Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve Random Reflections

I wrote earlier and I meant it that I'm deeply relieved that I'm making progress on the ms. Its been mired in facts, like boulders in a muddy road; there's been  no flow to it, and I was truly worried that it would just stay that way: a list of facts. A really, really interesting list, but...

And then last night, I thought of a first line for the fanfic chapter, and this morning I sat down and more or less rewrote that entire chapter off the top of my head.

 It was like leaping along stepping stones in a stream--nice, dry ones: Homer & Virgil, Jane Austen's juvenalia, the introduction of copyright laws, Ronald Knox's spoof scholarship on Sherlock Holmes, Hugo Gernsback's letter column in Amazing Stories (with addresses!), Anne Rice's famous cease-and-desist letters to fanfic writers, Harry Potter coinciding with the rise of the Internet, etc.
A surfeit of pleasures.
I want someone to invite me to be on a panel or something!

In fact, if you'd sat me down anytime in this, my Year of Living Fannishly, and asked me anything about fandom, I would have talked your head off. But writing is another thing, and writing in the tight quarters required by this publisher has been like trying to raise giraffes in a hen house.
(Nothing wrong with the publisher! But their market is school libraries, and that's a low ceiling.) 

When I walked the Camino for the second time in 2011, on the night before entering Santiago I wrote in my notebook:
"DO NOT DO THIS AGAIN", and had bink & Marz sign it as witnesses.

So I'm going to do that here.
Dear Fresca of the Future,
Do not write for this publisher again. You do not like it, and you are not suited to it. Also, price per pound, you can't afford it.
Remember, you have [just today, New Year's Eve, 2016] told people it's like getting dental implants:
the pulling of old teeth, the scraping of jaw bone, the drilling to insert screw, the long waiting time for everything to set, and then the excruciating futzing to get the right fit.

Yours truly, Fresca of Today, looking out for you
It's NOT just the constraints of the form---it's all the monsters under the bed who pop up when I'm writing for work. They are quite darling, not scary, but they are fans of pudding and naptime, and so am I. They think blogging is milky and warm, however, and I wish I had nothing to do but that.

I absolutely marvel that some of my fellow writers whip these books out in a matter of weeks. Three weeks, some of them!
Perfectly adequate books too, you know. Though it's tempting to think so, I can't claim I'm in any way superior for being a thousand times slower. (Though I have more to say about my topic, having sat with it longer.)

OK. So, now I trust I will be able to finish this book (might need a little extension), and it will be a pretty fun read, not just an annotated glossary.
And trusting that, I am able again to feel grateful I gave myself this year to immerse myself in fandom. 

I spent most of June on Tumblr, for instance, and I will never see the world same. I don't know if I can say exactly how... I'm not sure, it's still so close up, I'm mostly seeing pixels. 

Taking a shot...

I would say that while I knew intellectualy that we are living in a science-fiction world we are co-creating, as Kim Stanley Robinson says, I now know it viscerally, and it's weirder and more wonderful than I thought.

There is an entire world on the Internet, deep and wide and complete. It's like a mushroom---90 percent of the living organism is thread-fine fibers, running interconnected, invisible, underground. 

I think a lot of people my age miss how complex it is down there. I did. I think I, we, may be in the position of old people looking at the kids of the 1960s and loving and approving of them, but knowing they are... separate.

The children on Tumblr are in no way aliens, they are entirely indentifiably and relatably human, not mushrooms! but they are also very much not me.

They're also not necessarily children.  
I'm aware calling them "children" could sound sort of condescending or sentimental, and I regret if I sound that way. I don't feel that way. I remember well being a teenager, but under twenty is like childhood to me now and elicits a kind of tenderness--toward my younger self too. (I practically gasp to think my father encouraged my plan to move to Denver on the train by myself when I was sixteen years old.)
Also, "under twenty" means you were born after 1996, ... maybe you were just a little baby on 9/11.
They are a new tribe. I like them, a lot, but I'm not in their tribe, just naturally.

I was shocked and put off at first by how Tumblrites sometimes disparage old people (meaning, like, over thirty). 
I felt defensive, but as I listened, I realized the older people started it, with their mocking and dismissing. "Young people never read, never go outside, never blah blah blah." (I hear this all the time.)
Yes, there are huge problems with Internet culture. As I've said before, my high school was a cesspool too.

And here's this network of living tendrils humming right under our feet, connecting around the world. Someone in Australia is taking fanart commissions to raise money to move out because their parents don't accept their gender; a young Muslim woman in Indonesia talks about how she dresses every day like a kawaii ("cute") anime character matching the bow on her hijab to her dress; someone offers a tutorial in 3D printing... 
And they're talking to each other, Who are Rey's parents? What's your government like?

Sometimes one will defend the olds:
My grandmother wrote Star Trek slash fic!

Someone else claims to be an old-school fan themselves, by which they mean they were involved back in '90s.
Oh, and they're fierce and intolerant, the way you are when you're young and haven't yet become (or recognized yourself as) part of the problem yourself. Fierce in defending the innocent, still only finding innocence within themselves.

 Go, the children! I say. Start out really hard and strong, and you might plow into life for a good while before you get bogged down.
What is this weight I am dragging?
Why, it is my own self.

So they come on strong on the one hand, but on the other, I was shocked at the amount of anxiety they live with. The underground fibers vibrate with each step on the Earth, and they are jangling all the time.
Some of this is being young. 
When I was a teenager, I dreamed of nuclear annihilation. Now I think, well, that'd be a shame, but if I cease to exist, personally, it wouldn't be a tragedy. I wrote a list of "50 things to do before 50" and I've done most or enough of them, and the ones I haven't, I either don't want to do or don't care that much about doing. Did I ever really want to drive to South America?
God, that'd be so uncomfortable.

You go do it and come back and tell me.

What I do want to do, I discovered through fandom this year, is to write some bits of fiction. 
That was a surprise. I wrote five fanfic this past year, my first fiction writing since high school I think, and I was surprised that 
1. I liked doing it, a lot
2. most were not half-bad; a couple were good

Is it the case that one kind of writing is related to another, and the skills of blogging and writing geography facts--and also a bit of film making-- are transferable?  
Or have I just read so much fiction in the past forty years that I absorbed the form? It certainly helped a lot that fanfic is a literary genre, like westerns or ghost stories, with helpful scaffolding--you are not inventing a form from scratch. 
Still, like all genres, you can do it brilliantly or you can do it badly.
Shakespeare stole most of his plots, but that doesn't mean you can replicate his results if you do too.

Two things I've seen recently inspire me.
(Nothing to do with fandom---a funny thing is,
aside from Star Trek, I'm not really a fan, I'm more an admirer of fandom itself.)

The first is a filmed version from 1968 of an old M R James ghost story, Whistle and I'll Come to You. [on youtube, 42 min.]
It's so simple and elegant! And oh, so deliciously evil it is how much I (we) enjoyed watching this pedant get his comeuppance from a malevolent spirit. (James said he thought ghosts should be malevolent, on principle.) There's a 2010 version with the excellent John Hurt, but he plays a lovely old guy, and I stopped watching it--it's no fun to see him mistreated by a spectre.

The other is I finally (shame on me) watched La Jetée, the short film told in still images (no, but it works! they're powerful!), audio, and voice over. [on vimeo, 26 min.]
Oh my god. 
Even though I knew all about it (and I'm sorry I did, it was a little too familiar), still, watching it unfold in time was so much better than I expected.
And inspiring! I thought, I want to do that too!
In fact, Dr H had recommended the film to me years ago after watching my Star Trek fanvids, which are all set to stills, saying I could expand my repertoire.

Do you ever overlook something as too obvious?
Oh, if I could do it, it's not worth doing?

And then you see someone do something along the lines of what you could but do not do, and you think, that's worth doing?

I am not the most energetic person and I don't expect or need to make masterpieces before I die, but, you know, I'd settle for writing a shivery little ghost story to read to friends at Christmas, and maybe some more little micro movies, and that crinkly sense of satisfaction that comes with making a little something you're proud of.

And now, I am signing off because L&M are due any minute with a stuffed pizza and a bottle of Asti! 
I haven't even re-read this post and fear it's embarrassing, but I am going to post it anyway and wish you a Happy New Year, one and all! 
2017 is absolutely bound to be terrible in spots, but I say, damn the torpedoes, make your little something-or-others! publish your posts! And here I go... *hits publ

One from the search terms

My insufficient stats tells me someone landed here by searching,
"why does captain kirk wear shoes"

I'm sorry, I really like this question, but I can't answer it. 
I have posted about Star Trek boots though.

(Also, shoes? I wouldn't call them shoes. Am I missing something? Now I'm worried.)

Then there's this fetching get-up Kirk wears in "Errand of Mercy": wrap-up footgear with tights and a mini-dress:

A Song for New Year: "a little bit harmful for me"

Another favorite, Rufus Wainwright, "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk"

"If I should buy jellybeans
Have to eat them all in just one sitting
Everything it seems I like's a little bit sweeter
A little bit fatter, a little bit harmful for me.

"So please be kind, if I'm a mess."

Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Kirk/Spock: What are you doing New Year's Eve?"

"Kirk/Spock: What are you doing New Year's Eve?" 
--by Mz, 2010 


-- on Vimeo.

 Do I repost this every year? It's a favorite vid of a favorite song.

Monday, December 26, 2016

2016: My Year in Review

Avocado, Grapefruit, Rocket Salad

We don't call arugula "rocket" in the US, but I wish we did.
I made this for Christmas Eve. It's seriously good. You don't even need dressing, or just a little nice olive oil.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

And Happy Chanukkah, from me (and Jewish Starsky & Lutheran Hutch).

Sometimes it is "special!"
[screencaps ^ from "Little Girl Lost" S&H episode from somewhere on LJ]
+ a silly (& low res) vid that made me laugh about Starsky & Hutch looking for a Christmas tree:
 "The 12 Pains of Christmas".  (Thanks, Mortmere!)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Dark Red, Matte Gold

^ me, six years ago (2010), 1 of 4 Red Wall self-portraits

A couple weeks ago, I was invited to a get-to-know-you Advent dinner hosted by a perky couple from the church I'd started to attend, post-Trump.

I emailed accepting and asking what I could bring.

"Don't bring anything," they replied, "except a memory or a tradition to share, about why Christmas is special!"

[Ohgod, not an exclamation point...]

My instinct was to say, "My mother killed herself at Christmastime, you mean special like that?"

And then I felt like a bad, broken, neurotic person. Why couldn't I just lighten up? Share happy Christmas memories.
I do have them.

Or I could talk about the kindness of a friend who invited me over that Christmas my mother died. I admired this woman, but we weren't close. She was a solitary person with jagged edges, and I often felt shy and even wary around her.

I'd told her and other friends who'd invited me that I was wiped out, still recovering from being violently ill after my mother's cremation, and was planning on staying in bed. She'd said she was going to be hanging around all Christmas, so if I felt like it, I could just drop in. Or not.

As the sun started to set on Christmas afternoon, all of a sudden I felt OK, just really weak, and bored, so I got dressed and walked a mile to her place––an apartment in a crumbling brownstone whose hallways smelled peppery from insecticide.

We sat on folding chairs in her bare apartment lit by strings of Christmas lights and ate roast chicken, wild rice, and corn. 

The steam radiators were pumping out heat, which she couldn't control, so she cracked the windows, and we drank tea and chatted about nothing in particular. She mentioned she liked someone at her new job, and they'd invited her to come to their cabin for the holiday.

"Why didn't you go?" I asked.

"I wanted to stay around for a friend," she said, "on the off-chance she needed someplace to go."


So, there was that. 

But the church couple's request still felt to me like the demand of a kidnapper for emotional payment. And I hate using my mother's memory as some sort of spiritual bon-bon.

I couldn't get right with it, so finally I wrote back and told them that something had come up and I couldn't make their dinner. 

This past week I've been in a wonderful mood, even though I've had a cold, making me fall further behind on my ms, and my sister and I aren't talking (because her wife is a bully), and, and, and...
Nevertheless. I've felt solid.

Today I was marveling that I still feel really good even though I keep weeping every time I think about Aleppo [like there, just then].

There's a radio ad I keep hearing on the station that plays all-Christmas music that says, "The holidays are about the best of humanity." I think that's what the Advent hosts think too.

And talking to bink on the phone today, telling her about all this, it finally came clear and I realized, for heaven's sake! No, it's not, Christmas is not about the best in humanity. 

Baby Jesus didn't come because we were or are doing oh so well, or so we could have special *exclamation point* times at the holidays. 
Baby Jesus came because of Aleppo, which is humanity's child, and because my mother got sucked into a crazy dark hole. 
And because that friend who gave me her Christmas fell out with me not long after, when she felt betrayed by something I'd casually, ignorantly let slip.

Looking back, I'm glad I turned down that Advent dinner invitation. 
What makes Christmas special to me is something buried dark and fierce, and people there who glint, matte like beaten gold.


Friday, December 23, 2016

The Search for Spock's Present, II: The Aftermath

Captain Kirk finally decided upon a Christmas present for Mr. Spock, after doing exhaustive research. *

It was not a hit. Or so it appeared. Then . . .

The Next Christmas


*After getting mixed results from time travel, Kirk took Dr. McCoy's advice and consulted an old Earth website, Gifts for Teens and Adults with Autism or Asperger's, which Bones thought might have suggestions suitable for Vulcans. And Kirk thought this recommendation was just the thing: the Martian Popper. "This classic stress toy from the 1950s is and an old favorite of kids, teens, and adults alike."

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Baymax in Aleppo

Aleppo has fallen. Wikipedia's article now reads, "Aleppo was a city...". 
I keep weeping; how can I not despair of my species?

Think of the helpers, Mr. Rogers says.

Baymax represents that side of us.
Baymax is cute, but he is not a fluffy character.
He is a "personal healthcare companion" made by robotics engineer Tadashi who desired to help people after both his parents were killed. 
Then Tadashi is killed too. 
His little brother, Hiro, who took a nihilistic route after their parents' death, discovers and accidentally activates Baymax. Big Hero 6 is about what happens next.

You could see that helper spirit in the White Helmets in Aleppo--the all-volunteer civil defense workers--mostly just ordinary men and women who stayed to help in search-and-rescue, dug people out from bombed buildings, put out fires, everything.

Their motto was from the Quran: 
“Whoever saves one life, saves all of humanity.”

God knows what's become of them now...

I have given their helmets Baymax eyes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Red Bear's Zoom Suit

Red Bear wanted nothing to do with the lovely and tasteful orange fabric Michael sent, but when I came home from T.J.Maxx with little boys' briefs with different Big Hero 6 designs on them, which I intended to cut up and use as appliqué, oh, no! I had to immediately make the flying Baymax one into a romper for her.

Zoom zoom!

Speaking of flying, here's a modern addition to the Gothic cathedral of Salamanca, Spain:
an astronaut carved in stone, added during restorations in 1992.
 Personally, I think it's John Glenn.
I'm looking forward to the forthcoming movie, Hidden  Figures, about black women scientists at NASA in the 1960s.

"John Glenn represents the best of who we are as Americans," said
Octavia Spencer, who plays Dorothy Vaughan, NASA's first African-American manager. "This is a love letter to him as well as all the woman who contributed to the space program."

Monday, December 19, 2016

Bright Baymax

Baymax & Hiro from Big Hero 6

[Sorry, I have no idea who made this GIF.]

A Christmas Story

This little 4-page story was, for me, like going home with someone you only know a little from school to their family's for Christmas, and it's not like you imagined at all:
"The Christmas Reunion," by Dambudzo Marechera, from his short story collection the House of Hunger (1978).

A young man goes home from university to his township in Zimbabwe for Christmas and talks to his sister about why he shouldn't have to kill the family's Christmas goat.
It's serious, but it's funny too, and it has a wry, happy ending, of sorts.
You can hear his likability in this interview with Marechera.
"I was reading all these books from the rubbish dump, and I knew there was another world out there. There was another world out there."

I read Marechera when I was working on Zimbabwe, the second geography book I wrote for kids, a dozen years ago now.

Below: "Nuit de Noël, Happy Club" (Christmas Eve), 1963, by Malick Sidibé, in Bamako, Mali


^ "The residents of Marechera’s house of hunger were growing up in the era of Malick Sidibé’s early photography." 
--Tinashe Mushakavanhu, [photo & article @ okayAfrica]

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Search for Spock's Present, I

Captain Kirk doesn't know what to get Spock for Christmas, so he's time-traveling to ask for suggestions.

1. Starsky has lots of ideas, including an ant farm, like he got Hutch.  
Kirk is, like…

2. Kirk, having politely declined a Budweiser ("I'm on duty"), waits patiently to talk to George Jones.
He always loved George & Tammy Wynette's duet "Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus", but he never heard about George's dreadful relationship history. (Some things get lost between now and the 23rd century.)

The meeting will prove unproductive as Spock does not like firearms or Fireball.

3. President Obama goes through the list of Vulcan-appropriate gifts he compiled. 
Kirk becomes distracted when all of a sudden he remembers how the next four years are going to play out. [2021 Update: Geez. Was I ever prescient, or what.]

4.  Naw, he already has this.

Friday, December 9, 2016

This Is Not Working

The good thing about procrastination is I get so much done.

Today I washed, folded and put away all my laundry, baked a meatloaf, cleaned the kitchen afterward, ordered salt-free spice mixes online from Penzey's for my father (who cut back on salt after his heart attack), checked all my social media accounts...

Everything but writing on the ms. due in 6ish weeks.
That's enough time to finish it, but only if I write it.

This is serious. So I cancelled a few upcoming social outings (real life ones), and then I deleted my Twitter and Tumblr accounts. I don't use them much anyway … except when I'm procrastinating.

I wouldn't delete this blog! But I do need to take a break. Even just the little things I've been posting lately take a surprising amount of time. (Well, not so surprising, eh.)
I might pop in, but don't worry if I'm gone for a while. 
Love ya'll! --Fresca

Couples on the Couch, V: Bear

Searching around for images of couples on couches or reading in bed, mostly I'm finding what you'd expect--advertising or Hollywood–style stuff.
But this.
This has to be my favorite.

From the Daily Mail, May 2016, Russian Couple and Their Bear
[includes a short video]:

Svetlana and Yuriy Panteleenko adopted the bear Stepan when he was three months old
Today [2016] the bear is 23 years old and weighs 300lb
Stepan is so gentle he cuddles up to them in the evening and watches TV on the sofa

Couples Reading in Bed

From the Adipositivity Valentine project, photographing fat people in love

A worthy project, but too often the faces are hidden. Here, at least you can see book titles (if you lighten the photo; this is the original lighting though):  
his, Biochemistry; hers, Kama Sutra 365.

But it was the Superman undies that made me choose this photo.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

From Amy Salloway's "Is This You?"––Modern Living While Fat

This is the third of three posts today of things other people emailed me, which I love. Thanks, all!

In reference to me posting Kameron Hurley's essay, "Public Speaking While Fat",  bink sent me this essay, "Is This You?" 

by her writing teacher, Amy Salloway, about being the subject of a photo that went around the Internet mocking her as a fat woman.

It starts:
"One night, about ten months ago, … I got an email from my mother, with whom I haven’t spoken in a decade, because we’re estranged.
She wrote, “Hi, Amy.  I hope you’re doing well. I got a hip replaced. Your sister had two more babies. Say, I’m on Ellen DeGeneres’s funny mailing list, and… is this you?!?!”

And what she attached was – apparently Ellen sends out a humorous email to her bazillion-people fan base once a week, and on this particular week, she sent viewer-submitted photos of humans doing hilariously misguided shenanigans, and there was that same photo – of the fat woman, in overalls, sitting in a chair, on a treadmill…watching TV."

< "Amy Salloway has been called 'kick-ass funny and achingly poignant', 'raw and fearless', 
and 'the voice for all of us who were picked last for kickball'. 

Couples on the Couch IV: Superbat

Superbat fanart by Nao
This time there's no doubt it's Superman/Batman, they're both in their superhero clothes.  

The fast food cracks me up. Also the plant. And the frayed rug.
Special commendation to Nao for a smart solution for getting two massive superheroes on one couch: 
an L-shaped couch.

(Thank you for sending this, Dan!)

George Jones, "Take Me"

George Jones | 1931-2013: "His Life Was a Country Song", New York Times, April 26, 2013:
"Mr. Jones’s singing was universally respected and just as widely imitated. With a baritone voice that was as elastic as a steel-guitar string, he found vulnerability and doubt behind the cheerful drive of honky-tonk and brought suspense to every syllable, merging bluesy slides with the tight, quivering ornaments of Appalachian singing." 
Marz sent me this song. I always liked C/W since I got to know it when I was sixteen and had moved to Denver by myself: that's all the radio stations played out there.

NOTE:  George sings the complete song here, but it's from a doc about Leon Russell and alas the filmed image cuts pretty quickly from Jones to  someone picking up scorpions in Russell's swimming pool (prepping to paint it).
So, just listen.

"A very pretty song"

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Equal Time for Ants

I like bees and can imagine cosplaying the Victorian bee costume (technically a hornet, but I don't like them) I posted yesterday, 
but this medieval painting of ants that I found on Public Domain reminds me that I used to like ants too.
When I was about seven, I got very upset with my sister for maliciously stamping on anthills. She wouldn't stop even though (or because?) I was crying.

I even wrote a paper on ants when I was twelve. I'd forgotten!

Our English teacher had assigned writing a paper about anything we wanted, and that's what I chose. 

Anyway,  aren't these ants surprisingly cute?

From Kameron Hurley's "Public Speaking While Fat"

From Kameron Hurley's essay "Public Speaking While Fat":
The only time I’ve ever been praised for my weight repeatedly was when I was dying of a chronic illness, which winnowed me down to a (still considered “overweight”!) 170lbs.
I’ll never forget my mother on the phone with my dad, having just gotten me out of the ICU, telling him how great I looked because I was so skinny (!!!).

I vowed from that moment on …that I would never, ever ever beat myself up or hate myself for being fat ever again.
I have always considered fear and hatred of taking up space as a feminist issue, as it’s so often used to shame women, no matter what their actual size.

Many women-identified people worry about heckling, about pointing and shouting “You’re fat! You’re not a real woman! You’re stupid! You talk too much!” and I get that the pain and fear and sorrow over that can be too much. But being in these spaces, and being heard in them, is vitally important to changing these conversations…

Go forth into the world, retreat when it is too much, but know that when you stand up to be heard, and be counted, you’re doing your own part to change the narrative, and in doing so, to change the world."
Originally posted on her website,
Kameron Hurley, Intellectual Badass

now in her collection of essays, Geek Feminist Revolution  (2016) >
which I like so much I actually bought, new.

I'd blogged a long time ago about what a time suck it is to obsess about diet & weight: "Being Pretty"

(Wow--that was Dec. 7, 2007, nine years ago to the day...)
If you just look at it objectively like a time-use study or a public health survey, it's an almost criminal waste of human energy. 

And it's such a bore--we could be doing so much more interesting things. But if people keep throwing sticky stuff at you, you do have to give it some attention. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Cosplay: Victorian Hornet

I hit the jackpot of cosplay research today, from 1887:
Fancy Dresses Described; or, What to Wear at Fancy Balls 

--basically a cosplay guide and tutorial for Victorians by Ardern Holt; Debenham & Freebody, London.

Here's a page from it, with a description and color illustration for the "HORNET" dress: 

I've been looking for something to cosplay---this could be it! (Though I bet the fabric would be too expensive, I could adapt it in cardboard or something.)

The entire book is free online (click ^ on the title up top) at the Public Domain Review, "an online journal and not-for-profit project dedicated to the exploration of curious and compelling works…
which have now fallen into the public domain, that vast commons of out-of-copyright material that everyone is free to enjoy, share, and build upon without restriction." 

Don't click on Public Domain Review's IMAGES or you may never escape looking at the likes of Dr Julius Neubronner’s Miniature Pigeon Camera (from 1908!) or, A Sloth, which I just posted below.

A Sloth, Blessed

A Sloth; 
by Joris Hoefnagel, Flemish/Hungarian (1542–1600), and Georg Bocskay, Hungarian (d. 1575); Vienna, Austria; 1561–'62; illumination added 1591–'96; Watercolors, gold and silver paint, and ink on parchment 

From The Public Domain Review: IMAGES
[Do not go there ^; you may never escape.]

I do not know what it's doing there, but the Latin is from the Beatitudes; Matthew 5-7, Jesus says,
"Blessed are they who relieve the miserable, for it is paid back to them in such a way that they are freed from misery." etc.
(God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.)  

Or, the Unexpected Virtue of Doing It Wrong

My auntie emailed me today about being a beginner among more accomplished spinners:
her wool yarn is uneven and lumpy. 

One of the young women admired her work, however, saying that she herself can't spin yarn like that anymore, only fine yarn.

My auntie wrote,  
"I'll have to remember what I'm doing wrong so that I can, in the future, occasionally spin like a beginner if I want to."
Remember what you're doing wrong...
I thought of what I'd written yesterday about the peaceful protests to the Dakota pipeline––my surprise that they had worked––expecting things to go badly as these things so often have in the past.

I'd been idly reading about children's brain development last month and it's so interesting, you know---their brains are literally open to everything (our neural connections are not yet closed); curious like a scientist, they are willing to carry out a thousand experiments.

"When we are babies, our brains are more open to the shaping hand of experience than at any time in our lives. In response to the demands of the world, the baby's brain sculpts itself."
--PBS "Secret Life of the Brain"

Of course we wouldn't want to stay like babies--we could never focus on anything. The trick is to bring the two together:

From Wikipedia: "Shoshin" is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning beginner's mind.
It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." 
― Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind 

Monday, December 5, 2016

When Shall We Have Good News?

When shall we have good news?

From the Guardian days 2 ago, Sat. December 3,  2016:
"Cat Bigney, part of the Oglala Native American tribe, waits on the shore of the Cannon Ball river [North Dakota] for travellers to arrive by canoe at the Oceti Sakowin camp where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline [DAPL].
--Photograph: David Goldman/AP *
I cried when I hear the news last night---I'd assumed this would end the way these things usually end, either with a bang––the arrival of the National Guard and a fleet of bulldozers behind them––
or a whimper––roadblocks starving and freezing the people out.

This isn't the case, I know, but it feels like the only good news we've had in 2016, a year of spectacular (and a spectacular amount of) bad news.

Of course this isn't the end of the pipeline itself, but what a great boost as we head into Trumptime, a reminder of the power of persistence.
Never, never, never, never give up.

What Churchill really said:
"Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.

Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."

Churchill made the speech on October 29, 1941, to the boys at Harrow School.

* The rest of the caption to the Cannon Ball, North Dakota, USA, photo, top:
Despite state and federal evacuation orders, a government roadblock, escalating police violence and aggressive prosecutions that attorneys say lack basic evidence, thousands of veterans are preparing to travel to Cannon Ball this weekend to support the growing movement to stop the pipeline."

Couples on the Couch III: Kirk/Spock

I almost spit coffee on the keyboard laughing when I saw this.
And once again, we can't see what they're reading! Is Kirk reading a Star Trek novel by William Shatner, set in the Shatnerverse

​by elfqueen55; her deviantart:

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Feeling Catholicish

I'm not sure that going to a Protestant church is going to work for me.  
I thought I was looking for local community more than religion, but of course the community gathers for the religion, 
and the religion, or the church service anyway, seems to be based on words and thoughts about religious stuff and not on mumbo-jumbo hocus-pocus crazy magic juju idolatrous religious stuff, like the supra-personal sacraments that I love in the Catholic Church.

Well, yeah. Of course I knew that would be the case, but I didn't know how much I'd miss the wibbly-wobbly luminous numinous--the sort of thing George Tooker painted. I looked him up and learned that he converted to Catholicism. A religion with plenty of problems of its own, but overall, it's been a good religion for art.

Above: Dark Angel

Below: In the Summerhouse

More paintings by Tooker:

Cosplay: The Play's the Thing

Sometimes it's the play, not the costume, that makes a great cosplay.

The most excellent performance cosplay I've heard of:
a man and woman dressed in simple evening clothes spent the day at the 2014 SD ComicCon running up to anyone in a Batman costume, yelling "Son!" and falling dead to the floor, holding a sign reading The Wayne Family.


(You know, right? that young Bruce Wayne witnessed the murder of his parents, vowed to spend his life preventing such crimes, and became Batman to fulfill that vow.)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

2 Things I'm Happy About

1. The Pokémon are happy inside the poké ball. 
I'd worried a bit about that. (Did you?)

2. Wikipedia sent me a nice message:

Couples on the Couch II: Bruce & Clark

 Or is Bruce Wayne (Batman), since he's in civvies, and Superman (Clark Kent) since he's in costume? Superhero identities get so confusing...

Again: what's the book??? Looks like a script?

SuperBat art by Taiwanese comic book artist and illustrator Hai-Ning at Dark-room Gate

Friday, December 2, 2016

Cosplay: Go Big

I was looking at women's plus-size cosplay--there're a lot of amazing costumes out there, but this is the one of the BEST  I've seen, any size, IMHO, because cosplayer Bellexi uses her body as part of her costume, and because her guts in doing so also matches the character, who is a badass: 
Roadhog, from the game Overwatch.

Plus, Bellexi made her costume, including using a 3D printer to make parts of her weapons. She painted the stomach tattoo on a body suit.
 Overwatch has a lot of great diverse characters. Here are some more women killing Overwatch cosplay at Baltimore's Otakon. August 2016.

Here are just a few of the many bigger-bodied cosplayers I found:

BELOW: The TARDIS from Doctor Who:

BELOW: Again, I love how the cosplayer uses her body as much as her costume for Shakmina, warrior princes from Faragh Borgh (I think? an OC (original character)).
From Horror Kitsch Bitch, "Alternative Fa(t)shion and Body Positivity"

 The above blogger, Kobi, writes:

I believe plus size fashion is political. Pure and simple.

Our current society tells fat women (and fat people, all genders) that they are entirely unworthy of (amongst other things) love, respect, dope threads, and the right to autonomy over their body (diet, exercise etc).
When I first started collecting body modifications at the age of 12, it was a way of attempting to regain control over my body and refusal to follow the rules (I went to a strict school, for one thing).
As a creative being, I’ve always had an intense passion for costumes and fashion – although the latter always felt illegal, something I would never actually be allowed to participate in. But finding the body pos community and beginning a journey towards self actualisation has enabled me to finally allow myself to pursue these once-forbidden passions.

Briana Lawrence (below, right, in green gown) wrote about being plus-sized, black woman cosplayer, here: 
"I'm A Plus-Size Cosplayer"
, from xoJane, 2013

"People can be real assholes to plus size and/or diverse cosplayers."

BELOW: Rey, from Star Wars: The Force Awakens

warrior Fiona from Shrek Forever After: