bookmark_borderMusic of 2019

What albums did I acquire in 2019?

Elbow, Giants of All Sizes (2019)
The new album from Elbow, I don’t have quite the emotional attachment to this album as I do Seldom Seen Kid, but these elbums tend to grow on me over time.
Laurie Anderson et al., Songs from the Bardo (2019)
Performed with a large number of other artists, this is not an album of “songs”, but a set of lessons for you to memorize so that you can recall them when you are in the bardo, the place where you are after your body dies. If you can remember and follow the instructions, you will achieve enlightenment. Heavy stuff.
Eric Johnson, Collage (2017)
Catching up on things that were released in years previous, that I wasn’t paying enough attention to notice, this is EJ’s return to electric performance after the next album on this list.
Eric Johnson, ej (2016)
Catching up, this album is all acoustic recordings of various works.
R.E.M., Accelerate (2008)
For some reason, neither Sharon nor I bought this album when it came out, even though I have purchased all of their albums since this one.
The Cars, Move Like This (2011)
Back from the dead after their ascension to Valhalla, The Cars released this album to absolutely no notice that I can remember. I can’t even listen to it. I have no emotional connection to any of this, and can’t force myself to make one.
Smithsonian Folkways, Japan: Semiclassical and Folk Music (1974)
More background music for Pennsic, this joins the library of stuff I bought for last year. It’s probably not historical, but it’s mostly premodern and very Japanese. Some of it really rocks, actually.
Various Artists, Twin Peaks; Music from the Limited Event Series (2017)
I loved the way each episode of the limited series ended in the roadhouse bar, with some band playing. I could have done with less Z. Z. Top and more Silencio, but I will take this, no question. Some cool stuff on this.
Various Artists, Twin Peaks; Limited Event Series Soundtrack (2017)
Angelo, speak to me with your fingers and toes.
Steve Moore, Beloved Exile (2019)
A solo album from one half of Zombi, I wasn’t going to buy this at all, but his label kept promoting it on YouTube, and eventually I realized that I like it a lot. Still want a new Zombi album, but this is good.
Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet, Landfall (2017)
A series of musical monologues where Laurie talks about experiences surrounding Hurricane Sandy. It’s full of metaphors for love and loss over time, and you shouldn’t miss it.
Joe Satriani, Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards (2010)
Catching up, here is more Joe Satriani.
Toto, Dune; Original Soundtrack Recording (1984)
Picked this up used, and could not put it down. Who doesn’t love this jaw-dropping soundtrack to this notoriously impenetrable film?
Joe Satriani, What Happens Next (2018)
Started out the new year buying an album that came out in just the previous year. Not quite catching up.
MONO, Nowhere, Now Here (2019)
new album by Japanese band MONO. “Mono” means something like “thing” in Japanese, so it’s not a bad label for this crazy group. I don’t keep up with their live recordings, but their studio albums are must-buys for me.
Jean-Michel Jarre, Equinoxe Infinity (2018)
Jean-Michel really takes it back. Sharon has the other Equinoxe, so I wanted to build. He’s on the same label as Mono, is the only reason I knew these were out.
Jean-Michel Jarre, Oxygene 3 (2016)
I have the first two parts of the Oxygene triptych, and didn’t realize this had come out. This is totally an Oxygene album. All new music, but all one with the others. You can really play them in a row and not know where one ends and the next begins.
Joe Satriani, Shockwave Supernova (2015)
Catching up, you bet. I can’t really point to huge standout works on any of these recent Satriani albums, but more of the same is still more of great stuff, so I am perfectly willing to help Joe buy groceries.

A pretty big year for my music collection, actually. I was employed for ten months out of twelve, which tends to make me feel well-funded and in a mood to support the artists I love.

bookmark_borderGray Smock Project

Most years, I try to make one of my holiday gifts for Sharon be something that I made myself. This year, I decided sort of at the last minute that it would be a knock-off of a garment she bought for herself earlier this year. She bought a kind of smock / poncho garment, and it has become one of her favorite things. It’s a good thing to throw on as an extra layer for warmth, and it adds a couple of handy pockets. The catalog she got it from only offers a couple of colors, and she bought the one she liked. If she was going to have another one, it would have to be hand made.

Smock Gray Sharon 2019
Sharon in her new gray smock

The fabric is a light gray mostly cotton stretch knit. Don’t underestimate the comlexity of this garment. The shoulders actually slope down from the neckhole, and the sides taper in towards the bottom hem. The hems have narrow turn-unders, and mitered corners. The pockets have rounded bottom corners. The neck hole has a narrow facing band. I have done almost no work with this kind of stretch knit fabric before.

Anyway, it took me a few days to get everything laid out, cut out, lanned out, and sewn. It was finished in time for the holiday, but still had chalk marks all over it so it had to be washed before it could be worn. Sharon sent all day yesterday wearing it, and found it to be as comfortable as the original, so success.

bookmark_borderGreen Flannel Shirt

I’ve been wearing a lot of green lately. Green goes pretty well with blue, and most of my pants are blue jeans. Blue shirts are sometimes a little matchy-matchy with blue jeans, and green can be part of a black shoes outfit or a brown shoes outfit. I don’t like wearing black or gray shirts with brown shoes, so green is a good versatile color for different outfits. Anyway, I was shopping for fabric and saw this great green flannel.

A green flannel shirt

The pattern is the old pyjama top pattern, which is now Dana Marie Design Co. #1033, “Night and Day“. I still love this pattern for big comfy shirts. I don’t put the decorative trim on the pocket or cuffs. I added a vertical line of stitching that separates the pocket and makes it less likely that my phone will fall out. I just got those buttons at the fabric store today, so I could finish this project. I tried out some fancy buttonhole stitching, but you can’t really tell in this images.

bookmark_borderHoliday Projects

My days are nothing but free time lately, but holidays doubly so. I’ve spent most of the last few days sewing on different projects, but nothing I can post about quite yet. I sewed a present for Sharon, but I didn’t get a chance to launder it so it’s covered in tailor’s chalk markings and needs a few touch-up stitches here and there. I sewed a flannel shirt for myself, but it needs a trip to the fabric store for buttons before it can be completed, and I’m not sure I want to go to retail-ville on Boxing Day. It’s all about stymied ambition, isn’t it? Anyway, hope you all got a chance to spend the day doing something you enjoy.

bookmark_borderJapanese Field Clothing

One of our favorite commercial sewing patterns is Folkwear #112 “Japanese Field Clothing“. I’ve used it for more than a dozen items of informal garb, and Sharon has probably used it for more than two dozen items. Monpe are basically baggy sweatpants, much like very simple hakama with only four panels total. Hippari are simple shirts with an open front that ties closed, and small sleeves. Together, they make good “peasant garb” for Pennsic, or work clothing for other events during the year. In movies, you’ll often see these garments with multiple patches and fixes, giving you the impression that most people in medieval Japan would only have one set of clothing, and they would wear that for as long as humanly possible. Anyway, they’re a good thing to have available in the Japanese medieval garb wardrobe, even though the Folkwear pattern isn’t quite medieval. Here’s the set I made in 2019 to replace some stuff I made more than a dozen years ago that I just can’t wear anymore.

Blue Linen Hippari and Black Linen Mompe
Blue Linen Hippari and Black Linen Mompe

Both of these are made from linen fabric that I bought at the fabric store. The weave on both of these is a simple weave with color threads in one direction and white threads in the other. This gives the fabric sort of a homespun appearance, in my opinion. Anyway, these two items look pretty good together.

bookmark_borderMovie Review: SW ch.9 The Rise of Skywalker

I liked it, overall. It is first and foremost definitely a Star Wars movie. It failed to do some things I was hoping it would do, but it also declined to do some things I was hoping it would not do, so I guess that’s a wash. It did do some things I was not expecting it to do, but that I am glad it did, so that’s a net positive. I suppose that I am most impressed with the way that it resolved some things that had to be resolved, but left open some things that were more important to leave open. Well done, Mr. Abrams. There are still plenty of people who aren’t going to like this on its own, and people who aren’t going to like it as the finale to a 9 film series, but I think it’s good.

bookmark_borderMovie Review: Knives Out

I am an unabashed Rian Johnson fan. His first three films, Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper, are part of my permanent library. I’m not sure why Disney thought it would be a good idea to have him lead a Star Wars main line film, but I admire what he tried to do, dragging the franchise in a new and unexpected direction. Knives Out is a return to what Johnson does best: Twisty little stories about people who’ve made bad choices.

I don’t mean to say that Knives Out is one of those mysteries that misleads you every step of the way. In fact, it’s one of those that lays out nearly everything you need to know, just may be you don’t realize it at the time. If you’ve seen the trailer for it, you know that a veritable wreath of murder weapons is in view for much of the film. The rules of drama dictate that something should happen, but how? Is it just a rack of red herrings?

The dialog is sharp, and yet realistic. The acting is enthusiastic, and yet not inhumanly hammy. The set is gothic, and yet not baroque. The detective is smart, and yet not brilliant. The protagonist is a good person, and yet not an angel. The script is funny, and yet not comedic. This movie walks the finest tightropeimaginable, and it never wobbles.

Each time I watch a Rian Johnson film, I feel like had I never watched one before, I’d go back and find out what I’ve been missing. See this one. Watch his other films. Look forward to the shape of the plot. Pay attention. I promise you will find the experience rewarding.

bookmark_borderBarony Braids 2019

Normally, I try have a half dozen black and gold medallion cords braided by the time our local Agincourt event rolls around in October. This year, with everything else that was going on, I just managed to complete the sixth braid.

Barony Braids 2019

As usual, these are all about a yard long and all made from lace-weight silk yarn.