Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Tangle: Mosaic Ammonites

"Mosaic Ammonites"

This zentangle was inspired by "Not Atoll," a mosaic by Sonia King. I love her mosaics, and this particular one had elements I thought would translate well to zentangling. (Her website was down at the time of this writing, so here is an alternate link to "Not Atoll").

"Not Atoll", a mosaic by Sonia King

Unfortunately, the pic of my Zentangle doesn't show the effect I achieved by using Sargent Art Metallic Markers for the blue and silver - they gave a wonderful metallic shine to the piece!

Here's a little recap of my weekend full of "Possibilities:"

Naturally, beading won out. No surprise there. I had taken home a pattern from an old, old Beadwork Magazine - I had torn the page out of the magazine way back when it came out, and the page doesn't even have the date on it. Sorry!

So this is how I spent Sunday afternoon: The pattern is called "Beaded Pillow Beads" - and basically calls for stitching up 2 peyote/herringbone triangles, and then stitching them together to make a puffy beaded bead.

This is the same pattern I played with weekend before last, but I had chosen galvanized beads, and the colors were coming off on my fingers (leaving no color on the beads!) - so I had chosen some non-galvanized beads this time.

Here is my bead:
The pattern called for making the triangles have 13 rounds; I stopped at 11 (it has to be an odd number of rounds, in order for the triangles to stitch together properly). I'm glad I stopped at 11, and didn't waste any time making these any bigger, because I'm not real thrilled with the result.

It's cute, and a clever idea, but if you look at the pics, you can pretty quickly see that these "beads" don't have any holes for stringing.

My plan had been to make 5 of them: 1 larger than this one, 2 this size, and 2 smaller, and then string them as the centerpiece of a beadwoven rope. But I don't want to mess with trying to string beads with no holes - I know it can be done, I just don't choose to. Plus, the triangles are really tricky to sew together; if you look at the last pic (click to enlarge), you can see my thread showing at the lower left, where the corner of the bottom triangle (the dark blue beads) meets the middle of the side of the top triangle - I should have pulled harder and reinforced this stitch, but I didn't see it until this macro shot called it to my attention!.

So I have a little, lone, novelty peyote puffy bead.

But wait .... there's more!

I naturally spent several hours Sunday and Monday morning on Pinterest (which was on my list of possibilities). Check!

Sunday afternoon I made the bead. Check!

Monday afternoon (hold on to your hats...) I vacuumed and mopped my whole downstairs. That's a big deal for me. I wanted to do the upstairs, but once I had finished the downstairs, I was over it.

Clean house - partial Check!

Then I spent several hours finishing my Zentangle. Check!

So I was surprisingly productive! I even squeezed in a little reading. Yay!

Now, back to work on my freeform netting, which is almost finished - double yay!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Aahhh ... what to do today?

I'm sitting in my warm bed, under the electric blanket - all toasty! Drinking my White Chocolate Raspberry cappuccino, pondering my day. I have 2 full days off stretching in front of me!

I slept in - an extra 90 minutes. Great start!

Got up, let the dog out (after a 5 minute search, blind, for my GLASSES - I really need a clapper for the damn things!). Made the cappuccino. Back to bed.

Turned on GMA (thank you, DVR!) - only to discover that today's "news" is all basketball, all the time. That isn't news, folks - it is sports. Yuck. Fast forwarded through all of it.

It is nasty cold and rainy outside.

I am just a few hours away from finishing my latest freeform beading design, but because it involves about 40 individual piles of the various beads I am adding to it (I was bored on Friday, and I counted - 47 piles!), it is not really portable, so it is over in Georgia, sitting on my beading table at the shop.

I brought home a new project, one I tried to start last weekend, but the galvanized beads I had hastily chosen on my way out the door last Saturday evening were being naughty: As I worked the project's first few rows, my fingers started turning purple, and the purple beads starting turning silver. Hmmmm. I have never had that happen with galvanized beads, although I have heard about it. I decided I didn't want to waste time working with those beads, so I scrapped it. Now I have some non-galvanized beads to try, but I'm not as thrilled about the colors - but anyway, beading is a possibility.

I started a new Zentangle last night, so I could work on that.

I could read. I have hundreds of books on my Kindle that I'd like to read - especially the excellent one I'm in the middle of right now: Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore!  I discovered this book on my friend Karin's blog - and it is excellent. It is truly one of those "can't put down" books - I want to know how it ends, but I will be so sorry when there is no more of it to read!

Mr. Penumbra - one of the best books I've ever read

And of course, I could waste spend the entire day on Pinterest ...

Here's what I NEED to do: clean the house. Ugh. 2 whole days? I could really make a dent in it!

  • bead weaving
  • zentangling
  • reading
  • Pinterest-ing
  • cleaning house
4 of my 5 choices allow me to remain in my warm bed, in my PJs!
1 is comparable, in my mind, to getting a root canal while listening to an endless loop of fingernails on the blackboard.

So, how should I spend my day?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tangle Tuesday: Moo(ka)lips - Happy Spring!

Mooka is a challenging tangle pattern for me, because of the curving lines: curved lines are hard for me to tangle with - they want to go everywhere except where I want them to go!

When I look at mooka, I see flowers; tulip buds, to be specific - Mooka looks like a tulip, waiting to unfurl. I wanted to see what would happen if I tried to use Mooka as actual flowers, and this is the result:


I call this one "Moolips"- tulips made of Mooka!

Naturally, I wanted big, bold, red tulips! Tulips are my favorite flower ever. When I lived in Indiana, I used to plant hundreds of tulip bulbs every year, adding to my growing tulip explosion in the Spring, but here in the South, they just do NOT come back every year, because our winters just don't get cold enough, so I ultimately gave up (after trying for a few years). I miss them! But I still have my daffodils!

In addition to Mooka, some of the tangles I incorporated into today's Tangle include Toeter and LinQ.

green parrot tulip - do you see the resemblance to Mooka?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Freeform Netting Necklace Update

This is how my freeform netting necklace (WIP!) looks this morning (it's my first attempt at freeform netting; I started it a couple of weeks ago):

freeform netting WIP

freeform netting detail

The embellishment beads I'm adding are citrine (in about 7 different sizes, shapes, and colors - look at those gorgeous faceted citrine rounds in the pic above!), hessonite, and freshwater pearls.

The necklace is in the "ugly duckling" stage right  now, where I'm not loving it too much. I still love the colors, but the stitching just isn't there yet. But I know if I keep working with it, it will turn out fine! It's funny how freeform pieces almost always go through these "ugly duckling" phases!

I haven't been able to work on it as much as I'd like, so this project is stretching out, time-wise. I have to regroup and gather my thoughts on this one every time I sit down to work on it, because it's been so long since the last time I worked on it! I hate when my beading gets interrupted!

I somehow got the piece twisted yesterday as I was stitching the last row; I ended the row at the stop bead, instead of on the opposite side. Oops. I looked to see if it made a difference, and I couldn't really tell, due to the wandering freeform stitching I had been doing in the middle section (the embellished section). This wandering stitching was what let me lose my place to begin with, and it's what makes me love the look of freeform, but since this happened at the end of the day, and I was tired, I need to take a fresh look at it this morning. I'll either half to take out half a row (no big deal with netting) or I'll just pick up where I put it down last night, and keep stitching.

I need to make the side pieces a little wider, so they are more proportional to the clasp I plan to stitch for this piece. Then I'll embellish the sides, and continue working with the front.

When I finish this necklace, instead of putting all the beads away, I'm going to make a freeform bracelet to go with it (hopefully, accompanied by one of my beady bloggy friends!). I am really crazy about these neutral colors!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday Tangle

I'm still exploring all the tangle patterns out there - this one looks like a quilt to me!

I wanted to use all new (to me) patterns, but found myself falling back on some old favorites, too.

Patterns I used in this tangle:
W2 (variation)
Double Deez
crescent moon
web (do you see the spider?)
tempest blockz

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Trip to the Gem and Mineral Show

The Augusta Gem and Mineral Society is hosting their annual Gem and Mineral Show this weekend, and I closed the bead shop yesterday so I could scoot downtown and scope out the goodies!

Ostensibly, I was going so I could find some unusual things to offer for sale at the shop. Truthfully, I knew I was going because I love to look at all the fossils and gemstone specimens. Just looking, mind you - I would never buy any ..... says the woman with cabinet after cabinet after cabinet of fossil and gemstones in her home!

The good news: I found a few cabochons and other focals for the shop (and for my own silversmithing).
The bad news: I was behind 4 school buses as I approached the venue, and since it was 10AM, I had a sneaking suspicion where they were headed. Sure enough, they pulled in right in front of me, and discharged some 425+ school kids for a field trip to the Gem and Mineral Show. Ugh.

It was loud, and super-crowded in there, and very hard to get to the tables and displays. The headache that I already had soon blossomed into a Super Headache.

But I saw so many gorgeous rock and gemstone specimens. I wish I had had my camera with me (I purposely didn't take it, because I wanted my hands free for touching!) I saw many unusual specimens that up until yesterday, I had only seen on my Pinterest Gem and Mineral Board!

Here are some of the rocks that followed me home:

A fossil trilobite (in matrix);
Trilobite - Andalusia. Devonian Age, Morocco

 I think the back is almost as pretty as the front!
What you can't tell from these pics is that this specimen is 12 inches wide - it is basically the size of a small serving platter. I love it!

Citrine in matrix - unbelievable golden color!

This side view of the citrine specimen shows the crystal morphology and growth pattern.

This citrine was another large specimen - about 9 inches across. Absolutely stunning.

A gorgeous amethyst geode, 10 inches tall:
 amethyst geode

And as if this geode weren't lovely enough, all on its sparkly own,  if you look closely at the above pic, you can see some dark brown circles coming around either side - these are what make this piece special to me:

These brown circles represent an orbicular agate, growing alongside the amethyst (or, one is replacing the other - I don't know. Doesn't matter - they are together in this pretty specimen!) In this particular picture, there are some brown crystals visible mixed in with the amethyst; these are probably smoky quartz.

Elestial quartz:
Elestial quartz - mixture of clear and smoky quartz

This is a new one for me - never heard of it! The lady who owned the booth filled me in on its metaphysical properties (I just picked it out because it was pretty!) - I Googled it, and learned that elestial quartz consists of multilayered or etched quartz crystals with many small terminated crystal formations all over it; the most common elestials are smoky quartz, clear quartz, and citrine. Amethyst elestials are rare and ametrine elestials even more rare. Mine is a mixture of clear and smoky quartz.

This stunning opalized ammonite:
 Opalized ammonite, with brilliant gold, orange, and green fire.

Can you see the incredible fossilized leaves in this specimen? - I took a more detailed shot, just in case - this was breathtaking, to me.

Look at the fossilized leaves in this ammonite, and the flashes of opal fire!

Fossilized sand dollar; whole, intact clam; and sea urchin:
fossil sand dollar, clam, and sea urchin

Some quartz points (which didn't photograph well) and aqua aura points for wire wrapping:
aqua aura points and quartz points

More ammonites (sorry - the pic is over-exposed) - for wire wrapping, bezel setting, bead weaving, etc.:

Some colorful dyed agate slices (I can think of so many cool ways to use these!):
 Dyed agate slices

They may not look too impressive in this photo, but look what happens when I hold them up to the light:

I love how you see the delicate veins in this blue one!

I love the colorful blue ruffles on the edge of this one!

Last, but not least, the cabs:
clockwise from top left: turquoise, sodalite, charoite, charoite, larimar

clockwise from top center: banded agate/quartz geode, rainforest jasper, magnesite, chrysoprase, rainforest jasper, and chrysocolla (center)

top row: dalmatian jasper; middle row: lapis; bottom: opals

I really scored, right?!

If I had an unlimited budget, I would pretty much have a house full of rocks - I have no idea where I am going to put these new ones!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Freeform Peyote Collar is now available on Etsy!

This gorgeous statement collar/neckpiece has been on display in my bead shop for the past few weeks, and I've had a lot of compliments, comments, and questions about it. Some of the more "interesting" remarks include: "Did you glue all those beads on there?" and "I hope you ask at least $100 for that."

So it is now available on Etsy, for slightly more than $100. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday Tangle: A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It

My idea was to have a zentangle "stream"  meander through my zentangle, acting as the string. So I thought, "why not use the 'River' tangle pattern as the stream? And pretty, meandering streams are blue, so let's use a blue pen for this section."

My meandering stream quickly turned into a raging river, taking up WAY more space on my paper than intended. This is a problem I keep running into (see last week's flower) - so I need to work on this!

I decided my river needed some river rocks lining its bed, and then I was left with very little space to tangle.
I put a striped, curvy Hollibaugh at the bottom, one I am calling Blockz in the middle, and then "Egyptian" at the top left. (This tangle may have another name - I don't know. I found it on a video of a master zentangling class, and the person using it called it "Egyptian" so that is what I call it, too!) In this case, now that I look at it here, it looks like the sun shining down on my River! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Why I'm quitting "Dancing With the Stars"

...watching it, that is.

 Dear Dancing with the Stars: You're doing it wrong.

I used to be the biggest Dancing With the Stars (DWTS) fan of them all. Seriously. DVR'd every episode, watched all the press. Burned all the episodes AND interviews onto DVDs for posterity (and later re-viewing!) Even called in to vote!

But somewhere along the line, DWTS has lost its way. Season 15 (the All-Stars) WAS better than a few of the previous seasons, but now Season 16 is on the horizon, and after watching the GMA cast announcement, I looked at the pros and cons of continuing to watch, and I have to say that the scales have tipped.  I'll no longer be watching. I have deleted the Season Pass from my Tivo, and will be moving on. (Although I will still read the deliciously snarky recaps on Television without Pity, …at least until those few contestants whose names I even recognize from the new cast are eliminated, and I no longer care at all.)

Keep watching DWTS ... or Quit? 

The Ho-hum cast: 11 cast members were announced on Tuesday, 2/26/13, (on Good Morning America)– an odd number, both literally and figuratively – usually there is an even number of contestants on DWTS. Maybe ABC is going to pull another one of those gimmicky deals where America Votes! to select the remaining cast member – but it's getting a little close to the season premier date to announce another cast member – it would give the previously-announced cast the advantage of more time for training. Maybe ABC could only dredge up 11 people this season.

So let's take a closer look at the lackluster cast for Season 16:

DWTS tends to pluck cast members from the B, C, and D lists – because, obviously – A-listers don't need DWTS to perk up their careers and/or bank accounts, and even if an A-lister wanted to dance on DWTS, they are probably booked into other commitments that would prevent them from signing on for the duration of the Season (however long or short that may be for them). With that said, Season 16 has managed to do something no other DWTS season has done: I literally don't even know who more than half of this seasons contestants are! Which makes it kind of difficult to care!

  1. Zendaya Coleman – Never Heard of Her. Evidently, she is a Disney Star (ABC's parent company). More about that later. 
  2. Andy Dick – I have to admit, I am a fan (or at least, I used to be) – I remember him from Less than Perfect, where he was absolutely hysterical. But he is now better known for his outrageous, unpredictable "behavior"…. 
  3. Dorothy Hamill - I am a huge fan of this legendary Olympic Gold Medalist (figure skating) – more about this later. 
  4. D.L. Hughley – a comedian; not my cup of tea. At all. 
  5. Jacoby Jones – Never heard of him. Apparently, he plays football. More about that later. 
  6. Wynonna Judd – country singer. I hate country music. 
  7. Victor Ortiz – no clue. Evidently, a boxer. More on that later. 
  8. Kellie Pickler – don't know her. According to the internet, she was on American Idol. Which I don't watch. 
  9. Ingo Rademacher – I'm a fan. Ingo played Jax on General Hospital for years and years, and between his gorgeous looks and that dreamy Australian accent, what's not to love? 
  10. Aly Raisman – never heard of her. Apparently, she is one of the Fab Five. No clue. Turns out, they won a gymnastics medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics – which I didn't watch. I don't do sports. Plus, the only name I remember being associated with gymnastics last summer was Gabby somebody. And I don't care enough to look up her last name, because it doesn't matter. She's not on DWTS.
  11. Lisa Vanderpump – don't know her, but months ago I made myself a rule: "Never watch a TV show with a 'Vanderpump' on it". Whatever a "Vanderpump" might be. Why the rule? Because I had just been subjected to the bazillionith (what, it's a number!) awful, obnoxiously loud commercial on Bravo for something called "Vanderpump Rules" while trying to watch stuff I actually wanted to watch on Bravo. And I decided, "I think I need a Vanderpump rule: No Vanderpumps."
Interesting (to me) asides:
  • Several days before the cast was announced on Good Morning America, ABC began running promos for the cast announcement. These promos featured judge Bruno Tonioli saying something like, "You think you know, but you don't know!" I took that to mean that the cast would be shocking! We'd be surprised, and excited! No way we could prepare for the shock! Turns out, Bruno meant it literally – I actually don't know (most of) them! And it's not just me: several press outlets have called the cast "Google-worthy", as in, the press also had to Google them to find out who they were! [Here's one.]
  • On GMA during the cast announcement, Brooke Burke-Charvet stage-whispered to Tom Bergeron something along the lines of: "I was surprised at how rumors about the cast were on the down-low this season." OK – A) What she meant was, there hadn’t been as much speculation about the cast as in previous seasons. Just another example of Brooke's nodding acquaintance with the English language. And B) there wasn't much speculation about the cast, because they are boring.
And while we're on the subject of the cast, let's break down this casting stuff a little bit more – get ready for more opinions!

The Casting is too formulaic. The way I see it, DWTS has certain categories/types of contestants that they "need" to fill each season (bonus points when a contestant crosses over into more than one category – it's up to you to figure out where these cross-overs are for Season 16!) (Note: any examples I provide from previous seasons are not meant to be all-inclusive.)
  • The Pro Football player: Jacoby Jones – check! (see also: Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, et.al.) 
  • The Olympian: Aly Raisman – check! (see also: Kristi Yamaguchi, Shawn Johnson, Apolo Ohno, et. al.) – and yes, I have NOT included Dorothy Hammill here – I have a reason (stay tuned!) 
  • The Random, non football, non-Olympian athlete: Victor Ortiz – check! (see also: Louie Vito, Misty May-Treanor, Evander Holyfield, Laila Ali, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Monica Seles, Martina Navratilova, et. al) 
  • The ABC Soap star: Ingo Rademacher – check! (see also: Kelly Monaco, Cameron Matheson, JR Martinez, Susan Lucci, et. al.) 
  • The Disney Star: Zendaya Coleman – check! (see Kyle Massey, Roshon Fagan, Cody Linley, et.al.) 
  • The Reality "Star": Lisa Vanderpump – check! (see also: Bristol Palin, Melissa Rycroft, Trista Sutter, Kim & Rob Kardashian, Jake Pavelka, Audrina Patridge, et. al.) 
  • The Quirky one (e.g. the Incomprehensible choice): Andy Dick – check! (see also: Steve-O, Penn Jillette, Master P., Steve Wozniak, Jeffrey Ross, et. al.) 
  • The Old one: No obvious entry this season (see: Jane Seymour, Buzz Aldrin, Florence Henderson, Cloris Leachman, et. al.) 
  • The model/pageant girl: another overlooked category this season! (see Petra Nemcova, Paulina Porizkova, Rachel Hunter, Shanna Moakler, Shandi Finnessey) 
  • The Unwatchable one (probably not a viable category where DWTS Producers are concerned, but definitely a real category as far as I'm concerned – see: Nancy Grace, Niecy Nash, Sherri Shepherd, et. al.) I don't have an obvious pick for this category in Season 16, although Wynonna Judd is this >< close (and getting closer every time she does press for the upcoming season)! Much like many "unwatchables" who have preceded her (oh, like, say, Sherri, and Niecy), Wynonna is NOT as funny and cute as she thinks she is. 
 this frightens me

and . . .
  • The Overweight one: Wynonna Judd – check! (see also: Kirstie Alley, Marissa Jarett Winoker, Ricki Lake, Kelly Osbourne, Sherri Shepherd, et.al.)
 [NOTE: this category has nothing to do with singling someone out because of their size – I couldn't care less, as long as they are serious about trying to dance (and in fact, they frequently do quite well in the competition). I made this a separate category because the media, the overweight contestants, and the show itself usually cannot get beyond the weight, making constant references to their stamina, fitness, abililty to keep up, speculation about weight loss thus far, etc. Heck, during last Tuesday's cast announcement segment on GMA, someone (Sam Champion, maybe?) asked Judd how much weight she hopes to lose during the season. So get ready for repeated references to her shrinking size if she makes it beyond week 2 or 3! Contestants in this category almost always turn to humor (a carefully-crafted defense mechanism which develops over years) - and the humor is almost always self-deprecating (which can get old, fast). So we can also expect more of what we saw from Judd last Tuesday, and have seen before (Kirstie and Maks, Sherri and Val): the "I am a big-ole sexy gal, and I bet this hot guy I'm dancing can't wait to hit this" humor. Yawn. I'm not saying big girls can't be sexy; I'm saying that none of the other female contestants are blatantly coming on to their pros for the camera (unless involved in an actual relationship...), and it's a tired cliche.]

Here are my thoughts on the casting:
  • As I see it, viewers who turn in to watch celebrity non-dancers dress up in sequins and Spandex and try to ballroom dance are NOT likely to be die hard ESPN fans. Of course, athletes also tend to be in the best physical shape, and are usually gifted with more grace and coordination than your average regular human (although DWTS has certainly had its share of exception to this "athletes tend to excel" rule. Certain tennis players come to mind…). And certainly gymnasts and figure skaters have a leg up, so to speak, when it comes to musicality and choreography. So I understand why DWTS pulls heavily from the sports world for its contestants - the athletes tend to be the better dancers. But on the flip side, I can't get excited about watching football players, boxers, basketball players, etc. on DWTS. I'm just not a fan! It's a sports thing – and I'm just not on board. (And a special note to Helio Castroneves: driving a car for a living doesn't make you an athlete any more than surfing the internet makes me one. Just sayin'. And yes, I know you won DWTS. But not because you are an athlete. But I digress.) I just really have to wonder how large the crossover is between sports fans and fans of spandex-clad, glittery, spray-tanned ballroom dancers.
  •  Footballers do well on DWTS. As do most athletes, especially Olympians. Which brings me to Dorothy Hammill. I grew up in the world of competitive figure skating (I could have been a contender if my Mother hadn't hated the cold weather in Minnesota, and made us move to the non-frozen, non-ice rink enabled Deep South!) and remember watching Dorothy Hammill win Olympic Gold at Innsbruck. Clearly, she has a few years on Aly Raisman – but Dorothy Hammill is an Olympian, too. So I was amazed AND horrified when several entertainment shows (sorry – I can't remember which ones!) trivialized Ms. Hammill's career and accomplishments by saying "I remember her famous haircut" (or something like that.) Seriously? You are reducing an Olympic Gold Medalist to a trendy haircut in the 1970s? (Of course you are, after all, Michelle Obama made news for 2 weeks last month when she got HER hair cut.) Yes, GMA made it clear that Aly Raisman is the Olympian on DWTS this season. But GMA isn't alone – other (print and TV) press coverage similarly discounts Ms. Hammill*, with statements along the lines of "Olympian Aly Raisman joins the cast", and adding Dorothy Hammill somewhere down the list. Yeah, this one really got under my skin. I understand that these 2 Olympic medal winners are separated by decades, and Ms. Raisman's physical conditioning and abilities are in the full bloom of youth. My point is, they are both Olympic gold medalists. Period. And I predict Ms. Hammill will do well on DWTS. 
         (*from Time Entertainment: "An Olympian, a Dick, and an American Idol alumna are all slated to take a turn on the dance floor on Dancing with the Stars..." How hard would it have been for Time to say "Two Olympians?" Further down, they distinguish between the two by calling Raisman an Olympian, and Hammill a "former Olympian." Maybe that is standard practice when an Olympian retires from their sport ... I don't know. But as I recall, Kristi Yamaguchi won Olympic Gold AND last skated competitively in 1992, long before her 2008 DWTS win, yet she was billed as an Olympian that season. )

OK - the Hammill Horse (no relation to the Hammill Camel) is dead now - I will quit beating it.
  • The Disney Factor – I'm aware that Disney is ABC's parent company. I get that these kids need something to keep them off the street (kidding!) – But I see the casting of these very young people as evidence that DWTS either doesn't understand or doesn't appreciate its demographic. I just don't see crowds of tweens (and younger kids) tuning in to this show. And I certainly don't care about these Disney kids. Maybe ABC is just trying to "grow" its demo by dipping into the tween set and the ESPN set – OK, but only at the risk of marginalizing and alienating others… 
  • The supermodels/pageant winners: I see this as another attempt (after casting football players and boxers) to pull in the male demo (much like Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition). These contestants are usually pretty awkward, with very little personality. Not sure why else they would be cast. Just sayin'.
OK. Enough about the celebrities.

One note about the professional cast – Maks Chmerkovskiy isn't dancing on Season 16. Maks was one of the best things about DWTS. He has personality, a sense of humor, unparalleled dancing skills, he's nice to look at – he is a delight to watch. He has drawing power. All other factors aside, if Maks were dancing this season, you wouldn't be reading this, because I would never have written it.  I would be right there watching every week.

 Bye, Maks 

Moving on – let's look at some more reasons I've grown weary of Dancing with the Stars:

The Gimmicks: Theme nights, marathons – I'm just not a fan of the gimmicks. One theme night per season, I could handle, but every, single week? Make it stop! Movie night, rock night, country night, pick a style for your partner night, inspirational story night, choose a style for the competition night, and remember this one: "stupid theme night" (Caveman Hustle”? "Knight Rider Bhangra”? “Surfer Flamenco"? OK – maybe it wasn't officially called "stupid theme night" But it should have been. Agonizing, it was.)

I'm more of a purist: I tune in for the dancing (and personalities), and would really love to see all the contestants dance the same style on the same night. It makes it a lot easier for viewers to compare technique when everyone is dancing the same style! It's hard to compare Kirstie Alley's rumba with Melissa Rycroft's jive!

The Judging: Note: this is NOT about the judges. I love Len, Carrie Ann, and Bruno – it is wonderful to have talented judges who know what they are talking about when they provide critiques (pay attention, So You Think You Can Dance, with your stupid stunt casting in that guest judge's chair!)

This is about the judging itself: the DWTS judges are not consistent:

  • Their judging is not consistent from contestant to contestant. The judges make it very clear whom they expect better performances and technique from, and score accordingly. A performance by a struggling contestant may receive an 8 or better, whereas the same level of performance by a better dancer may receive a 7 or lower, because the judges expect more from that dancer - this is not fair. Crappy dancing deserves a crappy score. This is not peewee soccer, where everyone gets a trophy just for showing up! 
  • The judges aren't consistent with each other. Carrie Ann shouldn't deduct a point for a lift while Len and Bruno give the same performance a 10 because it was "entertaining". Len shouldn't deduct a point for dropping hold (where same is not allowed) if Carrie Ann and Bruno are going to ignore it, because they were "entertained". Leave the subjectivity to the voting public - we all know it ultimately comes down to popularity, anyway (versus actually being 100% about the dancing) 
  • The scoring peaks too early. Contestants that are scoring 9s (or 9.5s, if the half-point paddles return) in week 2 and 3 have no room for improvement, yet are FAR from perfect. (But they were head and shoulders above the really bad dancers the judges shouldn't have given that 8 to...) When these overscored contestants do improve, the judges have to reward that improvement with a 10 because there is nowhere else to go, despite obvious technical mistakes. 
10 means perfection. Period. 10s are grossly misused and overused on DWTS. Save the 10s for truly perfect performances! A 10 should be something to strive for, not something to start whining about in week 5, when 6 other contestants have gotten 10s, but you haven't .... "Waaah .... I deserve a 10 ..." Happens. A lot.)

 Carrie Ann, Len, and Bruno, giving out those 10s

The endlessly-bloated results show: An encore performance? Please - we saw it less than 24 hours ago, producers! Musical performances by artists I don't care about? With some dancing by "the troupe?" Get rid of these - needless filler. And those crazy scripted intro/recaps Brooke and Tom read before announcing whether a contestant is safe? Complete with playback from the night before? Just stop. Macy's Stars of Dance - it's hit or miss, and if it's good? Showcase these exceptional performers on a Special - they don't need to be on DWTS. [I love what DWTS (and SYTYCD) are doing for dance - but I don't love how DWTS is doing it.] And all the manufactured suspense leading up to the elimination? Just boil everything down into a 30 minute show (which is still 20 minutes more than needed)

Thank goodness for my DVR – I would record the Tuesday night results show, then watch it on the DVR as soon as the live show ended, fast fowarding through all the filler and commercials to get the results. Took me 10 to 12 minutes.

Those orchestral versions of popular songs (with the dreadful singers): Ugggh. If Fox can get the real tunes for SYTYCD, surely ABC can, too.

Brooke Burke-Charvet: OMG. My Golden Retriever could give a better interview (because he's a better listener. Plus, everybody gets a big wet kiss - none of those Hollywood air kisses for Bailey!) Brooke is so eager to get out her canned questions that she frequently cuts off the responses, or actually responds inappropriately to what was said, because . . . she isn't listening. This is about the extent of Brooke's repertoire, and heaven forbid a contestant answers her in an unexpected way, because that throws her a major loop:
  • How did you feel about your dance? 
  • How do you feel about your score? 
  • How much do you want to win?
And remember how she painfully kept pushing Kelly and Val: "C'mon, you two are totally doing it, right?"

Tom B. and Brooke B-C 

Poor Brooke is nowhere without her script, her cards, and her earpiece, and she's still pretty lost with all of these prompts! Spontaneity is not her friend.

Bring back Drew Lachey! Please. Or give it to Lara Spencer! She'd be fantastic!

The Live Tweets, distractingly scrolling across the screen: This is a horrible trend that ABC has grabbed for all it's worth. They pop up like a visual assault, with their #s and @s and !s, hogging the screen.

Dear ABC: If I wanted to read tweets, with the squee-ing, hash-tagged, syntax-impaired blurtings of the fame-seeking TV-watching public, I would have a freakin' Twitter account. Get that crap off my screen. TV is not a social medium. I can form my own opinions! Quit trying to turn my evening entertainment into an interactive social event!

The good stuff:
  • Tom Bergeron: a fantastic, professional host – great sense of humor, quick on the uptake, and just the right amount of snark and irreverence. He gets that it's just entertainment, and no one is "dancing for their lives." 
  • Dance Center: It's not as funny and edgy as it used to be, but it's still fun. Love seeing what the guys will wear, (or not wear, Shirtless Len!). DWTS needs more Dance Center! 
Dance Center: Jerry, Kenny, and Len "skewer" the contestants

So back to my tipped scales: Not everything I've touched on impacted my decision – here's what it basically boiled down to:

Reasons to keep watching:
  • Ingo Rademacher – I'm a real fan, and he's pretty 
  • Andy Dick – I'm sure he will provide some funny and unforgettable moments.

Reasons to bail:
  • The cast is just boring. I don't know most of them, so I don't care what they do, or say, or how they dance. 
  • Wynonna Judd – her antics are already getting old, and that's just from 30 minutes on the GMA announcement show! 
  • The Results show – it is just too long.and boring 
  •  Live Tweets – I hate, hate, hate them. Minor factor in my decision, but a really annoying trend on TV these days 
  • No Maks – this is the kicker. I gave it triple weight in my decision because, I said before, everything else aside, if Maks were dancing, I'd be watching. (Of course, if Maks were making an appearance to read from the phone book, I still might tune in....)
So adios, DWTS (I'm sure you're crushed). I'll get my recaps on TWoP, and I can watch Andy and Ingo on YouTube!

[If you enjoyed reading this manifesto, I don't write them very often - usually we are all about the jewelry here. But I did write one about a year ago, addressing issues I had with the now-cancelled ABC show, The Revolution. I calls 'em like I sees 'em.]

Saturday, March 2, 2013

New Freeform Necklace Underway

I wanted to do another freeform beadweaving piece - I wanted to make a necklace, and decided to give freeform netting a try.

Here is my progress so far:

I have completed the "base," and am ready to start adding some larger stones.

When I was choosing beads, I was really drawn to these colors (not my usual colors - I am into blues/ greens, and purples, usually) - but I really like them together.

Here are my beady piles:
Notice the beads are in individual piles - I will NEVER make the mistake I made last time, and mix them together as soup! It may make it easier and faster and more "random", but my OCD tendencies just cannot stand it! I don't like working with them when they are mixed, and I absolutely have to get them all sorted afterwards!

Here is a more detailed look at the freeform netting:

It is working up a lot faster than the freeform peyote piece (yay!)