about who we are and how we deal with the people around us.

Bechdel test: Yes, lots of times. Roxanne and Cynthia talk a lot, then Hortense and Cynthia talk lots of times. We’re all good in this department. It just keeps on passing right through the movie: the bonus when all but one of your main ensemble cast are women.

Best line:

Maurice: Secrets and lies! We’re all in pain! Why can’t we share our pain? The three people I love the most in all the world hate each other’s guts and I’m stuck in the middle of it!

State of Mind: Honestly happy that this movie had a happy ending, I was so sure it was going to be only depressing and awkward, but the very end was just like the sun coming out after a horrid emotional storm of truth and pain. Thank goodness for that. I can’t see myself watching this movie again in a hurry though, so awkward. So cringey.

Watched movie count

Rashomon (1950)
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Akira Kurosawa based on stories by Ry├╗nosuke Akutagawa
(number 297)

Rashomon is a classic, and it’s one that’s had influences over many tv series and movies since, you’ve probably seen a version of it without realising the roots. I think the first one I saw was on the X-Files where when Scully described the local sheriff he was handsome and charming, but when Mulder described him he the actor was played with ugly make up and seemed stupid. Supernatural did a really good one where Sam and Dean get more and more insulting of each other as they go. It’s the story where the events are recounted later by different people and there’s subtle and not so subtle differences each time. It’s highly entertaining.

The movie is beautifully acted and it’s filmed in very beautiful Japanese countryside and ruins/buildings. The costumes were great, the make up…I don’t know what much else to say about it honestly. It’s a great film.

Does it make me love the people? I mean… kind of? I don’t know that you get enough time getting to know any of them to really love or care for them, and they’re all pretty much assholes so. Maybe not really but I can see that this movie is a pretty damning summary of human condition all round. I could definitely do without the rape scene and the general fall out of the rape.

The big sword fight was highly entertaining. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sword fight between people who were so afraid of being in a sword fight before. Worst samurai ever, just saying.

Bechdel test: No, only the one woman in this story.

Best line:

In the end, you cannot understand the things men do.

State of Mind: I pretty much enjoyed this, and I think I’d like to watch it again. The third storytelling was very unexpected! Very impressed. Probably need to rewatch it a couple times to get the nuances and the details which I didn’t quite catch. I might not watch it again soon, mind. Great film, great director, good watch. Do it.

Watched movie count