Friday, June 27, 2008

Addy's WInter Coat

Today I made the Winter Coat out of Pleasant Company's Addy doll patterns. I don't have an Addy doll, so Samantha is wearing the coat: 

I made few modifications to this pattern: 
  • I didn't add separate fringe to the "scarf". Instead I fringed the bottom of the material to make it more like a real scarf. 
  • I added three buttons instead of four because of their size. They're probably too big for the size of the outfit, but they were all that I had. 
I really like this pattern. It was not very difficult to execute. 

Kirsten's Underclothes

Last night I made Kirsten's Underclothes, one of Kirsten's patterns bought when Pleasant Company made dress patterns for the dolls. It was one of the easier patterns and I had the white flannel material to make it with, so I went for it. 

A few modifications: 
  • Instead of quilting the bottom of the petticoat with white thread, I used a nice pale, variegated thread in shades of pink, blue, green, and white. I also used that thread for the top-stitching on the chemise. 
  • I used a snap on the back of the chemise instead of a small button because my buttonholer and I weren't getting along. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Books I'm Reading

Okay, I'm going to be honest. Those books on the sidebar? Most of them I'm not reading. Most of them are up there because they are currently bookmarked at various parts. 

The only one that I can really say I'm reading is Ellen Fisher's The Light in the Darkness. I stalled two pages into High School Confidential, 50 pages into Victoire, and 100 pages into Club Dead. I just got so tired of them. 

Instead I finish the one book and keep replacing it with another book. But I'm thinking, if I actually list those three other books up there, I may read them, if only to get them off that list. 


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Duke Most Wanted by Celeste Bradley

Duke Most Wanted by Celeste Bradley is the third installment in the Heiress Bride trilogy. I like trilogies. They're just long enough to get me attached to the characters and want to see a bit more of them, but they don't drag on forever and ruin those characters. 

The premise behind the series is that Hamish Pickering left his 15,000 pound inheritance to the first female in the three generations following him to marry a duke. Not just a title, but a duke. That was the only one good enough for the female descendent of a grasping Cit. 

The opportunities were left to his three great-granddaughters, Phoebe, Deirdre, and Sophie. Phoebe gave up her chance at the fortune for true love, and Deirdre's husband was heir to a duke.  Sophie was the quiet, bookish one whose eyes were set on only one man: Graham Cavendish. Through a rather bizarre set of circumstances, within short order he become the Duke of Edencourt. 

What follows is the journey that Graham and Sophie take on their courtship. There are some stumbling blocks on the way: he has to battle some of her more ardent suitors, she's keeping secrets, and he has tenants to feed. He must marry money in order to bring his estate back to order, and Sophie could quite possibly be that person. 

There were a few periods in the book where I could not suspend my disbelief. At one point in the narration Bradley makes mention of "The Wicked Witch of the West Wing." That was out of place due to the fact that Baum and The Wizard of Oz were written well after the setting of this book. But a minor quibble. 

Bradley also attempted to inject a bit of satire in her book as well. Graham is at a ball where he refers to the debs he needs to court as Miss Millionpound, Miss Richpapa, and Miss Shippinggold. This was heavy-handed and unnecessary, as we know that he needs to court moneyed women.  Again, a minor quibble, but it stood out and irritated me. 

Lastly, another small quibble in names was that his valet, Peabody, had the same name as the hostess of a musicale, Lady Peabody. It did serve to confuse the reader, as I thought perhaps there may be a weird relationship there. That would have been an easy mistake to fix in an edit. 

My grade for this book is a B+, oh so close to an A! 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

I can't say that I'm a Jane Austen addict. I've read most of her books, with the exception of Mansfield Park, and Colin Firth is my favorite Mr. Darcy. I love her books and the stories she told. 

That being said, I believe that had authors wanted sequels written to their books, they would have written them during their lifetimes. Now there are so many "sequels" to Pride and Prejudice, they make my head spin. There are so many endings to the Darcys life! Here I was, perfectly happy with the ending that Austen wrote for Lizzie and Darcy, imagining them living in bliss at Pemberley, eventually with a brood of children. 

That's not to say that I haven't tried to read a few sequels. I read one following the life of Margaret Dashwood, and I attempted to read Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll before I chucked it against the wall. So it was with great trepidation that I read Laurie Viera Rigler's Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.  

Courtney Stone is a Jane Austen addict, having read every single Austen book multiple times. She has recently come off a rather nasty break-up, and she self-medicated with vodka and ice cream. When she wakes up, she finds herself in early 19th century England, the daughter of a wealthy gentleman. While in the body of Jane Mansfield (get it? ha ha), she has to figure out how to survive in the nineteenth century with twenty-first century sensibilities, especially with a mother who is more than willing to put her thirty-year old daughter in an asylum. Courtney tries to figure out how to get back to the future while not messing up Jane's life too much. 

The concept is interesting, though the execution is lacking. I always wonder if books are actually read by editors and proof-readers, or if they are green-lighted because Jane Austen is in the title. The author tries to explain how Courtney goes back in time, but that is difficult with the first-person narration, because Courtney doesn't know how she went back in time. This made the time plot confusing. Combine that with Courtney waxing philosophical and I spent a good bit of the time confused on how she went back in time. Much of her inner thought process was her asking herself questions--questions that are never answered by the end of the book. On page 101: 
So what will become of who I really am? What will become of that bundle of memories called Courtney, my real self that resides, hidden from view, inside this body? Will I/it slowly disappear, inexorably surrender to the onslaught of synaptic activities, the cumulative effect of cellular memory that is now evolving into conscious thought?
Courtney is obsessed with how people smell in the past, making sure she has sufficient baths and a handkerchief to mask her face. Much mention is made of how the people smell. She is also obsessed with her new looks. In her old life she was a petite, dumpy blonde, while Jane was tall, slender, and brunette. Even by the end of the book she is still babbling on about how unused she is to her new body. 

Courtney also gets quite caught up in what is acceptable and not acceptable for a woman of that time. I am surprised that she does not know how to act since she is such an "addict". There are also a few quibbles I have with the plotting. Pre-Courtney, Jane seems to have formed an attachment to a servant in her father's house. Her friend Mary, whose brother courts Jane, mistakenly thought that her brother fathered a servant's child and wishes him to marry said servant! p. 113
"Of course I suggested that Charles marry the girl, despite the fact that all our friends would shun her society. And his."
"He said he was sorry for her but he had no intention of taking on another man's duties. He is the most unfeeling creature I have ever known."

Um, no? Jane Austen's heroes always married their social equals--never a servant! This wouldn't even have happened in reality, and I can't imagine that a gently-bred miss would even consider that her brother marry a servant. England's society was very rigid and very difficult to cross.

Overall, I found the book a very interesting idea, but lacking in execution, a project run out of time. Had this been a project in my class, I'd grade it on the D+/C- level. 

Saturday, June 21, 2008

NHL Draft '08

Last night I watched the NHL draft, not because I found it interesting and was on tenterhooks to see who the 'Canes were able to pick, but because I was bored and wanted to subject my mom to something she'd never understand. (There's nothing like the filial piety our family shows.) 

Oh, that and to see if I could make fun of the New Jersey Devils. My dislike for them has no concrete beginning but is more of a visceral response whenever I hear "New Jersey". That and my brother prefers Jersey above all other teams. And then there was that event two Christmases ago when I received my Carolina Hurricanes jersey (all I need is a cute belt and it's a dress!) and my Jersey uncle says, "What is that? Some kinda New Jersey Devils shirt?" 

Yeah, the dislike runs deep. 

By the time I turned it on, I missed Carolina's pick of Zach Boychuck, but I did notice a few petty things that I could not let go: 

  • The commish, Gary Bettman, is short. Not that I have a lot of room to talk, but next to all those hockey players and former hockey players, the man is the size of a garden gnome. 
  • What is the deal with listing one's height at 6' 1-1/2"? At that height, do you honestly need that other HALF-INCH? That's just being mean to all us short people. It's one thing for me to list my height at 5' 0-1/2" because I need every little bit I have, but to add a 1/2" to an already tall frame is just cruel. It's like when a six-year old says she's not six but "six and three-quarters." 
As far as the substance of the draft, I can't explain it. I'm not going to. There are plenty of other blogs and websites that will break down the draft and explain what it means for each team. That means I can just sit back and relax. 

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dark Shadows 1991: 1.4

Dark Shadows 1991, episode 1.4

The sheriff and Julia walk up to Michael’s front door. His car is in the drive and lights are on in the house. Michael opens the door and lets the two of them in. Patterson mentions they’ve been trying to get in touch with him for hours, but his phone has been dead. The sheriff asks why Michael has been calling him, and Michael apologizes. He stumbled down another dead end regarding Barnabas Collins and the killer. He mentions a diary—Julia realizes he means hers—and Patterson says his deputy told him Michael had photographed evidence. He hands Patterson the camera, and the sheriff takes the film to be developed. As George and Julia leave, Michael attacks the sheriff. Patterson shoots him, but the vampire Michael still comes after him. Julia sees a wooden spear and manages to stake Woodard just in time. He goes after Julia, but Patterson pulls him off and pushes the stake farther in.

Julia and George Patterson head back to the sheriff’s office, where they leave Michael’s body in the custody of the coroner. He hands the film over to the deputy to be developed. He hands over his bloody raincoat as well, wanting it to be disposed of. Julia and George share a drink and wait for the photos to be developed. He goes off to the dark room, while Julia waits nervously in his office. The pictures are nothing more than black images for each. The film had not been exposed.

Roger and Elizabeth are at Collinwood. Liz wonders what is happening, that some dark cloud has come over Collinwood. (None connected to a mysterious cousin, however!) Julia gives Barnabas another injection, and he tells her that he had no choice regarding Michael Woodard. It was for the best, he said, but Julia is still upset. She is as much a part of his death as Barnabas was, he tells her. She says that he can now spend only limited times in the sunlight. He wants them to finish what has started, together. He plays Josette’s music box for her. He says he looks forward to the day when he can give it to the woman who will take her place. (No doubt Julia thinks that is her.)

David plays with Revolutionary War soldiers. One of the soldiers moves magically by itself. “Sarah?” he asks. She appears and they discuss the war. She doesn’t wish to discuss now now, but then. Vikki hears David talking to a young girl, and she walks into his room. She asks if he was talking with Sarah. Yes, he says. Sarah gave him the soldiers as well. She leaves him to his play. Vikki leaves and walks down the hall. She sees someone walking down the hall and follows. It is a young girl who disappears into a door. Vikki runs to the door and there is nothing there. It is locked. A key is on the floor, and she uses it to unlock the door. She finds an abandoned hallway, filled with old furniture. She follows Sarah deeper inside to a library, where Sarah sits behind a desk. She turns the pages of a book. Vikki asks what she is reading. She read about her brother, Barnabas and hands Vikki the book—the diary of Sarah Collins, 1787. David is at the door. “Now do you believe me?” He says Sarah is trying to tell her something—that someone is going to get hurt. They agree to tell only each other if they see Sarah again—especially not Barnabas.

Vikki is at the cemetery, and she finds a covered headstone that says Sarah Collins. She and Barnabas then go for a walk on the beach. She gives Barnabas the diary of Sarah, despite David’s warning. He asks where she got it and grabs her by the arms. She tells him he’s hurting her. She asks why he’s so upset over it. He says it’s just that his family history means so much to him. Where did you find it? He asks. In a library in the west wing, she says. He thanks her. They talk about how Josette married his brother, Jeremiah, and Vikki wonders why.

Barnabas reads aloud from Sarah’s diary that night. He talks to Willie about how much he loved his sister. Willie asks why she was so young—nine years old—when she died. Barnabas said she was very ill. He asks Barnabas if David really sees Sarah, and Barnabas believes that he has. He thinks that Sarah is trying to tell him something—he finds a small portrait of a blonde woman. He throws it into the fire, where it bursts into flames. A flaming specter comes out of the fireplace. Willie is frightened and asks what that was. Barnabas says her name was Angelique, the true cures of his existence, a force so evil, so powerful, that even now she reaches out to destroy him.

In the schoolroom, David is peering into his desk. Vikki asks him what is in there. “Are you sure you want to see?” Vikki grabs a book to kill whatever it is, but there is only a small painting. David said he got it in a room he’s not supposed to go to. She promises not to tell Roger but that they should put the painting back. David leads her to a locked room set up as a painting studio. Stacked against the wall are many paintings, and Vikki asks who painted them. David wishes to leave. Roger arrives, and Vikki tells him it was her idea to come up. Roger is irate and tells her to go downstairs—that the room does not exist anymore.

Maggie is sculpting in her studio. Roger arrives. While he’s gone, David goes into Roger’s room and takes some hair from a brush and a coat button. Roger and Maggie discuss their relationship. Maggie asks what will happen if she comes back; Roger doubts that will happen. Maggie said she’s not like other people. David fashioned a wax doll using the items from his father’s room and sets it on fire. At Maggie’s, Roger begins convulsing. Vicki manages to set the flames off, and Roger recovers.

Vikki tells Liz about the incident with David. She says that David was in some sort of trance and hands Liz the button from Roger’s coat. Liz confesses that David was asked to leave the town school because he started a terrible fire and almost burnt it down. Vikki has a phone call from Maggie Evans. She meets Maggie in town. Maggie tells Vikki about her affair with Roger and that Vikki must be very careful with David. She also tells Vikki that she has certain powers, that she can see things, and she saw David burning the doll. Talk turns to David’s mother, who is in an institution in England but is somehow controlling David. David’s mother knows what’s happening, she’s evil, and she’s a witch. Watch David carefully, Maggie warns again.

Barnabas and Willie are in the Old House, preparing for dinner. Barnabas sees Sarah’s diary out on the table and asks Willie what it’s doing out. Willie does not know. Barnabas tells Willie to make sure everything is ready when the window bursts open and the fire flares. The candles flicker and Sarah’s diary opens. They both watch as writing appears, warning Barnabas to keep Vikki out of his plans—they are both in danger. It means nothing, Barnabas says. Willie insists that Sarah is trying to warn them, and Barnabas flies into a rage. Barnabas apologizes, and Willie goes to put the diary back. After he leaves, the pages flip open to a picture of Angelique

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn

Lately I have fallen out of love with  historical romance novels. I used to be able to suspend my disbelief at some of the wild circumstances, but I eventually grew tired of the spies, the spinsters, the rogues, and the heiresses. More and more the books became cookie-cutters of previous books I had read. That and the fact that many of the Regency-era novels written for the American market seemed to be less historical and more Jane Austen role-playing. The characters acted so modern. And I am not one to buy a book after an author has disappointed me, not with the price of books at $8.00 a piece. 

So it was with trepidation that I picked up Julia Quinn's The Lost Duke of Wyndham. The last three books of the Bridgerton series had been a miss with me, a series that had gone on a few books too long. 

But this book I enjoyed. It's part of a two book series, and Quinn's trademark wit was there. 

According to the back cover: 
Jack Audley has been a highwayman. A soldier. And he has always been a rogue. What he is not, and never wanted to be, is a peer of the realm, responsible for an ancient heritage and the livelihood of hundreds. But when he is recognized as the long-lost son of Wyndham, his carefree life is over. And if his birth proves to be legitimate, then he will find himself with the one title he never wanted: Duke of Wyndham. 
Grace Eversleigh has spent the last five years toiling as the companion to the Dowager Duchess of Wyndham. It is a thankless job, with very little break from the routine... until Jack Audley lands in her life, all rakish smiles and debonair charm. He is not a man who takes no for an answer, and when she is in his arms, she's not a woman who wants to say no. But if he is the true duke, then he is the one man she can never have... 
The plot is completely out there and fantastic: the Dowager Duchess of Wyndham swears the highwayman that just accosted her coach is her grandson. Not only is he her grandson, but she is certain he is the son of her favorite son. She sees it in his masked face and hears it in his voice. She is so certain that he is her grandson that she accosts him to bring him to his rightful place. 

Unfortunately, her other grandson is the current Duke of Wyndham, and if Jack does turn out to be legitimate, he will take Thomas' place as duke. Both men go through severe angst at the thought that Jack is legitimate: Jack because he is unsuitable for the role and does not want it; Thomas because all he has known is his role as Duke. His fiancee will even become Jack's along with all the land holdings and duties.  

Both are united, however, in the face of their grandmother, possibly the least likable character in Quinn's books. She is the closest to a villain this book has, as she is against everyone and the world. She would rather have Jack as duke than Thomas, despite the fact she has known Thomas all his life--she is happy enough that Jack is charming like his father. She has no problem putting people out or making them uncomfortable in the face of her own interests, especially that of her companion, Grace. She seems to throw Grace in Jack's path, making Jack uncomfortable despite his growing attraction to Grace. The duchess is rude and unlikable, with no redeeming qualities. I failed to feel sorry for her at all. That is one of the weakest parts of the book for me, the lack of character development. We are never told of her motivations apart from the "favorite son" angle. I would like to know, if not what she loved about her son the most, then what she disliked about the other two. There's always a reason! 

Jack's motivations were uneven as well. His reasons for not wanting to become duke are always hinted at but not mentioned until the end of the book. He is always charming and seems suited to the role, but he has doubts that the reader is not privy to. Perhaps if there were more hints scattered throughout the book I would not have been confused. 

Quinn is redeemed by the ending, which was emotional and perfect for the story. The reader is never in doubt of the outcome, but it is the journey that is more important than the end. Also a positive for Quinn is her homage to Steven Colbert, found on page 118: 

He flashed her a smile that shook her to her toes. "I would never claim that men and women are interchangeable, but in matters of truthiness, neither sex earns high marks. "

She looked at him in surprise. "I don't think truthiness is a word. In fact, I am quite certain it is not."

"No?" His eyes darted to the side. Just for a second--not even a second, but it was long enough for her to wonder if she'd embarrassed him.... his smile grew jaunty and lopsided, and his eyes positively twinkled as he said, "Well, it should be."
Ah, truthiness!  I was delighted to see it in there, though I think that Colbert should have gotten credit in some endnotes. 

For that alone, Quinn receives a B+. 

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Delicious Library 2

Lately I've had an organization bug. I cleared out my craft room, throwing out all the crap fabric and stuff I haven't used and will never use. I organized my patterns. I put magazines in binders. 

Then I remembered my friend Kellie told me about a book inventory that she used for her Mac. All she did was hold the book up to her camera and it scanned the book in! I had to have it! Of course, I didn't remember the name of it, but that's the beauty of internet search engines--you can look it up. 

And that's how I ended up with Delicious Library 2.  The software is solely for Mac computers, which means that I was lucky. And the more I read the website, the more I wanted it. So I bought it. The download was done in minutes, and I could get started immediately. They also offer a barcode scanner that you can purchase. It can hold information on up to 400 books so you can move away from the computer. I decided not to purchase that because  I don't have that many books. 

I have 325. 

I have 71 movies. 

I can also inventory things that aren't media. Anything with a barcode can be scanned and looked up. I haven't moved past those categories yet--I have enough to scan before moving on to other ideas. 

I also like that I can use my Address Book to keep track of who has borrowed books from me. They remain on my shelf, but are shadowed out to show they aren't on my physical shelf. It is also very easy to get delete books once I get rid of them. 

The scanner was hard to use, because I had to hold the book a certain way. This was mostly due to human error though, because once I turned the light on in the room, the scanning became easier (this genius figured out it was a camera!). The main problem is that a lot of the books didn't scan into the proper item. By using the UPC code on the back of the book, especially mass market paperbacks, I kept being told that I had a "pink butterfly watch." 

I can guarantee you, I own no "pink butterfly watch". 

This was quickly resolved by using the barcode on the inside of the book. This would pick up the correct title of the book. 

Of course, if it didn't scan at all, I could hand-enter the UPC or ISBN into the database to get my data. This worked, too, but took longer than the scanner, and wasn't as much fun. 

One question I do have is why the book details are sometimes listed in UK pounds sterling and not US dollars. I know that I bought my books in the US, but the approximate value of a mass-market paperback isn't a high issue for me. 

ETA: On 6/22/08, I downloaded an update that is intended to fix the "UK" bug. I don't know how to automatically update it, though, unless I have to rescan the books involved back in. Which will be a pain.

Overall, I give this product an "A" and would recommend it to any book lover with a Mac. 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Doll Cape

The following project is from Vogue Patterns, Pattern V7923.  It is now out-of print, as is the pattern for the doll, V7868. I have made the pattern for the cape as seen below on my American Girl doll. 

It was my first attempt at using satin, and it made me realize what a horrible material satin is to work with. It's one letter away from "satan" for a reason. 

I know it's hard to see the detail on this, but that's okay. You don't need to see it, just like you don't need to see the spot on the front where I accidently cut a hole. I'm still trying to figure out how to fix that. It's right there, plain as day, too, which is why this picture is fine. You don't need to see it. 

The other issue I had was with the gathered trim on it. I had to gather somewhere around a mile of satin, from it into a Mobius strip  and then attach it to the outside of the cape. The end result was a disordered mess of gathering, with very little of the trim having the requisite "gather".  

Sigh. I would rather pleat nine and three-quarters feet of ribbon. 

Here's the back, hood up. I like the back. 

Felicity's Christmas Dress

It took me a week, but it's done! The satin was a bitch to sew, so I took my time so I wouldn't screw it up too bad. Overall, it was easier than the raincoat I finished last week, so that was a relief. I love the way it turned out, though I used to wide of lace for the arms. 

Like the raincoat, this was one of the American Girl patterns that was sold through Pleasant Company before being acquired by Mattel. In this case the pattern was Felicity's. 

I made a few modifications from the pattern: 
  • I left off the decorative cuff. I had it made and gathered, but I didn't like how it looked sewed on to the sleeve. I replaced it with some trim that I had from another project. 
  • I only made one stomacher. I didn't make the alternate with ribbon because I didn't have white ribbon, only cream. I know it's something that only I would notice, but I WOULD NOTICE. 
Oh, and pleating nine and three-quarters yard of ribbon? Painful. Literally. There must have been a hundred pins in that length of ribbon. 

Dark Shadows 1991: 1.3

Okay, a few days late, but better late than never. Continuing the Revival series with episode 3: 
Dark Shadows 1991, Episode 1.3

“My name is Victoria Winters. Night has fallen on the Old House, a night of promise and forboding. For a being older than time, a tortured creature, may soon free himself of his torment, if only he can conquer the evil that drives him.”

Julia arrives at the Old House. Barnabas says she was late, and she apologizes. She had to wait until the other were asleep. She asks if he can fight it. If he couldn’t, he replies, you wouldn’t be alive to ask that question. She warns him about the serum and its toxicity. Nothing could be worse than this, he said. She injects him with the serum. He feels its heat in his veins, his blood boiling. He passes out from the pain. When he gains consciousness, he says the pain is gone.

Julia is back at her office and taking notes on her experiment. Dawn. Julia looks at a vial of blood that begins boiling. The vial bursts. She touches the blood with a gloved hand.

Night. Vikki and Barnabas stand at Widow’s Cliff. He tells her the story of the Widows who would wait for their husbands’ ships to come in, many of them throwing themselves off the cliff to join them. Vikki asks if this is where Josette died. Yes. He holds her close.

David hears a door open at Collinwood. He asks whose in the room. Carolyn comes down the hallway. He asks what’s wrong with her, asks her to say something. She’s a vampire! David runs up the stairs to his room, where Daphne is waiting for him. He runs to Vicki’s room—she, too, is a vampire. He screams. Vicki runs into his bedroom and wakes him from his dream. He tells her about his dream.

In the morning, David goes outside. He ends up outside the family cemetery and walks up to the mausoleum. He goes inside. Sarah comes up behind him. She is a young girl in old-fashioned dress. She tells him not to worry about Daphne, she is gone for good. “Daphne is ashes, Daphne is dust.” There is someone who needs his help, but Sarah can’t tell him anything but that it’s someone he knows, someone he’s close to. She leads him back upstairs and disappears.

Julia continues her experiment with exploding blood. The blood has become more resistant to daylight each day. Two months have passed since they began the experiment, and Barnabas’ desire to feed lessens each day. She injects Barnabas with the serum, but they no longer cause him the pain they once did. She thinks it’s time for an experiment. Willie pulls a cloth of a mirror. Barnabas looks in the mirror. He sees his reflection. Barnabas goes to Josette’s room and tells her soon they will be together again.

Joe sits outside on the verandah. He looks rough. Carolyn brings him some lunch. He tells her he needs to get out of there, too many memories everywhere he looked.

Michael cooked dinner for Julia. He asks about her work. She says it’s going well. He asks her what’s left to do now that Daphne’s gone. She says she’s still taking care of Joe, but Michael doesn’t buy it. He knows she still believes it’s a vampire and is waiting for it to strike again. It didn’t just vanish into thin air, and the sheriff has three unsolved murders. The likely suspect is Barnabas Collins. He fits all the prerequisites: new to town and doesn’t appear at night.

At the Old House, Barnabas is reading poetry to Vicki in the dead girl’s room. The poem was written by his “namesake” for Josette. They kiss. A lot. Barnabas moves his way down her neck and the need to feed overcomes him. He looks at her pale, silky neck… and pushes away. She asks him what’s wrong, if he’s all right. He asks her to leave.

Julia comes to Barnabas. “It’s now Julia, we can’t wait any longer. I’m losing control.” He tells her about the desire to feed. Julia says it’s a risk to up the dosage. Barnabas tells her it’s now or never. He wants to see morning. She injects him twice.

Dawn. Barnabas is still up, and Julia sets a vial of blood by the window. Willie and Julia watch as the sun rises. Barnabas feels “stinging points of heat” on his skin, his blood warming. He sees the sun for the first time in two hundred years. The blood in the vial begins to boil. Julia tells Willie to pull the drapes. Barnabas tells him no. He collapses on the floor, and Willie pulls the drapes. There is a knock on the front door. Julia and Willie put Barnabas to bed. Willie answers the door to Roger, Michael, and the sheriff. He says that Barnabas is still asleep. The men are suspicious, wanting to see him before he leaves for Boston, Portland, or wherever.

Julia arrives at the door. Michael asks what she’s doing there, and Julia says that Barnabas is very ill. Michael asks if he has the plague. The sheriff says he needs to speak to Barnabas about Daphne and the others this morning. In the daylight. The sheriff pulls out a search warrant. Barnabas, looking ill, pulls himself down the stairs. They see that he is ill. Roger apologizes for the intrusion, but Michael is still suspicious. He says Barnabas is looking very pale. Barnabas walks down the stairs into a patch of sunlight. Julia makes them leave and Barnabas returns to bed. The gentlemen leave. Michael is still suspicious and makes Julia aware of that fact. Michael is still insistent about his theory, but the sheriff and Roger dismiss it.

Willie watches over Barnabas. There is another knock at the door. Willie runs to open it and sees Mrs. Johnson. He’s actually glad to see her, which surprises her. He lets her in, and Aunt Sarah is amazed by how much they’ve fixed the Old House. She brought him a nut loaf (nut loaf for a nut), which he proceeds to eat. Willie seems nervous, and she asks him what’s wrong. He brushes off her concern and rushes her out of the house.

Michael Woodard shows up at Collinwood. He accepts responsibility for the incident that happened that morning. He asks after Julia, who is by the lily pond, reading. Michael goes off to search for her, but ends up in Julia’s office. He opens the refrigerator and finds the vials of blood. He pulls the case out and holds it up to the sunlight—it bursts in his hand. He also finds in her desk her journal. He takes pictures of them with a min-camera. He leaves Collinwood and tells Elizabeth on the way out that he found her.

Julia returns inside. Elizabeth stops her and mentions Michael’s visit to apologize. Julia had no idea about his visit. Julia rushes upstairs where she finds the broken vial on the floor and the desk drawer ajar.

Julia tells Barnabas about Michael finding her journal. Barnabas leaves. There is business to attend to. They argue; Julia doesn’t want anything to happen to Michael. Barnabas insists Willie escort her back to Collinwood. At Michael’s house, the electricity and telephone go out due to the storm. He hears an upstairs window breaking and attempts to close the shutters. He hears more noises and goes to investigate. A hand reaches out of the darkness and grabs his throat. Barnabas warns Woodard that he has made a serious mistake and now he is a part of Barnabas's universe.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

WTH: I Love the New Millennium Already?

I was excited when VH1 began their "I Love..." series with the 1980s. I was a little tot in the 80s, so I was feeling nostalgic, and why not? I was even on board with "I Love the 80s Strikes Back" and even "I Love the 80s 3-D" even though I didn't have the 3-D glasses. Then I realized that only backgrounds were 3-D, so it didn't really matter. 

Even though I spent only six months in the 1970s, I was in for "I Love the 70s" and "I Love the 70s Volume II." But I felt that the "I Love the 90s" series were too soon. We barely had five years perspective when those series began, and a lot of it was painful. I hadn't fully purged the 1990s out of my life and worse than that, it brought back horrible memories of middle school. Who wants to remember those grades? And here I was, for the years of 1991-1993, reliving them in all their glory. And there was stuff I didn't even remember and swore they made up. 

So I have reservations about "I Love the New Millennium", mostly because we're still living in them. There's no perspective there, and there's only seven years they can work with. What, they couldn't wait another five years? Or go back to the 1960s? Maybe they couldn't find enough D-List panelists to use. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Molly's Rain Gear

About a year ago, I decided to unearth my American Girl Doll patterns and make Molly's raincoat. Remember those patterns? Back before Mattel bought Pleasant Company, PC actually made patterns that you could use to make your own doll clothes, patterned after the dresses made from the books. The big problem with the patterns is that the directions are horrible. Like English translated into Romanian translated into Russian translated in Farsi and back to English again bad. 

The other reason finishing this project took so long is the stupid vinyl I used. Oh, it's horrible. Even with using tissue paper to help the feed it was horrible. And like most patterns, I made some modifications. I couldn't do all of the top-stitching on the hat because it's so small. And I didn't add the grommets because my pliers were too short. And it's vinyl. 

Otherwise, I think it came out very well. Next time I'll use some other type of material, though. 

And from the back: 

Dark Shadows 1991: 1.2

Dark Shadows 1991, Episode 1.2

“My name is Victoria Winters. I am a stranger in the great house at Collinwood, but there are other strangers here, too. A man with riveting eyes, new to the land but not to its past. The [?] has also sent a third, uninvited guest, one who’s swept through the once quiet village and come to Widow’s Hill, where they say cries of sorrow have been heard for centuries. Tonight, they will be heard again, for the third visitor is Death. “

Joe watches as Dr. Hoffman gives Daphne her injection. The professor arrives and asks her about her accident. She remembers nothing, but says it may have something to do with the needles. The professor asks Daphne to wear a cross necklace. Dr. Hoffman looks alarmed. Daphne agrees to wear it. Hoffman asks Michael to talk to her alone. Daphne asks Joe to promise her they will always be together. He promises, then kisses her.

Julia questions Michael about the necklace, and he tells her it was something he felt he needed to do. He asks her about Daphne’s “sleepwalking”, but Julia says there is nothing to say, that Daphne just collapsed. She believes that something frightened Daphne and asks Michael if he thinks whatever did this to her will come back. Michael believes he doesn’t have a choice but to return. He leaves Collinwood.

The deputy wakes Joe up to take his turn watching over Daphne. Joe settles down to read a book. Daphne stirs in her sleep. Outside, a dog howls. Barnabas waits outside, needing to drink blood. Inside, Joe becomes sleepy and cannot stay awake. He falls asleep, and Daphne wakes up. She pulls the cross from around her neck then leaves the room through the conveniently opened window. She walks outside and meets Barnabas, who is calling to her. She walks to him, tears off her bandage, and they kiss before Barnabas feeds off her.

In the morning, Joe wakes up to find Daphne missing from her room. He wakes the deputy, and they run off to find her. They search the grounds and find Daphne’s body, the blood drained from her.

The rain pours down at Daphne’s funeral. Her coffin is carried into the family crypt.

Julia analyzes Daphne’s blood. She tells the professor that she had been trying a vaccine on Daphne, something she had been able to isolate from the abnormal cell she found on the other victims. She says it had been working. The professor asks her if she believes in the existence of vampires. He tells her the evidence that points to a vampire but that he didn’t mention it to the police. If he is right, Julia says that the “creature” could possibly be cured. “Vampirism isn’t a disease, Julia,” the professor says, “vampires are the living dead.” He says his proof will be forthcoming very soon.

David is outside playing ball. “If I catch this one, Daphne isn’t dead,” he chants each time he throws the ball against the stairs. He stops when he notices it is getting late and he needed to get back. Fog pours in around the property. He hears his name being called. “Who is it? Who’s calling me?” he asks. Daphne’s voice continues to call him, and she walks out of the fog. He tells her he knew she wasn’t dead. She tells him not to be afraid, that she wouldn’t hurt him, but he is frightened when she shows her teeth.

The rest of the family is inside eating dinner when David runs in. “I saw her! I saw her!” Roger asks him what he’s talking about, and David says he saw Daphne. Roger tells him this is not time for one of his pranks. The professor asks where he saw her, and Joe objects. The professor keeps asking his questions, and Joe becomes upset, saying David couldn’t have seen Daphne. He tries to tell David it’s just his imagination, then leaves to get air. The professor tells him to be careful. “Of what, ghosts?” Vicki takes David up to his room. Michael suggests they open Daphne’s grave. Elizabeth refuses, and Julia asks that she listen to what Michael has to say. Michael says that Daphne is a vampire. Roger is skeptical, as is the rest of the family.

Joe does not heed the professor’s warning and goes to the tomb. He walks down the steps. Daphne appears behind him, calling his name. She tells him not to be afraid, that they will be together forever. She bites him, drinking his blood.

Julia tends to Joe’s wounds at Collinwood. They found him wandering around the cemetery that morning, barely conscious. Roger says they opened Daphne’s coffin. Michael informs them that Sheriff Patterson has instituted a curfew with no one allowed out after dawn.

Maggie Evans is reading tarot cards at the Blue Whale. She tells Sam that someone else is going to die. Roger walks in, and Maggie asks him about Joe. He tells Maggie that Carolyn would like to see her at Collinwood, and Roger would be more than happy to give her a ride there and home. She asks Roger what Carolyn wants, and he says that it’s not what Carolyn wants, but what he wants. They go off to their secret love nest. After making love, they talk about the strange things going on in town. Maggie tells him she thinks it’s a vampire and that it’s only the beginning.

Barnabas arrives at Collinwood that night. Mrs. Johnson asks if Willie is okay. Barnabas meets with Elizabeth and Roger in the Drawing Room. He says he was in Boston for business and gives his sentiments for the death of Daphne. He asks what the sheriff’s deputies are on the estate. Roger says that no one knows where Daphne is but that she will find Joe. Barnabas says he finds this unbelievable and asks for Julia’s explanation. Nothing she’d submit to medical journals for publication, she says. He asks about Vikki, who is with David. Julia notices that Barnabas has no reflection in the mirror—all she sees is Elizabeth sitting by herself on the couch, Barnabas’ spot vacant. Barnabas leaves a few moments later.

A sheriff’s patrol car rides around Collinwood. Doctor Hoffman checks Joe’s vital signs. She tells Carolyn to get some rest. A deputy is left behind. Vicki is in David’s room, a notebook on her lap. She keeps writing the name “Josette”. Roger comes in, grateful that David is asleep. She says that David is very frightened but probably doesn’t understand.

The deputy looks out the window of Joe’s room. Joe is still. The deputy turns away and Joe’s eyes open. He pulls the bandage off his arm and sneaks up behind the deputy. Joe sneaks past Roger, the sheriff, and the professor. He makes it outside, saying Daphne’s name. She is above the carriage house (garage?), beckoning to him. He pulls the bandage off his neck and walks towards her. They kiss and Daphne begins to feed off him again.

Patrol cars pull up in front of the carriage house. A deputy sneaks upstairs, a giant cross in his hand. Joe lays on the floor, Daphne laying on top of him. She knocks a can over, and the deputy comes back up the stairs. She comes after him. She advances, but the presence of the cross pushes her back. She runs, but each of the cops holds a cross in front of her. Joe attempts to protect her. More cops arrive, along with the professor carrying a case. Joe is pulled away from Daphne, who is held onto the ground as Michael drives a wooden stake into her heart.

Julia is in her office at Collinwood and writes in her journal. She decides to confront Barnabas at the Old House. The sun goes down. Julia walks over to the Old House. Willie stops as she sneaks in. She asks where Barnabas is. Willie says he’s not there, but Julie thinks that he’ll be here soon because the sun will set soon and that’s when he comes to life. Willie pleads ignorance. She asks where a door leads to, and Willie says nowhere. He attempts to stop her from going down to the basement. She finds the room where the coffin is. She opens the lid, holds a cross out, and Barnabas covers his face. Barnabas tells her to put it away and promises not to hurt her. She wants his word. He gives it to her, and she puts the cross away.

Barnabas tells Dr. Hoffman she is very brave. She says she would’ve have come if she felt she couldn’t trust his word—or help him. “Help me?” he asks. She offers him a normal life, and Barnabas laughs. She tells him what she discovered about his cell and her theory. He says his curse is beyond the realm of science. He tells her he is repulsed by what he has become, and he would give anything to be normal again. She asks him for the chance to help her. “All right, doctor. When shall we begin?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Doll Outfit

This weekend I made the dress that my Molly doll is currently wearing. The pattern for the dress is McCall's Crafts 2609 , Gotz "Time to Dream", view B.  Overall, the pattern was very easy to execute, though I did make modifications to the order of the pattern. 

  • I sewed the ruffle to the skirt before sewing the bodice on. 
  • I did not hand-sew the cuffs to the sleeve, as that required more patience than I have. 
  • I closed the dress and pinafore with velcro. 
The dress should have more volume, but the doll is not wearing a petticoat underneath it. The set does include a petticoat pattern with it, though it is not shown on the package. (It is shown in the link, though.) The bodice also seems to be too large for the American Girl dolls, but perhaps the addition of the petticoat and undershirt would bulk up  the torso and make for a better fit. 

The pattern was made for the Gotz dolls, but seems to fit 18 inch dolls. 

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Diana Palmer's Lawman

Note to self: Alison's book recommendation score is 0-1. 

First off, I want to say that I hate the term "cheesy romance novel." I have read a lot of romance novels that had no cheese in them whatsoever. It's a preconceived notion uttered by those who have never read a romance novel before or have only read a few pretty bad ones. 

It's like saying all literary fiction is good. It's not. Sure, Oprah has a pretty good track record when it comes to picking out great works of literary fiction, but for every Oprah hit, there's a Da Vinci Code miss. And no, I don't want to here about how riveting that book was, because it wasn't for me. That book is more under the lines of popular fiction. 

But I digress. The book at hand is Diana Palmer's The Lawman, a contemporary romance set in small-town Texas. The two main characters are Garon Grier (with only the name "Colby" sounding more ridiculous, with my apologies going out to all Colbys.) and Grace Carver. Garon works for the FBI, and Grace is a small-town girl with a shadowy past. The case he is currently working on involves Grace, though he doesn't realize that at first. 

The main characters are, unfortunately, the "typical" romance novel stereotypes: he's the alpha-male lawman, and she's the meek, quiet dishrag. While I had no doubt of Grace's love for Garon by the end of the book, I was not so sure of his. Garon was the typical FBI agent, nearly emotionless and preoccupied with work. I understand part of Grace's dishrag persona and distrust of men was due to her past, but by the time she was comfortable enough with Garon, she should've shown some spunk! Apart from that, she seemed perfect: a card-carrying member of MENSA, she sewed and had business skills, she cooked, she was thrifty, and she could plant roses. What man wouldn't want her? I'm more confused as to why she would want Garon. Sure, he's good-looking, but he's an absolute brute to her when they've broken up, accusing her of stalking him in a town of 2000: 
His dark eyes seemed to explode in rage. "Good God, not again!" he raged. "Do you have radar? Every damned place I go, you turn up! How did you know I was coming here? Do you have someone spying on me, to make sure you don't waste an opportunity to ruin my day?" he demanded. 

There were also continuity issues in the book. At one point Garon is talking to a doctor, and six pages later, he is introduced to that doctor as if they had never met. If this was overlooked by the author, then the copy editor should have picked up on it. Then there was the constant head-hopping, to the point where I was unsure whose head I was in, not to mention the incredible amounts of info-dump.  

Overall, a disappointing read. Perhaps one of Palmer's earlier books are better, but this one is a solid D+. 

lolcat Fun

more cat pictures

Confession Time:  I have never seen Office Space

I know that I should, because I have a feeling that I would totally get it. I don't work in an office atmosphere, but I do work at a high school, which means my things go missing all the time. Pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, jackets, staplers, erasers, dry erase markers, test keys, discs... If it's in my classroom, it has probably been stolen at one time or another. 

Combine Office Space with lolcats and the above picture is the result. I died of laugher.