Saturday, December 29, 2007

Worsted Weight Companion Cube!

The only point of learning any and every craft is to make your own video game-themed accessories. Anyone who's ever had a NES and a crochet hook knows that.

So what do you do when Christmas is coming, you have no idea what to get for your brother, and you've incinerated your only Weighted Companion Cube? You knit your own, of course.


It took me forever, and it didn't turn out perfectly, but I'm still pretty proud of it. And yes, I will share the pattern! Keep an eye on this blog for the next few weeks and I'll get it up.

In the meantime, Weighted Companion Cube and the amigurumi Fighter I made last year can be seen on Joystiq. I'm sort of famous!

Even Sparky likes it!


Monday, November 12, 2007

Nature's Snacks

While waiting for the train this morning, I saw a ladybug fly straight into a spiderweb. Almost instinctively, I reached down and freed it.

After the little guy flew off, I realized that I just stole some spider's tasty breakfast. Save an insect, starve a spider? A lot of us may be repulsed by the idea of capturing and eating innocent bugs, but the spider has no such scruples. He doesn't have the option of driving to Whole Foods and picking up vegan tofu bug substitute. (Incidentally, this is the very theme of one of my favorite poems.) I didn't mean to punish the spider for its eating habits, though that could be one interpretation of what I did. I just didn't want to see a ladybug get eaten.

It wasn't until I'd actually gotten on the train that I noticed a crushed ladybug exoskeleton stuck to the sole of my shoe.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dammit, People, Stop Trying to Impose Rules on Jeans

Most people who have heard me talk or read my stream-of-consciousness writing for longer than five minutes are aware of the things I love to complain about. Stupid fashion is one of them, with stupid denim being a particular hot point. Another prickly matter is anything I perceive as a potential threat to my prettiness. I wouldn’t consider myself vain – I would probably say that I am on the cute side of average, all things considered – but attractiveness is something I am judged on as a woman, and until and unless society changes, I will defend my meager advantages any way I can.

So I was pretty piffed to see a recent comment on Ask MetaFilter that read, "Jeans should be worn sparingly at best. If you must leave the house in jeans, they should be dark and fitted properly. Chicks, this means boot cut or the long and lean cut from Gap. No mom jeans. No skinny jeans. None at all if you're above a size 10." The person who posted this already got chewed out enough for her opinion, and I don’t mean to single her out, but oh, please.

Dammit, people, jeans were not invented at the turn of the millenium by Seven For All Mankind for the express purpose of making rich skinny white girls look even more flat-assed. Jeans are for everyone, and there is no law that they have to do your appearance any favors. Otherwise, what would we wear to paint the house, to run errands, or to rush to the emergency room when your wife goes into labor at 4 am? They originated as work pants, and for plenty of people they still are.

One of the things I hate about stupid denim is the current, unrelenting obsession with labels. Let me clear something up once and for all:


Labels are often, well, kinda stupid.

Ditto the increasingly ornate back pocket embroidery that can make asses look like medieval tapestries or, in this case, VW Beetles:
Am I the only person who thinks these are the stupidest jeans ever?

Will the owner of the ass please turn her hazard lights off?

A few more things that need to be cleared up about jeans:

-They don’t actually have to cost more than your utility bill. You can buy your jeans secondhand for $5 a pair and still look good.

-Expensive jeans are expensive because they are expensive. The lovingly hand-finished detailing and precision weathering only accounts for so much of the price tag. Rather, those jeans cost $200 because they figured out that there are enough people willing to pay $200 for them.

-They are not an "investment." Stop fooling yourself into thinking that you'll get 5 years of wear out of that pair of jeans (you might, but it's not a guarantee), or justifying the price by calculating how many times you'll have to wear them for them to cost $5 per wear. There will usually be a pair of jeans that look as good and get you more bang for your buck. Mutual funds are an investment. Good running shoes are an investment, if you run in them regularly. Those jeans are not going to give you any health benefits or money or any noticeable returns other than maybe, just maybe, you will save money on another pair of jeans next year because you already have the perfect pair.

-There is no brand that magically makes everyone look better. There are cuts and colors that will make some people look better, but you do not automatically transform into a sex bomb the moment you put on a pair of $150 jeans. You still look like yourself. Your crotch, legs, and butt look like they did before. I have seen butts in all brands of premium denim, and I have seen butts in Old Navy, and there is no actual difference. (Keep in mind, also, that people concerned enough about their appearance to wear $150 jeans are often concerned enough to embark on rigorous diet and exercise regimens to get themselves in premium denim shape.) If you see an article promising that a certain brand of expensive jeans will make you look gorgeous, don't believe it.

-Moms, wear the mom jeans. Skinny people, wear the skinny jeans. Kris Kross, wear them backwards with pride. Many of us fashion people have your appearance's best interest at heart, but you can always tell us to take a running jump at a rolling donut. Trust yourself and your nearest full-length mirror, and you'll be fine.

-Most importantly, there is no universal canon of jeans. Like all clothes, they’re subject to trends changing. The dark-rinse, boot-cut, two-fingers-below-the-navel jeans that look so good on everyone this decade may not be in favor next decade. Anyone older than twenty should know this. (Anyone older than twenty should also know not to bet they'll be wearing the same jeans size by next decade.) Treat any denim "rules" as guidelines, not law.

The point is, jeans are for all of humanity, not just those in Citizens of Humanity. It doesn't matter whether you're four feet tall or eight, whether you're young or old, whether you're so skinny you can stand with your feet together and throw a football between your thighs or whether you have to wash yourself with a rag on a stick. It doesn't matter if you found those jeans at Saks or in a dumpster. If you can find a pair of jeans that fit comfortably, jeans are for you.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Dammit, Camel.

Dammit, Camel, I've been happily tobacco-free for eight months. It's gotten to the point where I don't even want a cigarette, ever. But if you keep sending me elaborate, thick promotional packages...

The crappy pink martini of cigarettes. least put something in there I can smoke.

Do people even buy the No. 9s? I figure that if women wanted girly cigarettes, they'd buy Mistys or Virginia Slims.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

L'esprit de Stutter

I was in high school when I first heard of l'esprit d'escalier - literally, "staircase wit." Some French guy named Diderot came up with the notion, though I think I read about it in a Sandman issue or something. (I'm just glad it wasn't invented by Seinfeld, because I'd never want to use it then.) Anyway, l'esprit d'escalier is the phenomenon of coming up with the perfect retort long after the fact, supposedly when you have exited the conversation and are going back down the stairs towards your pathetic, non-witty life.

I get bouts of the ol' staircase wit all the time. Who doesn't? It's sometimes taken me years to come up with the very thing I should have said.

My wit's reflexes are crap.

Most of the time, when something happens to inspire a post hoc retort, it's something that completely catches me off guard. I don't engage in verbal sparring, so I don't expect it. It often takes me a minute or two to even register if I'm annoyed or offended by something said to me.

Like this evening, at the gym. An older woman I've seen a few times came up to me and said, conversationally, "Have you lost any weight yet?"

"Mm. Yeah," I mumbled.
"How much?"
What the hell? "Um. Dunno." (This is a lie.)
"'Cause I haven't lost any weight yet!"
"Well, just keep going," I said in a half-hearted attempt at encouragement.

The appropriate response, of course, would have been "THAT is a PERSONAL question!" You'd think I would have figured that out right away. I was certainly thrown by the question, and on some level I did recognize that it was out of line, since I didn't give her the details of my weight loss. But I wish I could have said "hey, that's not right" while still on the Stairmaster, not outside in the stairway.

I don't think she was trying to be offensive. I attributed her question to a misguided but friendly, Jean Teasdale-esque hybrid of curiosity and small talk: "Gee, I've been lifting these three-pound weights twice a week for two weeks and nothing's happened!" But it did make me feel a little bad about myself. After the fact, I thought, Oh my God, I look like someone who works out just to lose weight! I mean, yes, I work out to lose weight, but also to gain muscle strength and energy, and because I've gotten to the point where I kind of like running a mile after a long, hard day of sitting on my butt. And, now that I think about it, I work out so that I won't look like the kind of person who works out just to lose weight.

In situations like this, though, I think our too-slow wits help us rather than hinder us. There are thousands of things I could have said to her, things along the lines of how maybe she'd lose some weight if her workout routine involved any actual physical challenge, or how she has no idea of what exercise I do or how long I've been doing it or how healthy I am and therefore she has no right to judge me or make assumptions. I could have taken the opposite tack and talked her ear off about all of the things over the past six months to get me where I am now. I could have just huffed about how it was a personal question. I did none of those things. I just grunted a noncommittal answer and we were both on our separate ways, she on the treadmill, I on the elliptical. She's probably forgotten about it by now. If I weren't writing about it right now, I would have too. I don't want to punish her or hurt her or teach her a lesson.

I'm fine with just letting it go.

If you ever do think of a great comeback after the fact, all is not lost - there's a blog devoted to such anecdotes.

Meanwhile, I'll check out Diderot's Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown. That's something I can relate to.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Old Stuff: The Truth About The Truth About Diamonds

I have been periodically coming across things I've written in the past and want to keep around. This is one of them.

Last year, during a fit of boredom and "it was there," I read The Truth About Diamonds, the "novel" that "Nicole Richie" "wrote." It was about as good as you'd expect it to be. Although Nicole certainly seemed smarter than Paris during that one season of The Simple Life I watched, I have some doubts about her ability to write complete sentences, much less a novel comprising thousands of them.

Behold the unedited manuscript of the first chapter of The Truth About Diamonds:

The truth abt diamands by Nicole Richie (a novel) (which means its not true i made it up!!!!)
chapter one: chloe parker goes to the club and has a sticky sitaiton

Once upon a time chloe parker was a very rich girl who lived in la. she was only in her early twenties and wore a size zero in gautier but a size 00 when she went to kitson and maybe like a size 22 in hudson jeans but I forgot if those come in sizes like zero or those weird sizes with high numbers like in englad. her mom was a supermoddel from and her daddy was a very welthy rich person who owned a rock band, i mean a rock label. she grew up knowing all the celebreties of the time becuase she her parents were a supermodel and owned a record label so she met all the rock stars and singers and moddels and movie actors. and she always got to go to all the most poplar places and wore the best clothes. chloe parker was 5?2 and 2 inches tall and had blond hair that she got hiligted at the best salons in ny and la evry two weeks and blue eyes that were the same color of blue as the pacfic ocean. (chloe parker spelled her name with two .. dots over the o but I dont no how to type the .. over the o. i thougt about putting om the side but it looks stupid like chlo..e parker.
chloe parker it was a gorgeus summer day in la when she woke up one day. it was a beautiful day and she decided to go shopping. but first she met with her personel traner to workout. sha also and then she go to get a manacure. at the best nails place in los angales. her nails were so pretty. "look my nails are so pretty! she said." she drank three redbulls and vodka and haveing a lot of fun. oh ya she was at the club now. and this hott guy was checking her out.
"hello hott guy my name is chloe parker" she said.
he looked at her. "cohle ive heard so much about you! is it true what they say in the tabliods that ur the it girl and the most hott girl in all of la?"
chloe flip her perfectly hilited hair and took one step in her feet with christain lobouboutian shoes on them that were $600. her dress from missoni which is so in right now and all the other girls were jelous."yes its true I am the it girl," chloe said with a tinkely laugh.
"my name is jarod james" said the hott guy. he had six pac abs and a tight watchboard stomach. he had goerges brown eyes and brown hair and that hair on guys faces when they don't shave for like a day but not for too long so theres only a little, and it looked really hott.
"jared james?????" said chloe. who was surprised but she was too cool to let on. "aren't u in that band that evryone likes. fireburn. that is the number one band in the world and the best record of the year?"
jared james strocked his chin that looked like it wasnt been shaved for the day. "yes i am the lead singer of fireburn. it is hard to be a talented musican. and it is hard to so popular and always on tour."
"i know" chole said "it is so busy i cant find time to ever relax and have fun because i am so busy all the time. i cant even find a boyfriend even though my publiscist say i should one."
"really" jerod james looked deeply at chloe and strocked his fingers though his hair. "thats hard to beleive, becuase ur the most beautiful girl in all of hollwood and new york. would u like to go to st barts this weekend and date?"
chloe was so happy that she felt like she must of been the happyest girl in the whole world and maybe the uneverse. "i love st barts" she said. "maybe" she said then because guys like it when you dont say yes right away plus it makes you look cool and not desprite.
"ur very cool u no?" jarod james said to chloe with a love in his eyes.
all of the sudden just then the door to the ladys bathroom in the club just burst open and a skinny girl with mystic tan and a dior outfit that was black and white and sparkelly burst out from the door of the bathroom! she looked very very scared.
"chloe parker come quick!!" she siad. linsay lohan is unconcous because she just overdossed on cocane!!!!!!"

Old Stuff: Seemingly Obvious (But Apparently Not) Rules of Fashion

I have been periodically coming across things I've written in the past and want to keep around. This is one of them.

(...I realize that all of these so far are geared toward women. I don't mean to be sexist, it's just that I'm more familiar with women's fashion transgressions.)

1. With the exception of undergarments, never wear anything within three shades of your skin tone.
2. If a garment is wider than it is long, it will make you look wide.
3. Fewer people than you think care how much your jeans cost.
4. In public, no one can tell what size your clothes are. However, everyone can tell when they're too small.
5. Flowy, lightweight knit garments are very comfortable. Sometimes they are flattering. Many times they simply show whether your bra fits, the exact location of your cellulite, and how much you should have tipped your bikini waxer. Wear with caution.
6. Either you put on makeup before you leave the house, or you go without. Seriously, don't apply mascara on the train.
7. There are zero compelling reasons to wear white pants and about eight hundred reasons not to wear them.
8. The following should NEVER be noticeable: lipliner, blush, eyebrow grooming, deliberate tanning, presence or absence of undergarments, tooth whitening, cosmetic surgery.
9. Use the same judgment in exposing your lower abdomen as with your cleavage. (For the remedial class, this means NOT AT WORK.)
10. Unless you have a legitimate medical reason otherwise, KEEP YOUR MOUTH CLOSED. You
could look like Audrey Hepburn with your lips together, but that weird toothy grimace will only draw comparisons to Napoleon Dynamite and sharks.
11. If you dress in an attention-seeking way, you will get attention. And it's not guaranteed to be positive.
12. Pants with lettering across the butt cheeks are never acceptable on anyone, ever, regardless of age or gender or size. It doesn't matter whether "Dolce & Gabbana" or "Harvard Alumni" is written across your ass; the message will invariably be something like "Ask Me About My Backdoor Siesta Rates."
13. A skirt is only as long as its highest slit.
14. It's easier, cheaper, and often more attractive to work with your natural features than to try and change them.
15. Thongs create more problems than they solve and should be used only as a last resort.
16. Rhinestones and sequins do not automatically make clothes classier or dressier, and in fact frequently have the opposite effect.

More rules to come.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Realistic Naked Action

Yesterday, a naked woman asked me where I got my underwear.

...I like saying it like that, removing the context and reducing the details so that it's still true, but sounds completely absurd. Like the time I was in an airplane that, while still in the gate, had a "ground incident" where a passing truck clipped its wing. (It was kind of frightening to see how much damage the wing took from it.) It's not completely inaccurate to say that I survived a collision in a plane. Or, more accurately and succinctly, my plane got hit by a truck.

So it probably makes it sound less crazy when I specify that the naked woman and I were in the locker room at the gym.

Though I'm not sure the context made it any less awkward. I'm not used to talking to strangers even when they're clothed. What do you say in return when a naked person compliments your undies? "I like your butt"?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Knit amigurumi condoms!

I do sometimes make things that impress even myself.

Knit condoms!

For novelty purposes only. Not to be used as a contraceptive. Will not prevent transmission of STDs. But you probably figured that out yourself, right?

I knit these over a year ago, and I am still convinced they are the greatest things I've ever made. They are approximately the right size, if a little short when unrolled. I will make more one day, perhaps to sell in clever adult toy boutiques if anyone wants any.

Pattern: self-created pattern
Needles: size 0 dpns
Yarn: Dalegarn Stork (left), Knit Picks Simple Stripes (right)
Size: *snicker*
Finished: 2006

Look for the pattern in a future post, though anyone who's knit a hat in the round will likely figure this out just from the picture.

Two things I almost ate today but didn't

1. Mini-cupcakes from 7-Eleven with "CHOCOLATE BUTTER CREEM" [sic] frosting.

2. M&Ms from a large bag in the kitchen, labeled "Medium Bag."

Judging from the packaging alone, it's probably a good idea I put neither in my mouth.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

It's been a while!

Fear not, I'm still smelling and looking as good as ever. Check me out on Puffery, a group project where we discuss all the products that appeal to our girly sensibilities.

Additionally, keep an eye on the Diverseyspace for a redesign and repurposing. It won't happen overnight, but if I get off my lazy duff, it will happen one day.