Wednesday, September 9, 2009

When Autumn Comes... doesn't ask. It just walks in where it left you last, and you never know when it starts until there's fog inside the glass around your summer heart.

I don't have a particular subject for this post, so I'm not entirely sure where it's headed. I've been being very crafty lately, and by that I mean I've spent a majority of my paychecks on fabric and yarn and supplies. I feel that crafting is both retro and modern, and I really like the fact that it makes me buy less things made by kids who earn two cents an hour.

This year is unique in that Fall has sprung into action much swifter and sooner than I remember. September hit and all of a sudden I have a craving for pumpkin flavored things, I enjoy the color orange, and I compulsively take a sweater with me wherever I go. I think I've finally overcome my fear of Fall weather, though, what with the season previously being the indication that I'd soon be trapped in prison (public school) for the following nine months, five of those months containing horrible weather of all sorts.

Although I was really excited about this blog at first, I find that I don't have a lot to say, and I end up many times writing half of an entry and then doing something else I deem to be more productive. Right now, for example, I'm finding my diction awkward so I kind of want to go take a nap.

I started school last week. See, here's the problem now. I want to stop at that sentence because I know if I go on, I'll start talking about my classes, and then my jobs, and then it just won't end. So I'll keep it really simple. Four classes this quarter: politics and the novel, contemporary women's poetry, alternatives to experimental reasearch methods, and tests and measures. Lots of variation, so I have so far kept my interest. Three jobs right now: bank teller, dress presser, and secretary. I have no comment on any of them except that I keep very busy. And I'm also in the process of moving, which I simultaneously anticipate and dread.

I plan on sewing lots more stuff and making many Autumn-themed things, specifically cupcakes and purses. As you can see to your right, I've started adding stuff to my Etsy, but now that school has started, making things will be much more sparse. I think I'm going to go take that nap now.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Late Night Baking

It is an odd tendency of mine given to me by my father to bake desserts in the very late evening. As such, tonight I decided to make chocolate chip cupcakes (at midnight), the recipe of which can be found in Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans, given to me by my sister for my birthday this year. I'm not entirely sure it's legal for me to post the recipe or a tutorial on how to make them, but I will gladly post some pictures I took while baking.

Although I've only made one recipe from this book, I think it's lovely so far. The instructions are easy to follow and the recipes go from very easy to difficult. These chocolate chip cupcakes were in the beginning of the book, but I plan to work my way through to the end of it. On a related note, I should probably look into purchasing an exercise book of similar quality.

I couldn't find any cupcake liners that were more decorative. How unfortunate.

Although the recipe called for light brown sugar, I accidentally bought dark brown sugar. I think I was just so excited to bake cupcakes with brown sugar that I bought the brown-est sugar I could find. Mmm.

This is the batter before I put the chocolate chips in it.

Compared to my other baking adventures, I made much less of a mess this time. Normally after I make anything, it looks like the kitchen exploded.

This is the glaze that goes on top of the cupcakes. It was easier to make than I thought and it's as delicious as it looks.

The finished product minus the glaze.

This was, by far, the most fun I've ever had decorating cupcakes. To get the abstract stripey texture, I dipped a fork in the glaze and flung it back and forth over the pan. It was so simple and they turned out so pretty.

I tried one immediately after they were cool enough to eat and they are heavenly. The only problem was that the top of the cupcakes stuck to the liner, but I think that was just because they hadn't really finished cooling. I officially this late night baking adventure a success!

Today, I also worked on sewing some more. I'm currently trying to come up with a pattern for a simple clutch. I don't consider myself a beginner when it comes to baking, but sewing is almost entirely new to me. The only experience I've had is what I've learned the past few months from the alterations department where I work and the six weeks of home economics I had to take in seventh grade. I've made two little purses so far, but I'll save the tutorial for when I start to use my sewing machine more often than my seam ripper.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tarantino is an Advocate for Postmodern Feminism

A couple nights ago, I saw the long-awaited Inglourious Basterds. I'll cut right to it and say that I was expecting... more: more of the classic Tarantino soul-soothing. I know you may wonder what on earth I mean by saying Tarantino is at all soul-soothing, what with all the violence and tense 8-hour long dialogue scenes. Above all else, Tarantino is a master of giving the audience what they really want. In each of his films, at some point I guarantee the first time you saw it, you were figuratively or literally at the edge of your seat, heart-racing, afraid to blink; at the end, you sighed a figurative or literal sigh of relief because exactly what you wanted to happen happened, and every other director in Hollywood is too afraid to do that. This film is perfect in its own way and I won't knock Tarantino for deviating from his habits.

I will, of course, discuss what I discuss best and which Tarantino presents best (besides violence), and that is feminism. Inglourious Basterds was reminiscent of Jackie Brown in that Tarantino managed to create a feminist film without the prevalence of female characters. The ratio of female to male characters in this film is about 1:1,000, but the same is true for Jackie Brown. In fact, I'd say that Inglourious Basterds is a perfect mix of Resevoir Dogs and Jackie Brown, and that makes for an interesting mix.

What makes Inglourious Basterds a feminist film is the attitude of each of the female characters. Both of them were strong, feminine, and had distinct voices and actions in the film. Their actions helped guide the plot to its resolution, and although that may seem like an insignificant detail, it's amazing how few films have female characters who do that. In comparison to Tarantino's other films, this is not his most feminist work, but compared to every other film that came out this summer, Inglourious Basterds helps make gender matter, even if it's nuanced. What I enjoy so much about Tarantino is that his films can be cinematic fluff if you want them to be. You can walk out of the theater without thinking anything but, "Whoa, awesome movie." Or you can walk out of the film taking out of it the subtleties Tarantino put in it, such as his reverence for women, his commentary on masculinity, or his discussion of morality.

For me, the most marked point of feminism in this film is when one of the female leads is called a slut. I know this deviates from most perceptions of feminism, but in any other film, a woman being called a slut would not have stood out to me, which saddens me greatly. This female character, however, was so well-respected by all of the men that at a climactic point in the film, she is called a slut by one of them, and everyone is all, "That was too far, man." In similar scenes of other films, I honestly would have expected a character like her to have been abused, maybe even raped, and called every name in the book within the first ten minutes. I'm so used to such occurrences that I was actually expecting her to be mistreated more than she actually is in the film.

I believe that this movie was more set to make the audience ponder about justice and morality, or to make us think, "YEAH KILL THEM NAZIS." Probably a mix of both. I cannot, however, walk away from a discussion of Tarantino without mentioning his other films and the postmodern feminism therein.

A couple years ago, I wrote a very long paper on postmodern feminism in Tarantino films entitled, "Bang Bang, My Baby Shot Me Down." Since I'm sure nobody wants to listen to me rant formally for 12 pages about Tarantino, I won't post it. I essentially claimed that by deconstructing gendered language, Tarantino is successful in slowly changing our concepts of restrictive gender roles by having feminine but respected and deadly heroines. For example, more often than not, a heroine will have to sacrifice her femininity in other films in order to do a task, or her femininity will be a weakness to her task at hand. Tarantino films, however, such as Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, and Death Proof make being a woman a strength. He ensures that violence is no longer a strictly masculine characteristic, and in his films, women even have conversations with other women that don't involve men, sex, or looks. Such things are unheard of in this world and surely do not occur in real life.

In conclusion, on my mental Tarantino shelf, Inglourious Basterds belongs above Resevoir Dogs but below Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, Death Proof, and Kill Bill. It's worth seeing once in theaters and buying on DVD when it comes out, just so that you can watch it two years from now with your only friend who hasn't seen it.

Now, more importantly, I'm trying to think of a cute name for this blog and have thus far been unsuccessful. Ideas?

Monday, August 24, 2009

What I've been up to, into for the past year

I've neglected this sorry site for far too long now, and I apologize. While I'm fixing up this place a little, I'll go ahead and start off what will hopefully be a string of posts by discussing some pop culture I've enjoyed over the past several months.

I feel massively guilty that one of my favorite pass times tends to be so low on my priority list. I blame capitalism, what with its over priced textbooks that I'm obligated to read for my "education," and my job(s) that I'm required to have in order to not starve. Ugh.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Author of the popular "Dykes to Watch Out For," Bechdel creates this amusing, heartfelt memoir about the discovery of her father's true sexual orientation as well as her own. I was introduced to Bechdel when she visited my college to make a speech for our Presidential Lecture series, the theme of which was "diversity." After the speech, I immediately purchased the book but was far too shy to have her sign it. Fun Home is a story which is impossible to set down, and as such serves as an excellent pioneer for the hopeful new genre of the graphic novel memoir.

Everything by David Sedaris

Speaking of memoir, if you have yet to be introduced to the modern master of memoir himself, pick up one of his books immediately. Mr. Sedaris is an excellent read if, like myself, you find you don't have time to read an entire novel but would like the comfort of a cozy, light-hearted read nonetheless. His short stories are both comedic and insightful, and you will likely recall his antics at random intervals in your life as though they were your own memories. If you don't want to take my word for it that this guy is the greatest, here is a very convincing clip of Sedaris on Letterman.

Bitch Magazine

A subscription to Bitch is a must if you consider yourself any of the following: feminist, postmodern, pop-culture literate, or not dead. Coming from someone who turns her nose up at every magazine she sees, Bitch gives me hope for what seems to be the lost art of pop culture journalism. Instead of giving you advice on how to completely change yourself in order to get the guy you like to notice you, the authors of this magazine write vastly diverse articles about the state of today's culture and its effects, both negative and positive, on women. Bitch is intelligent, empowering, entertaining, and beyond worth twenty bucks a year.

With the rise in my work hours comes an almost insatiable need to sit in front of a glowing tube for hours on end (No, I don't have one of those fancy flat screens, thank you).


If you haven't watched the first season yet, do yourself a favor and skip the first six episodes. They're silly and reminiscent of all the shows FOX canceled for good reason. Episode seven through the end, however, are pure gold. In fact, go ahead and buy it on DVD so you can see the unaired pilot and missing episode. Just describing the basics of the plot is difficult, so I'll keep it simple: people have their personalities wiped for various reasons and are then temporarily imprinted with new personalities in order to satiate the needs and desires of clients. That alone lends itself to so many smaller plots and mishaps and intricate moral dilemmas that it's easy to make this series soar and even easier to make it crash. Good luck, Whedon.

"Mystery Diagnosis"

The proof that this show is awesome is in the name. People have stuff that's wrong with them and the diagnosis is a mystery. It's on Discovery Health and I highly recommend that you go ahead and DVR it for any time you're needing a fix to watch something educational that won't bore you or gross you out too much. The greatest part about this show is that it almost always has a happy ending because the people on which the episodes are based get properly diagnosed. I say "almost always" because sometimes the subjects of the episode have some kind of genetic disorder which shortens and/or heavily impairs their lives, but even then, they usually have started some kind of research institute or support group for their particular disease/condition/disorder in order to help other people in their situation.

I'm so proud of 2009 for helping to reinstate my love for science fiction cinema. There are a whole TWO films which came out this summer that are genuinely science fiction, and that's two more than usual.


This indie sci-fi film stars Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey's voice, and is directed by David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones. I'm sure I don't need to say much more to convince you that it's awesome. No, it doesn't have lots of explosions or choppy fight scenes, and it probably didn't cost too much to make, but it's engrossing. I think it's safe to say that Moon is one of the first science fiction films in over a decade to dazzle its audience with elaborate character development and a simple-yet-twisted plot which doesn't aim to Lynch our minds with skewed perceptions of reality.

District 9

Aliens, faux-documentaries about aliens having lived on Earth for two decades, a collective newfound self-loathing for humanity. Just see it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

New Sewing Machine!

School finally ended, and my birthday is coming up in a couple months, so my parents decided they wanted to get me a sewing machine, like I told them to. Well... I slyly suggested it (by saying, "I want a sewing machine for my birthday. And I think I should get it early, because if I wait until mid-August I won't have much time to play with it before school starts.") and now I am the proud owner of a Singer 7444 Precision.

So after the initial obstacles of setting it up, which was relatively easy considering the only experience I have sewing was when I was in 7th grade, I went ahead and started with my first project, a headband. Although I'd like to post how I made it, it didn't turn out as well as I'd like, so I'll probably try it again later and chronicle the steps.

The end result wasn't as good as I'd hoped, mostly because I didn't make the ends as long as I thought they should be. So I'll try it again later with a few differences. Here is the end result:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ideas for When I'll Have More Time on My Hands

As a formal introduction, I suppose I'll discuss all of my extensive crafting ideas for this summer. I'd like to further note that my plan for this blog is to discuss all of my projects once I'm finished with them and such.

1. My freakin' afghan. It's mostly done. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift for my grandmother, but I got side tracked when I figured out I'd have to sew all of my patches together, and that's a bummer. But! I have two more rows to stitch up, then I can crochet the border. Oh, and as an aside, although I have yet to smell my afghan, I fear it may smell like Chinese food because I made most of the patches at the Chinese restaurant where I used to work. Hopefully it just smells like my hand lotion and nag champa now though.

2. The purse I've been guilt-riddenly working on. I should be working on my afghan, but I got inspired to make a purse which I may end up keeping instead of selling because I like it. I may post it to Etsy though as a custom order. *Strokes goatee* Yes, that will be a marvelous idea. Oh, and I may publish the pattern since I made it up. Now, if only I could be as inspired to write as I do to craft...

3. My mother has recently begun obsessing over Facebook. Namely, she loves the Flare application and has thus wanted to buy a button press and recreate her favorite Flare buttons. My sister is pretty iffy about the whole thing, but I think it's a pretty good idea, and it'll be a lot of fun. My mother and I did take a Photoshop class together, after all. She told me last night that she wants her first button to be "'Stressed' spelled backwards is 'dessert'."

4. Headbands. Lots of headbands. I bought some clearance sale fabric and now I have to buy some bulk packages of plastic headband bases (and a sewing machine might help). I also need to figure out a pattern for it. This may be the most difficult of my crafting endeavors, but potentially the most profitable.

5. Crocheted jewelry. I think it's a fantastic idea. And it gives me more reason to spend all of my hard-earned money (money that I make by playing with other people's money all day) at Hobby Lobby.

My final goal for this summer is to do all of these hobbies with my friends because that's what makes it fun. And if you have fun doing all these things, it doesn't matter if they don't sell or even look good because you had fun making them, you know?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

She waits at the window, wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door.

I haven't started a new blog in a long, long time. I find I never know what to say as my first post. I hope this will mainly be for my crafty projects and my friends who also have crafty projects, but who knows, it may develop into something else entirely.

I'll post something slightly more relevant tomorrow maybe.