Thursday, January 24, 2013

"I'm looking for someone to share in an adventure."

When there's pretty knitwear in a film, I like to try to work out the construction of it. It's like the opposite of my "But that's not even what DNA analysis -! And evolution doesn't mean -! And you can't -!" knee-jerk, or every scene with computers for programmers, I imagine.

Gandalf's gloves were the easiest-glimpsed knit in The Hobbit! When I went to see it with my family, my mum asked me during the film if I could make them, and my brother said afterwards that he noticed Gandalf's gloves looked like there were made by me. My mum also asked whether the villains in a particular scene were goblins or orcs. She tries.

So I made Gandalf gloves out of leftover yarn! The first time I saw it I thought they were garter stitch, but on second watching I think they were reverse stockinette, so I knit them as such.

They're by no means a perfect replica. They're too dark a grey, but this was what I had (Debbie Bliss Rialto, on 4.5mm needles), and I wanted to make it into something I would get excited over. I also added a little ribbing at the top, to avoid stockinette curl. (I assume no stockinette curl means either machine knitting or a million hours of blocking. It would be awfully sad if Gandalf had no-one to hand-knit for him. :( ) But they were a simple thing that makes me happy in a silly, nerdy way to have made them, and I assume that I now get to be friends with both Gandalf and Sir Ian McKellen.*

Gandalf would have loved crosswords, I assume! (Tangent: I miss Crosaire. I wish they'd recycle his old crosswords. Crossheir has a lot more "Well, I guess it has to be ___. I can kind of see how that makes sense." than "Ohhh, that's clever!" I'm sure he's a lovely person, and he has big boots to fill, and I certainly couldn't write a clever crossword, but Crosaire 4 lyf.)

Other Hobbit-related things:

  • When I was younger, I assumed that anything that could plausibly be natural (beards, hair) was. (I thought Christopher Lee grew his hair for years to play Saruman, for example.) If I still believed this, James Nesbitt would probably be my favourite person  in the world. His moustache even matches his hat! (He also had some cosy-looking seed stitch gloves that will float around the back of my mind until suitable yarn presents itself, and maybe Oin's diamond-patterned ones, and I have oddly specific problems.)

  • This sequence makes my heart smile. I've never minded having a bad singing voice, but now I think perhaps I should work on it, in preparation for being whisked away on an adventure.

*Can the Queen call on the likes of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart to fight as knights in a battle? That would be the best battle.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Joss Whedon - Nice Guy among Nice Guys

I have a somewhat childish reaction when something I dislike becomes popular. I'm quite happy to dislike something quietly until I keep seeing on Facebook or having conversations turn to how it's ORIGINAL or WITTY or GROUND-BREAKING. Like Avatar. The special effects were very pretty, and Sigourney Weaver was there. That doesn't come near trumping the fact that there was no plot to speak of, and the dialogue was bad, and it wasn't an interesting retelling of the story it was telling, and it created a world which it failed to make interesting or explore well, and if you're going to make up science you need to explain why it's not stupid or I will judge your film as stupid unless you save it by making the rest of the film not stupid, and during one of the SPLOSIONS battle scenes at the end I consciously thought "Oh god, I am so bored, when will this end," and I am not easily bored, plus I saw it in 3D, a medium which has, worryingly, failed to die a death.

All that said, the only reason I have all of those flaws to hand is because people responded to my "Eh, the special effects were good but I didn't think it was a good film," with "But what about X?" X WAS BAD. IF X IS SOMETHING THAT MAKES A FILM GOOD, AND I DIDN'T ENJOY THE FILM, IT MEANS I THOUGHT X WAS BAD.

And so it is with Joss Whedon! I like his shows, but I do not like the man. If I watched his shows and never heard anything about him, or by him, I could just switch off my brain for the misogyny and laugh at the cleverly-constructed lines.

But no. Did you know Joss Whedon is SO FEMINIST? Because his shows are absolutely no indication of that, and it seems like if you believe in something, you should maybe have you art which is directed at teeenagers express that message! And did you know he writes STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS, it's not just that tiny girls beating people up are what he's into, he is PROGRESSIVE.


The fact that there is one conventionally hot girl who wears glasses or studies science or both!, instead of being conventionally hot and a cheerleader, in his shows and she is meant to be the Thinking Man's Hot Girl is quite skeezy in itself. It comes with the implication, as in the link, that sure, Anya and Buffy and Cordelia (and every female character in the show, seriously, where are the strong ugly characters) might be hot in an OBVIOUS sort of way, but with Willow and Fred, Nice Guys like Joss Whedon see through the outer hotness to the mind underneath that shares their specific interests! Enjoy learning new things from your total bimbo girlfriends who have hobbies and aspirations different to yours, jocks!

In Cabin In The Woods - with which I might be falling into my Avatar trap, because I though it was a diverting horror film that didn't do enough with the scope it gave itself, and the internet thought it TOTALLY TURNED THE GENRE ON ITS HEAD - rather than do something clever with the Stupid Slut Who Dies First trope, he... turns a med student into the Stupid Slut Who Dies first. (... ON ITS HEAD, SUCH A TWIST.) You could argue that his hands were tied by the genre, and he makes a feeble attempt to misdirect by having somewhere say her hair dye is making her stupid, but given the misogyny of the trope, if he really cared, he could have done something clever and non-sexist with it.

There's nothing that makes my skin crawl like the early seasons of Buffy though. I get that it's a lot of wish fulfilment - the most important girl in the world befriends the hottest losers in the school! (But doesn't have anything to do with Jonathan or those creepy losers, ew gross.) The hottest losers in the school fling zingers (or what are meant to be, whatever!) at lumbering jocks who are no match for their wit! It is a bit weird to work your sixteen-year-old esprit d'escalier into a TV show you make as a grown-up, obsessive even, but whatever makes you happy! 

What I can't look past is the treatment of Cordelia. She exemplifies the self-congratulatory pseudo-feminist maxim of "I have nothing but respect for women whom I deem respectable." She's mean for no reason, shallow, vapid, gets poor grades, and probably spurned Joss Whedon in high school. In the pilot, Jesse follows her around even though she has told him to leave her alone (but she's mean, and he's friends with the people who'll be the protagonists, so it's HILARIOUS, not creepy). In the next episode, Vampire Jesse appears behind her when she's dancing, leering and getting creepily up in her space. When she tells him to go away, he tells her to shut up. She looks confused. "Okay, just one dance, she says." Because bitches like that like jerks, not Nice Guys like teenage Joss Whedon! They deserve the abuse that's coming to them! Get it? FEMINISM!

Cordelia later redeems herself by going out with Joss Whedon, I mean, Xander, which compounds, rather than diminishing, the misogyny.

I honestly do like Joss Whedon's shows, but I'd enjoy them more if not for the hypocrisy. I can switch off my brain for a certain amount of misogyny - a girl's gotta leave the house and consume some media, after all. It's the hypocrisy of writing lazy sexism and then crowing over how feminist he is. He has described himself as a "lesbian in a man's body", which is something that some people do have to deal with in daily life, but coming from him sounds like the "I wish I were oppressed" or someone who thinks their privilege is so unhip.

From here.

But every time I see that quote floating around fandoms, and I want to sit Joss Whedon down and explain some things to stop ruining not-being-sexist for the people who put thought into not being sexist, and, while he's at it, to stop being sexist.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas holiday knitting

Not knowing what to do with myself with my Christmas knitting finished, I became briefly fixated on wanting to clear out yarn, or at least turn skeins of yarn into things that weren't skeins, so these came out of it!

A simple ribbed bobble hat. I made two to use up this yarn, and then crocheted a few squares for the Henry Bear Blanketeers with the leftovers. I don't know why I look so sad in the last photo, I think my face just defaults to 'sad' when it's not responding to a particular emotion.

I wanted to use up my decadent graduation yarn, but it was only 110 yards, so that was quite limiting. I didn't manage to take a photo that shows the colour and sheen of the yarn in real life, but you can take my word for it that it's nice yarn. I like this pattern - Swirling Petals Cowl - but I'm not sure that I like the length of it on me, or that the pattern suits the yarn. It also turned my fingers green while I was knitting, so if it does the same to my neck I'll look a bit gangrenous. It may end up frogged and made into something else.

My sister's Christmas gloves, which were blocking last time I posted. I'm really happy with how they turned out - muted colours and cables always strike me as looking very grown-up, and as she's training to be a teacher I thought they might be a bit more fitting than the ones I had planned to make for her, which weren't working out due to yarn weight. Vancouver Fog is a lovely pattern, and I used Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran.

Fourth Doctor gloves! I've wanted to make these for a while - not for myself, just to have made - and I really like how they turned out. I based it roughly off the Doctor Who Scarf Pattern, keeping the proportions of colours similar, and changing it around when a colour was appearing to much within the block I was working from. These are mostly acrylic, and they're lovely and warm. Weaving in all the ends was a pain in the face, though.

Speaking of Doctor Who, my friend Steph gave me this shirt for Christmas

and got my Doctor right despite not watching the show. If that's not true friendship I don't know what is. (Tennant 4 lyf. You never forget you first Doctor and all, but mainly it's the kindness and joy that makes him so endearing. I agree with the point that he's probably too human for the Doctor, but I also don't care. Also, David Tennant is adorable, and that accent, and that bone structure.)

I don't have space at the moment  to work on my 2013 projects, but I've accrued a few commission in the last few days which will keep me busy. I said to myself that I wouldn't buy more yarn until I had used up at least a third of what I already have, but I don't have the appropriate weights and colours. I don't know why I stay with me after all the lies.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year's Resolutions and to-do list

When I was younger my New Year's Resolutions were always along the lines of "Be a better person", and other things so vague they were doomed to either obvious failure or obvious success, depending on the stringency of your definition. I've found I have more luck with specifics, and a lot of what I want to do this year has to do with developing or picking up skills. "Do X more" falls into the vagueness trap, but "Do this specific thing once" goes against the spirit of resolutions in my mind - they should be about continuous self-improvement. To compromise with myself, I've made a project list!

Take a First Aid course

This one might be a cheat to include, as I signed up for it at the start of December. It starts at the end of the month, and I still have to pay, so I hope they're not the sort to give spots away. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, so I'm pretty excited!

Sew a bag

I have a few sewing projects under my belt, but I'd like to become more proficient at it.  There are some crafts I'd be happy to try once, and then leave be, and sewing isn't one of them, but the time required to set up and get a run at things, and the fact that it's stationary, are disadvantages it has against knitting. I have both the fabric and material to make an easy bag, though, and I have a few patterns I bought in a flurry of enthusiasm after my first sewing project, so I want to make a start on them.

Crochet Cthulhu

I learned to crochet hyperbolic shapes for my old job, and I use up spare yarn crocheting squares for the Henry Bear Blanketeers, but I can't do anything other than double and trebles. I learn better with a specific project, so I'm going to make Cthulhu from a pattern in Creepy Cute Crochet. I had been going to make this fella here for my brother for Christmas, but, having only looked at the pattern on Ravelry, I didn't realise the pattern was in Finnish, and Google translate let me down. (This meant my brother was the only one not opening a handmade gift from me on Christmas day and I am a terrible person.) This way I get to use a so-far-unused pattern book and get better at crochet! The pattern level is 'intermediate', but psshhht.

Build a robot capable of following a straight line

I'm excited about this one because everything else is just improving on something I can already do to some degree, but I have no idea about programming or electronics or building robots! I understand that the starter project for robotics is to build a robot capable of following a straight line, but obviously the eventual aim of my beginner's project will be to make the robot capable of feeling joy and love. It will be everything that I'm not. I yammered so much about my plan to build a robot that my boyfriend got me a beginner's Arduino set for Christmas, and an Arduino-compatible body, which looks like Wall-E if one uses a little imagination. Me and this robot, BFFz.

Learn The Heart Asks Pleasure First on piano

Because it makes me a little bit sad that there's a piano in the house and I can't play anything on it. I think I started to learn this piece years ago, before I gave up piano lessons and playing instruments generally, but I don't think I made it to the end, and it is incredibly beautiful. (I also think it's interesting that the sense of the piece is very different to the sense of the poem of the same name, by which I vaguely assume it to be inspired.)

Take a climbing course

I want to try a new sport, and want to do something about my feeble little arms. Twofer!

Run a half-marathon

There's one in the Phoenix Park in September, I can be ready by then! It will be nice not to expect this to happen when I walk into a sportswear shop or section.

Write a short horror story

I want to write anything that isn't precisely laid out facts, and short stories were my strength for the Leaving Cert. (I couldn't write discursive or persuasive essays without throwing in a qualifying, "But of course, I can see how I might be wrong and stupid and the exact opposite of what I've said may be the case", even though as Gaeilge it was "Níl aon dabht i m'intinn" and "Táimse go huile is go hiomlán i neamhaontais" all over the shop.)   Horror stories have a place in my heart, and I think it will be an enjoyable challenge because it's difficult to write a genuinely scary story.

I'll probably add to it over the course of the year - I want to take a language class, and join an Irish-speaking group to get mine back up to scratch, and start drawing again, and volunteer with kids once my Garda vetting for my new charity group comes through - but those will be a good start.