Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends

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Last night’s show was…??

I’m having trouble coming up with one word to sum it up.  I’m conflicted about it.  On one hand, the musicians were fabulous and delivered a performance worthy of their world renown.  On the other, some artistic choices were questionable, tone-deaf at the bare minimum.

Here’s the setup:

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The stage setup was minimal and the lighting was sparse.  The colors changed slowly between songs but not during the segments.

From left to right, Bill Murray, Mira Wang on violin, Vanessa Perez at the piano and Jan Vogler with the cello.

The show was about two hours, including the multiple encores.  In the beginning, the narration was quite separate from the music.  Bill did a reading, the musicians followed him with a selection.  The theme, in a broad sense, was American classics.

Bill’s first few readings were Ernest Hemingway, Walt Whitman and James Fenimore Cooper.  The music following was Bach, Schubert and Ravel.

As the evening progressed, the narration merged with the music and by the end, I’d say we even got a few ‘songs’.   The show ended with a West Side Story medley of Somewhere, I Feel Pretty and America.   The first encore was El Paso, a Marty Robbins song familiar to me through the Grateful Dead.  The second encore was Angel of Montgomery, unlike no version of the song I’ve ever heard.

Now for the complaints, one selection in particular, a reading from the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  The controversy over this one is a well known one, stemming from the prolific use of the n-word.  In today’s atmosphere, I have a problem with a room full of white people sitting, literally, at the top of the hill, listening to it.

With all of the conversations about race going on these days, I don’t think this selection added to it.  I’m sure the rationale for including it is a convenient soundbite about the importance of having such discussions and this is just another example being brought to the table.  Blah Blah Blah.  If that was the case, I missed the part where meaningful discussion was had.  To me, it was an old white guy using inappropriate language.   There wasn’t any context for including it.  It was just presented.  Given the plain presentation, it’s left to the listener to come to their own conclusion.  My conclusion:  meh.  If I was the producer, it would have been cut.

Of all the works selected, having one poor choice isn’t huge.  Still though, it seems like an obvious candidate for replacement.  Interestingly, the Huck Finn selection is one track not available to stream on Amazon.  All the other tracks are available but the Huck Finn track is listed as ‘album only’.  I’m curious about that.

The other ‘artistic’ choices fall under the umbrella of sexism.  I think the ladies, exceptionally talented and passionate artists, were relegated to the role of props.  Bill made his entrance at the top of the show flanked by them, holding hands.  It just felt off.  I doubt these women made entrances like this at other performances and I doubt it was their idea.   It colored the entire show.  These talented women were not treated as equals.  And we all know who got the biggest paycheck on that stage.  It was certainly not the women.

At another point in the show, during a cello-piano duet, Bill and Mira, the violinist, did a bit of tango.  They did a little toe-point step in hold and then opened into a little spin from Mira.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.  It stuck out being the only choreography of the night.  Beyond that though, Mira was ‘summoned’ to dance and throughout most of it, her back was to the crowd.  Again, it just felt off.  It wasn’t natural and it was a bit out of place.

Given the time we live in, I think it’s appropriate to call out sexism and racism.  These are small things to be sure, coming from an old white guy though, it doesn’t sit right with me.  Was the show awful and terrible? no.  Was it tone deaf?  Yes.  That’s the most generous way to put it.  The intention was not to be offensive.  It just fell a bit short of amazing and genius and all the other praised heaped on.

It makes me think, Bill surrounds himself with Yes Men and people are so smitten just being around him, they don’t call him on it.   To read reviews, specifically of the Huck Finn track, calling it genius and a breath of fresh air seems like a cult of personality to me.   I don’t agree with those assessments.

Oh well, can’t win ’em all.  Most of it was good.  I just can’t give it rave reviews like everyone else but I’m not writing letters demanding my money back either.  It was a fun experience.  Frankly, the sweater is bigger than the show for me.  The show is just sort of an aside.  A cap to the whole experience that started when I read a ridiculous call for a Bill Murray art show.  Obviously there’s a cult of personality involved here.  Who am I kidding?  That was a given from day one.

The most unexpected part of the evening:  the number of hecklers.  Fools in the very back row (naturally) shouting things like ‘THIS SUCKS’ at the quiet moments.  They were shut down quickly and loudly by people around them.  I think it was two gentlemen in particular, maybe it was actually 3 though.  They reminded me of the people who yell ‘FREEBIRD’ at concerts.  LOL.  Poor guys, apparently they thought they were coming to see a comedian do stand up?  The first 20-30 minutes were rough for them.  Bach and Schubert are certainly not Freebird.

The best part of the evening:  Talking to people about my sweater :)  People were interested and amazed, so that was fun.  After all the work that went into it, two sentences doesn’t do it justice but you’ve heard about it all already, so I’ll spare you the repetition.

It’s on to new knitting now.  I’ve got a little bit of time for Christmas knitting and I’ve been jonesing for hat binge.  I haven’t knit a hat since August and that was only my second of the year.  I’m ready!  Bring on the hat binge! It’s gonna be good!!


 

It’s Bill Murray Friday!

It’s Bill Murray Day!  My new Bill Murray vest is done and I’m excited about it!!

But first…all of the non-Bill Murray happenings since the last update.   Knitting in public, cross stitching, new yarn and a fun new monogrammed project bag.

These things are each interesting in their own right but alas, there is only time for one today!

It’s Bill Murray Day!!!!

The Bill Murray sweater is done!  and it’s AMAZING!

I mean, this IS exactly what I set out to do…and it worked.  Even I’m impressed with this one.

I didn’t check gauge or do any math.  I used a weird hodgepodge of yarns that varied from fingering to aran weight.

I set out with a loose plan and this is what happened…

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It’s not that I doubt my skill.  This was just a particularly out there idea.  Every part of it was slightly ridiculous.  I’m gonna knit a portrait of Bill Murray is one thing. (Check out that process HERE)

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I’m gonna turn it into a sweater, is a whoooooooole different story.   Especially considering that it’s a bit fashionable.  AND I like it.   I didn’t expect to really like what I’d done.  I’m gonna wear this everywhere!!

I’m especially pleased with the high-low hem bit.

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Someone from my knitting group suggested it.  I thought about it for a while.  I even drew pictures of it but decided it wasn’t for me, too trendy.  When I got to a certain point though, it just felt like the thing to do, so I did it.   Turns out, I love it!

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It also turns out, it’s incredibly awkward to photography and model at the same time.  And the December lighting situation didn’t help me out.

It’s okay.  I’ll get a better photo tonight when my Bill Murray meets the real Bill Murray!  Wouldn’t that be funny?  I’m not expecting it to happen but both Bill Murrays will be in the same room at the same time tomorrow so anything is possible?!?  It’s a big room, I’ll be way in the back, upstairs in the balcony even.  Still anything is possible.

Anything!

ANYTHING!!

I’ll let you know what I think of the show tomorrow :)   Happy Bill Murray Friday!


 

Rainbow Friday

Black Friday and it’s rampant consumerism make me crazy.  I’m betting most of you reading this agree, or at least understand the value of handmade, so I’ll just limit my rant to that.  And so, I celebrated Rainbow Friday…with progress on my Rainbow Shawls!

Even as on-the-go, back-up projects, they’ve made good progress.  I appreciate that they’re both currently in green sections!  Synchronicity confirms that everything is as it should be.

Then again, maybe I’m talking crazy talk.  Bill Murray spent the day being ignored in the corner.  I’m at the halfway point.  Things seem good.  I’m pleased with Bill’s progress so far.   This means a knit-tastrophe is just around the corner, yes?

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I’m doing my best to avoid that knit-tastrophe though.  By starting a new cross stitch.

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I was just going to pick out the colors but…well, you know how it goes.

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I’m reeeeeeeealllllly going to avoid all these avoidances today though.  Time to buckle down and get Bill out of the corner.  Better to deal with any potential knit-tastrophe now.   I’ve got 13 days and 10 hours until it’s Murray Time!!!

I got this!

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It’s been a couple weeks since the Bill Murray sweater hit the needles.  After a seemingly slow start, things really took off this weekend.  My work is finally recognizable as a garment!

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Hopefully over the long weekend, I’ll get some daylight knitting hours…or at least daylight knitting photography hours!  The pics aren’t great but you get the idea.   One thing I’m totally digging…I can wear my hair down and Bill will still be visible!  Woot!  I really didn’t want to wear my hair up but Bill deserves to be seen.

Last weekend, my progress was accelerated by a decision to go with a hi-lo sort of style.  I like it for knitting reasons–less to knit on a deadline is always good.  But I also like it for design reasons.  I’m hoping it creates a kind of seam.  In the absence of an actual seam, this hi-lo style definitely creates a break between front and back.

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I’m feeling optimistic that this will not only become a wearable garment but it will be a wearable garment that’s ready in time for the Bill Murray concert!!

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This is so much better than a framed piece of knitting that just hung on the wall!  I’m excited to finish it!  Fingers crossed that the excitement continues for the next 2.5 weeks.  That’s all I need to finish it on time.

I’ve adopted a ‘Little Engine that Could’ mantra to help me stay on track…I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can.  Wooooo! Wooooo!

Bill Murray: The Plan

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I’ve talked about a Bill Murray sweater a lot.  The time has come to put my money where my mouth is.  I think, maybe, the hard part is done…the Bill Murray part.

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Someone recently suggested that I had a lovely poster of Bill Murray.  So just to be clear, this is a portrait of Bill Murray THAT I KNIT.   This is not a poster!  If you want to read Bill’s origin story, you can find it here.   Then there was the time I decided Bill needed to become a sweater, here, in 2015.

I’ve been thinking about it a long time.  I’ve explored a few ideas but ultimately, I’m keeping the original idea I had back in 2015.

The Bill Murray sweater is actually going to be a Bill Murray vest.

The new portions of the project will be worked in a variety of grey, white and off-white stripes.  I’ll never match the original yarn, so I’m not even going to try.

Construction is going to be started by picking up stitches around the edge of the piece, leaving armholes at the top corners and working outward.

I don’t want a shawl collar.

I do want to do my shaping via short rows.

Those were the basics I started from.  From there, I got stitches on the needles.

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Now that I’ve got the first couple inches, I’m starting to make shaping decisions.  I’m adding short rows to the bottom edge so allow some flare.  I’m not going to go all the way to ‘swing coat’ but I’ve got hips that need to be accounted for.

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Apparently I’m a sucker for weaving in ends.

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I’m having fun making stripes.  Not sure I’m really making a garment just yet though.  The top has definitely retained it’s squareness.

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I don’t really have a plan for the shoulders.  I’m not sure how to smooth the transition from the back to the front.  I’m hoping the solution presents itself as I go.

I’ve got 23 days and 21 hours to figure it out.

Ready. Set. Go.


 

Weekend Stash Enhancement

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I visited another new bay area yarn shop this weekend, The Black Squirrel in Berkeley.  It’s a nice, bright, open space with an amazing yarn wall.  They have a small, trendy selection of yarn.

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It’s kind of amazing that I only came home with three skeins.  I don’t usually do trends but speckle yarn is one trend I am on board with!

There were maybe 3 or 4 different indie dyers represented on the wall.  I went with Spun Right Round, a dyer from Rochester, NY.  This is the sock base, an 80/20 superwash wool/nylon blend.  In colors Caterpillar and Idle Gossip.

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For a quick minute, I thought, I should do one of those faded sweaters.  I think I’ve come to my senses since then.  I’ve got too many WIPs for that but just in case I decide to do a fade of some kind, my third color is the perfect neutral for a fade, Newsprint.

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White with black speckles…an instant classic!

I’m not casting the yarn on yet but I did have time for another little project I picked up.

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A christmas ornament cross-stitch kit.

They worked up quick and turned out super cute.

 

Pre-Thanksgiving isn’t too early for a Christmas tree, is it?

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And, I managed to make progress, this weekend, on the Bill Murray Sweater too.  Good progress I think.  I’ll share some details and photos for WIP Wednesday!   Hopefully it’ll look like something by then!


 

AFO Friday #2

Last week AFO Friday was Almost Finished Friday.  This week the “A” is for Actually Finished!  Woooo!

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I have fully and completely, knit the same sweater two times.  Cat Sweater #1.  Cat Sweater #2.

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(the time change sure has killed my chances of taking good knitting photos!)

The pattern is called Professor Meow, from KnitPicks.  It was an easy knit.  There’s no shaping.  The intarsia is not outrageous.  The gauge is bulky.  There are no sleeves.  The finishing work is minimal.  Overall I give the pattern two thumbs up.

Interestingly, I did knit the EXACT same sweater.  Or rather, I knit the same number and type of stitches, just in different sizes.  One of these sweaters is for my sister.  I’m a bit wider than she is.  Instead of knitting two different pattern sizes, I decided I would knit the same size on different needles.  I went from a size 9, up to a size 10.5.

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The pattern is written ‘knit to XYZ inches’, so the length doesn’t change.  I was surprisingly consistent on that part. The kitty on the right is definitely wider though, the effect of the larger needles.  So, turns out, yes, gauge does matter.

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Behind my lovely sweaters, you may have noticed my finished Log Cabin Blanket. It hasn’t changed much from the last progress photos.

It made a nice cat sweater photo shoot backdrop though.

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And of course, the little paw print on the back.  So cute!

The best part of this sweater isn’t it’s cuteness though.

It’s the crazy factor.

I wore my new sweater out and about on Sunday.  It was an Open Studio weekend so I walked all around, from studio to studio looking at ridiculous art.  I wasn’t inspired by any of it.  Disliked it all.  But, I was inspired by all the crazy old ladies who liked my sweater.  Hearing their praise was a nice reminder that I march to the beat of my drummer for a reason…might as well celebrate it.  I couldn’t wear designer clothes even if my life depended on it.  I can, however, knit myself a cat sweater.

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My sister doesn’t live close enough to have a twinsy day…at least not yet.  I’m really looking forward to when it happens though.  If one person does it, it may be crazy.  If two people do it, it’s a movement!

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And, I’ve started my next goofy garment, finally.  The so-called Bill Murray sweater is underway.

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If this works out, I’m going to be quite pleased with myself!  I’ve only got a month to finish it, so stay tuned for progress tout de suite!