Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And The Weather's Good

"People started calling those in power to account
And people started saying, "I want my voice to count"
And people started learning that they don't need to fight
And they control their future and try to make it right"
The best thing about this song is not the realization that Mick Jones is still making music we all want to bounce up and down to all these years later. The best thing about this song is not the lyrics, which express a positive view that people have the power to demand social justice and change. No, the best thing about this song (for me, at any rate) is that Julian is running around singing it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sometimes I Have A Lot I Want To Say

But the problem is that I know it will result in me spending many hours typing, reading, editing, thinking of more stuff I failed to mention, and so on. So I put off writing what I want to write about until I have time. Except that I get busy with life and, before I know it, the idea has developed a gravitational force and tons of other things glom onto it, turning what was a speck of dust into a topic the size of Saturn (complete with rings). Then I can't write because I have no idea how to start something which I know will be massive. And I can't write little things because the big thing just squats in my brain, like an enormous toad. I get cranky because I know it will be nowhere near as profound as it is in my imagination. Before I know it, the procrastination alone has sucked hours from my life and it is time for me to consider going to sleep because, I tell myself, I have all this stuff that I really will write tomorrow. I promise.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Elegant Women Are Very Rare

Alright, my first reaction is that there is no way this is real. This has to be an extremely clever piece of viral marketing. In a few months, we'll see ads for "Dimitri's Guide to Dating" and all will be clear (kindof like the That Emily Girl thing which happened a few years back, though I don't know what happened to the television show which that was supposed to get us to watch). But then I think it could be real. After all, I have met guys who are like this. I dated a guy in college who, if he is still alive and dating, probably leaves messages like this on women's answering machines these days (heck, he probably tried spiels like this on me. I spent a lot of time ignoring him). Anyway, real or fake, it is worth a listen.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hardcore Geek Love

I have been known to geek out hard over books, television shows, musicians, etc. However, as much as I may love Doctor Who and Roddy Frame, it never even occurred to me to get a tattoo of a TARDIS or song lyrics. Clearly, some Twilight fans are way more punk rock in their love than I could ever be.

This sort of thing makes me think I should try to read those books so I can see what all the fuss is about. I find it impossible to believe they are worthy of this.

So now, after all this, I can't get the refrain "in the shadow, boy meets man" out of my head.

The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

The year is 2070, and the world has been forever changed by nuclear war. The doorways between the worlds have been opened and humanity is touched by magic. Fourteen year old Ejii Ugabe is one of the new metahumans to emerge in this world; she is a shadow speaker, just learning to use her abilities, unsure of her place in the world. She is haunted by memories of her father's cruel misogyny and her violent memories of his murder. When the shadows tell her that only she can prevent war from breaking out between earth and the other worlds, she embarks on a journey with her talking camel across the Sahara. She soon joins forces with Dikeogu, a runaway slave who cannot accept that he,too, is a metahuman. As her journey progresses, her power develops, and she learns that she must find a way to reconcile the warring aspects of herself just as she must reconcile the leaders who see destruction of the other as the only way to remain safe.
"You and I are both cursed and gifted," Ejii said.
"More cursed, maybe," he said with a chuckle.
"Maybe," Ejii said. "Dikeogu, make me a promise. Let's both make a promise."
"Of what?"
"That above all things, we do what has to be done to make things better," she said. "That we leave this earth having made it better than when we came to it."
I loved this book. I loved that it was set in Africa (it made so much sense, I find myself wondering why more fantasy/sci-fi novels are not set in Africa). I loved that the post-apocalyptic world was one of magic and growth (random forests spring up overnight) as opposed to one of decay and death. I loved how Ejii had to learn to accept not only her shadow speaking abilities, but also her value as a female. I was disheartened by the idea (and yes, I know it is a work of fiction) that 61 years from now, there may still be men who insist that women are inferior and their only talent is to serve men. I loved how idealistic Ejii was and how she helps to heal Dikeogu, how he comes to adopt her world view.

You should read this book. It is classified as Young Adult, I suspect because the main character is fourteen and none of the themes are exclusively adult ones; I thought about nuclear war all the time when I was in junior high and saving the world is theme which knows no age limits.

In case you are wondering why I am writing about books: I have been reading a lot lately. While this is a good thing, I find I am not blogging as much and suspect that my skills are getting rusty. So it finally dawned on me that I could tell you about some of the books I have read which I liked. We will see if this catches on (and by "catches on" I mean if I feel inspired to write about more books, now that I have lost my book review/recommendation virginity).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Toys and Old Ideas

I have always been a fan of opaque black tights. They go with everything, they hide the fact that one hasn't shaved one's legs, and they make a person look taller and thinner. The perfect accessory, in my opinion. Unfortunately, black tights have a nasty tendency to run.

About a decade ago, I took a few pairs of ruined tights and cut them into ribbons. Then I sewed the ribbons end to end. Then I wound it into a ball and began knitting test swatches. The fabric this created was very heavy and stretchy. I couldn't quite imagine what I could make from this yarn. A bathing suit, maybe, but the fabric was way too thick and warm for an item one might intend to wear in the summertime. For a while, I toyed with the idea of knitting stockings from the yarn and taking a series of photos to document the process, but despite the internal logic of this plan, the yarn itself is not terribly pliable, so it would make a very uncomfortable stocking, and it seemed like a waste to knit even one sock just for an art project which would languish on my hard drive with the rest of them. So the ball of yarn languished with the rest of my stash, waiting for inspiration to deliver it from obscurity.

Last week, we bought a new computer and an iPod Touch. I am still learning what can be done with this handheld device, I haven't even downloaded any apps yet, but I am already worrying about how it will fare in my purse.

I need something to protect my new toy from my keys and my cell phone. The internet is filled with patterns for hand knit iPod cozies and holders.

After trying a lace weight cashmere on 0 needles (which was beautiful), I decided I needed yarn that would would be thick enough to protect the device and would not be so pretty as to make me concerned about what my keys mights do to fabric. I mean, it is kindof crazy to make a protective sock for an iPod only to become concerned about the fate of the sock. And then, I had my peanut butter and chocolate moment.

I knit this in a couple of hours on number 10.5 needles. I decided it needed a handle because it would be easier to fish it out of my purse.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Karma Is Far More Demanding and Far Less Forgiving Than I

As you know, I recently attended my high school reunion, to which I wore two pairs of Spanx and control top tights. As crazy as this was (I didn't wear something that was so tight that I needed all that reinforcement) I explained my choice as follows: I have issues and I was about to set foot in a room full of people who gave me these issues. Of course, this wasn't completely fair to the people with whom I attended high school because my issues were already in full swing by the time I encountered most of them.

When I was around six years old, there was a girl in my class, I will call her Sarah (this was not her name, but for the purposes of this story, it will serve. Her name is, ultimately, irrelevant). She was a year older than me (as you may recall, I went to a Montessori school where we had three age groups in each class--3-6, 6-9, 9-12). I have few recollections of her besides the fact that we sometimes wore our hair the same way and she seemed to like to tease people. However, there is one memory of her which has stuck with me all these years and for which, I felt, the universe would be punishing her at some point.

When I was seven or eight, she once came up to me and asked me how much I weighed. I wasn't sure (there was a scale at home and I had stood on it, but I really hadn't paid attention to what the number was), so I guessed and said 60 pounds. She proceeded to go on and on about how fat I was and how disgusting it was that I should weigh 60 whole pounds. I was ashamed and, when I went home, I remember weighing myself (I think I weighed something like 65 pounds, which horrified me even more) and I recall crying to my mother that I hoped that, someday soon, Sarah would weigh 70, 80, 90 pounds. My mom couldn't understand what my problem was and just told me to stop caring what other people weighed (while this was probably not the right response from my mom, looking at photos of me from this time, I can understand it. I was a tall, skinny kid and I am sure she found it impossible that anyone, large or small, would be calling me fat). This memory has stuck with me because it was not long after that I started to gain weight and then changed schools and hit puberty and, before I knew it, I had a weight problem and an eating disorder. Even though I know that many factors contributed to my hatred of my thighs and me sticking my finger down my throat, a small voice in my head wonders what might have happened if Sarah (not her real name) had kept her mean mouth shut thirty years ago.

Of course, a much larger, more mature voice in my head wonders what poor Sarah must have been hearing at home for her to spread such poison at school.

So, the other day, I was talking to my former 6-9 teacher about Facebook and she mentioned that Sarah had contacted her. She mentioned that the whole message Sarah sent was about being off her diet and then she showed me Sarah's picture, commenting that Sarah had never been a very pretty girl. I blurted out that Sarah was responsible for setting me on the road to having an eating disorder and proceeded to tell a condensed version of what had happened. The thing was that as I was telling the story, I was looking at pictures of Sarah and I couldn't help feeling a bit bad. I felt I was being indiscreet to mention it and that it was pathetic of me for this to be my most salient memory of this girl. I was sure the other women in the office were judging me negatively for talking about this. But what made me feel really guilty was that, above all else, I felt vindicated as I looked at her pictures, thinking that on the most shallow level, I had beaten her at her game.

In some ways, it is terribly satisfying to find out the universe is far crueler than one ever suspected. However, it also makes one feel contrite because, of course, one never really wanted the other person to suffer that much. Yes, when I was eight, I wanted Sarah to feel fat and bad about herself because she made me feel fat and bad about myself. But, as I said, a kid doesn't come up with this stuff on their own, they learn it from someone, and it is a safe bet that Sarah picked on me because she needed to feel superior to someone and, for whatever reason, I was a good target. For all I know, she may have done this to all the girls in our class, but I may be the only person who remembers it because I may have been the only person with whom it resonated. And, really, this is not enough, in and of itself, to cause someone to have an eating disorder. As I said, she started me on the road, but it was long road. Not to mention that for all my issues, my road took a healthy turn many years ago and I am relatively stable and healthy. Looking at her adult pictures confirms that she has a far worse relationship with her body and with food than I do (or ever did), that she is not in a happy or healthy place, and this must have started long before she ever decided to talk to me about my weight. So while it would be nice to say that she is the victim of karmic retribution, I feel the punishment is far crueler than the crime or even that she was being punished long before she committed the crime. It is hard not to feel bad about wishing her ill.

Of course, if there is ever a reunion of my 6-9 class from my Montessori school, I won't be foregoing the many layers of compressing undergarments. Seriously, just because I believe that who people are on the inside is more important than how they look on the outside doesn't mean I am capable of cutting myself any slack with regards to appearance. I feel shallow for caring about appearance and but I still feel triumphant (even now, after writing all this) that I am a prettier and skinnier adult. Intellectually, I know that no one notices these things, but emotionally, I am still girl who thinks people are judging her because of a number on a scale. No amount of karma can make that go away.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Could Make Me Excited About Bilbo Baggins?

Previous to today, I may have said nothing.

Despite my love for The Lord of the Rings, I never managed to finish reading The Hobbit. This is mostly because I just couldn't get invested in the story and I blame this on Bilbo being a far less interesting character than Frodo (of course, I haven't even tried to read The Hobbit since I was eleven, and back then, I didn't talk about stuff like characters, I just found the book boring). And because I felt this way, I couldn't get excited by the prospect of Peter Jackson adapting The Hobbit for the screen. I mean, sure, maybe I'd get around to seeing it eventually, but I didn't imagine I'd be shelling out cash to see it opening weekend in the theatres.

I know, this is blasphemy. Yes, go ahead, pelt me with criticism. Tell me I am not embracing the grand mastery of Tolkein's vision and you will report me to the proper authorities so that they may strip me of any and all claims I may have to science fiction/fantasy geekdom.

So, given these feelings, what could possibly make me suddenly very interested in the plans for this film adaptation?

Doctor Who's David Tennant Tipped To Play Bilbo Baggins

Of course, it is all just speculation and probably won't happen. But now I am thinking of The Hobbit and, because I am thinking about it, I am considering giving the book another chance.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

What'choo Talking About?

A few months back, when it was announced that the Sears Tower had been sold and would be renamed the Willis Tower, some were all aflutter at the idea of calling the former World's Tallest Building by any other name, while others (well, me) made the inevitable Diff'rent Strokes references (i.e. "at least they aren't asking us to call it The Gooch"), as Todd Bridges is the one, true Willis in our hearts. However, it seems a name change was nothing compared to other changes the new owners had in store for us.

Glass ledges! The pictures alone make my heart race.