separate hobbies

Jul. 21st, 2017 06:47 pm
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[personal profile] mizkit

I saw a thing yesterday that said “Buying fabric and sewing fabric are TWO SEPARATE HOBBIES.”

I actually feel that I understand so much more about the world now.

I’m now up to 6 artist’s figurines (I need to write more reviews) and I was unable (or unwilling) to resist a set of 14 archival color pens, plus all the stuff I already own, but do I actually draw? No, hardly ever. (That said, I’ve done more this year than in many years.)

Anyway, point is I’m back to that “I want to draw some silly little story like Questionable Content only about, IDK, fat 40somethings instead of hipster robots” thing. Except I really don’t want to draw a story about fat 40somethings because ugh life. I want to do something cute and funny that I don’t have the skill set for but who cares I’ll do it anyway because it doesn’t matter. Or something. And I want just enough pressure to help me do maybe half an hour of art a day without having any real expectations.

Which of course is not much like my personality at all, because yes, I have met me. :p

Moop.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

Recent Reads: A WRINKLE IN TIME

Jul. 19th, 2017 03:09 pm
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[personal profile] mizkit

Having cried all over the WRINKLE IN TIME trailer, I thought I’d better re-read the book immediately to get a proper feeling for it again. It’d been at least twenty, possibly thirty, years since I’d read it, and…

…it’s kind of equally weirder and more mundane than I remember it.

I was prepared for, although somewhat exasperated by regardless, the Christian allusions; whenever I last re-read L’Engle, I was adult enough to notice her books are really laced with Christianity, so I knew that was going to be there. The story itself is actually a lot more straight-forward than I remember it being; possibly I’ve conflated the other books with it, or maybe it’s just that the weird bits are SO STRANGE that I thought the story structure had to be a lot more complicated than it really is.

It’s not, from a modern storytelling perspective, especially well told. It takes about four chapters to really get going, and it’s only a 12 chapter book. There’s a lot of telling, but not much in the way of showing in terms of…*why*. Meg is not, to the adult modern reader, particularly sympathetic: she doesn’t fit in at school, she’s angry in general and specifically very defensive about her father’s absence, and is apparently some particular kind of dumb that excludes being spectacularly good at math. That dumbness may be meant to indicate she’s socially inept, but although that certainly appears to be true, it doesn’t seem to be what’s really going on.

But that…dumbness…whatever it is…is crucial through the whole book. Meg doesn’t tesseract as well as the others. Meg is more vulnerable to the Darkness than the others. Meg won’t understand if you explain the thing…but I never understood why. (I’m not sure I understood as a kid, either, but it didn’t matter as much to me then.) And it’s apparently not something that came on simply because Mr Murry disappeared, because even he comments on it, and had done so before his disappearance, so you can’t lay her anger/ineptitude at the feet of her father’s disappearance.

And, just as much as Meg’s lack is not explained, neither are Calvin and Charles Wallace’s aptitude. Calvin communicates well; well, okay, that’s fine, but why does it make it easier for him to tesseract? Charles Wallace is, as far as I can tell, not even actually human, and Calvin, who does not come from the Murry family at all, is apparently More Like Charles than Meg is. But I don’t know what they are, or why they are, or why they’re the special ones and our heroine isn’t (well, that last one is institutionalized sexism, but let’s move past that). I remember *loving* Charles Wallace (and crushing terribly on Calvin), but I find him fairly creepy now, and that’s as the parent of an extremely self-assured little kid who, like Charles Wallace, is quite certain he’s able to Do It His Way without listening to the wisdom, or at least the experience, of his elders.

The one thing that maybe felt the most true to me in the whole book was Meg coming around to being the one who can save Charles Wallace. She wanted someone else–her father, specifically, but ANYBODY ELSE–to have to do the hard work. She was terrified and resentful of having to do it herself (and possibly that’s what the aforementioned “dumbness” is, since everybody keeps saying If you’d only apply yourself, Meg,, but that still doesn’t explain why she doesn’t tesseract as well, etc), and that seems very appropriate to a 13 year old to me. To people a lot older than 13, too, for that matter. But it comes in the 11th hourchapter, and her willingness to go on there is the only time in the book that she moves forward of her own volition. I’m not saying that isn’t fairly realistic, maybe, for a young teen, but in terms of making a dynamic book, it…doesn’t, really.

There are parts of the book that remain wonderful. The Mrs W are still splendid; Camazotz (which I always read, name-wise, as being what happens when Camelot goes terribly wrong) is still EXTREMELY CREEPY, and the thrumming presence of IT remains startlingly effective. Aunt Beast is wonderful. (So basically: the aliens work a lot better for me than the humans do.)

It doesn’t feel like a book that could get published now. It would need more depth; it felt shallow to me. A lot of its weirdness seems to me like it came very specifically out of the 50s and early 60s; I don’t think that book would, or perhaps *could*, be written now. It’s very internal in a lot of ways, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the film adapts the weirdness and the internalness and Meg’s basic lack of agency into an accessible story. My *feeling* is that they’re going to do a magnificent job of it, that it’s going to be one of those cases like Frankenstein or Jeckell & Hyde where the book’s conceptual foundation proves more powerful in film than it does on the page. I hope so!

But you know what I really wanted to do when I finished reading A WRINKLE IN TIME? I wanted to re-read Diane Duane’s SO YOU WANT TO BE A WIZARD, because I felt like the Young Wizards books use A WRINKLE IN TIME as a conceptual springboard and dove off into something that worked a lot better as a *story*.

So I guess I know what’s up next (or soon, anyway) on the Catie’s Re-Reads list. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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[personal profile] silkblade
Sitting on the couch, listening to Welcome to Night Vale, and scrolling FB before getting up to work on dinner and I think I hear a knock. I kind of look around but nothing seems wrong so I go back to FB. I definitely hear a knock this time!

There's a woman on my porch. She was walking home from the bus stop and got caught in the thunderstorm we're having right now. She just wanted to let me know she was on my porch since it was the only one she saw from the corner (ugh, she was probably also worried about possibly getting the cops called on her since she's black).

Thinking it might let up soon I got her a trash bag for a poncho (I don't even know where my umbrellas /are/) and a towel to dry herself off with but it was really coming down so I invited her in. My weather app said it would be at least a half hour until it /might/ let up (it's been about 40 since I checked and it sounds like it just let up a little), so I just drove her home. She was only a few blocks away.

Ugh. I remember those days of walking home from the bus stop and hoping the weather wouldn't turn on me...

On the one hand: Yay! Random good deed!
On the other hand: I partially only did it because I would have felt guilty leaving her on the porch and I'm not comfortable having people I don't know in my house.
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[personal profile] mizkit

Carrie Fisher. Robin Wright. Gal Gadot. Daisy Ridley. Melissa McCarthy & Leslie Jones & Kate McKinnon & Kristen Wigg.

Jodie Whittaker.

It shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter, but it goddamn well does.

You know why I chose the women I did, up above? You know why I didn’t include Weaver & Hamilton & Theron on that list?

Because Ripley and Connor and Furiosa were given to us. They were put on the table by filmmakers who said either “it doesn’t matter if this character’s a woman or a man,” or who specifically chose a woman as the vehicle for the main story. Alien & Terminator were always ours. We didn’t have to ask, much less plead and beg, for Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor. We weren’t looking for Furiosa, and Theron came out of nowhere the same way Weaver & Hamilton did.

But Carrie Fisher? Robin Wright? Yeah, Princess Leia & the Princess Bride were integral to their stories, but Buttercup was a pretty passive observer in her own story and Leia wasn’t there FOR GIRLS. She was there as the token female. The fact that she had an important role & agency is almost beside the point. I read something recently–maybe in Empire Magazine–where someone said something like “If you think about it, Star Wars is really Leia’s story,” and all I could think was WOULDN’T IT HAVE BEEN AMAZING IF IT HAD BEEN FILMED THAT WAY?

So General Antiope? General Organa? I feel like we *fought* for them. Diana? Rey? I feel like they’re from us saying “we want this so much, we deserve this, we hold up half the fucking sky, people.” An all-women Ghostbusters team? We kept saying “oh god please we want this this would be so awesome.” And so now, a female Doctor? It feels like another one we fought for.

And it shouldn’t have to. We shouldn’t have to be pleading for 1/13th of the pie (or less). We shouldn’t have to be THIS HAPPY to get it. And yet I am.

And I’m also SO ANGRY that it takes so little, such a crumb, to make me THIS HAPPY, when it shouldn’t even be a conversation.

And none of that even STARTS to touch on how 8 of the 9 (or 11/12, depending on how you wanna count it) women I’ve talked about are white ladies.

I don’t want white women to be the only ones gaining ground here. I don’t want increments. We don’t NEED increments. The actors are there. Storm Reid proves it. Zendaya proves it. Hannah John-Kamen & Frankie Adams prove it. And I want to see women of color in all these big amazing roles and films too. I don’t want this to just be a moment for white girls and indistinguishable blondes.

I want more, god damn it. I want it all, for all of us. #GirlPower

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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[personal profile] silkblade
I actually had this photoshoot today (Sunday) but I forgot to post this before so I'm doing it now...

Also! Look! I moved my blog!




For the Cherry Dollface photoshoot this weekend, Christie (the photographer) mentioned that she's working on a beach scene for the studio. She had a few vintage suits but suggested I check out Torrid if I wanted to look for something for myself. And since my local bra shop closed, I thought what the heck I’ll check this out. It’s been a while since last I looked.

(Cherry Dollface is a YouTube personality who is known for her pin-up/rockabilly stuff. She’s partnering with the photographer who’s done my other pin-up photoshoots (grinkie.com) for a mini-session in town. Cherry will do hair and makeup and then Christie will do some photos. I gave myself a private session for my 40th birthday and I’ve been doing annual mini-sessions since.)

Oh, man, I forgot how laughable Torrid's lingerie is for me. They don't put actual sizes on stuff, which ok sizes are pretty meaningless for a lot of women's clothes, but with bras, sizes actually do mean something most of the time. So I got bikini tops in different sizes (0-5, I think? I only grabbed from 0-2 since those are generally what I look at in their tops/dresses). And oh, wow, they did not fit. None of them did. I got one top that almost fit and looked cute and provided a little bit of boob support but only as long as I didn’t move much (or I could just spend all day readjusting my boobs). Even on clearance, it was more than I wanted to spend on something I might at best only wear for a photo shoot. I had been hoping to find something to use for actual beach wear but I knew the chances were slim before I went in.

I suspect that the woman they are trying to fit is not me. I’ve got a smallish ribcage measurement and a large cup size. My guess, from the problems I was noticing with fit, is that their bras are made for women with larger ribcage measurements and smaller cup sizes. I understand there are a lot of women with that problem so it’s awesome that Torrid has stuff for some of them, but I was still a little disappointed. They had some really cute bikini tops!

Also, all their bras are padded. I ... do not need padding. And padding on swimsuits has always seemed extra weird to me. Why would you want to wear something on your chest that’s going to hold water and get heavy (when you’re out of the water) or float weirdly (in the water)? I do not get it.

Anyway, I do have a sports bra that I’ve been wearing for a while as a bikini top so I figured I’d look for some cute bottoms to go with it. I do not really like the bottoms I have right now. And I did manage to find two pairs of cute bikini bottoms. One pair is black with mesh on the sides and the other pair is a bright teal . With my black sports bra, I think they’ll look super cute.

Now I just need to look for a place to go swimming. I love swimming but I really don’t do much of it here in Minnesota…

still toxic

Jul. 16th, 2017 01:23 pm
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[personal profile] mizkit

I’m somewhat better than I’ve been, but I’ve still got a cough and snotty nose. No, I haven’t gone to a doctor, but only because it turns out there’s a shortage of doctors in this town and nobody is taking new patients. We got signed up with a clinic in theory but we still haven’t gotten notification that we’re actually in their system, so…yeah. Anyway. At this point I think I’m going to have healed up before I’m in the system. Whee.

That said, all I want to do today is lie in a lump on the couch and watch Brooklyn Nine Nine all afternoon, but I’d have a 7 year old beside me saying, “What? What?” and fake-laughing at things, which wouldn’t really be much fun.

The Wrinkle in Time trailer dropped yesterday and made me cry. Twice. It looks amazing. (“Mommy,” Indy said incredulously, “are you *crying*?” Yes. Yes I was.) Anyway, I haven’t read the book in at least twenty, possibly thirty, years, and I immediately bought a new copy to read it. I didn’t think it would hold up, honestly, but I’ve read the first chapter and so far it’s still amazing.

I also re-read THE HERO AND THE CROWN a couple days ago and for the first time the acid trip battle with Agsded actually made sense to me. I’ve only read the book about forty times, so it’s nice that I eventually became able to really follow that scene.

Also I don’t remember crying through Talat’s rehabilitation before. *wipes eyes*

I made crabapple jelly with the last of LAST year’s crabapples, some cherry jam, pitted more cherries that Dad brought out, and bought some peaches that I need to process today and see if I’ve got enough for jam. I have frozen strawberries, too, and some many-berry mix frozen berries. Jam, glorious jam. :)

There are TWO kittens in the garden. We’re calling them Topsy and Turvy and are feeding them and their mama. I’m waiting for the local rescue people to have a capture cage available, so hopefully that’ll come through soon.

I turned a grant application in last week. I’ve got a book proposal just about ready to submit. I have copy edits to do and need to email my editor about line edits. And…I’d have to look at my to-do list to see what’s next. That’s plenty to get me through the week, though. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

History Lesson

Jul. 11th, 2017 03:26 pm
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[personal profile] eyelessgame
This is a long history lesson. I will do my best to make it at least mildly entertaining.

For a hundred years after the Civil War, racists voted with the Democratic Party, because Lincoln - a Republican - freed the slaves. For that entire century, 1865-1964, the states of the Confederacy went for the Democrat in virtually every presidential election. (The South is not of course the only place there were and are racists; they've just always been more concentrated there, and racism is the motivation for the vote of more people there.)

Now, for that same period the majority in most of the rest of the country was Republican - in large part for the same reason, that Lincoln freed the slaves - at least until the Great Depression. (The 65 years from the Civil War to the Great Depression saw only two Democratic presidents, so the Depression, and the initial tepid reaction to it, was largely blamed on Harding-Coolidge-Hoover Republicanism.) From 1932 on, the Democrats started enjoying a lot of electoral success, buoyed by solid support in the South, where they'd even vote for a liberal so long as he was of the party that also winked and nodded at their racism.

In 1964 that changed. Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. This was seen by Southern racists - correctly - as an overwhelming rejection and betrayal of a demographic that - however odious - was a core demographic of the Democratic Party. Throwing them out was the gutsiest and - speaking in terms of political, electoral success - one of the most foolish political actions ever taken by a political party. RFK's comment was "we've lost the South for a generation." He was optimistic.

But the realignment wasn't just from Johnson throwing them out. It was also from Nixon, and his strategist Atwater, welcoming them in. The Republicans correctly calculated that there were at the time more racist voters than black voters in the South, and the Democrats had put the racists up for grabs. Atwater calculated ways to appeal to racists without turning off nonracist conservatives - "dogwhistle" framing of anti-minority messages that only racists would understand as such. (The messaging changes over time. Nixon started with "law and order" - to conservatives, that's simply a good priority for government; to a racist, who thinks of crime as something mostly black people do, it's a way for government to attack and punish black people. Later on it was "busing," and "welfare queens," and "affirmative action hires," and Obama's birth certificate. Reagan was a master of the dog whistle: Reagan's first speech announcing his candidacy in 1979 was in Neshoba County, and he consistently focused on "states' rights" - another of Atwater's potent dogwhistles, that nonracist conservatives and libertarians would see as an issue of simple freedom, but which racists understood very well as a shout-out to the Confederacy and Jim Crow, and against all the federal antiracism programs of the 1960s.)

For the 52 years since that realignment, the South has voted for Republicans in every presidential election, except when the Democrats actually ran a Southerner (Carter, Clinton) - and even then they were only able to split the South. Racists have never trusted Democrats since. And Republicans, from Nixon to Reagan to Dubya to Trump, have enjoyed the benefits of the Southern racist vote.

But this also isn't the end of the story. In the 1970s, smart people of both parties started looking hard at Mexico and Central America, figured out that the US was going to start getting a big influx of Hispanic immigrants over the next couple generations, and started planning how to attract this demographic. Republicans came up with a set of plans to appeal to Hispanics, relying on their generally Catholic culture, using another set of "pro-family" messages, including attacks on gays and - importantly - abortion.

This dovetailed with another Republican program. There was a movement in the party at the same time to court Evangelical Protestant conservatives into political activism, specifically involving Jerry Falwell. This movement grew out of a Southern priority opposing affirmative action (Falwell's Liberty University was in danger of losing tax-exempt status under Carter, because it was violating nondiscrimination laws since the university did not allow students of different races to date). But it quickly found its most potent cause, one which the strategists eyeing Hispanics pushed for and embraced: opposing abortion, which had been until then an almost entirely Catholic issue.

(The conversion of Evangelicals to the cause of considering abortion a moral evil and working to see it outlawed is a fascinating story, and one that others cover in detail. It's stunning how quickly and completely the position spread through the conservative Protestant community between 1975 and 1985. But it's a tangent off of what I'm talking about here.)

By the Reagan era, the Republican Party was comprised of corporate money, racists (Reagan and Nashoba County), Evangelical Christians, militarists (Reagan's aggressive militarism helped push military families and military veterans into the Republican Party), libertarians, and gun owners.

At the time of Reagan, this added up to a majority - in 1984 an overwhelming one. But there were rumblings of a problem, and that problem - while it has many forms - was most of all a Hispanic one.

During the decade following Reagan, Hispanic Americans overall came to the conclusion that Republicans, despite pro-family and anti-abortion positions, were very much not on their side. Part of this was economic - Hispanics, like any community comprised largely of recent immigrants, are less well-off overall than the median American, and Republican/conservative policies tend to be bad (or at least perceived to be bad) for working-class and poor people - but also the Nixon/Atwater dogwhistles started producing dramatic blowback.

Two kinds of people hear racist dogwhistles - racists and minorities. You can tune the dogwhistle so that nonracist white people don't hear it, but when you're getting racists excited, you can't stop their targets from noticing too. Hispanics started getting the very clear message that Republicans did not welcome them. (Pete Wilson was one of the grand villains here, in the 1990s. He ran explicitly anti-immigrant ads as a California gubernatorial candidate, and carried the message into his brief presidential campaign in 1996.)

The upshot of all of this is that as the country has gotten less white, Republicans have gotten less popular with everyone who isn't white. (To the point where I've heard conservatives assert to me, out loud and without any sort of shame or hesitation, that Democrats are committing election fraud by being pro-immigration - because Democratic policies can import potentially unlimited numbers of new citizens, who will then be allowed to vote, and vote for Democrats.)

Race isn't the only issue, of course; conservatives - because of their connections to militarists, corporatists, libertarians, evangelicals, and gun enthusiasts - see all of those demographics shrinking relative to the groups most hurt by policies that those groups want - younger Americans affected most by war; environmentally literate people horrified by dismantling of regulations; working-class and poor people affected by shredding of the safety net and commoditization of their labor; women and LGBTQ affected by anti-gay, anti-abortion restrictions; and city dwellers who are most negatively affected by gun ownership.

Yet they are in a spiral, since they cannot turn their backs on any of these increasingly unpopular positions without alienating one or more of their core demographics.

They've tried hard. There are elected Republicans who really, really wish they could write sensible environmental regulations - but they can't, because of their corporate influences. There are *many* elected Republicans who want desperately to reform immigration - but their racist core would bolt. There are those horrified by the inability of their party to do anything humane about health care - but neither libertarians nor racists would tolerate the "something for nothing" aspect of taking care of poor people's health.

And now, those who simply see a case for Republican conservative policies - those who believe in a largely free-market capitalist society that rewards work and success, and pays attention to patriotism and tradition, but has supports that strengthen the community, take care of citizens who need help, and is inclusive and welcoming to everyone - have to be feeling a gradual sense of dread and panic.

Because they also know, or believe they know, that Democratic policies are very, very sticky. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid - which many conservatives believe to have negative impact on society overall - are permanent fixtures of our nation. Moreover, the electoral success of FDR and JFK/LBJ (which was halted by Vietnam and by Johnson's choice above) showed that voters respond very positively to successful Democratic programs (even though a Republican will make the case, whatever one thinks of it, that these policies' short-term benefits are outweighed by long-term costs, both economic and cultural).

So Republicans, I believe, are convinced that their gains are hard-fought and temporary, while Democratic gains - when Democrats are allowed to govern - are easy and permanent.

And - this is the critical piece of motivation I think we should understand, and the reason I went through all of that history, to illustrate the deal with the Devil they made - they see their demographic doom upon them. They know they can't expand beyond their current demographic limits. They are very, very aware that their last Presidential popular vote victory was 2004 and the one before that was 1988. They have won the popular vote in only one of the last seven presidential elections. There are more of us than there are of them and that is not going to change.

They see barbarians at the gate, everywhere. They are outnumbered and they know it. And they honestly see themselves as the last defenders of civilization and freedom, in constant danger of being overwhelmed and their light extinguished.

Needless to say I don't share their view in the slightest. But I believe I am accurately representing it. And I believe I understand it.

And when I put myself in that mindset - the last defenders of civilization - I understand their desperation. Why they embrace what seems insane. Why they are so willing to be so desperate. Why they fought Clinton, and then Obama, so furiously and relentlessly, never compromising and never allowing a single success, even one that had the potential to help enormous numbers of citizens without containing anything resembling actual "liberal" ideals (e.g. the PPACA).

They can't let us win even temporarily, because they are convinced it will be permanent. If we peel off anyone from their coalition, they'll never build it again. There's no one left for them to add. Too many Americans are nonwhite, or LGBTQ, or working-class, or nonreligious, or against guns, or in favor of abortion, or want some amount of services to provide support in an increasingly complex and demanding world. More all the time.

And all it takes, they believe, to cement an effectively permanent Democratic supermajority is for people to see a Democratic success. (They know Democratic policies help people. They're not stupid. They just think it's bad for the country to help people.) I'm not exaggerating or making this up when I say they believe they can't afford there to be a single opposition success; I've seen the position papers Republicans published under Clinton and under Obama. They have been frank about seeing relentless, total opposition as their sole path to survival.

And now that they're in charge they will literally do anything it takes to stay there, because they believe it's the last chance for their philosophy - and remember, they believe that any other philosophy than theirs leads to the downfall of civilization. This isn't evil, per se, it's desperation - or rather, it's what real evil in the real world is: not moustache-twirling sadism for the sake of it, but convincing themselves that every part of what they do, no matter how many people it hurts or what sacred traditions it destroys, has to be done to save humanity.

They can't back down, ever. On anything. They can't admit a single wrongdoing by anyone in their party. They can't quit even so awful and unfit a clown as Trump, because a weak hand going into 2020 could permanently realign the nation against them. No tactic is beyond them because they see - always - the apocalypse coming with the next election and they must use every weapon at their disposal. They are willing to throw even our ideals of free and fair elections to the winds, convincing themselves that's not really what they're doing - they're just temporarily making voting a little harder for people who probably wouldn't have voted anyway, what's the harm - who cares if there was foreign influence in our elections, they have any number of excuses for why that isn't as horrifying as it sounds - because they honestly believe the future of all mankind and all civilization depends on their victory over us.

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