Thursday, March 29, 2007

Notes on a list, and a new project.

So I contributed to my friend's column this week (and next week) at DeadOn (it's a group of Deadspin commenters writing about pop culture) about music made by women in the 90s (thus the thoughts about it earlier in this blog).

-Part I of the list was mostly compiled by the time I got involved. My main input on this part of the list was insisting that he mention Elastica stole their song from Wire and suggesting that including Veruca Salt without the Breeders was kinda insane, since Veruca Salt lifted the Breeder's deal wholesale.
-I do like "Connection" and some Veruca Salt well enough, though.
-My suggestions for Part II (and maybe III?) of the list included Liz Phair, P.J. Harvey, Throwing Muses, Cibo Matto, Bjork, Luscious Jackson, and a number of other folks I've now forgotten. I know a song from one of these will be in Part II, because I wrote the blurb for it.

Now onto far less exciting matters: Mass Transit! In case you don't live in Chicago: the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority, though I usually replace the first word with "Clusterf***") will be drastically reducing capacity on one of the most-navigated portions of its track for the next few years, with the intent of making the several stations along this corridor shiny, new, and capable of carrying more people around. This starts next week; the CTA has been using the slogan "Leave Early, Leave Late, Alternate" to encourage people to avoid peak transit times or take the bus. Nobody in Chicago thinks this is going to work.

So I will be running a series of tests of this slogan. It will be hard for me to leave late, since I have to be at work at 8, but I can do the other two.

Clusterf*** Transit Authority Experiment
Hypothesis: The CTA is completely screwed, and it's going to take forever to get anywhere no matter what you do.

Trial 1, "Leave Early".
According to the CTA's own maps, transit from my apartment (nearest to the currently-closed Montrose Brown line stop; three blocks from Damen Brown line stop) should take about 30 minutes. I decide to leave my apartment around 5:55 am, figuring that if I do manage to make it downtown in 30 minutes, I can just go to the gym.

The construction that is supposed to substantially increase travel times has not yet begun; this is just an intial trial before the whole mess starts on 4/2/07.

According to the CTA's travel planner, I should get on the 6:12 am Brown line train, transfer at Belmont to the 6:22 am Red line train, and arrive at Grand and State at 6:36 am. Plenty of time for cardio!

6:05: I see what may be the 6:04 southbound Brown line pass as I enter the station. Note that I should try to catch this train in the future.
6:28: Next southbound Brown line arrives at Damen. Two northbound trains had arrived in the interim.
6:35: Brown line arrives at Belmont, which is faster than estimated by CTA trip planner. Two stations between Damen and Belmont are currently closed, with another closing soon; this could explain the accelerated time.
6:55: Southbound Red line train finally arrives. Multiple trains from almost all the other lines pass by during this time.
7:15: I arrive at Grand and State (20 minutes instead of CTA's predicted 16 on the Red; brief delay at Chicago stop). Just enough time to do 10 minutes of pilates and then go to work.

So far, not so great. I figure 6:05 is earlier than rush, right?

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Monday, March 26, 2007

My indie-rock book title: "All Downhill from Here"

Problem: I am not reading many books lately.
Cause: Recent magazine obsession (Real Simple! Interweave! Rowan! Vogue Knitting! Back issues of the Believer! Gourmet! Good Mag!); incessant, crazed knitting; loss of book weight that allowed me to read while knitting; desire to walk around while weather is nice.
Solution: Read more books, I suppose.

Problem: Those books that I am reading are all about rock music.
Cause: Rock is awesome. Books about rock music are quite frequently also awesome.
Solution: Back to reading C.V. Wedgewood’s The Thirty Years War, which is awesome in its own way.

Problem: C. V. Wedgewood’s The Thirty Years War is wonderful, well-researched, well-written, and interesting, but is not optimal travel reading. I was on an airplane or in an airport for massive amounts of time this weekend.
Cause: It’s dense! It’s heavy! I doesn’t stay open on my lap! Half the people are named the same thing, and there are a bazillion people in the book!
Solution: Back to reading about rock music.

I saw John Sellers’ Perfect From Now On (woo, Built to Spill reference!) in the window of a bookstore in Harvard Square early Saturday afternoon, and I finished it as our plane landed in Chicago on Sunday. It is quite entertaining if you’re the sort that listened to crappy music in early adolescence and eventually moved up to indie. It is also especially entertaining if you like GBV, as it covers the last few months of that band’s existence. Summary review: think Chuck Klosterman, only with even better taste in music (these days, at least) and less bitterness about past girlfriends.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rocking While Knitting: Camera Obscura

Angora sweater: Done! Done! Sweet fancy Moses, done!

Here's some detail on the tasseled midsection, which I am not entirely thrilled about (it's the only shaping for the waist), but is cute in and of itself:

Pattern: Tiffany from Louisa Harding Winter Muse Collection
Yarn: Louisa Harding Kimono Angora, bought at Nina
Needles: Size 6 Addi Turbos, with some work done on Crystal Palace size 3 bamboos
Adjustments to pattern: None. May have made it one size too large, but it's comfy.

Now for the rocking. Something about this sweater kept reminding me of Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura (and Camera Obscura in general) for some reason. I listened to a good deal of Camera Obscura while making it. If you don't know them--think a little Belle & Sebastian (their songwriter produced CO's first album), and a lot of female spunkiness. And therefore, I offer you two songs to go with my sweater pics, both from the latest CO album (good for the next 7 days):

Lloyd, I'm Ready to be Heartbroken
Let's Get Out of This Country

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

This month in knitting.

I have been knitting. Really! Here's the evidence:

FO: Mini-Clapotis

Pattern: Clapotis, of course!
Yarn: Tilli Thomas Disco Lights, 1 skein
Needles: size 7 Inox
Mods: Only two increase/decrease rows; I knit the straight rows until I ran out of yarn.

Clapotis is the famous Kate Gilbert pattern. I only had one skein of this yarn (which is lovely, but not cheap), so I only did 2 pattern width repeats and made it very, very short. Still, the recipient likes it, so I'm happy. I enjoyed getting the chance to work with the yarn, without the guilt of keeping the result.

Works in Progress:
Angora sweater

I also have a sleeve for this sweater floating around. I'm halfway through the second sleeve, which means I should be done... just in time for it to be seasonally-inappropriate!

Bamboo Jacket:
I have a ton of bamboo to work with, so I'm double-stranding it and making the cover design from Spring '07 Interweave Knits.

So yeah, that's about it for now. Coming soon, though... My review of the Colourmart sample kit! Look at all the goodies I got for $5:

Oh yes, it's cashmere.

Lots of stuff to play with.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Organization, Music

I'm almost done with the soon-to-be-seasonally inappropriate angora sweater. That's all I'm gonna say about knitting for now.

Random act of memory: Susan is owed a 33 1/3 book from the M*****F***ing contest. Susan, which do you want?

Moving on: I have a new computer! I can load music onto my iPod again! I'm in the process of putting my stacks and stacks of CDs onto my iPod, and it's just in time for spring, when a girl's thoughts return to when she used to be a malfeasant pre-teen (if the girl is me). Perhaps it's because I can finally listen to it while walking around, but I'm beginning to suspect that The Hold Steady's Boys and Girls in America is just as much a spring album as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is a winter one.

As for other music I'm listening to: for reasons I won't divulge right now, I have been listening to a lot of music that is (1) 10ish years old and (2) made by women. I'm gonna link these to YSI files tonight, but for right now, descriptions:

Know Your Chicken and Sugar Water by Cibo Matto. I think KYC was more popular, but I like Sugar Water better, and it has a great Michel Gondry video. Everything sounded like Cibo Matto a couple years after this album; possibly because M. Hatori worked on a lot of records, including the first Gorillaz album.

Bright Yellow Gun by Throwing Muses. This was their biggest single when I was listening to college radio in the mid-90s. I had previously been a big fan of a lot of antiseptic, asexual folkie-type lady-music (hello, 10,000 Maniacs); this was all nice and good, but as a teenage girl realizing just how much trouble I could make, it was also quite revelatory to hear K. Hersh's amazing, dangerous-sounding voice. Also, they named an album The Real Ramona. Mad props for that.

(Aside--Tanya Donnelly left/got kicked out of Throwing Muses and Breeders before each of their biggest commercial successes. Poor thing. Belly did fairly well, though, and hers was one of the two Seventeen interviews I remember finding interesting during my grandmotherly-imposed subscription to that magazine. The other was Jon Stewart, back when he had a talk show on MTV.)

PJ Harvey--just in general. I love the production on To Bring You My Love (am I right in believing Down by the Water was her biggest single in the 90s?); I guess the term differentiating it from Rid of Me and Dry would be not-scary. But the two earlier albums are great, too.

So yeah... talk to me about your spring-celebration music, or music made by women ten years ago, or whatever.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...