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Les Echelles slouch hat

July 14, 2012

***NOTE; today, July 24, I’ve updated the pattern a bit and clarified a few things. The new notes are in bold.

Also, if you like this pattern enough to sell the hats you make with it, that is a-okay with me. I only ask that please a) you give me credit for the pattern, i.e.: “I got the totally free pattern for this beautiful hat I made from totally charming, awesome, smart and also humble Jess at” and b) you send me a photo of the hat(s) you made, just because I’d love to see what other people are making with this pattern.

I found what I think is a complete set of the Stitch by Stitch series in the St. Vincent De Paul in Maynooth. I bought all of it (ten huge binders filled with magazines) for ten euro and lugged it home in Ivan’s buggy (Ivan had to walk home; sorry, buddy). A lot of it was smelly and spotted with black mold – it was old and had obviously been in someone’s granny’s attic for decades – but I was able to recover most of what I thought was worth saving.

Each magazine has patterns – crochet, knit, macrame, sewing, etc. — using a specific technique or stitch, the instructions for which are included in great detail. I was drawn to one particular stitch I found, called simply “diagonal shells”. Last month I started working on a rectangular wrap using that stitch, as it creates the illusion of being worked on the bias (similar to the clapochet, which is itself worked on the bias).

I was inspired to use this stitch in the round, rather than back and forth, to create a slouchy hat. I had to do a lot of fiddling with math etc. to get the stitch counts correct, and I am still not 100 per cent sure I have the numbers right. I have made two hats and they have turned out how I think they should have; however, if you try this pattern and come across mistakes (and I am almost certain you will find some) please let me know so I can fix it. As well, if you find any part of the pattern muddled or poorly-described (again, I predict you will run into this) let me know so I can clear it up.

Also, I should apologize: because I used oddments to make both of these hats, I am not sure how much yarn is required. Some of you more experienced crocheters can eyeball these and estimate how much you will need. 200 yards of any worsted weight should be more than enough. I highly recommend using wool or another blockable fibre; I believe the hat, as anything that involves a lot of clusters or shells, is improved greatly by blocking.

I used a 5.5 hook for the band and a 6.5 hook for the rest of the hat. I crochet extremely tightly and those hooks tend to work perfectly for me with worsted weight yarn. You may need to downgrade your hook size if you tend to crochet to a normal or loose gauge.

I recently made the hat with a sport weight yarn. I needed to make a few adjustments throughout the pattern; for example, when using worsted weight or thicker, I had to increase after making the band so I had 76 stitches in my foundation row. With the sport weight version, I had to decrease significantly to get the 76 stitches.


For years, I made my bands by doing rounds of fpdc/bpdc, but I never really liked the look. I have found that the method below wears better and looks like ribbing.

Make a chain the height you’d like your band to be, say 8 or 10 sts (make as many or as few as you’d like, depending on your preferred height; just ensure to add one additional stitch for turning). Sc in the back loop of the 2nd chain from the hook and every chain to the end of the row. Chain 1, turn and sc in the back loop of every stitch in the row. Continue in this way, back and forth, until the band is slightly tight when you wrap it around your head (it’ll stretch when you block the hat).

Seam the band. Here is a neat tutorial on creating a flat crochet seam. I prefer to just do a whip stitch because I’m lazy and because I can usually do it neatly enough so it’s fairly flat.

You are going to need 76 stitches around the band for the shell pattern to work. Before we worry about that, we’re going to work one row of sc around the band. After trying a few different methods, I found the following to look best as the initial foundation row around the band.

With the right side of the band facing you, join your yarn in any space directly to the right of one of the raised ribs. I chose to join a few stitches to the right of the seam.

Chain 1, and make a single crochet around/behind the next little vertical rib stitch.

Sc in the space to the immediate right of the next rib, sc around/behind that rib, and continue around in this manner, joining to the beginning ch.

When you run into the seam, I recommend just sc over it as best you can (yes, I know I’m a bit of a cavalier crocheter). If you do it smoothly, with as few sts as possible, it should look just fine. Don’t worry about picking up the vertical ribs etc. when you do this. It’ll be at the back of the hat, anyhow, so in my opinion it’s okay if the pattern is disconnected for a stitch or two.

Count your stitches. If you have more than 76, you’ll need to sc around and evenly sc2tog until you have 76 stitches in total. If you have fewer than 76, you’ll need to sc around and evenly increase until you have 76.

Now, you’re ready to start the rise (the fun part, right??).

Sc 1, chain 5, skip 3 sts and sc in the next st. Continue around, chaining 5, skipping 3 sts and sc in the next st. If my math is correct, and if you counted your stitches right, you should have exactly 19 chain-5 loops around when you sc into the very first sc you made. If my math is wrong, or if you miscounted slightly, that is okay (again, cavalier crocheting)! You might find that you can only skip 2 sc when you make your last loop, or you might find that you have to skip 4. As long as you have 19 loops in total, you’re golden.

Chain 2 (this counts as your first dc). Make 4 more dc in the same stitch (first 5-dc cluster made). *Sc in the next ch-5 loop (this sc is the first step in making these shells lay diagonally!). Chain 5, sc in the next ch-5 loop. Dc 5 into the next sc. Repeat from * until you make your last ch5/sc into the final loop. Once you’ve done this, ch 5 and sc into the centre dc of the first cluster you made.

Continue around in this pattern. For the two hats pictured, I worked five rows of the pattern. This worked well for the green hat because the yarn was chunky and the hat ended up quite slouchy. The yarn for the purple hat was light worsted and as you can see, at five rows it ended up being a lot less slouchy. I made a hat recently with sport weight yarn and with a rise of eight rows, it still wasn’t terribly slouchy. For a longer, slouchier hat, continue on until the rise is the height you like. The decrease rows do not take up too much room, so I recommend working the rise until the hat is almost as long as you’d like, but not quite!


Start your decreasing after doing a cluster/sc into ch-5 loop.

For the first decrease row, continue to work the pattern, but instead of chaining 5 as you have been, chain 3.

For the second decrease row, continue to chain 3 instead of 5, and reduce the number of dc in a cluster from 5 to 3.

For the third decrease row, continue to make clusters of 3dc, but instead of chaining 3 as you have been, chain 2, and sc into the centre dc of each cluster of 3dc.

For the fourth decrease row, start by sc the next sc and dc together. *Sc into: the next ch-2 sp, sc, and 2 dc. Sc next dc and sc together. Repeat from * until the end of the row.

Starting next row, 1 sc, then sc2tog around. Continue this pattern, alternating sc and 2sctog, until you have 14 sc left, which should be after roughly 3 rows. Close up the top of the hat by sc2tog around until there are only a few sts left; the hole should be small enough to be left alone at that point, but I chose to stitch it up with a yarn needle.

Weave in all of your ends. Turn the hat inside it out and run it under cold water until it’s wet, but not soaked through, and gently block it: stretch the band, stretch the hat vertically and horizontally, and just make sure that none of the clusters/chains are buckling too much. Lay flat, ideally on a drying rack, to dry.

Simple arch/forest floor wrap

May 5, 2012

After months of promising but never delivering, I finally finished this loose and lacy wrap for a friend back in Saskatchewan. We worked together as copywriters at the local newspaper and honestly, the place got cold enough to keep meat fresh, so hopefully this helped a bit.

It’s crocheted on a huge hook — 13.5 mm, purchased from Sistermaide. It’s a lovely, warm hook that actually sings when it glides across wool. It was a joy to use.

The arch pattern I used to make the wrap is as follows.

With worsted weight yarn, chain a multiple of 6 + 2 chains.

ROW 1: Sc in second chain from hook and in next chain, chain 3 *skip next 3 chains, sc in next 3chs, chain 3; repeat from * across to last 5 chains, sc in last 2 chains.

ROW 2: Chain 1, turn; sc in first sc, *5 dc in next chain-3 sp, skip next sc, sc in ext sc; repeat from * across.

ROW 3: Chain 1, turn; sc in first sc, ch 2, skip next dc, sc in next 3 dc *ch 3, skip next 3 sts, sc in next 3 dc; repeat from * across to last 2 sts, ch 2, skip next dc, sc in last sc.

ROW 4: Ch 3 (counts as your first dc), turn; 2 dc in next ch-2 sp, skip next sc, sc in next sc *5 dc in next ch-3 sp, skip next sc; repeat from * across to last ch-2 sp, 2 dc in last ch-2 sp, dc in last sc.

ROW 5: Ch 1, turn; sc in first 2 dc, * ch 3, skip next 3 sts, sc in next 3 dc; repeat from * across to last 5 sts, ch 3, skip next 3 sts, sc in last 2 dc.

Repeat rows 2-5 for pattern. Easy! Big hook and worsted weight in a variety of colours made this open, stretchy and lacy. A much smaller hook would make a much thicker, tighter fabric and more pronounced arches.

Lattice beret

May 5, 2012

Here’s a beret worked in a simple lattice stitch. The pattern comes from a leaflet from the 60s. I had to tweak the pattern a bit, but significantly less than these vintage patterns usually need!

I used a worsted/aran weight (Lamb’s Pride worsted in kiwi with contrast stripes in Taos) and a 6.5mm hook.
The pattern called for each row being done in a different colour. While I think this’d look great and would really showcase the neat zig-zags the lattice stitch makes, I just didn’t have time or patience. So I just added two stripes and that was that.

The pattern:

Ch 5 and join with ss to form a ring. 5 sc into ring and ss into the first sc.

2nd round: Ch 4. 1 dc in the same st. (1 dc, ch1, 1 dc for lattice) in each st to end of round. Ss in 3rd ch of beginning 4 ch.

If you want to change the colour at this point, fasten off and join a new colour in the ch-1 sp of the first lattice. If you don’t want to change colour, just ss into the ch-1 sp of the first lattice and continue on.

3rd round: Ch 4. 1 dc in same sp. *lattice in space before next lattice. Lattice in next lattice* around, ending with lattice in space before first lattice. Ss in 3rd st of ch 4.

4th round: Ss into ch1 sp of first lattice. Ch4 and dc in same space. Lattice in each lattice to the end of round. Ss in 3rd st of ch4.

5th round: Repeat 3rd round.

6th-8th round: Repeat 4th round.

9th round: Repeat 3rd round.

At this point, the pattern called for 6 rows working even (meaning repeat 4th round). I found that after 6 rows the hat wasn’t slouchy enough so I actually ended up working 12 rows even.

Next round: ss into ch-1 sp of first lattice. 1 sc in each lattice and between each lattice to end of round. Ss in 1st sc.

Next round: 1sc in first 2 sts. *Sc next two sts tog. 1 sc in each of the next 2 sts. Repeat from * to the end of round. Ss in 1st sc.

Next round: Sc in each st to end. Ss in 1st sc. Fasten off.

Autumn blues

May 5, 2012

This scarf is the prototype for the winter happies scarf. The clusters in this one are more jumbled than the ones in the winter happies version, but they work up great with a big hook and nice bouncy chunky yarn; like with most scarves, though, gauge, hook size and yarn weight isn’t terribly important for this. The lace/cluster pattern will look different depending on your choices but it’ll always look lovely. I’d like to try to create this with a tiny hook and very lacy yarn next.
I used 1 skein (50g) of Stylecraft Nature’s Way for the centre and a lighter worsted-weight mystery wool for the lacy border.

Clusters (CL) make up the bulk of the scarf. Here’s how to make one: (YO and insert hook through space. YO and draw hook through space) three times. TO and draw through all loops on hook. Easy!

Loosely chain 154 sts.

1st row (right side): 1dc in 8th ch from hook. *Ch2. Skip 2 ch. 1dc in next ch. Repeat from * to end of chain. Turn.

2nd row: SS in 1st ch2 sp. Ch2. CL, ch3, CL in same space. CL, ch3, CL in each ch-3 sp to the end of the row. Turn.

3rd row: SS in 1st ch3 sp. (2 dc, ch3, 2dc) in same sp. (2dc, ch3, 2dc) in next ch3 space and repeat to the end of the row. SS in top of Ch2 and fasten off.

With wrong side facing, join yarn to 1st st of foundation ch and repeat 2nd and 3rd rows.


Winter happies

April 27, 2012

I adapted this design from a vintage pattern for a crocheted choker. I’ve made it a few times, and I’ve had the best results with a nice lush worsted weight like Lamb’s Pride and a 6.5 (metal; not sure if that matters to you, but it does to me) hook. Having a fairly tight gauge will ensure your scarf is slightly corkscrewy.

Cluster stitch for the scarf is like so: (YO, insert hook into st, yo, pull through, pull through 2 lps on hook)4x. You’ll have a total of five loops on the hook. Draw through all of them, and voila, your cluster st is made.

Loosely chain 154 sts.

1st row (right side): 1dc in 8th ch from hook. *Ch2. Skip 2 ch. 1dc in next ch. Repeat from * to end of chain. Turn.

2nd row: SS in 1st ch2 sp. Ch2. CL, ch3, CL in same space. CL, ch3, CL in each ch-3 sp to the end of the row. Turn.

3rd row: SS in 1st ch3 sp. (2 dc, ch3, 2dc) in same sp. (2dc, ch3, 2dc) in next ch3 space and repeat to the end of the row. SS in top of Ch2 and fasten off.

With wrong side facing, join yarn to 1st st of foundation ch and repeat 2nd and 3rd rows


Sometimes I watch scary movies

January 23, 2012

My tolerance for scary movies is dwindling as I age. I used to have an iron constitution when it came to horror. There was once a time when I watched the Exorcist and actually enjoyed it. Now I can’t even think about the Exorcist or the Exorcist III without getting this crawling, twisting feeling in my stomach. That white Pazuzu face *still* shows up in my dreams occasionally, and I haven’t even seen the Exorcist in probably a decade.

Somehow, though, I still feel a deep craving for horror movies and I still continue to watch them, or at least try. The only movie I actually had to turn off in 2011 because it was too scary was Insidious. I managed to sit through quite a few others. I don’t know why I do this to myself.

I’ve managed to come up with a list of all, or most, of the horror films I’ve seen in the past few years. I won’t dump them all into one post. I’m enjoying this process — as I add to the list, more that had totally slipped my mind appear.

(2010): Bright-eyed, bushy-tailed group of 30something “creative visionaries”, after researching the disappearance of a town’s entire population 50 years before, decide to trek into the cursed mountains that mysteriously drew everyone away. The story is really cool, really sinister and had lots of potential, but somewhere about halfway through the movie, everything fell apart. Still – there’s an authentic creeping malaise throughout the film, a bleak, WTF ending and one scene of violence so horrific that it completely stuck with me.

Wake Wood (2011): Gothic; a new take on the Wicker Man. We saw it while I was in the throes of my Love/Hate addiction; Aiden Gillen plays a grieving father who, with his wife, relocates to the title English village. Creepiness and revolting veterinary violence ensue. It was unfortunately utterly ruined by its final five minutes.

The Children (2008): Brilliant, fundamentally frightening story of four kids who, due to an unspecified disease, develop psychotic tendencies and murder their unlikeable rich hippie parents one by one. I’d recommend this one to hardcore horror fans, but no one else; both my husband and I found it hard to sit through due to the violence. Seeing these innocent little kids committing such ghastly acts is the real horror here, though. The malicious little beasts! Shot with some sort of filter/lens that makes all the colours look sickening and wrong.

The Crazies (2010): I can’t remember it very well, so it obviously didn’t have much of an effect on me. What even happened? Zombies? And an explosion?

Flight of the Living Dead (2007): Only saw this because Kevin J. O’Connor is in it. Zombies on a plane – it’s a promising concept. Anyhow, the movie is exactly as good as you’d expect it to be. The gore, acting, everything…It’s charming in its earnestness, but hard to enjoy, even ironically. Kevin, though, is fantastic, as always. I wonder about Kevin J. O’Connor a lot. I have been sort of obsessed with him for many years and have never been able to drudge up much information on him online. In FOTLD he is emaciated…I hope he’s not sick or anything. I am really fond of him.

Dead Snow (2009): Norwegian film about…Wait for it…Nazi zombies (zombie Nazis?)! A group of unlikeable 20something wangs take a weekend trip to a cabin in the forest and awaken the…Well, you know. Apparently they decided on this title because Red Snow has been used for too many other movies. Anyhow, this was fantastic – funny, extremely gruesome, and beautifully filmed on an obviously tiny budget.

Let the Right One In (2008): Could be one of the most artistic, skilfully-made horror films I’ve ever seen. Beautiful, perfectly-paced, quietly romantic. I don’t know what else to say – I mean, everyone knows this movie is near perfect, right?

Piranha 3D
(2010): Like LTROI, it’s near perfect, but for vastly different reasons. I watched this movie twice, once alone, and once the following evening with my husband. It was just as entertaining the second time around. The film doesn’t mess around; there’s hammy violence and action as soon as it starts. Nothing is taken seriously and it’s obvious that all the actors are having a blast. I would have loved to see this one in the theatre. Jerry O’Connell’s wacky pornographer Derrick Jones is the highlight of this one. Oh, and if you like boobies, there are lots; in one scene, a piranha vomits up a silicon implant.

The Loved Ones (2009): I didn’t finish watching it, so I don’t feel like I have a right to say much about this one. It has one of the best-looking guys I’ve ever seen in it as a high-school bad-guy who’s kidnapped by a girl and her dad. The subject matter didn’t interest me, and I didn’t care much about what was going on (I think I was crocheting something to deadline while I watched it) so about ½ way through, I switched it off.

Lake Mungo (2008): This remains one of the most frightening films I’ve ever been subjected to. It’s an Australian mockumentary about a family investigating the potential supernatural elements surrounding their daughter/sister’s death by drowning. I can’t recommend this one enough, but be warned…It will haunt you. There is one particular scene…If you want to see the clip, just search Lake Mungo on YouTube; I just did, and a preview of the scene popped up and scared me, and so I can’t link it. Sorry. But really, just watch the movie instead. The horror elements are mostly subtle, with the exception of a graphic photo of a corpse. A quiet yet claustrophobic tension builds as the story progresses. There were points where I actually felt real prickling dread. And then I went to bed and that…Scene I mentioned above kept flashing in my mind.

Snow day!

January 23, 2012

Ryan told me Thursday evening that he might not have to work the following morning, as there was a blizzard scheduled and apparently blizzards here in St. John’s are often the town-shutting-down sort. I looked on the weather radar online and yup, there was something big and green heading towards us. I said a little prayer for him to have the day off, and then immediately felt like a jackass for praying for something like that.

So the next morning, we were up at 530 as usual. It was dumping down snow, and the wind was fierce. Oh, and there was fog, too. The air outside just looked…Soupy. But no announcement on the university’s website saying that it was closed, so we begrudgingly but dutifully woke up Ivan, bundled up and took our coffees out into the mess outside.

Ryan drove. The roads weren’t plowed, and we saw a few other vehicles out, but not many. I turned on the radio in the middle of the DJ rattling off a list of the schools that were closed. As we drove on, he continued. When we were about five minutes away from the university, he said that yes, the university was closed, along with everywhere else.

Ryan still wasn’t assured, so we went to the university and he went to this office to double check. Yes, indeed, the place was shut down. So, we went back home, made Dutch baby and bacon, and spent most of the day watching cartoons. We ventured out to Chapters in the afternoon as we often do and spent about an hour there, just drinking our coffees and looking at books as Ivan and I do a few times a week. I baked cookies, a usually-unheard-of occurrence. I also shoveled our driveway. I haven’t shoveled anything in about 12 years.

The whole day was pretty idyllic and made for an excellent beginning to a long weekend — a much-needed break as we get further settled in to our new life and new routines.

A cat story

January 7, 2012

A catless house feels empty and wrong. I don’t think I am ever going to feel 100 per cent settled here, the reason being that we have decided not to adopt another cat until we are living somewhere long-term.

We rehomed our two cats, Rusty and Magpie, before we moved to Ireland in 2009. It was a hard decision to make, but it felt right at the time; we were so worried about all the complicated factors involved in moving overseas, and deciding not to take the cats lessened the stress considerably.

About a month after our arrival in Ireland, I started to pine for a cat, and it eventually got to the point where I felt like I needed a cat to feel normal again. My husband wasn’t sold on the idea at all initially, but after awhile he relented.

I had convinced myself that the cat we would adopt in Ireland would be a long-term cat who we’d shlep around to wherever we’d move next.

The first cat whom came into our home in Ireland was Nacho. We had gotten in touch with a woman who fostered strays, and she said she thought Nacho would be a good fit for a family with a small child. I don’t have any photos of Nacho, because he was only in our flat for one night, but let me describe him: he was cream-coloured, unneutered and completely feral. He sprayed our flat, tried to attack both Ryan and I and ended up getting himself stuck in the network of nooks and crannies behind our kitchen cupboards. Ryan ended up extracting Nacho while wearing oven mitts. We cordoned him off in the bathroom and kept him there until we could reach the woman to come and fetch him.

When she came to get Nacho, she brought a beautiful, healthy ginger cat with her. He ended up staying. We named him Bright. Bright had been abandoned by his previous family and was wonderful in every way. Well, almost every way – there was an issue with him vomiting clumps of live, wriggling worms onto the kitchen floor, but that was remedied. The other issue, we’d discover, was that he was unneutered – though we had been assured he was fixed.

We bonded with Bright immediately. He slept in our bed, stretched out between us. He was patient, gentle yet firm with Ivan and brought a peaceful presence to the flat. He wore a collar with a bell and when Ryan and Ivan would go for their little evening constitutionals, Bright would follow at a distance, his little bell jingling.

About a month after we got him, he was out quite late one night and I was getting worried, so Ryan went out to look for him. He found Bright dead on the road right by our flat. He carried him home and we wrapped his body in a blanket, and brought him to the vet to be cremated the next day. Apparently, Bright’s nuts had been intact and that had made him wander, looking to make some kittens, and he happened to live near one of the busiest roads in Maynooth.

Losing Bright was wretched. We didn’t have him for very long, but we’d formed a very strong bond with him. He was a good friend.

We decided to get yet another cat. We found another cat-fostering woman online, and soon we had a new friend in the house – a kitten we named Thor. He was cuddling us within five minutes of his arrival. He let me give him a bath, and he, Ryan and I watched District 9 together.

Thor proved to be a damn fine cat. I’ve known him for over two years, and he’s never once raised a paw in anger. There was the issue with the fleas, but that wasn’t his fault. He’s been gentle with Ivan and always keen for cuddles and even tolerates being picked up and carried around. He was very excitable, bordering on neurotic, once he hit adolescence, but once we started letting him outside that stopped completely.

So here’s the lousy part; a few months ago we came to the decision that once again, the expense and stress of transporting a cat overseas was too much, so we’d need to find a new home for Thor before we moved. I think this was the right thing to do, but I miss him so much, and I keep on thinking I can see him or hear him in our new catless flat.

Friends adopted Thor, so we know where he is and we can get photos and updates. It’s strange to think that he’s out there still and we are all the way across the ocean.

I have had many cats in my life, but I haven’t bonded with any of them to the extent of my attachment to Bright and Thor. I am sure that it was the uprooted, isolated feeling I got from moving so far away from family and friends that caused that to happen, so thus, I am feeling the cat need again now that I am in another brand-new, unfamiliar place.

Pontypool Changes Everything

December 31, 2011

This book, by Canadian Tony Burgess, was on Rue Morgue’s must-read list a few years back, so I bought it. Watching the film last spring finally persuaded me to read it. Goodreads gives it 3.28 based on 113 ratings, which isn’t awesome, and I understand why. This book is really tough to read.

I initially thought that the fragmented narrative structure was due to the POV of who I thought was going to be the protagonist: Les, the schizophrenic. I found out as I read on that there are a few different points of view so far, all equally garbled. Only now that I’ve met the recovering addict and chronic masturbator, Greg, is the book starting to make any sense; his narrative is mostly clear, if not slightly skewed by his ever-present “higher power.”

Burgess writes horrific violence well:

The propeller, it should be said, is entering the zombie’s stomach. It releases an underwater ticker tape parade around the man’s waist. His intestines blow their contents out into the lake…The zombie caves in over the cannon ball in its middle and folds in half on the bottom of Lake Scugog. The boat, something of a paintbrush now, is still tied to the dock. As it extends itself it floats a long feather boa of blood on the clear water.

And he knows zombies. The reader is allowed into the psyche of the zombie in this book, and it’s a really horrible place. The virus that turns people into zombies starts by attacking their language centres, and seeing that process unfold from the very beginning — a few mixed-up words and annoyance at a brain that isn’t cooperating — to the end, at which point a person is just a jibbering monster intent on biting off the mouth of any non-zombie it sees, is genuinely scary.

From the movie’s Wikipedia entry:

At Rue Morgue’s 2008 Festival of Fear expo, director Bruce McDonald stressed the victims of the virus detailed in the film were not zombies and called them “conversationalists”. He described the stages of the disease:

“There are three stages to this virus. The first stage is you might begin to repeat a word. Something gets stuck. And usually it’s words that are terms of endearment like sweetheart or honey. The second stage is your language becomes scrambled and you can’t express yourself properly. The third stage you become so distraught at your condition that the only way out of the situation you feel, as an infected person, is to try and chew your way through the mouth of another person.”

The setting is very conducive to that insolated situation that so many zombie books and movies try to achieve. The novel takes place in northern Ontario (very little happens in the title village) in the winter, and it’s a very cold, very bleak place. Everything comfortable and sweet about small Canadian towns is completely perverted and ruined in this book. Zombies aside, the reader gets to see the dark underbelly of everyday middle-class life. The characters do horrid things to one another and have very unnatural thoughts in their heads.

The reason I am not totally sold on Pontypool is that is just isn’t fun. The readability is hindered by Burgess’s forays into a sort of surreal poetic prose that really doesn’t work for me. As I said before, the zombies are scary, and the violence is mind-numbingly good, but the mortar holding the horror elements together is a mess.

I should add that the movie is fantastic…It has everything I could ever ask for in a horror film — a loveable anti-hero protagonist, great gore, great scares, great zombies.

Cheerio, 2011

December 31, 2011

Also, Cheerios! I’m back in the land of real Cheerios. And Life Cereal, and Muffets.

So, lots has happened in the past couple of weeks. We moved into our little basement suite, a grotto compared to our house in Maynooth, and have made it as cozy and pleasant as we could. We are still living out of suitcases for the most part. Living in the hotel, which we did for five nights, got old fast.

Our new home has grown on me. It hadn’t been cleaned since its last occupants, and since they moved out two years ago, it was littered with both human and insect debris. After a severe, relentless bleaching, it felt better, though I am still finding long, lustrous black hair everywhere. I wonder what kind of hair products the previous tenant used?

St. John’s had an earwig explosion earlier this year, and it seems like most of those earwigs moved into this suite. They aren’t pleased that the place doesn’t belong to them anymore. Did you know that earwigs FLY?! I discovered this last week; after picking up yet another freshly-murdered earwig, I noticed two perfect little wings.

We bought a car – a 2006 Pontiac G6. I had vowed in the past never to buy an American car, but my goodness, I like this one a lot. It took me awhile to regain my confidence as a driver, as I haven’t driven in 2.5 years. It came back surprisingly fast. I even managed to drive around downtown St. John’s — a Sisyphean chaos of winding roads, icy hills and over-confident pedestrians. I had no idea how much I missed the freedom of owning a vehicle.

I had vivid dreams about Ireland last night and woke up feeling strange and melancholy. One particular memory: a friend and I were going to take the train into the city together one last time. Somehow, I found myself down the bank across from the house I grew up in in Quesnel, BC. Knee-deep snow was everywhere. I was watching three dogs playing in the snow and suddenly remembered that I was supposed to be on the train with my friend.

Doc Hammer’s new years challenge:

“Every year I spend New Years Eve doing something that defines me. This year I will be alone writing music. NYE is a celebration of change and potential. Why do people celebrate this by getting blind drunk and throwing up in an unfamiliar toilet? No, this isn’t D.A.R.E. and I don’t give a shit if you drink. But consider honoring the symbol of change and potential by being the thing that you are proud of. BONUS: You won’t need your “friend” to hold your hair back. Well, unless the thing you’re most proud of is your amazing ability to get completely trashed and get all your sick cleanly in the bowl.”

Yeah, it’s smug, but I like this. I don’t think I’ll be doing something that particularly defines me this year, though. I predict we will watch something we tend to watch yearly — Robocop, Starship Troopers, Alien and/or Aliens — and will be asleep by midnight at the latest.