Coco before Chanel

The big disappointment in this
was that I didn’t really enjoy looking at the

This defect is inherent in one of the good qualities of the
movie — it’s about the period in Coco Chanel’s life when she’s
looking at all the clothes around her and hating them and
thinking she could do better.

But except for the last scene, where she’s wearing a Chanel
jacket and watching her models go down the runway, we don’t
really see any examples of her doing better — the dress she
designs for herself to replace the “feminine” one her
“protector” has bought her seemed fairly pedestrian to me. The
little black dress she designs to go dancing with her new lover
is better, but we don’t really see it very well.

Looking at the movie as either a moralist or a feminist, I
think the script romanticises the demimondaine lifestyle,
although I’m sure the writers would dispute that. The
self-centered lord of the manor whose mistress she becomes is
realistic enough at the beginning, but his conversion to
supporter of her design career is completely unconvincing.

I mentioned a few
weeks ago
that I hadn’t yet seen any of the other
candidates for the Best Costume Design Oscar, but I was rooting
for Bright
to win it anyway. This is part of the competition, and
having seen it doesn’t change that opinion any.

Bright Star

is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen about a poet.
The people who make movies in general do better with composers
— you’re going to need background music anyway. You can
actually have background poetry in some cases, as the reading of
Ode to a Nightingale over the closing credits of this movie
demonstrates, but it’s less common. But often they just take some
event in the poet’s life that could be part of the plot of a movie
and write that movie without using anything at all about the poetry.

What makes this a good movie about a poet is that there’s
ordinary dialog (well-written, but not transcendent), which is
then echoed in a recitation of one of the poems (which is
transcendent). Keats is making love to Fanny, and says
something like “I need a better word for you than bright, or
soft.” And several scenes later, he’s reading her:

BRIGHT star! would I were steadfast as thou art—
   Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
   Like Nature’s patient sleepless Eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task
   Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,

Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask
   Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
   Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
   Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

I was also really impressed with the costumes. It’s the Jane
Austen era, set between 1818 and 1821, so you have lots of
supposedly authentic BBC examples to compare them with. But
these costumes were made by someone who really likes looking at
fabric draped over the human body. Apparently the costume
designer used actual antique fabrics or copies.

Costume design was the only Academy Award this film was
nominated for. I’m not sure all the people nominated for Best
Actor and Best Actress were actually better than the two leads
in this film. And I haven’t yet seen the other films nominated
for Best Costume Design, but I liked this one well enough that
I’ll be rooting for it anyway.

Christmas Shopping Status

It’s a busy day (the afternoon at the Pub
Carol Sing
and the morning turning an old
client site
into a the
new wordpress-based site

So I’ll just tell you how the Christmas shopping is going.

I don’t do all of it online, but I have a firm rule
that I never go into any store that I don’t like. Which is most
stores during the Christmas shopping rush. After all, what would
I be doing buying presents for someone who doesn’t share enough
of my tastes to want something from one of the places I
like going to?

I don’t have that much to do, since I only buy things for my
mother and my sister. Occasionally the dogs, and occasionally a
stocking stuffer for someone else, but nothing very strenuous.

My sister’s birthday is December 15, so that means waiting
until the Christmas deadlines is out for her. And she’s a
musician who makes about 60% of her income in the month of
December, so I try to get her something for her birthday that
she can enjoy without spending time on it.

She doesn’t read this blog regularly, but there’s no
guaranteeing that she won’t peek at it sometime, so I can’t give
you details at this point. But I got her an article of clothing
similar to something I’ve really enjoyed wearing, and a book I’ve really enjoyed reading. Then she
asked for an LED
piano lamp
, so I ordered her that. I’ll be going down
there next weekend, so if the lamp arrives in time, that will be
the birthday present, and the surprise items will be the Christmas
presents. Otherwise the article of clothing will be the birthday
present and the book and the lamp will be for Christmas.

My mother pretends to not be able to turn her computer on, so
there’s no chance of her reading this blog item by accident, so
I can tell you in a little more detail about her presents. Her
asthma is even worse than mine, so I’m passing on the Asthma
I talked about a few days ago, and a roll of the surgical
I’ve been using since I read it, and
I got her some Tea
Tree Therapy Eucalyptus Chest Rub
, which I use as a lip

Incidentally, using the surgical tape to keep my mouth closed
when I sleep is working well — I seem to sleep better and wake
up more refreshed.

I should still get something more major for her, maybe a
houseplant or a heftier, prettier book. And I don’t have any
good ideas for the dogs. But this is farther along than I
usually am at this time of the year.

Following up


I mentioned that I’d retired my winter jacket for the Spring on
Good Friday. This turns out to have been a
couple of days early, as there was a cold, raw wind on Easter
Sunday morning. Since then, my lightweight spring jacket has been
fine, though.


Immediately after the Opening Day game that I wrote about, the Red Sox all (except first baseman
Kevin Youkilis) went into hitting slumps, and the starting
pitchers all had trouble getting hitters out. Luckily, the
defense and the bullpen were solid.
Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe wrote an article saying:

So the day after Beckett said the Sox have to pitch
better, have to play better, have to do everything better, nothing
was better.

And a disgruntled fan commented:

I fully understand that it is early but like Yogi
Berra once said It can get late early!

This week they seem to have gotten everything better, and the
starting pitchers are pitching for 6 and 7 innings and the hitters
are hitting the way we expect them to.

More transcription woes

I didn’t get the corrections to Upon a hill right the first
time. All the parts ended at the same time, but for every
cadence, the cantus part cadenced later than the other two parts.
I didn’t notice listening to the MIDI file, but
when the woman singing that part, who’s a very experienced singer,
was having real trouble making it sound right, I looked at the
score, and made some more adjustments.

Handmaid’s Tale

Read the Mccarthy review after posting my review, I think the
book has gotten a lot more scary since 1986.

Chocolate Chip Brioche

I went to a large party last night and baked two batches of my
bread machine brioche, one with fruit and nuts
and one with chocolate chips. People liked both of them, but I
don’t know that I’ll repeat the chocolate chip one. One of the
points of that recipe is how much fun the dough is to play with,
and with the warm chocolate chips in it, it isn’t as much fun.

MBT Shoes

I bought these
a couple of weeks ago, and thought I’d tell you about

The hype for MBT
is pretty aggressive, but at least some of it is
true. I haven’t lost thirty pounds in two weeks, or gotten to
really like standing in one place for hours at a time, but I
do feel there’s less strain on my joints when I walk and I
have better posture and I can
stand for a few minutes more easily.

Before buying them, I worried whether the rocking back and
forth would make me feel unbalanced. This is in general not
the case, but it is a little harder to walk on really uneven

I also worried about whether the oddly shaped sole would be a
problem for driving. It isn’t, but the first time I went to
stop at a red light, the extra height at the middle of the
sole did make the stop more sudden than I wanted. It’s easy
to get used to, though.

Some people have reported aching all over after their first
long walk in their first pair of MBT’s. I haven’t taken a
really long walk, but 2 and 3 miles doesn’t seem to do this to

I also thought they might look wierder than they do — the
oddly shaped sole isn’t really obvious from above, which is
how most people see your shoes. I never wear high-fashion
shoes with heels anyway, and there seems to be a fairly wide
range of styles and colors if you don’t need women’s high fashion.

It’s probably a good idea to find a place to try them on before
buying them cheaper by mail order. I didn’t do that, and I’m
not absolutely sure that a 38 wouldn’t have been better than a
37. In US sizes, I take a 6 1/2 women’s. This seems to be
much better standardized than most sizing — some 6 1/2’s fit
me better than others, but a 6 1/2 always seems to fit better
than a 6 or a 7.

However, if you convert to European sizes, I take a 37 in a
Birkenstock, which many sizing charts claim corresponds to a
US women’s 7. So I ordered a 37 for the MBT. It fits really
well through the heel, but is a little bit tighter than I
really like in the toes. So before I order another pair, I’ll
go somewhere and try a 38.