Saturday, May 31, 2014

Maleficent

stock photo from IMDB

I've rambled on for years about my artist past and how the Disney movie Sleeping Beauty and Marc Davis (one of Walt's Nine Old Men, and, in my opinion, the single greatest artist of his day) has been the greatest influences of my entire life. I've been both anticipating and dreading Maleficent ever since the movie was announced. Last night was it's judgement day (so to speak)!

Throughout the entire movie, I found myself as fascinated with the backgrounds and characters as I did with the original animation. It was an esthetically beautiful movie. In places, it was as true to the original storyline, even right down to the dialogue (especially most of the Christening scene) and this made me extremely happy! I'm not a fan of Angelina Jolie, but I would find myself not even noticing that it was her and felt a bit like I was watching Eleanor Audley. That was impressive in its own right. And the music was just as spellbinding as the Tchaikovsky ballet used in the original (Lana Del Rey's version of Once Upon A Dream has given me a new favorite Disney song).

But at the same time, there were little things that drove me nuts, such as the renaming of characters like Diablo to Diaval, Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather to whatever their names were, etc. And the character turnarounds of the three fairies being almost selfish and hateful and King Stephan being the evil protagonist, felt just wrong. Some of the characters in the Moor world were a bit too Henson/Croftish in their design as well. Granted, it would be hard to make believable nether-folk (for lack of a better term), but did they have to be so "animated looking" when they tried so hard not to force that animated look on the humans?

I had major issues with Elle Fanning as Aurora. She just wasn't pretty enough and was a bit too "child-like" in her facial expressions and actions where Mary Costa/Helene Stanley were both elegant, graceful, and mature in their Aurora portrayals (since the both served as models even though Mary Costa was the voice). Aurora is MY princess just as Maleficent is MY villain (and Phillip is MY prince). I am very protective of them as characters and Aurora is where this movie fails while Maleficent is where it succeeds. Even when the Disney Store dolls for the movie came out, I found myself not buying the Aurora doll because she was just NOT Aurora. I don't think I've ever not bought the matching set of Aurora/Maleficent figurines in any form, be it ceramic or plastic, since I've been collecting them.

I also had more than an obvious awareness of how King Stephan and his realm were all Scottish (all but for the Queen and Aurora) and the Moor people were all English (even though Diaval was Irish). I don't know if this was deliberate or just actor choices, but it was noticeable and offensive to my Scottish blood. Why did all the baddies have to be Scottish?

But my biggest complaint with the movie was their choice of minimizing the "true love" aspect of Aurora and Phillip's relationship. I know that there is this whole backlash against the "Prince Charming" effect on little girls and how it skews their view of romance and love, but I think it's misdirected. It's the boys that need to change their behaviors, not necessarily the girls...teach girls to be independent Cinderellas, but also teach boys to be Prince Charmings. Men-themed movies today tend to make them anything BUT chivalrous...they blow stuff up, screw every woman in sight, and they still end up being the hero and women are just supposed to accept what they can get or do without, whereas women-themed movies are all about your cheating man that makes you an independent spirit. Do we really want to teach kids THAT? Chivalrous men do exist in the world today and it doesn't mean they aren't unrealistic goal to desire, just that I can do without if I never find "the one" (I tried settling once and I'll never do it again). But I have watched Disney movies my entire life and I am a product of the "Prince Charming" generation, so maybe I do have a skewed view of men and love. Despite that, I still feel that the idea that they give you an unrealistic expectation of love is just as stupid as the idea that video games or horror movies makes killer kids. Disney movies have always taught us that you must work for what you want, that good conquers evil, and love, in any form, rules above all (even if in an overly dramatic, possibly unrealistic fashion). Is that such a horrible lesson to teach?

I do have to backtrack a bit, because, although Maleficent didn't focus on the "true love" aspect as the savior for Aurora, at least they didn't wipe it out completely. And Phillip was as much a "Prince Charming" in Maleficent as he was in Sleeping Beauty (even if his screen time was limited). His chivalrous actions didn't make him the savior of the girl, but at least it made him worthy of her and he got her in the end. It's a start (even if Maleficent's Aurora was a bumbling, naive, very un-independent maiden who really didn't deserve him, the complete opposite of Sleeping Beauty's Aurora).

I pretty much know, the moment I walk out of a movie, how I felt about it. This movie, however, was initially a stumper. After mulling it over for quite a while, I pretty much decided that, as long as I looked at Maleficent as a separate entity, and not try to compare it to Sleeping Beauty, it was probably the best movie I've seen in years! Only when I started to compare the two did I run into issues and started to critique it a bit too harshly, after all, they are dinking with the single biggest Disney influence in my entire life!

The moment I got home, the first thing I did was put on Sleeping Beauty, expecting to find myself even more upset with Maleficent, but it had the opposite effect. I realized that the casting of King Stephan, which I was initially unimpressed by (and was laughed at by the kids in the audience), was a quite deliberate choice. I had a mental image of the animated King Stephan, which conflicted with the live action version, but upon rewatching it, realized that my mental picture couldn't have been more wrong. How they found an actor that resembled a 60 year old animated character was quite a feat!

I'm really looking forward to it's Blu-Ray release so that I can watch it at home as well as watch them back to back. I'm also curious to see the special features and their influences in the original source material. This is also the Diamond year release of Sleeping Beauty (and, I'd bet they come out at the same time). If you own Sleeping Beauty (especially the 50th Anniversary version), watch the special features and then go and see Maleficent. I might have enjoyed the movie better in the moment than as an afterward had I done so.

But overall, it was an amazing beautiful, haunting, lyrical expansion of the Sleeping Beauty we all know and love, and, if you can get over the little details that ate at me (like renaming and character personality 360's), then you will probably love it! Even my die-hard Disney purist heart has to admit that I absolutely loved this movie (even if my beloved Phillip took a backseat)!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge



1. What news story are you following right now?
The only news stories I really follow (besides the tech/HIPAA stuff I have to for work) is Disney news stories and today is the opening day to the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster in New Fantasyland! Exciting stuff!

2. What's the last thing you wanted but didn't get?
I always want and rarely get...but I'd have to say I've been dying for a hamburger, but diet cheat day isn't until tomorrow afternoon.

3. May 28th is National Hamburger Day...when did you last have a hamburger? Other than your own kitchen or BBQ grill, where is your favorite place to go for a hamburger? And for all you non-meat eaters out there...when you're invited to a cookout what is the one side dish you hope is on the menu? HA! I didn't even read this one before posting the last one! The ultimate favorite hamburger place is Red Robin, but we don't have one of those here (closest one is in Memphis). Sonic is the best I can do and I had one last week (on cheat day).

4. How have your priorities changed over time?
I've come to realize that it is no longer important for me to appear "normal" to the world. I am what I am in all my Asperger glory, and, if you don't like it, you can just go away. I don't need anyone else's approval or disapproval of my behavior or actions. That's huge considering my young life was spent trying to make everyone else feel comfortable around my weirdness (because, no matter how hard I try, I can't hide it).

5. What's a favorite memory with your grandparents? I don't have many, but I can remember when my Dad's parents would come pick me up for a visit (because it "hurt" my Dad too much to see me, yeah, I don't get it either) and Nannie would bring homemade pumpkin bread (which I typically hate, but I loved hers) and Papa and I would put puzzles together for hours. They had a whole collection of Dr. Seuss books and I'd read them over and over. Those were good times. Then I'd have to go back home again and be miserable. Papa died when I was 10 and Nannie and I were on the outs when she died a few years ago.

6. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being fantastic!), how good are you at multitasking? Share an example.
I can get the work done in multi-form, but there is a lot of complaining along the way. Can't think of an example. I like to be 100% focused on one thing at a time, then move on to the next. If I get interrupted in that process, I get grumpy (to say the least). My co-workers disagree and say that I'm a master at multitasking, but it's all smoke and mirrors I think.

7. How would you summarize your highs and lows for the month of May? It's been pretty steady so far, but there are still a couple of days left for the bottom to fall out! Let's not jinx it, shall we? High would be finishing December's Disney pictures and DVD, lows would be an abnormally large number of headaches this month.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I think I'm losing my stitching mojo. I tried to stitch last night, but I have Disney pictures on the brain. I haven't wanted to touch those stupid pictures for months, and now, they are all I want to do...I keep thinking about redoing them all (and there are 41,000 edited photos of Disney trips on my computer now - if I go back to the originals and re-edit, there could be more. I think it's just because my post-Disney depression has died off since I'm now planning a trip!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Mad World - Chapter 4


So, we should be back on track this week with Chapter 4 (even if the holiday threw my schedule off a bit). Chapter 4 deals with my #4 all-time favorite band, New Order.
THEIR CHOICE: BLUE MONDAY

While this is probably quintessentially known as the "ultimate" New Order song, I've never really cared for it. It was originally released in 1983, but was re-released in '88 when it became popular (which, incidentally, was also the year I graduated high school). During 1983, my tastes were more "New Romantic" (which New Order never was), and, in 1988, my tastes were much much darker. New Order aren't typically known as a "dark" band, but their lyrics can be quite so, even if the beat isn't.

My choice was more along the darker aspects of New Order. It was never released as a single (which is why there isn't a video and I had to go with an audio only option). Granted, it was still made up of that dance-level techno, but the lyrics were the level of dark I liked and hit a bit too close to home (as any influential song should). My Aspergers was full-blown by the late 80's and my OCD was completely out of control (and both were still undiagnosed at that point). I was trying so hard to "fit in" and be "normal" even though every fiber in my being didn't want to. But despite wanting to be completely isolated and alone (even though I didn't want to be lonely...there is a difference), everyone was screaming at me (not literally, but definitely figuratively) that I MUST be part of society. It's a strange dichotomy to want to be alone yet hating being alone. This song epitomizes that.
MY CHOICE: SUBCULTURE


But, True Faith is the song that has become my New Order mantra song as the years have gone by. "When I was a very small boy, very small boys talked to me, now that we've grown up together, they're afraid of what they see"...story of my life (well, not the boy part obviously). As children, there were no popular kids or nerds or weirdos or geeks, we were all just kids. Yes, I was still weird then and my issues were just starting to manifest, but it didn't matter to the other little kids. As we got older, it mattered...a lot, especially in those pesky teen years. Even today, it still matters to others, I've just learned not to obsess about how others see me and it's made my life so much better (although I still have bad moments). But this song was the one that really made New Order massively popular (a curse that ruined all the greats). The video was played all the time on MTV and I can remember the kids at school finally starting to dip their toes into my musical pond at this point (much to my chagrin).
ALL-TIME FAVORITE: TRUE FAITH


New Order have been off and on for years. I've kept up with them all, at least all of the ones with Bernard Sumpter involved. He went off and did a "super-group" with Johnny Marr from the Smiths and with a little help from Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe from the Pet Shop Boys (called, aptly enough, Electronic), and, to me, it was more of a New Order sound than the later New Order albums (even though the Electronic albums (yes, there was more than one) were mostly done in the late 80's, early 90's). So, as this Chapter's bonus (and since it didn't make the book and should be included)...
BONUS: ELECTRONIC - GETTING AWAY WITH IT

Friday, May 23, 2014

Needle Club - Week 12

Another week down and some progress. For most of this Needle Club, I was by myself, so that awful confetti wasn't so bad because I wasn't trying to stitch and talk (since, apparently, I'm utter crap at doing both at the same time):


On the home stitch front...I was so looking forward to finishing the Disney picture DVD so I could get back to stitching on Pea, but, as I was actually creating the DVD's, I realized that I never made one for my October trip. Plus, since I now know how to use Lightroom (kind of) properly, I'm thinking I want to redo the pics from October before I do a DVD. Great...me and my stupid projects! By the time I get these done, this year's trip will be over with and the whole process will start again. Hopefully though, I can get Pea done before then because Alice and the Bouguereau's is nipping at Pea's heels as well as my subconscious. I REALLY want to start it!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge



I almost completely forgot! It's been a crazy day.

1. Under what circumstances do you do your best thinking?
When I'm left alone.

2. Are you a risk taker? What's one big risk you've taken?
No and I don't unless forced. I'd probably say the biggest risk was going to Disney World alone for the first time.

3. Some of the most common phobias according to the National Institute for Mental Health are-fear of spiders (arachnaphobia), snakes (ophidiophobia), heights (acrophobia), fear of spaces from which escape is difficult (agoraphobia), fear of thunder and lightening (astrophobia), fear of dogs (cynophobia), injections (trypanophobia), social situations, flying (pteromerhanophobia) and fear of germs and dirt (mysophobia). True phobias affect only about 10% of adults, but of those listed which would you rate as your greatest fear?
I have Social Anxiety Disorder, OCD, and Aspergers...I am a walking poster child for social phobia. But I'm also completely terrified of spiders and bugs (especially ladybugs, but have thousands fall on your head and see how you feel about them), trees and forests, yellow candy, airport security, Subway restaurants (but there is a personal reason for that), and numerous other silly things.

4. Are you settled or do you feel the need to move somewhere new?
I've love to move to Florida, but see #3 above...it keeps me locked into my same situation thus making it impossible for me to move.

5. What is something you find annoying when dining in a restaurant?
Being bugged too much or too little by waitstaff, people not controlling their children who are running wild in the restaurant, cold food.

6. Daffodil yellow, sunset orange, spring green, or sky blue...your favorite color this time of year?
None of the above...purple, same as every other time of year.

7. If you were going to take a holiday all by yourself, where would you go?
Disney World...silly question! I can go to Disney World by myself, but I can't Wal-Mart..go figure!

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I'm almost finished with our Disney picture DVD! It's taking four discs for each set (and there are four sets) and I've had to throw away 22 discs that failed. By the time I get finished, I will have completely depleted my blank DVD cache.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Mad World - Chapter 2 Redux


If you've been keeping up with me, you've noticed that I've been doing a blog series on the book Mad World by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein from my point of view. Well, I guess I was so excited last week to do Duran Duran, that I jumped the gun a little bit. Duran were actually Chapter 3 and Gary Numan was Chapter 2. Whoopsie! So, since I'm not a big Gary Numan fan, this one will be short.

THEIR CHOICE: CARS


I can't disagree with this choice for a very simple reason. Here in the states, Gary Numan was a one hit wonder and Cars was it. Back in my day, to hear other music from artists, you had to buy the singles or the vinyl or the newly created cassette tape. Sometimes they tested a video on MTV, but if it didn't show well, they never played it again. If they ever did play any other Gary Numan song, I never saw it. I was coming from music with broody, romantic, and deep lyrics (yes, all you naysayers, Duran Duran can be that way) and a song about Cars just wasn't what a young pre-teen girl wanted to hear, so Gary's album didn't make it into my collection. Besides, despite my penchant for men in makeup, Gary Numan kind of creeped me out a bit...Simon Le Bon he is not.

MY CHOICE: I CONCUR!

Next week we will be back on the good side with Chapter 4 - New Order (since Duran were technically Chapter 3) and, coincidentally my fourth favorite band of the New Wave era (can you guess the other two?).

Monday, May 19, 2014

May IHSW

Why is it that the Hermit and Stitch Weekends are the fastest passing weekends ever? I managed to complete my goal of finishing row one of Lilac, but I barely got started on row 2. I can't believe I'm actually going to say this, but my heart wanted to be working on Disney pics and not stitching! But I stuck to my guns and stitched (all be it rather restlessly) all weekend.

Here is where I started:
ail012

Here's row 1 finished:
ail015

And here is where I made it to last night:
ail016

It's a pain enough stitching white on a white background, but three different colors of white was almost too much. I ended up using both my magnifying light and magnifying glasses just to make sure I didn't miss any holes. As if that didn't slow me down enough, the amount of confetti, especially on the left side of her hair, kind of shocked me, especially for a quick stitch. All this has me severely dreading the next row considering she has even more white in the hair plus there are the wings to think about...more white, more confetti. Plus, I've already frogged so much on this project because, apparently, I can't stitch and talk at the same time during Needle Club, and that has been on blocks of the same color. God help me when I get to a confetti area at work! I may end up breaking down and learning how to park just to make sure I don't keep goofing up.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Needle Club - Week 11

We moved Needle Club to Thursdays this week, which is why I have a late post. One of our tiny group of stitchers has moved on to bigger and better things (yes, my jealous little lip sneer is showing as I type this). We had Needle Club on Wednesday's because she had Belly Dancing in Memphis on Thursdays. But I really hope she has a wonderful life in her new city and state! Miss you already Kat!

I debated on not posting my Needle Club progress at all since this weekend is also the Hermit And Stitch Weekend and Lilac's going home with me for that. I really need to get her finished sooner than expected because we have a colleague that just got married and we have decided to do her a project during Needle Club instead of our own projects. We've decided on a stitch (or I did) and the lettering is in the process of being designed (by me). We just need to find a way for the crochet/knitting person to contribute (and, of course, I get final approval). We can't do a pillow since the recipient has big dogs, so coming up with a wall-mounted project with knitting/crocheting or even general sewing involved is proving difficult. If anyone has any ideas, I'm open to hear them!!

I do have issues with "sharing" the cross stitch part (since there is another stitcher), but I've circumvented that a little by having her do the lettering and I've already warned her that I will take it away from her and do it myself if I don't like her work. Rude, yes, but honest. She knows she's not a "great" stitcher and we all want this project to turn out good for little Jess. And they all know what a control freak/monster I can be, so it's usually better to just placate me than to fight back. I can be quite scary sometimes. No one likes to argue with someone with mental issues!

Here is my part of the wedding project (which really worked out well since, although it didn't rain during her wedding, it did rain most of the day and they really do look a lot like the figures):
It's called Rainy Wedding (shock) and was designed by Paula Howard Patterns on Etsy.

I'm still working on the lettering design (I wanted to incorporate her actual invitation font), but I did find a piece of linen that exactly matches the teal in the stitch design (and was one of her wedding colors), which should work out nicely as a background for the lettering (and that way, we can technically have two separate projects for the other stitcher and me to work on at the same...I'm NOT going to share the same space and there is NO way in Hades I'm letting her stitch letters on top of my finished work! If she screws it up, the whole thing would have to be scrapped). Deciding whether to do full letters or just back-stitched letters has been the complication. I want it to look good, but also be easy enough that the other stitcher would be able to do a good job on it.

Back to Lilac, here is this week's Needle Club progress (and this will act as a before IHSW pic as well):
ail012


I fully intend on finishing the row this weekend (even though I am dying to finish those damned Disney Pic DVD's...I'm SOOO close!). Happy IHSW Hermitters and see you on the other side!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge



I almost completely forgot about the Hodgepodge today. It's been a very stressful day and my mind has been elsewhere, but better late than never!

1. It's still May, right? When were you last in the middle of something that might be described as mayhem? Today, trying to book a rushed Disney trip.

2. When did you last feel dismayed? Today, trying to book a rushed Disney trip without any money.

3. What's a food combination you like, but other people may find strange? Cookie dough and whipped buttercream icing...it's all I have been craving since I started this diet (and have indulged in more than once).

4. "It is never too late to be what you might have been." Do you think that's true? Why or why not? Yes and no. Everything happens for a reason and if you might have been something else, something will eventually happen to push you in that direction. If not, maybe you were never meant to go that route.

5. US News and World Report listed the best historic destinations in the US as follows-Washington D.C, Philadelphia PA, Williamsburg VA, Charleston SC, Boston MA, Richmnd VA, Savannah, GA, Santa Fe NM, Yellowstone, San Antonio TX, San Francisco CA, New Orleans LA, and Charlottesville VA.

Of those listed how many have you seen in person? Which two sites on the list would you most like to see in person?

Been to DC, Philly, Williamsburg, Charleston, Boston, Richmond, Savannah, San Antonio, New Orleans, and Charleston. I would love to go to Yellowstone, but Cali has never had any appeal for me (except for one day going to Disneyland, but that's not in San Fran). Most of those cities have serious "ghost vibe" issues and I would probably only go to Charleston (because a co-worker is moving there and I might need to visit her) or Williamsburg (because it's one of the coolest Busch Gardens I've ever been to).

6. May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. If you had to participate in a single fitness activity for the next half hour, which activity would you choose? Do I have to? 600 calories a day doesn't really grant one the ability to exercise for that long...I don't have the stamina.

7. What did you like best about the city, town, or neighborhood where you grew up? I hated it more than life itself growing up, but now I'd like to go back because it's a much safer town than where I am now. Cost of living is lower, and it's a 15 minute commute to my job which is in my current city (and it takes me the exact same amount of time to get across this town...if traffic is bad, it takes longer).

8. Insert your own random thought here.
My mind is completely filled with Disney right now. I can't feel my face because my headache is so bad, but I am determined to make a schedule work before the night is over with so we can book dining ressies.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Mad World - Chapter 2


Continuing on with my version of the book Mad World by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein, Chapter 2 deals with my all-time favorite band and the loves of my life (or so I thought at age 11), Duran Duran.

THEIR CHOICE: GIRLS ON FILM


Seriously? In the entire Duran Duran back catalog, they picked Girls On Film as their most influential song? Granted, it may have been their most controversial video, but, on the Duran scale, it doesn't even rank. Most people would say that Hungry Like The Wolf is what put them on the map. I would also disagree with that. When you've listened to the same music for 30+ years, there is always that one song, one of the popular ones that always gets played at the shows, or on the radio, or even on music television (on the rare occasion when they actually play videos, usually on some 80's retro show), that grates on your ever-loving last nerve. HLTW is my nerve grater (although, during a live show, I'm singing and dancing along with everyone else). But I'm still gonna post a video of it (all be it a recent live version so I don't have to peruse through that damned original video):


I probably should go with Planet Earth as my most influential Duran song since it was the first one I ever heard, but I'm not. Their first album (the home of Planet Earth) was actually released twice. Once before their second album Rio (naturally) and again after Rio with the added song, Is There Something I Should Know. But, I think, for this example, I'm going to go with the Manchester Square Demo video of Planet Earth because it's more in the light of the first Duran Duran album. It's not a "cleaned up" version of the song and the video is a true representation of my early saturation of new wave music:


But, as far as my choice goes, I'm gonna lean more toward the video aspect of Duran's music rather than the song aspect (since they have always been video oriented) and go with this song from the Rio album:

MY CHOICE: LONELY IN YOUR NIGHTMARE


You are probably thinking, "I've never even heard that song, let alone seen the video!". Yeah, well, I said I was a diehard Duranie, so of course I'm gonna know songs you probably have never heard of. I choose this one because the video was filmed in two parts, one part New Romantic era Duran, all frilly shirts and bleach-haired pretty boys and one part the most popular era of Duran, the leather-wearing, super-hot guys best known for their coifs than their musical talent. It was still filmed in that "typical" Duran setting, on an exotic island with scantily-clad beautiful models dancing around, but the change from one part to the other is quite drastic as they progressed from the Rio album toward Seven and the Ragged Tiger. It also singlehandedly represents how Duran Duran is constantly reinventing itself, yet still manages to be the light of my musical life!

This chapter should also probably get a second choice, simply because they were named twice! As I got older (well, more into puberty and my obsession got out of control), Duran Duran released a "live" video for the song, The Reflex. Any diehard Duranie will tell you that the concert that The Reflex video came from has influenced us our entire lives. If you go to any Duran Duran concert, the way Simon sung certain songs or things he shouted during the Arena concert still get chanted by the crowd to this very day. Only the truest Duranie would know that Arena is a cleaned up version of a concert that was first aired on Cinemax called "As The Lights Go Down" (and yes, I have this recorded from way back when, thank god for that gigantic backyard satellite dish my step-dad just HAD to have). The Reflex (which we now know is a song about Simon's peen...kind of changes the song for ya, doesn't it?), is a typical 80's video, with headbands, wristbands, jelly bracelets, mullets, and the whole lot, but it also has the distinction of being the first typical 80's video. It used to drive me nuts that every other band started imitating Duran after this video came out, so:

MY SECOND CHOICE: THE REFLEX


After The Reflex, Duran got big, really big and so did their egos and excesses (in typical 80's fashion). Arena, the live album, only had one new song on it, Wild Boys. The first time I heard Wild Boys, I cried like a baby. I can remember every single thing about that moment as well...I was laying on my bed, looking at my stereo, wailing like a banshee. I even called my best friend (at the time) and kept dialing for hours until she got home to cry to her (yeah, she thought I was completely nuts and we didn't stay friends much longer after that). I couldn't believe that they could do that to me! I thought the song was HORRIBLE (although I don't think that now). The video was even worse (or so I thought...I quite like it now). When the press hit that Simon almost drowned while filming the video, I about lost the plot completely! It was also the most expensive video ever filmed at the time.


Duran would only release one more single after The Arena album, the James Bond theme A View To A Kill (which, for many many years, was the only Bond song to hit #1). Their performance of it at Live Aid (which was horrible, unrehearsed and painful to watch) was the last time they would play together as a five piece band. They tried to splinter off, Andy and John went to Power Station, which had some pretty huge hits, and Simon and Nick (with a little help from Roger) went on to form Arcadia (which is where my loyalties laid since Simon was my guy. Those two bands couldn't have been different, but they weren't enough of a diversion to keep the band together when they came back for their next album, Notorious. Roger would leave first...he was just tired of it all (but there were always rumors that he had a nervous breakdown). Andy would leave next (which didn't bother me so much because I hated him...but be careful what you wish for because we ended up with Warren Cuccurullo for a good chunk of Duran's existence). But just to show the difference between the two bands, lets do a clip from each:

SIDE PROJECT #1 - THE POWER STATION - SOME LIKE IT HOT (because it shows off John's incredible bass talent as well as his artistic, he was, after all, a former art school pupil like myself):


SIDE PROJECT #2 - ARCADIA - THE FLAME (you probably don't know this one, but it's one of my favorite Simon videos and it's just fun, plus, it was more in the vein of Duran):


John also did a solo song (and album eventually) for the movie 9 1/2 Weeks (the movie that put Kim Basinger and Mickey Roarke on the map):


And Andy did his own solo album as well and a theme song for another movie (no need to show it, it sucked).

Once the remaining three did manage to get back together, Notorious was a completely different entity from anything they had done before. Yes, there was still the scantily clad supermodels (in this case, a very young Christy Turlington makes her debut in the video for Notorious). Warren came in during these years, but didn't get made an official band member until two albums later with Liberty. Liberty was Duran's worst commercial success and everyone said it was the end of Duran Duran. But my all-time favorite Duran Duran song (even to this day) came from Liberty. It's the one song that can instantly change my mood and you can always tell when I'm pissed because I play it on a constant loop. It used to drive my co-worker nuts because I could play it all day long, over and over again (and often did). So, it's no surprise that it gets my vote for:

ALL TIME FAVORITE DURAN SONG: SERIOUS


Duran released a single that mixed their greatest hits all into one song (and it's pretty darn cool and a bitch to find):


But Duran didn't give up on moving forward and the mid 90's saw their rebirth of popularity and a whole new generation of Duranies were born with The Wedding Album and the song Ordinary World. My boys were back in a big way and my music was cool again! I would be remiss not to play a video from this album as well, but I'm not gonna choose Ordinary World. None of the Above fit more with my outsider lifestyle and became my mantra for a long time:


Their tribute album, Thank You, had some hits and misses, but it still was good overall (and White Lines is still one of the best live songs they play). I do have to backtrack a little bit. When Duran do Girls On Film now, it's usually the longer "night version" and its when they introduce the band. That has become tied for my favorite live song simply because we all get to chant, "PLAY THAT FUCKIN BASS JOHN" over and over again with Simon! But I digress.

Back to where I was, after Thank You, the unthinkable happened. "Creative Differences" (code for John's drug problem had gotten way out of hand) caused yet another original member to leave. My heart was broken and I blamed Warren for many years (can you tell I hated him?). Duran would continue to release albums, two more in fact (although the early Medazzaland demos did include some John stuff, including one of him singing). Now here is where I have to interject. I LOVE John Taylor, but the dude can't sing. But once he split from Duran, he went solo for quite a few albums (which I own, of course, whether I like them or not, the code of the Duranie, faithful forever), got clean, got divorced, and remarried (to Gela Taylor, aka Juicy Couture), formed another supergroup, Neurotic Outsiders with members of The Clash and Guns and Roses (John went a bit hard for a while). There are songs of his I love, if you can get past his actual voice (there is a reason why Simon loops his own voice as harmony instead of using much of John's, let's just leave it at that). Hey Day is a great song because it's pretty much a docu-song about John and Nick (with name changes, of course), but my all time favorite is A Song For Europe with Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode (there is only an audio version of it since they never filmed a video, but here it is):


Even Simon has done a solo song here and there. Simon IS Duran for me, so anything he does has that Duran vibe to it. Even Arcadia had a definite Duran vibe. Here's the best example of his solo stuff, I really love this song, Nobody Knows:


Backtracking again, I do have to mention the video for Out Of My Mind from Medazzaland. That was a throwback to the Arcadia age of song sound and videos, and it's also one of my top five, so I feel it should be mentioned:


Then, the most amazing thing ever happened...Warren left (thank GOD!) and a simple phone call got all five guys back again! I was never so happy to see Andy Taylor in my entire life!! And the best part, the album was better than I could have ever imagined (after a several year wait). They were finally getting critical as well as other musician praise. They were on every awards show getting lifetime achievement awards and the like. Every Duranies dream!! But Andy started showing his tail feathers again and left after Astronaut.

Their next album wasn't bad, but was a bit of a stab in the back for us diehards. They used Timbaland and Justin Timberlake as producers, so the album had a very modern sound, but not a "Duran" sound. There were some good songs, but the beat was just wrong.

I really didn't mean this to be a history of Duran, but it appears that's what it ended up being. They have released tons of videos throughout the years, all of which have special meaning to me for one reason or the other. So, I guess we'll end with their newest album (all be it a couple of years old now...Duran put out a new album about every 3-5 years on average) and one of their last videos (Simon, please ditch the beard...it looks terrible!). But the good thing about this song is it's an obvious throwback to the New Romantic Duran and a definite nod to us loyal and faithful followers of, what I consider, the greatest band on earth!

ONE OF THE LATEST SONGS: ALL YOU NEED IS NOW


Since I have practically put most of my favorite Duran videos/songs in this post, why not finish up with an album by album best of list (and I'm only going with recorded albums, not greatest hits or live albums since I could be at this all day). I could give you YouTube links, but I think I've bombarded you enough, so feel free to look them up yourselves if your interested (although I figure you probably aren't).

1 - Duran Duran (album), Careless Memories (favorite song and FABULOUS live), Is There Something I Should Know (best video)
2 - Rio (album), Last Chance On The Stairway (favorite song), Lonely In Your Nightmare (best video)
3 - Seven And The Ragged Tiger (album), The Seventh Stranger (favorite song), New Moon On Monday (best video - especially the long movie version), Secret Oktober (best B-side)
4 - Notorious (album), Hold Me (best song), Skin Trade (best video)
5 - Big Thing (album), Land (best song), Do You Believe In Shame (best video)
6 - Liberty (album), Serious (best song EVER), Serious (best video as well)
7 - Duran Duran (aka The Wedding Album), None Of The Above (best song), Too Much Information (best video)
8 - Thank You (album), Perfect Day (best song and video), White Lines (best live song)
9 - Medazzaland (album), Midnight Sun (best song), Out of My Mind (best video)
10- Pop Trash (my least favorite Duran album - too much Warren), the only decent song is a B-side, Un Autre Que Moi (french version of the song Someone Else Not Me, Simon singing French...need I say more).
11- Astronaut (album), What Happens Tomorrow (best song), Reach Up For The Sunrise (best video - there are six versions of this one, one featuring each band member and one with them all, of course the Simon version is my favorite)
12- Red Carpet Massacre (album), Skin Divers (best song, it's one that gets in your head and doesn't let go), Falling Down (best video and a throwback to Girls On Film)
13- All You Need Is Now (album), Leave A Light On (best song), All You Need Is Now (best video)

And that's it for Chapter 2. I did warn you it would be long, but you should know from my War and Peace length Disney posts, that when I'm obsessed about something, it gets my full attention (and I think it should get yours as well...welcome to the wonderful world of Aspergers!).

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Disney Pic Woes No More (warning - pic heavy)

Finally! I have my sister's memory card (via work courier between our two businesses without any personal interaction, we're such a CLOSE family). Months of begging for her 244 acceptable edits seems kind of stupid now, especially since I ended up with 5799 acceptable edits of my own, but there you go. I still have to merge them, which will edit out even more, more than likely hers...she's the better photographer, but I have the better camera, so ultimately, mine end up better. Then the real hard part comes...making the DVD's. Even more editing out, building menus, picking music and syncing it, and finally, actually burning the DVD's, which typically burns in real time (so if I end up with three two-hour DVD's, that's 6 hours of burning). Sometimes the software lets me burn copies without rebuilding the menus (which takes no time at all), sometimes it fails, but thank god for OCD and constant saving. Hopefully though, it will be finished by the end of the week and I can get back to stitching.

I know the authoring software well (much better than Lightroom anyway). I've been using the same software for years, ProShow Gold. I have to upgrade it again (which is its only downfall since I only really do this once a year and therefore an upgrade only gets me one use) and considering I've been using it since 2006, that ought to get me enough loyalty to qualify for free upgrades, but alas, upgrade I must (missing out on new transitions and special effects is just too much for me to pass on). It's really simple software though, and it's the only one I've found so far that doesn't limit the number of pictures you can use in a menu. When you're dealing with 5000+ pictures, not having to split them into 100 pics per menu is worth any cost!

But in all honesty, creating the cover art for the final DVD is still my favorite part. The artist in my will never die, it's just forced to subjugation by my cross stitching. And since I make a theme every year, I already have a big part of the front cover (I create a little book with all our details and whatnots in it...called the PIB - Personal Itinerary Book, and it has a cover logo, hence the theme). I just have to pick pictures for the back and sort out the wording and fonts.

There were some really fabulous pictures this time (even if they were Christmas pictures, Halloween at Disney is SOOO much better). The elusive hand-held, point and shoot, brilliant night shots are not so elusive any more! I've said it before and I'll say it again...I LOVE my new camera (although it's not so new anymore, but it's a Sony RX100m2). I have hundreds, if not a thousand perfect firework and parade pictures this time (even before editing them with Lightroom). Even the zoom pictures turned out good, and I never zoom because they always look like crap! I will definitely have to zoom more in future and not worry so much about my shakey hands.

Here are some highlights:

As far as Amber's pics, there was a surprise. My pre-doctor-diet body was still Disney ready (my weight has to be in the 220 to 230 range for my vacation clothes to fit, and I had lost what I needed to be within that range), but actually seeing it versus how I look now was a bit of a shock. My weight loss ticker started with the doctor diet and I didn't include the 20-30+ I lost before that (I don't have a pic of pre-Disney body, picture taking isn't one of my favorite things and I didn't include those pounds because I'm not entirely sure of the actual amount). I haven't been able to tell much change in my body since I've been on this diet. People comment all the time, but I actually haven't been able to see it...now I do. This is not something I would ever do, post an undoctored picture of myself (I would normally photoshop out the hump of my stomach and I will do before it makes it to the DVD), but I'm gonna do it now. Once Kate and I go to Disney again, I'll take another picture and compare the two. By then, I should have all the weight off...a Disney before and after! But here is the before in my full-bellied glory:

Oh, and in case you are wondering...it's good luck to rub Humphrey's nose when arriving at Wilderness Lodge, I'm not being weird. It is very weird to see myself like this though. When I'm tired, I don't suck in my gut like I should (obviously), but even the size of my face is a bit of a shock. It almost looks like a different person and not me. I can't even wear that top anymore because it's too big. Finally, I think I might be getting excited about this whole dieting thing!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Disney Pic Woes offset by Diet Success

Well, still muddling through Disney pics (and still don't have memory card from sis yet). I get through several hundred, discover a new setting that makes the pictures pop, and then end up having to go back through all the ones I've already done and fix those too. I went through the same batch four times last night, but I still somehow managed to get to card 3.

On a separate front, however, I went to Old Navy last night to buy me some new jeans (since my sister won't respond to my pleas for her hand-me-downs). I got two pairs of 16's and two of 14's (just to have something to aspire to. Well, turns out I have to take the 16's back because they are too big!!! I literally cannot believe I am sitting here now in a size 14 jean! I don't ever remember a time I wore 14's, let alone 12's (which I will buy a pair of when I replace the 16's). I knew my 18's were swallowing me, but I had no idea I actually have just skipped a size! Granted, they are Old Navy jeans, so they are super stretchy. My big ole apple belly looks a bit weird in them as well, but I just wore a shirt that can hide it.

Part of me is screaming that I should keep the 16's because I will probably gain this all back someday. But I'm not gonna because I don't want to have that emotional buffer...knowing that I can gain the weight back because I have clothes that will fit me. Once this is all said and done, I guess I'll need an entire new wardrobe! I'll have a huge purge of all my current clothes, even the ones with memories (well, all but my Disney shirts, all 220 of them...they are collectors items). No matter what though, I didn't like buying clothes when I was huge, I don't like it now, and I figure I'm not gonna like it any more when I'm thinner. Give me a Best Buy or a Disney Store any day over a clothes store!!

I think I've also made a conscious decision to start seriously exercising. My arms are scaring me and they are only gonna get worse. My belly and inner thighs I can hide...no one will ever see them but me. Have you tried to find a woman's shirt that isn't sleeveless or cap sleeves? I can't wear either one. I looked last night and found NOTHING that could at least touch my elbows. Looks like it's time to break out the old shake weight again (yes, it does actually work, at least for me).

Now I just have to get the courage up to actually go back to Old Navy to exchange the jeans. I've never actually returned something myself before. Had I not gone with someone else, I probably wouldn't have even been able to go in the store in the first place, but I'm glad I did because I feel pretty darn good about myself today!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Needle Club - Week 10/Disney Pic woes

I can't believe I've been working on this project for 10 weeks and this is as far as I've gotten! I know it's only three hours a week, but I'm 19 weeks into Pea and she's two-thirds finished (and she's a full-sized project and not a quick stitch!). I still haven't finished row 1 of Angel.

But anyhoo, here is Angel in Lilac for this week:
ail011

On the Disney pic front, there is something about planning a Disney trip that changes my entire demeanor. I have a sense of purpose now, and although I haven't started the official planning yet, I still feel motivated in a way I haven't been in a very long time....so much so that I started working on December's Disney pictures again instead of stitching this week. Oh, by the way, did I mention I'M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD?!?! I can't afford it, but I've scraped, begged, and borrowed, and have found a way. To make it even better, my friend Kate is coming over to visit and is going with me! All of my friends (but one - my beloved Tony) are cyber friends, but Kate will be the first I will have ever met in person. Hope she doesn't end up hating me...I can be hard to take in "real life" (or so I'm told...I see it more as I find others hard to take, but there you go).

Concerning the pictures though, I checked on my work so far, and I was 6 memory cards down out of 8. I finished the 6th card and decided to check the other cards work. One was good, but 2 through 5 were empty folders! All the work I had done in Lightroom on those 4000+ pictures had just disappeared into thin air! I literally cried. Worse still, I remembered why they disappeared. You have to export the folder when you're done and I didn't do that. I always delete the temp folders for Lightroom when I finish because they take up a ton of space, so once I deleted the folder, all the changes (that I didn't export) were gone. Great. Thank goodness I am OCD and have numerous saved copies of the originals in various locations, or I could have lost those as well!

But I decided to just get stuck in and start again. I knew enough about Lightroom to adjust the pictures, but I had trouble with the straightening and healing tools, so I ended up spending all Tuesday night watching training videos on YouTube learning how to use the software properly. Since I learned new tricks, I ended up deleting all my card 1 and card 6 edits (the only edited pics I had) and started all over. It's going much easier now (funny how "knowing" what you are doing makes such a big difference) and I expect to be done with all of them in a couple of weeks. But it's definitely gonna cut into my stitching time.

I still swear my Microsoft Picture It and know it inside and out. I use it all the time at home and work for various reasons. It's one of the main reasons I won't upgrade my computer past 7 (although it's technically not supposed to work with 7 either)...well that and Windows 8 sucks. I had originally planned to edit the pics in Lightroom, then go all the way back through them to straighten them in Picture It. Now I don't have to do that (but don't worry Picture It, I still love you and will continue to use you for other things!).

Speaking of love, I'm also having a horrible time getting my sister to give me her memory card. She won't respond to my texts for some stupid reason. If she didn't have all the pics of us together (there are no pics of me on my camera (obviously because I took them), I wouldn't worry about them, but I remember some of them and I know they will be good. She doesn't read my blog anymore, so any pleas here fall on deaf ears as well. Granted, I'm no stranger to being shunned by my family...my own father hasn't spoken to me in 8 years, but I expect better out of her (especially since she's the biggest detractor of my father for that very reason). I love my sister more than every other member of my family (well, besides my father), but it doesn't mean she doesn't grate on my nerves sometimes (and I hers, obviously, or else she would respond to me). So Am, if you are reading this, GIVE ME THE DAMNED CARD SO I CAN GET THIS SHIT FINISHED! YOU CAN HATE ME LATER FOR WHATEVER I'VE DONE TO PISS YOU OFF. USE AN INTERMEDIARY IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GIVE IT TO ME DIRECTLY...I DON'T FRIGGIN CARE, I JUST NEED THE BLOODY CARD!

Wonder if she heard that? Soapbox dismount.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge



This one is not going to be an easy one, considering the theme, but I'll try not to be too awful and inconsiderate, but it is nice to be in a normal routine again!

1. Share something you appreciate (or something you appreciated as you were growing up) about your mother.
I have a hard relationship with my Mother. She's only become a typical "good" mother after I was grown and gone. Too little too late I guess. There are some serious, deep-rooted issues between us (that I'm not quite yet willing to discuss in blog form) and I'll leave it at that. If I wanted to put a positive spin on it, my sister had a great life because I was her "test dummy" and she was protected from everything that I was exposed to, so I guess I can appreciate that she didn't have to go through what I did. I guess I should also appreciate the fact that Mother did keep a roof over my head, food in my belly, and clothes on my back. That's more than some people grow up with. There is just no emotional appreciation (is that a better way to say it?).

2. A quote most commonly ascribed to Plato reads "Necessity is the mother of invention." When did this last play out in your own experience?
Just this week, in fact! I NEED to go to Disney World, therefore, I have found a way despite utter poverty and debt!

3. Share one of the earliest memories you have from childhood.
When my parents were still married (to each other), our car broke down (it was red, but I don't remember the model). We had to walk home on the rail tracks and I was too small, so my Dad put me up on his shoulders and we walked down the tracks together, them arguing the entire time, but me having a blast because I was riding on my Daddy's shoulders! I remember every moment of that ride and I had to be no more than 2 or 3. Memories got bad and unforgettable after that, so we won't go there.

4. When did you last 'hit the mother lode'? What was it?
I hit the mother lode every time I go to Disney...my house is proof! Disney stuff EVERYWHERE! The only catch is my credit cards are all charged up and I'm broke (but I do get to go home every night and look at my "stuff", so it ain't all bad!).

5. What is/was your favorite dish mom made? Do you make that dish for your family/friends now that you're all grown up?
My Mother didn't make special dishes, it was all about the Hamburger Helper, spaghetti, and fried chicken (and the occasional torture of liver). She did make that nasty meat, green bean, potato, cheese layered casserole that still gags me to even think about it! Those items are fine separate, but definitely not mixed up together (and not even cheese could save it!). I don't cook much (although I can), but no, my tastes are completely different to my Mothers. My sister would say her mashed potatoes but I actually prefer them from a box than real (told you I was weird!).

6. Mother May I? was at one time a popular children's game. It required no equipment or parts to play. What was your favorite childhood game where you could just turn up and play-no gear needed?
I didn't really play childhood games. We weren't really allowed to behave like children (which is why I overcompensate now). I spent a lot of time reading or drawing.

7. Which TV mom (past or present) is your favorite, and why?
I don't know that I really notice that kind of thing. I never really looked at another Mother, real or televised, and wished mine was more like them, I just didn't think about it. My mind was always focused on whatever I was obsessed with at the time. Family was the least of my worries.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I want to go home and go back to bed. My head hurts.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Mad World - Chapter 1

I've already reviewed the book Mad World by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein (see review here), but I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. Granted, I already keep my car radio off Sirius First Wave, but my playlist at work has definitely been altered and I've caught myself, more than once, turning the TV to the New Wave radio station instead of watching a real show! It's been a while since I've been this passionate about music and I've been reminiscing quite a lot about my favorites.

As I mentioned in my review, I didn't necessarily agree with some of their choices. So, I thought I'd break down the artists featured in the book from my own point of view (and add a few of the ones I thought SHOULD have been in the book). Guess I'm missing the A to Z Challenge more than I thought I was because I seem to feel the need to serial blog (although, I can guarantee, I won't be doing this every day...maybe once a week).

But anyway, I'm planning on breaking down the book, chapter by chapter, giving their choices and then my rebuttal choice (or my agreeing choice). Chapter 1 was Adam and the Ants, so let's start there!

THEIR CHOICE: KINGS OF THE WILD FRONTIER


I don't remember this song from the 80's. It was more a retro greatest hits discovery at some point in the 90's. The first video I remember seeing of Adam and the Ants was Ant Music. I wasn't adversed to the new wave look by that point, I was a diehard Duranie, so guys in makeup and frilly shirts were what I was attracted to at the time (or as attracted as a pre-teen can be to a 20 something). But I have to admit, Adam Ant scared me at first, especially with the song Ant Music. I've always been a Southern prude at heart and the whole Indian-New Romantic, Jack-Sparrow'ed, football makeup, tribal chanting guy was a bit too much, even for my burgeoning teenage inner weirdo! I really didn't take much notice of Adam Ant until after he got kicked out of the band and started his solo career with Goody Two Shoes and Strip (can you imagine how freaked out my inner prude was by Strip, but I thoroughly enjoyed tormenting my parents with it!). The first video of the Ants that I remember liking was Prince Charming...it had that whole self deprecation theme that was so prevalent in my life at the time and I started noticing how hot Adam actually was. It was a wild and crazy video with a Robin Hood type theme (and a very strange synchronized dance routine), but still romantic and that little bit nutter that I really dug back then.

MY CHOICE: PRINCE CHARMING (sorry...couldn't find a good link to the real video so I'm making due with a live version)


As a side note, I thought I'd throw in my all-time favorite song from the artist as well. Adam's music got more mature during my post-college years and his humoring shock value look changed to more of a romantic gentleman (but still a bit self deprecating).

MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE ANT SONG (even if it was a song about Heather Graham) - WONDERFUL:


But overall, Adam Ant definitely deserved to be in the book...he defined a look and a style that was copied by the likes of Michael Jackson (Michael actually did have his coat made after asking where Adam got his), a musical style that was spun off of and formed other bands (Bow Wow Wow), and he left a trail of broken hearts all the way through half the actresses in Hollywood. A few years ago I read his autobiography, and his lifetime of dealing with his mental issues hit a bit too close to home (although I'm not bi-polar). I don't read many autobiographies, but I thoroughly enjoyed his. I'm just glad he's been able to work on himself enough to be able to get back out into the world and continue to make new music. He may look a bit rougher and plumper (but don't we all), but he's still got that "certain" something that keeps him interesting!

HIS NEWEST HIT - COOL ZOMBIE


Next up...the big double D...the loves of my life...DURAN DURAN! I should warn you, that may be a pretty long post since I have a 30+ year history as a diehard Duranie!

Monday, May 5, 2014

A to Z Reflections Post


As with most years Challenge finish, I've been on hiatus for a few days recouping and catching up with life. I've managed to clean the house from head to toe, work on my regular stitches, spend quality time with the pups, and even get back on the diet track (after a rather wild Lab Week binge, as my adjusted weight loss ticker shows...shame on me). But how I wanted to approach the Reflections post has never been far from my mind, and I think I've decided to approach it how I do most years, with getting the whining out of the way first.

I know I moan on and on about this every year, but it still really irks me how much we are asked to beg for new followers. I know I've said it a million times, but I don't do the challenge to gain followers and I pretty much steer clear of those that do. Can't we just participate in the challenge for the mere purpose of being "challenged" to complete a goal? Must we constantly "pimp" ourselves out? I tried to not read the actual Challenge blog too much for this very reason. I'm not sure why it walks all over me, must be repressed memories of a fat little girl begging the older, cooler church kids to be my friend or something, but needless to say, I don't appreciate it and it bothers me WAY more than it probably should, but bothers me it does, so I need to bitch about it.

Soapbox dismount (for now), but speaking of completing a goal, I think more people managed to finish the challenge this year than previous years and I've found more amazing blogs than ever before! I have so few loves in life and I was pleasantly surprised to see most of them were blogged about this challenge (although, the lack of Disney themes didn't escape my attention).

Just to mention a few, of course my friend Kate's blog was as thought provoking and interesting as ever. Her 101 Room theme brought me out of my shell more than once and had me reminiscing and sharing stories about myself that I never have before. She's always had a way of getting me to talk about things I never would otherwise. I just hope I didn't offend her with my brutally honest comments!

Another favorite, Leanne Ross Read Faced blog tackled my favorite author, Jane Austen. Although Pride and Prejudice isn't my favorite (that honor is reserved for Persuasion), I enjoyed her views of not only P&P, but of Regency literature as well.

Charity's Writing Journey did an A to Z of Doctor Who and waxying poetic about my favorite TV show with someone other than myself was rather enjoyable.

Pensuasion took on fairy tales, and, although I didn't agree with some of her choices, her views and opinions were thoughtful and passionate, traits which I think make for the most interesting of postings.

There were dozens of other blogs that I ended up looking forward to looking at daily, but here are just a few highlights...Lexa Cain and her hauntings, SaylingAway's renaissance artists, Martha Reynolds Writes and her cheese posts (I never knew there were so many different cheeses!), and Bob's Home For Writing and his beautiful puppy pics, just to mention a few.

Lastly, on to me. This was the hardest challenge I've ever done. I tried to stay ahead like I've always done, but some early setbacks (aka starting over after week one), design problems (that had nothing to do with CloudsFactory, but rather me and my indecisiveness), and even my Needle Club, kept me from staying caught up like I wanted to. At least I managed to keep up daily goals, even if I had to stay up well past bedtime.

On the bright side, I hit my 500th post during this challenge. Thanks to Amazon Prime, I managed to watch all eight seasons of 24 (for free) while stitching, a show I've always wanted to watch. I got to spend the month of April working toward a goal on a theme that is closest to my heart (Disney), and I got to spend every day doing something that I absolutely love to do (cross stitch). My OCD is strong, so working toward a goal does really make me happy, but my Aspergers is stronger, so actually finishing a goal is a pretty huge accomplishment, but finish it I did...a completed cross stitch project in 30 days! Here it is again in its entirety:
az102

Granted, it's not the most complicated or even prettiest stitch I've ever done, but every single time I look at it, thanks to the challenge, I'll remember the entire process, from its birth to completion, something I don't do with most stitches. It will give me a lifetime of memories (however short that may be) and that is what stitching should be about! Even if one more Disney-themed artifact in my house might be enough to literally tip it over, this particular one holds the special place of being hung right beside my chair for years to come!

So, despite my aggravation at being asked constantly to gain new followers (I really can't let that go), I'm grateful to the Challenge for giving me a sense of much needed pride in myself for completing a goal and I'm really looking forward to what I can come up with for next year!! Thanks to everyone for your kind comments (I really don't deserve them) and I can't wait to see what direction we all go in post-challenge!!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stitching progress

I'm doing this a bit early today, but I still have to write the A to Z Reflections post, so I wanted to make sure the two didn't compete.

I forgot to post my Needle Club progress this week, so here it is:
ail010

And I've been working on Pea a little bit this week as well. It's been a while since I've worked on it, so here is where I left off:
pea104

And here's where I got to last night:
pea106

Granted, not a lot of progress, but, considering I haven't done "regular" stitching in over a month, it's pretty good, and I've managed to finish another mattress layer (the busiest of the bunch).

I also got my stash updated here with the stash I hadn't posted yet and new scans of the old ones. As much as I loved the challenge, it's nice to be back on a normal track again! So to celebrate, I've been dinking with my blog design again, so you might see a few new changes in the upcoming days until I'm happy with it!
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