All posts by yarnzombie

In lieu of Christmas music

I’ve spent the day listening to A Tribe Called Quest’s 1993 album, Midnight Marauders. That’s right, old school hip hop, y’all!

That got me in the mood to do some fun spinning this morning. I’m guessing that since the weather forecast is calling for rain/ice/snow, lather, rinse, repeat over the next week, the humidity will be up and it’ll be a good time to work with fiber without becoming a huge static ball. Since the little bit that I have been spinning lately has all been thin stuff to make 2-ply sock yarn, I spun up some wool roving I dyed a few weeks ago into a bulky yarn – I’m guessing it’ll probably be knit with size 9 or 10 needles, but it may poof up even more than that. It’s hard to tell when it’s still on the bobbin.

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Then I combed up some superwash roving and added sparkle and nylon to it. Here’s a close up of one of the roving balls:

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It looks like sparkly sherbert! I spun up the first half of this roving (I think I came out with 4 3/4 ounces total of it) this morning.

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I think this is going to look wicked cool once it’s all plied. This is the first time I’ve spun some of the combed roving this thin. It took a little bit to get used to, but I hope the resulting yarn will be thin enough to use for socks. If not, I’ll figure out something else to do with it.

I’m looking forward to the impending winter storm mess, you know, providing that it doesn’t bring chaos and devastation to everything I know and love. I haven’t put up any Christmas lights outside yet, but maybe the snow will be all festive and pretty I can’t resist (or, again, maybe it’ll be an icy mess of doom!).

Impulse plant and my new boyfriend

Happy Caulking Day! It’s probably not really Caulking Day officially, but who says that any day can’t be Caulking Day? I realized yesterday that there was some pretty serious crackage going on around the window frames in our house, so today Travis and I bought some caulk at Lowes and set about trying to seal them up. For some reason, our heating bills are always uber-high, even though our house is on the small side (1200 square feet). We’ve been adding insulation to the attic (which is already pretty well insulated) here and there over the years, but it doesn’t seem to help much, so I’m pretty sure we have a giant heat sink somewhere else. I hope the big Caulking/Weatherstripping extravaganza we did earlier will help some, but as Travis said, it certainly can’t hurt.

While at Lowes, I bought an impulse plant:

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It’s a smallish aloe. It only cost about $3, so I figured I wasn’t out much if (more like “when”) it finally croaks. In addition to living in Heat Sink Manor, we are also unfortunately situated in No Natural Light Village. It doesn’t seem like we get hardly any natural light in this house. The one place where we have a ton is in our dining room, which has a bumped out bank of 4 windows and faces west. So in the afternoon, especially in the summer between 4:30 and 6:30 pm, the heat, it burns! In addition to this, I just happen to be really bad at keeping houseplants alive.

We have two – one is a biggish orange tree that we bought from Franklin Park Conservatory in the spring of 2001, before we moved to Ohio (we took a week’s vacation and had started looking for houses when we purchased it). The orange tree desperately needs transplanted to a larger pot. Also, it gets horribly crunchy during the winter. As soon as it gets warm enough in the spring, I stick it outside and let it fend for itself.

Our other plant is a really sad looking lucky bamboo that we’ve had for about 5 or 6 years. It’s recently started turning yellow and generally seems like it needs Prozac or something.

So today, at Lowe’s, I actually went ahead and bought some fertilizer for my poor plants. Amazing, I know! And since I figured I was (sorry, can’t help myself here) turning over a new leaf (again, sorry for the plant related pun), I went ahead and boldly picked out my baby aloe. I think Aloes are cool because their leaves are chunky, they don’t need much of anything, and when you burn yourself making Christmas cookies, you can relieve the hurt by squishing some of the aloey goodness from them. Hooray, aloe!

In other news, I have a new imaginary boyfriend. His name is Chris Hardwick (snicker! I’m 12!). He hosts, or co-hosts, or just appears randomly on some PBS show called Wired Science. Here’s a clip of him and Rainn (“Dwight” from The Office) Wilson looking at a bunch of ingredients for a mystery product:

I think I’m in love with him because he hates high fructose corn syrup as much as I do! [Swoon!]

Anyway, there are some other clips with him available on YouTube, and you can check out his snarky science blog here.

No new knitting content as of yet, as I’m just plugging away on gifty things. I may try to spin later, if I can control the rampant static electricity in the house.

Bloop

I have been in the No Blogging Zone for the past week. I think it’s because I’m pretty much entirely knitting gifts right now, and I can’t really blog about that lest I ruin any surprises. So I’m way behind on any sort on internet related stuff. I think my Googlereader has a bazillion different unread posts queued up for me. I’ve even been neglecting Ravelry, which I’m sure is going to doom me to knitting hell. So! Much! Pressure!

Anyway, in lieu of curling up in the fetal position and whimpering, or not blogging until after the holidays, here are some shiny pictures of some of the Christmas stuff I’ve been working on. I figured as long as you can’t really tell what you’re looking at, it’s cool. I just really dug the colors of these:

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This next one is from some yarn I dyed ages ago – it turned out pretty ugly at first, and I think I wound up overdyeing it twice to wind up with this color. I love, love, love the finished product, and have been holding out for a worthwhile project to use it on.

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The photo isn’t exactly true to life – the green is a bit darker and richer in real life.

This last one is knit from some Malabrigo I had hanging around the house. You can’t go wrong with Malabrigo; it’s such a joy to knit with yarn that is not only pretty but so insanely soft:

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I’ve got a bit more Christmas knitting to get done. Some projects are going along faster than others. The one that is really dragging is the one with all of the color changes, naturally. I’m going to start crying during the end-weaving-in part of it. Not really. Actually, that’s the one project I’ll be surprised if I actually finish in time for Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, the rules were put into place for my family’s Christmas over Thanksgiving. This year, in addition to having a $25 per person limit, we’re also each responsible for bringing a luxury food item to share with everyone on Christmas Eve – basically, some kind of food you’ve always wanted to try but couldn’t justify the cost, or something you’ve had once before and it was awesome and would like to share it with others. Something like that. I’m going to bring some kind of gourmet marshmallows, like these. I’m not even a huge marshmallow fan, but every time I see those big, square marshmallows at Whole Foods I’m overcome by marshmallow lust. It happens. Travis was thinking about bringing some of the dry-aged beef from Whole Foods, but I think there’s a no-cooking rule involved somewhere, so he may have to figure out something else. Anyway, feel free to throw out more luxury food suggestions, because I may end up grabbing something else.

A little late, but…

…Paul Simon in a turkey suit is classic.

Travis and I did the family rounds this Thanksgiving. We visited both of our families in Indiana and had a lot of fun and ate some really good food. Here’s Brandi, chilling out between courses at my parents’ house:

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Here’s some of our Thanksgiving spread:

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Mmm, brussel sprouts!

I got a fair amount of Christmas knitting done over the break as well. Some more socks, mainly. I’ve got quite a few more I’d like to get done, though. My nephew Tyler wants socks that look like mice. Hmm.

Hey, I read today that Chuck got picked up for basically a full season’s worth of episodes! Hooray, Chuck! Now, we just need some sensible headway made in the Writer’s Guild Strike.

Since I’ve really got nothing else today (secretive knitting kind of sucks), here’s the Grass Roots!

Fun TV trivia – which actor on a TV show that I love is featured at 1:50 in this video? Answer below the fold!

Continue reading A little late, but…

Random Monday!

I can’t help myself. It’s a combo of Spoon’s Don’t You Evah and a Peep-looking robot. WANT.

Yeah, I’ve done some spinning and stuff, too, but I’ll post about that later. Until then, there’s this:

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This post has been brought to you by the ‘Things That Are Yellow’ Council of America.

Hey! I think my sock mojo is back!

I think I’ve figured out what the problem was – I have a lot of thin sock yarn (anything that needs to be knit on a size 2 needle or smaller qualifies as thin in my book). I have a lot of Christmas socks I’d like to knit. I keep wanting to design patterns to show off all of this pretty sock yarn. However, I have the “Must… knit… more… socks!!” mantra going through my head, which is kind of making me freak out that I’m trying to do more designing than knitting. But yet, I still have skeins and skeins of the thin sock yarn to use.

My solution is to go all Cat Bordhi and start knitting socks holding two strands together.

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The yarn is some hand-dyed stuff I did a while ago, and I’m getting this really cool mottled effect, am using up some of my thin yarn, and can knit fast since I’m also using size 4 needles.

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So, I’m going to be making generic foot sweaters, more or less, for presents. Ribbed legs. Stockinette feet. I hope no one is expecting anything fancy because it’s not going to happen. Anyway, I feel a lot better now. 🙂

My back is still kind of achy, so I’m going to stay away from the weaving until Sunday. I did manage to knit another hat last night. I got it done in the 2 hours that NBC plays My Name Is Earl, 30 Rock, the Office, and Scrubs. I was going to call it my NBC hat, but screw that, it’s my WGA Support Hat now.

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This was made from some Brown Sheep mill end roving that I dyed and then blended with some mohair locks on the hackle. I love this yarn, and have never knit with anything that has the big crazy mohair locks coming out of it like this before. There some more pictures on Flickr, it was kind of hard to get one that shows how nice the color runs are and also how shiny the yarn is (due to the mohair content in the Brown Sheep roving).

Here’s the earflap hat all done, too.

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I used some of Travishandspun that he dyed and spun this summer. It’s really fun to knit with handspun that someone else spun! I was going to put a big stupid pom pom on the top of this hat, but after I did, I realized that it looked, well, big and stupid, so I took it off.

In other news, I finished World War Z this morning. And hey, I did have zombie dreams last night! Oddly enough, they weren’t really scary, more like, “Oh hey, time to kill the zombies.” It was a very blase zombie dream. I’ve started on Thunderstruck now.

Since I’m all ‘Hey! I remember that I actually like reading!’ lately, here’s a fun blog to check out, if you, like Tricia and myself, tend to by books based on pretty covers. It’s called the Book Design Review and is all about book cover art. The latest post has a list of some favorite book covers produced in the past year. One of them is the cover to The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, which Travis and I bought based on Yarmando‘s recommendation. I, too, thought the cover to that was awesome. I love the gun with the death head in the speech bubble in the lower left corner. The inside of the book was pretty good, too. 🙂 Along with apocalyptic themed books, I also love me some alternative histories.

I think I broke myself

After I got done with the second pair of foot sweaters I was knitting for my nephew Tyler for Christmas, my knitting slump returned, which is a bit of a bummer. Well, I did knit an earflap hat last night, but I need to add some pom poms and braids to it before it’s really done. But besides that, everything I try to knit lately has turned to crap. I cast on with some handspun yarn last night, and got about 15 rounds into it before I was like, “You know, I don’t even have any idea what I’m trying to make.” Which actually, is kind of okay. Sometimes I think I can get too wrapped up into what the end product is going to be that I forget to just enjoy the actual knitting. So, I’m probably going to knit another hat or something later, while The Office is on (last new episode of the Office is tonight – after that, reruns for forever, I guess, because of the Writer’s Guild Strike. Stupid rich movie producers).

Light posting this past week due to a few different things. I think I kind of sprained my shoulder/back/neck again. I’ve probably been working up to it with all of my knitting angst, but I think I pushed myself over the edge when I started weaving with my brand new shiny Craftstravaganza yarn. Here’s what all of those batts became:

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Two skeins, totalling about 250 yards and 13 ounces. Huge! Fluffy! The yarn is really blumpy because all of the crap (and I mean crap in a good way, here) that was thrown into these batts. It’s pretty cool, really, to be able to use what is essentially waste products from other fiber processing and still be able to make yarn out of it (like sari silk is done). I started weaving what I hope is going to be long enough to be a wrap out of it – the width is about 20″ on the loom, and I’d like to get around 65″ long, if possible. Anyway, I think I hurt myself today weaving. Not too badly, though, so I’m just going to take it easy the next few days.

Which is fine, because I went out and bought books (yes, multiple!) for the first time in what seems like forever.

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Travis and I went to the Kenyon College bookstore this afternoon. The Sherlock Holmes and the Dickens were what I really went there after (I’ve never really read Dickens, and I’m predisposed to not like any of it, but I’m thinking I should go ahead and give it a shot because broadening horizons is a good thing), but the Erik Larson and the zombie book wound up coming home with me, too. I didn’t realise it at the time, but Erik Larson, the author of “Thunderstruck,” is the same guy that wrote “Isaac’s Storm,” about the huge hurricane in Galveston. I really enjoyed that book, so I’m especially looking forward to the one I just got.

Seriously, here is my thought process on how I picked out “Thunderstruck” – “Hey! It’s a book with a boat on the cover!” (Pick up book, skim the back cover, see the words “stormy coast,” “Nova Scotia,” and “North Atlantic,” decide to buy book). It wasn’t until after I got home and really read the back cover when I realized that I had read a book by the same guy before, and also, that the book was non-fiction.

I suppose I just assumed it was fiction because it was placed right next to “World War Z – An Oral History of the Zombie War.” On second thought (again, hours later) I realized that they were next to each other because they’re both New York Times bestsellers. Anyway, I saw that the author of World War Z was the same guy who had written the Zombie Survival Guide, which we had bought for Christmas for Travis’ brother a year or so ago (and which I read before I wrapped it – I love giving people books 🙂 ), so I had to give this a go. I was intrigued because the book is written in a series of oral accounts of survivors of the sombie apocalypse, and it reminded me of the best and scariest part of Stephen King’s “The Stand” – the chapter that was written in the form of radio and TV transcripts, newspaper articles, etc., that told of the plague spreading across the world.

I read “The Stand” when I was in 4th or 5th grade. My family always had a lot of Stephen King books around, and I especially liked to read them because of all the popular song lyrics that King would throw into his books. “The Stand” has always been my favorite Stephen King book (although some of the Dark Tower stuff comes close), but that particular chapter stands out to me as the finest thing he’s ever written. I’m not the type to read a horror novel and get all freaked out, because for the most part, the situations that they portray are unrreal or fantastic – I can enjoy a good story, but I’m not going to have nightmares or anything because of reading a horror book (now watch me have zombie dreams tonight).

“The Stand” is different, though, because the “monster” is something very real. I’m not talking about the parts of the book that all about the Walking Dude, of course, I’m talking about the actual sickness, the plague. And in this particular chapter in “The Stand,” it’s not just the plague that’s the monster, people are the monster, too. So you get these few records of the complete breakdown of society, of people powered by fear doing horrible things to each other – and that’s real, and that’s what’s scary.

The rest of the book is good, too, but it’s always a bit of a let down after that chapter.

Anyway, I’m about 150 pages into “World War Z,” and it hasn’t exactly reached “The Stand”-like proportions of creepy, but it has its moments. I love me some apocalyptic fiction! High five, Boccaccio! And yes, I’ll gladly take recommendations for people’s best end-of-the-world/plague/zombie books and movies. Bring on the spookiness!

I’ve got a fever and the only cure is More Batts!!

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So, Craftstravaganza was yesterday! Katie, Lizzie, and Terry (with Mocha) came over to have a Day O’ Crafts with Travis and myself. It was A Hoot. There was a lot of dog angst, because Mocha wanted Bela to be his girlfriend, and Bela was all, “Get out of my butt, Mocha!” (Katie: “No means NO, Mocha!” I died.) Mocha is the cutest dog ever and he is impossibly cheery. He’s one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever met. Plus, his head is perfectly round and he has big bunny feet.

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We stuck with a lot of fibery-related crafts for the most part (knitting, spinning, carding, and combing), but Terry managed to whip out her first chainmaille bracelet:

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Travis and Lizzie each got a skein of yarn spun, and Terry spun a bunch, too. Fortunately, Terry brought her drum carder, and once that was busted out, things started to get crazy.

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We had all brought fiber, and combined it together to make a ton of batts. While Terry was in Chainmaille Zen Concentration mode, everyone else wound up playing with the drum carder at least a little bit. I have a huge Hefty garbage bag full of junk fiber (weird endy bits and chunks of roving and miscellaneous fibers), so I brought that out and we used that as a base for a lot of the batts. Here’s Lizzie digging through the bag:

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Lizzie and I spent a crazy amount of time making batts – we were like a fine tuned fiber sweatshop. I’m not positive of the exact count, since Lizzie and Travis spun some of the batts during the course of the evening, but I’m pretty sure we managed to produce over 50 batts yesterday. It was absolutely insane. I can barely move today (I was standing up for a lot of it, and Lizzie was cranking, so her crank arm is probably like twice as big as her other arm today).

Lizzie and Terry took some of the batts home with them, and I was still left with this:

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I started spinning them this afternoon and I have one huge bobbin full already.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun. We had some really good food (Travis’ Stout Cake was awesome, and Katie brought over some homemade apple raisin bread that I kind of can’t stop eating). I made a pumpkin pie, which was okay – not as good as last year’s pumpkin pie, for some reason, but still, a pretty good pumpkin pie is far superior to no pumpkin pie at all. We also had a lot of apples:

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I think our apple to batt ratio was about 1 to 6.

Terry and Mocha stayed overnight. Mocha is so funny! I’ve always had big dogs, so this was my first experience ever hanging out with a little dog (I think Terry said Mocha weighs about 4 pounds, which made his quest to check out Toby and Bela’s butts even more comical). I completely get the appeal now.

Katie brought me some of her kick ass self striping yarn (she also brought some fiber, but I spaced getting a picture of it):

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I’m considering knitting up a stocking hat out of the Naughty Elf. I think that would be festive and cool for the holidays. Vegas Baby is destined to become socks, tho – I’ve never knit with self-striping yarn before, so I’m really looking forward to it.

Anyway, Craftstravaganza rocked. If you weren’t here, there’s no way you can appreciate the sheer insanity of Batt Madness, but it was pretty intense. Once Ellie and Bela recover from the Great Mocha Invasion, we can start figuring out Craftstravaganza 2, Electric Boogaloo.

(Oh, and Lizzie – I didn’t find out until this morning that Travis wanted to Shrinky Dink! So bring those next time, too 🙂 )

Strike! Strike!

I’m steadily making progress on the second Red Stripe sock.

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I’ve got about a 1/3rd of the foot and the toe left to do, and then Travis will have two! Yay! I’m trying to get it done so he can have shiny new socks for Craftstravaganza. Oh, and Becky, the pattern is something I’m working up as I go. The main difference from this to regular top-down/heel flap socks is that the gusset is shaped on the sole of the foot. And I’m also doing an anatomically correct toe, too. But besides that, it’s just a basic sock, really.

Speaking of Travis, he’s made the Etsy plunge and has put a few of his chainmaille bracelets up for sale. His Etsy shop is inexplicably called Pepe Rides Again and you can check it out here. Here’s a picture of 3 of the bracelets he’s made recently:

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The one in the middle isn’t up in the shop yet, as Travis is working on trying to get some photography stuff figured out. But anyway, if you have the sudden need to buy chainmaille related jewelry, now you know where to go.

I’ve been following the ongoing Writer’s Guild Strike with a lot of interest. I’m very pro-writer, not only because I’m the wife of a Teamster (which I think is really cool, and hey, the Teamsters are out there supporting the WGA members right now, which is cool, too), but just because I think the screenwriters are getting royally screwed. I don’t know why every business can’t be run like Costco is. Anyway, the strike is unfortunate in that it shuts down production on The Office, my favorite TV show, but hey – the writers need to get fair pay for their work. Here’s a video featuring Toby, Ryan, and Kelly from the office (they’re writers and actors on the show) and some other Office writers explaining what’s going on:

I watched that and was all, “Seriously? Seriously?!” The writers never got paid for the webisodes? For those not familiar with the webisodes, they were cute little 4 and 5 minute mini Office episodes posted on the NBC website during the summer hiatus between seasons 2 and 3. For Office junkies, they were much welcomed and viewed. A new webisode would get posted every week, and you had to watch a 30 second Office Max or FedEx/Kinko’s commercial before you could get to the Officey bits. I thought it was really cool that NBC was kind of tipping their hat to the big online Office community by doing this. But now I just think it’s completely skeevy because the writers didn’t get paid for doing them.

If you watched the video, they talk about how the networks view internet showings of shows “promotional,” even though they sell advertising time during them. I know I watch some shows online, as do friends and family of mine – honestly, I just kind of figured that the TV as a single appliance was going to become pretty much obsolete in the next 15 years. Yet, the networks refuse to funnel any of the income they get from internet “promotional” screenings of their shows to the writers, without whom, of course, the show wouldn’t exist. A commenter on Alan Sepinwell’s blog brilliantly summed it up by saying, “Isn’t it kind of hypocritical that on one hand the studios and networks say that unauthorized downloading or copying of content is “stealing,” because you’re taking something of value — but on the other hand, they say the writers don’t deserve residuals, because the content is valueless? Or now they’re even saying that downloads are “promotional” — in which case they should be paying hackers to copy DVDs and redistribute content on the Net.”

Anyway, if you’re interested in following the strike, here are some good links to check out:

LA Times Showtracker.

Deadline Hollywood Daily

United Hollywood (I think this is the Writer’s Guild blog)

Enjoy the rest of the day, and don’t cross any picket lines!

Manos, Hands of Fate!

Got the first Red Stripe sock done last night. Travis hasn’t been home yet to try it on, but when I tried it on, it seems like the fit is spot on.

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Here’s an up-close of the heel and sneaky sole gusset shaping:

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I’m loving the sneaky gusset. I can’t wait to knit up a pair of socks for me using it, because it really does seem like it hugs the foot much more than the regular side gusset shaping does.

I also tried out my first anatomically correct toe. My decrease rounds at the toe were using a 4 round repeat, and I decreased along one side on rounds 1 and 3, and along the other side only on round 3. It wasn’t anything big or scary. I just need to remember to knit the opposite when I get to the toe on the new sock, lest I wind up with two right socks. That would be comical.

I’m having kind of an odd day, I seem to be getting really really cold every so often. I folded up the knitting raft this morning, so maybe it’s because I’m not all warm and snuggly on it anymore. Here’s a bonus picture of Ellie last night on one of the rare occasions when she actually was on top of the raft and not stuck inside the couch.

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She says she is going to hide all of her feet in case of enemy attack.

I’ve also wound up wasting part of the day getting stuck on Wikipedia. I find it can be as big of a time-suck as YouTube. I can’t even really remember why I looked it up originally (since I was reading mostly about Hitchcock movies), but here is the surprisingly lengthy and entertaining Wikipedia article on Manos, The Hands of Fate. In case you’re not familiar with it, it happens to be the absolute worst horror movie of all time. I, and many others like me, was introduced to it sometime in the early 90s while watching Mystery Science Theater 3000. One of the best parts of the Wikipedia article is this bit:

“Further ridicule is directed at the fact that “Manos” is the Spanish word for “hands”; thus, when entirely translated into English, the movie’s title is Hands: The Hands of Fate.”

Leaving now to dig out my copy of the MST3K episode showing this movie. Torgo forevah!