Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nessun dorma!

I've been trying to think what made me so cranky about my last post, and today, I think I got it while I was listening to NPR. Marty Moss-Coane of Radio Times spoke with Jonathan Safran Foer about his new book, Eating Animals. He read a bit from it where his grandmother was discussing how she survived the Holocaust--eating garbage, eating worse than garbage that she wouldn't talk about, and getting scarce resources from others and trading for something better to eat. Finally, towards the end of the war, a Russian farmer gave her a large piece of meat. "He saved your life," her grandson says. "I didn't eat it," "You didn't eat it?" "It was pork." ..."Not even to save your life?" "If nothing matters, there's nothing to save." Foer's point is that we use our values to draw a line in the sand.

And I guess that's what's so problematic to me about some of the responses I've gotten. I tell you my values and you tell me why they can't be yours. Perhaps I just don't find that helpful.

So enough with the heavy stuff... The Stitchery arrived before I drove up to NH and I threw it in my stitching bag. A couple of things made me turn down the pages to share the utter weirdness with you.

Still more celebrity face in cross-stitch!

For some reason, I think this is even weirder than bad translations of Robert Pattinson's face--and those of other contemporary pop figures-- in cross stitch. I just can't put my finger on it. I'll chew that cud and see what I regurgitate. More tomorrow.


Kathryn said...

When photography was first invented, painters said it would never be an ART. And there was still a big difference between a monochrome daguerreotype and an expressive portrait. But once photography discovered color, it found that art had moved on to the impressionistic and the modern. Although some painters have moved back into the realistic school of painting, it is rarely a mere portrait. The best modern portraits are photographs (even black and white ones). Photographers have been studying the human face for a century.

Faces in cross stitch are pixelated photos, and not particularly good ones. I find them just as depressing as almost any work of art that is digitized, but not made for a digitized medium. Unless the portrait is huge (say HD resolution), the faces will not look real.

As much as we would like to curve cross stitch into needlerolls or round them into biscornus, it is basically a flat medium. Shading (which creates three dimensionality) is difficult to impossible. Therefore the most apt cross stitch patterns are also flat -- samplers, simple shapes, mandalas. It takes a real cross stitch artist (Teresa Wentzler, Nora Corbett) to make a complex design with simple shading. And as we all know, faces are the hardest thing to make realistic.

So, yes, there are lots of reasons to dislike cross stitch portraits.

corinna said...

I like and appreciate the local LNS....
but also feel I get terrific service and value from independent on line dealers.
Also find them knowledgeable,conversant, and courteous via email or phone correspondence.
Also the discount store is 4 minutes from home.Downtown takes a while...
It is all about balance.

Annemarie said...

I guess living in a small village in The Netherlands makes it quite impossible *not* to shop locally. Having said that, I hardly ever go to the 'big' supermarket to get my stuff: I go to the local butcher's, the local bakery, the local fruit 'n' veg guy, just because their products are so much better and the owners are so much friendlier.
As for my LNS: there is no LNS (no LNS, I swear to God), but I order most of my stuff from the nearest needlework shops. It takes about three times longer for my order to get here than it would if I ordered from the States, but that's alright with me. It's not as if I have no stash, right?

And OMG. $2000,00? That's sinful. I think. Wow.

Alice said...

I can appreciate your crankiness. I appreciate your values and even share some of them! I certainly appreciated learning about the 3/50 project. That is one of the best things about the internet and blogs; I am exposed to so much more that is going on around me. I am a SAHM so I have to work a little to stay involved with the world. I have been thinking a lot about the shops and restaurants I would hate to have disappear from my life. I am going to go buy Grace Kelly a yogurt treat from the dog bakery today. She thanks you!
My MIL sent a picture of my niece to a company that charted it in xst for her. It doesn't look a thing like her. That Pavarotti xst would give me nightmares.

Deb said...

I can appreciate your crankiness and I'm sorry about that. Didn't post to make you cranky! There are other things in life that can do that. I think that most of our values are all the same as yours, we just can't accomplish the ends to that. I'd love if I could just shop in my town and not drive to Timbuktu and use up all that gas.

BTW, I have a hard time imagining people stitching those Celebrities in Cross Stitch, but to each his own I guess.

Catherine G. said...

I'll just say that I admire what you are trying to do with your local shopping project. We buy from the Amish farm near my house all the time and are even getting 1/4 of a cow from a local farmer (yes, I have three hungry boys and a husband to feed, so we need a cow). Living where we do, there aren't too many local shops, but I do shop the ones that are here.

Thanks for the education too - I had to look up Nessun dorma - you're never too old to learn something!

Maggie said...

Just like to say that i agree 100% on shopping local. I would love there to be a butchers, bakers and a green grocers in my little place of the world, and there was when i was young, but alas as the big stores moved in so the little stores closed down, i still shop local when i can. There are so many boarded up shops by us i am forever saying that if i won the lottery i would buy them all up, fix em up and open some good old fashioned 'proper' shops!
I do have a LNS (just one) and i shop there for everything, very rarely do i by online, they will match the online price if they are selling something that they have offer for more, (i know this because i have asked!)and they will get items in if you ask for something, you may have to wait for it to come in but, hey ho, what's the problem with that!
And people in cross stitch...never really liked the effect, if you have the photo why would you want to cross stitch it!!! (just my opinion!)

riona said...

I appreciated your 3/50 post and was pleased to visit a website that gave me some reinforcement of my values as well as some talking points and strategies. In recent years I have seen too many independent shops in our area close ... from lack of local support, from rising costs and from a shift to mega chains. A favorite Italian restaurant [one in which my husband and I dined at least 3 or 4 times a month] closed it's doors after 14 years in business. It's been three years and my husband still talks about Larry's soups and I pine for his creative appetizers. But we have found a great family owned and operated sushi place just one town North of us. A few years earlier, a place called Heirlooms and Gifts, where for nearly a decade I could and did purchase the most unusual and delightful gifts for all my extended and intimate family gift giving occasions shut down over issues with town fathers who are known to have it in for women business owners. Margaret, the owner, specialized in all things Irish and in artisan made objects of all sorts. Though I miss her shop dearly, I have found another somewhat similar place three towns away with an Israeli focus and with the same emphasis on artisan sources. The local butcher shop closed briefly when the 85 year old, third generation owner finally retired but happily re-opened three months later when a great grandson decided the town wouldn't be the same without it. More good news: a local orchard that has a fruit & vegetable store and bakery on premises is still going strong and still owned and farmed by the same family for nearing 300 years ... though I think the current store is only about 80 years old ... before that I guess they had farm stands. I have my milk & cream delivered to my door by a local dairy. The computer which I am using at this very moment is a customized model designed by its builder to meet our very specific needs and still came in under the cost of a big box store and has a better warranty. Add that to the fact that if we have an trouble with it, the computer guy is only 20 minutes away by car ... what could be better. Even without a philosophical reason for supporting independent merchants, I would still do so for the quality and convenience of the experience. I don't understand the appeal of big box stores where no one knows or cares about product specs or customer service, where the parking is a hassle, where the staff is often overworked and undertrained and grossly underpaid [a recipe for serious morale problems, duh??] How can that compare to a shop or busness with a hands-on owner and a small hand-picked staff? So, my shopping takes me a little longer but I get exactly what I want instead of settling for something vaguely similar to what I want, I buy it from people who know my name and my tastes and are motivated to keep me coming back, and I actually enjoy the experience. Even my on-line shopping is done with independents rather than corporate conglomerates ... and that's the way I like it.
So thank you for sharing your thoughts ... for challenging us to think things through just a bit. Now I am going to go and google Nessun dorma ... I am assuming it's a Latin phrase or perhaps a French one, referencing sleep ... I am curious.

Caroline said...

As the owner of a specialty store (food related) that closed down due in part to cheaper prices at Walmart and Costco, I applaud ANY movement towards encouragement and education about supporting local small business. My husband started a MacIntosh consulting/resale business 16 years ago. When even our friends buy their iPod and misc Apple products from Costco it boggles my mind that it never even occurs to them that this may insult me, or lead in the long run to the demise of our livelihood. It's not even cheaper there - they simply don't care enough to think about it. Do you know when they do think about it? When it breaks down and they need advice - or they don't know how to use something properly. Then we get the phone call looking for free help and advice. This is a subject near and dear to my heart, more people need to become much more vocal about this. Thank you for your post.

mainely stitching said...

That's Pavarotti? And they want 70 bucks? WTF? Now that's a crime. LOL.

You were cranky? I didn't think so. I thought your explanations were great and it seems like people really polished up their gray cells as a result of the interesting exchange. Good for you. Not only stitching in public, but thinking in public, too! ;)

Coni said...

OK. It's confirmed. I really AM a boob. I thought that the words being sung were "Des da mona", as in Desdamona, you know, the character in some book. (?)

Sheesh. I really need to sit up in the buggy.

As to your post...if it weren't for you and the expression of your values and opinions, I wouldn't have any values or opinions. I soak up everything you say like the good little sponge that I am.

(How's THAT for trying to cement my position at the cool kids' table?)

doris said...

Regarding celebrities in cross stitch: again I say NO. Hell, NO.

Deborah/LavenderRose said...

Anna, Somebody needs to say it, and fortunately, you have. Many of us have thought it, no doubt. Everytime I see these xs celebs. I want to throw up!! Who does these awful things and where do they put them after they finish them, for God's sake??? I feel the same way about "cutesie" stitching, too, though, and I've learned just to say, "Be and let be." I can't be bothered with others' tastes. However, I do applaud your comments. Keep it up, dear Anna!
It's been a while since I've stopped by, and I'm happy to see you ripped and rarin' to go.

Rachel S said...

I don't like the xs celebrities either. I can't think of a single famous person who I would want to take the time to stitch, let alone spend the money to have framed and hang it on my wall. Ugggghhh