April 2, 2014
I didn’t make a new outfit for Anomaly Con, but I put together many existing pieces I already had, which to my mind is one of the joys of steampunk costuming, and one of the benefits of having a costume closet I’ve been developing for as long as I have. Here’s Friday’s outfit:
I am quite pleased with it! You can’t see the stripy socks and calf boots in the picture. They really added to the ensemble, I think.
Also, I already have my tickets to see the new Captain America movie on Friday. I AM SO EXCITED.
A friend today expressed disbelief that Nick Fury had ever been portrayed by David Hasselhoff. Oh yes, it’s true, and I saw that thing. Her comment reminded me of the Dark Ages of comic book movies. The days when comic book movies were released straight to video. The days of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four and that early 90′s Captain America that was so bad it was never released at all.
Those were dark days indeed. Let us pray we never return to them.
March 31, 2014
Thanks to all who came out for Anomaly Con! I enjoy this one because of all the spectacular costumes, and the lovely dealer’s room with so many pretty, pretty sparkly things. All I bought this year was some tea and some decorated bobby pins, but I think I was already wearing gear from half the other venders there.
I’m not trusting myself to post much more than this about the weekend. I came home utterly exhausted. (I stayed long enough to hear Pandora Celtica’s Sunday concert, and I’m really glad I did, but they almost had me in tears, which told me it was definitely time to go home.) Over all, including the couple of program items I volunteered/got recruited for, I was on 11 items of programming, and I’ve decided that’s too much. I’m going to have to do better in the future about saying no and putting my foot down.
It’s not that being on panels and doing readings and things is hard — I really do enjoy it most of the time. But being so focused, being on stage and performing, is very draining and because it isn’t physically strenuous (well, except for helping Terry demonstrate bartitsu), I don’t realize I’ve used that energy until it’s already gone. Pile on a bit of my usual imposter syndrome issues (“Um, I don’t understand, why would people listen to me anyway?”), and it makes for a tiring time.
So, today, I rest.
March 28, 2014
I’ll be at Denver’s own Anomaly Con this weekend. I’m on a ton of panels, and I’ve also been recruited for bartitsu demonstrations and costume contest judging. This is a friendly, low-key con where almost everyone is in costume and looks great, so come check it out if you have a mind to witness some steampunky goodness.
The hardest thing I have to do today is decide what the heck I’m going to wear all weekend.
March 26, 2014
In some of my author bios I mention that I “collect hobbies.” It’s partly a joke, and partly the easiest way to sum up all the things I like to do in my spare time. I recently had someone ask me to list my hobbies, and I thought, why not? Let’s give it a go, in no particular order of importance:
Knitting: The one I’ve been doing a lot of lately. It’s repetitive and satisfying and lets my brain rest at the end of the day. (Just this week, CNN posted an article on how crafting is good for your brain!)
Spinning: As in yarn. I learned in the SCA, I usually do it at SCA events when I’m hanging out (I seem to be incapable of just hanging out without doing something productive). I learned to knit because I was ending up with all this yarn from spinning.
Other fiber crafts: I’ve done quite a bit of counted cross stitch. I also know how to make lucet cord, but that’s pretty much just something I do at SCA events.
Costuming/dressmaking: I used to make my Halloween costumes as a kid. Graduated to Ren Faire, then more Halloween, then SCA, and now I’m branching off into steampunk and other historical periods. I like making my own stuff because it always looks entirely original. Especially for historical events, handmade stuff just seems to look better than factory made. I also occasionally do crazy things like the Bosch bird. My next big costume is going to be a bit crazy, too. Six yards of black linen are washed and waiting for the first cut.
Birdwatching: I was a really avid birdwatcher when I was a kid. My grandfather was a biology professor, we went camping all the time, and we’d get up early in the morning to go look for birds. I’ve been getting back into it the last few years, because it gets me outside, it’s zen and soothing, and there’s something really satisfying about adding species to the life list. My grandfather recently gave me his spotting scope, and I may never go back to binoculars.
RPGs: Yeah, I’ve got the sourcebooks and multi-sided dice, and can regale you with tales of West End Games Star Wars campaigns from the days of yore. Alas, it’s been years since I’ve gamed regularly. My crazy schedule makes it hard to keep up with ongoing campaigns.
Horses: I just like spending time with them. For the last couple of years I’ve gotten back into weekly lessons. It’s exercise, and the horses always make me smile.
Fencing: I haven’t been fencing regularly in several years, but I still have the gear and I still know how.
Beading/jewelry: I’m just a dabbler, but it’s nice to play with pretty sparklies. And it turns out to go hand in hand with the costuming, when I need to make something for a specific outfit. I think my interest in geology and minerals and rocks is part of my general interest in sparklies that make pretty things.
Bookbinding and calligraphy: Another thing I learned to do in the SCA. I’ve kind of put these activities aside. But as with the other hobbies, I know how, and I have all the stuff.
Music: I had something like 8 years of piano lessons as a kid. I really want to start playing music again, in my copious spare time. I own a small Yamaha keyboard, an accordion, a guitar, and a recorder. I just had my first recorder lesson (again, at an SCA event) last weekend.
Cooking: This is something I’m not sure about listing as a hobby. I don’t really obsess over it, I don’t spend hours in spice shops or cooking stores coveting expensive gadgets. But a few years ago I got sick of eating mac and cheese out of boxes and started on a concerted effort to learn to cook for real. I suppose the amount of time I spent on it makes it a hobby.
Obviously, the SCA is to blame for a lot of my hobbies. (Hint: the SCA is a great place for dabbling and trying out lots of obscure arts and crafts before committing to them with lots of money and supplies and equipment.) But I also have one of those personalities where I can’t seem to sit still. I want to be productive pretty much all the time. All the movies and TV I watch? I’m usually doing something else at the same time.
Also: every craft I learn or skill I develop is another thing I can write authoritatively about, and gives me another way of looking at the world. I never want to stop collecting hobbies.
March 24, 2014
I’m finding it really hard to talk about Muppets Most Wanted because I can’t actually talk about two of my very favorite bits, because part of what’s so good about them is the crazy out-of-left-fieldness of them, so even mentioning them will ruin the surprise. But I really want to talk about them! Gah!
Suffice to say, I really enjoyed the movie and the good solid Muppets fun. If you’re a fan of musical theater at all, you really should see this because a couple of the musical numbers just nailed the aesthetic. Not to mention that one spoof that wasn’t actually a spoof…gah! I can’t talk about it. And Miss Piggy finally gets her power ballad. Weird seeing a Muppet thing where the only time the Henson name appeared was in a memorial for Jane Henson.
March 21, 2014
Whew, lots of deep thinking this week. Time for a frivolous post. Last night I knitted and watched the first Hobbit movie, and it made me super sad because the whole sequence with the Dwarves at Bag End is just so absolutely perfect, it makes the second movie seem even worse. It’s like at some point Jackson stopped trusting the source material. But for at least that stretch, he nailed it.
I’m knitting a shawl, and the section I’m in has increases, three stitches a row for something like 50 rows, which is going to take forever, but it also feels very zen. All that repetitive action and at the end I’ll have this giant thing.
I also need to go do laundry and water a tree. (It is so dry here right now…) And I hear there’s a Muppet movie opening this weekend… (I haven’t been to a movie in ages. Two weeks ’til Captain America!)
Have a good weekend, y’all.
March 19, 2014
Had a bit of a rough day yesterday — the wind woke me up, I didn’t get enough sleep, the weather change made me super cranky, and I kind of muddled through it all. So it felt really great to sit on the sofa with a big knitting project I’ve started and watch some TV last night: Face Off and the Marvel Assembling the Avengers making-of special (with gigantic spoilers for the new Captain America movie!) were both on.
And I pondered a bit. This is going to be a rough post on a serious topic, and I apologize for that. It really needs some analysis, and I’m just going to throw it out there instead of doing that analysis.
Face Off: For the second week in a row, a man and woman were up for elimination, and the woman was eliminated. All the remaining contestants are men. It got me wondering about percentages over all: Over the six season, when a man and a woman are up for elimination, how often does the woman get eliminated, and is the percentage higher? Because I gotta say, it feels like it’s usually the woman who gets the boot and the show does indeed have a gender bias. On the other hand, I may just be paranoid. What I need to do is go through the recaps and actually crunch the numbers. In five seasons the show has had two women winners (Yay, Laura!), which is great from a gender parity perspective. But now we bump that to two women in six seasons… Like I said, I need to crunch some numbers on the show overall before I make any declarations.
Then we get to the Marvel special, which had a bunch of great interviews and confirmed my thinking that these guys really know what they’re doing. (That thing about how a superhero movie can also be a political thriller or a techno thriller or a space opera or some other story besides just a superhero story? Yes!!! That’s what I’m talking about!) But putting aside the actor and actress interviews, just taking all the creators, writers, directors, comics pros — I think there was exactly one woman, Maurissa Tancharoen, co-creator on Agents of SHIELD, who was on screen with her co-collaborator Jed Whedon.
Now, I love both these projects, and I’m pretty sure that none of the people behind these projects are sexist or would ever come out and say that women aren’t capable of doing big serious creative work. But what all this reveals to me are the systemic biases. And it just makes me sad, speaking as a woman in a creative industry — how discouraging, to look at fields that are so male dominated and think that the odds are stacked against women from the get-go.
A personal example: At this point in my career there aren’t too many short fiction markets or editors I haven’t placed stories with. But one market I’ve never sold to is The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, one of the more prestigious magazines in the field. I pretty much don’t even send them stories anymore, because why would I when there are a half a dozen great markets that love my work? Then this came out: a group of folks crunched the numbers and found that only 14% of F&SF’s content in 2013 was written by women. (Scroll down to see Sean Wallace’s tweet with the numbers. Contrast that 14% with Lightspeed’s 43%.) I saw that and thought: Oh, it’s not just me. It’s not just my writing. There’s a systemic bias that I would have to overcome to get accepted by that market.
It actually made me feel better. But that also means I’m even less inclined to send that market stories than I was before. I imagine a lot of women writers feel the same way, which means F&SF simply isn’t getting a lot of stories by women, which reinforces the pattern of not printing stories by women… You see how this works?
Systemic bias is easy to ignore. But it’s also something that once you see, it’s really hard to unsee.