Monday, December 15, 2014

Rambling: Rambling

The post lulls are getting longer. I need to write more.

Of course, Christmas vacation is coming up. I might write. I hope to write. I would say I plan to write, but I can see that plan being all weak and watery. I might even, y'know, write.  Like, toward someday maybe possibly getting something published. Rather than instantly throwing it on the blog. Or I might not.

I'm threatening to buy a bottle of perfume. I can't remember what it's called. That displays a certain lack of commitment, doesn't it?

Oh, yeah! Yosh White Flowers perfume oil. That's it. I keep thinking it's Kai, not Yosh. But it's so very powerful that I could probably make it my exclusive scent for months, based on one sample. So what would I do with a whole 8ml? I guess I could give some of it away. 

We were in Portland recently. I had fried chicken at Tilt, and fried chicken at The Imperial, and fried chicken at Pink Rose, and fried chicken skin from Nong's Khao Man Gai. We didn't get to Parish (fried chicken) or Screen Door (fried chicken) or The Original (fried chicken). But we probably will next time.

Yes, there are other things on the menus. Probably. I see them on other people's plates. Including Himself's. And sometimes I order a vegetable to add color to the plate.

Oh, and at Dime Store I had chicken salad. With greens. That was weird. It was also an error; the greens were mostly arugula and radicchio. I'll go back to the restaurant, but I think they should define it as "bitter greens", not just greens.

I didn't have any chicken wings. I might fry some.

The newlyish released movie Wild was partly filmed (OK, for one day) in Ashland. My town. Well, my town when I'm not bonding with Portland's fried chicken resources. I'll probably see it over Christmas break. Assuming it's still showing.

Himself started the first fire in the fireplace of the year. Yay!

A tree fell on our roof in the recent windstorm. Boo! At least it was a many-limbed vaselike tree, one that landed on the house in a spread-out, springy kind of way, rather than smashing through the roof. And it didn't break the stained glass window that was very close by in one direction, or the heat pump that was very close by in another direction, or any of the windows very close by in both directions. Really, we should be pleased. Relatively.

Um.

That is all.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Rambling: Bubble Realizations

I’ve been trying to spend more time writing fiction, and less time reading and posting on forums.

I’ve been unsuccessful. So far. But the process made me open to the realization that there’s a difference between what I want to write (or want to have written) and what I have to say. My fiction efforts have been focused on what I want to have written. My forum posts are what I have to say. And that’s why I keep pouring out the forum posts.

This is a new realization; my hair is still damp from the bubble bath in which I realized it. But it’s one of those realizations that is so obvious, once seen, that it’s impossible to remember what I was thinking before I realized it. How could I ever not realize that my fiction writing has to be about whatever it is that I have to say?

I suppose it's partly that I don’t like stories with conscious morals or themes. Or any intent to teach something. When that intent is detectable, I go “bleah.” When I think of fiction, I think of form and plot and characters, but not theme. I want whimsical, intricate worlds and characters, like my favorite children’s books. And I was under the mistaken impression that I could create that without actually having something to say.

But I was confusing myself. Rumer Godden’s work, for example, doesn’t have tidy little lessons. But all the same, every one of her stories speaks to me about the longing for a place in the world. I don’t think that she sat down and decided that she was going to present us with her opinions on that subject. I think it’s just that that subject was in her, and wanted to get out.

Even when the thoughts that drive a work aren’t thoughts that interest me, I suspect that they give the work a strength that it wouldn’t otherwise have. For example, the religious themes of The Chronicles of Narnia don’t speak to me at all, but all the same, the stories do.

So can I write whimsical, intricate stories about dysfunction and self-delusion and betrayal? Well, I suppose that description is not entirely a mismatch to The Princess and The Caffeine and Caveat Emptor. Maybe I can.

At least I have a clearer view to a goal.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rambling: Rambling

If I'm going to just keep giving my posts that title, there's not much point in a title, is there? I suppose I could go with "Saturday rambling."

Have you seen the Barbie software engineer flap? Mattel produced a book, "I Can be a Computer Engineer", in which Barbie the engineer needs Steven and Brian's help not only to do her programming, but also to rescue her from a computer virus. She also has a pink heart-shaped flash drive that she wears on a necklace, because otherwise she'd be too forgetful to take backups.

Yeah.

While reading the stuff on various sites, such as Feminist Hacker Barbie, I also kept running into Lammily, a doll made with realistic dimensions for a 19 year old woman. She's more about body image than careers, but I think she looks like she'd write her own code, don't you? She's still a lot thinner than me, but she has room for her internal organs, which Barbie, apparently, doesn't.

One delightful detail is that apparently kids really, really like her. And it's not surprising; if you look at the photos on the website, she looks startlingly, delightfully, human. She reminded me of the fact that I always liked Skipper (back when Skipper was flat chested  and had a relatively wide waist) and the mother of the Sunshine Family better than I liked Barbie.

So I bought one. I'm weird that way.

Er.

That appears to be all.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rambling: Rambling

So, not so much the writing. Lately. But it's Friday night, and a person should be able to write with a whole weekend in front of her, right?

Hmm.

Remember how I was going to give away Serge Lutens Bas de Soie? Well, it was on the shelf--waiting to be given away--and I grabbed it and sprayed some on just because, the way I do, and I fell in love. It wore it every day for three or four days. It appears that Bas de Soie is what I crave in that fall-to-winter temperature transition time when I dislike so many perfumes.

So I'm not giving it away.

I am giving other things away. Like perfume. Other perfume. I sent out a Stinky Giveaway email to a bunch of local friends, offering twenty-two bottles and eighteen decants and minis to the first takers. I'm hoping that this is just the start of an all-around mass decluttering. But whether it is or not, a dozen or so fragrances are already in Ziplocs waiting to go out the door, so it's a start.

The remaining perfume still doesn't fit in its allotted storage and display space, though.

Coke is tasting too sweet to me, the past several days. As is Thai iced tea and chocolate and hot chocolate. What's with that?

We went to Portland. I went to the new Josephine's--the fabric store that closed because the owner retired and then reopened under a new name and in a new location and under new owners.  They're good. Really good.

I'm reading Best of Food Writing 2014, edited by Holly Hughes. It's really good. Various pieces are raising various thoughts, but apparently my head hasn't cooked them enough to blog about them yet.

I bought a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. I don't know what I think. I was most struck by her method of folding clothes, which is an odd thing to be struck by.

As I italicize the book titles above, I find myself wanting to italicize Bas de Soie, too, as if it's a story. But I refrain.

I've been wearing a little newsboy's-cap kind of hat, despite the fact that I think it looks wrong with my long hair. Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, would tell me that I have to take off this hat indoors because it's a man-style hat, and the woman's privilege to wear hats indoors only applies to women's hats. I took a poll at lunch, and two out of three responders agree with Miss Manners, while one disagrees.

The show Mom is playing in front of me. It has Allison Janney as the Mom. You remember her from West Wing, right? She remains fabulous.

Italics again.

You notice how this blog post is going a little more free-associationish than usual. Yeah. It doesn't mean I've been drinking. Sober as a judge.  My only intoxicant is the jasmine from the bath oil from the bath that I just emerged from.

Dang. Mom is over.

Um...

OK, that's probably all. If not, I'll be back.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rambling: Fear and Glory and Music. (Oh, My?)

I'm not writing.

Anywhere.

Well, except for some forums.

What's the deal?

I suspect that the deal is that when I write, that seems to open up my thoughts, and worrying thoughts might creep out. Or burst out, waving axes and torches. Wearing scary masks. And howling battle cries. You know. Right?

So.

Um.

I'm less worried now, though I'm still nervously eyeing the cracks in my brain for anything planning an escape.

Yes, I realize that the best writing probably comes from those gangs of rampaging thoughts. But, well, I don't want 'em. I want to come up with brilliance without any discomfort.

But the rampaging thoughts remain.

And after seeing the Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of Into the Woods (three times?) the soundtrack for those thoughts is Miriam Laube singing "It's the last midnight."  Beautiful glorious song of doom. I want to hear it again. The production is over. Is she going with it when the show goes to Beverly Hills? I want that song available whenever I want to hear it, but I'm afraid that listening to any recording will wipe out the memory of Miriam singing it, and that's just not acceptable.

Why do I want to listen to a "song of doom" when I'm trying to flee from stress? I don't know.

Has OSF ever considered releasing soundtracks? I must ask.

It's interesting that the OSF productions that I most urgently long to see again are musicals. The Unfortunates will be showing at ACT in San Francisco in 2015, and we will be going. I don't much like San Francisco any more; my favorite restaurant in the world isn't enough to lure me there. But The Unfortunates are. Is.

Um.

That is all.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Random Perfume Comment: Carven Le Parfum

Le Parfum is pretty, clean, and well-behaved.

I like it anyway.

What's with that?

Friday, September 26, 2014

SOTD: Sonoma Scent Studio Yin and Ylang


This one isn't weird, either. But I like it. It's a comfort scent, both woody and floral, and with a sense of creamy chewy edibleness without any actual food scent. I keep wanting a little more of one note or another--a little more oak moss, or a little more sandalwood, or a little more of that edible vibe. I tend to assume that that stretching for a little more is a sign of a well-balanced scent, because surely if I had all I wanted of a note, I would soon be tired of it.

Want. I want De Bachmakov, too. My interest in perfume may be increasing again. That could be expensive.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Fragrantica and Cafleurebon. And surely someone else has reviewed this?

Monday, September 22, 2014

SOTD: The Different Company De Bachmakov

(Actually, the scent of the weekend. We went to Portland Feast. We're fatter. Yay!)

It's been a while since I liked a new-to-me perfume this much. It's catering to my current preferences--I perceive it as silky, rather than fuzzy or dusty or scratchy. It's not too sweet or too sour. It announces itself proudly for several minutes after wearing, and just when I might feel a little too perfume-soaked it backs off and settles for sending out an occasional welcome puff if scent.

So what does it actually smell like? According to LuckyScent, "cedar wood, bergamot, shiso leaves, nutmeg, coriander leaves, white freesia, soft chalk accord." And they talk a lot about melting snow. According to me? Lemon, an idealized lemon that leans toward the floral. I assume that the lemon comes from the bergamot and the floral comes from, well, the flowers. I'm not sure what "soft chalk accord" is, but I think that it's what's making me feel "silky" rather than liquid.

This has me eyeing my credit cards. I've been wanting the perfect lemon for a while. Fresh Lemon Sugar has too much candy. Din Dan...well, I love Din Dan, and maybe this is just new and shiny, but I think I love it more.

My only concern is that it's not weird. It's pretty. It's feminine. It's not the least, tiniest little bit offensive on any level. This worries me a little.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

TV: Orphan Black and the Reverse Bechdel Test

I posted this on a writing forum, and it occurred to me that in six months I might wonder, "So where was it that I was talking about Orphan Black and the Bechdel test?" So I thought I'd post it here, too.

So, I've considered the Bechdel Test to be a worthwhile concept--on a statistical level--since I heard of it. But it's only after watching a series that almost fails the "reverse Bechdel test" that I really understand the test's significance. I understand why some writers protest the idea that they should somehow make their stories pass the test, but I also understand even more deeply why it's a very bad thing, statistically, that so few movies pass the test.

The Bechdel Test, just so you don't need to Google, is an evaluation of whether a work of fiction has:

1) Two named female characters
2) who have a conversation
3) about something other than a man.

It's not a test that means that a single work of fiction is "good" or "bad." A very good work can fail it. A very bad work can pass it.

I see it as a test that evaluates whether a work has a significant number of important female characters. They don't have to be female characters that are strong or powerful or feminist or intelligent; they just have to be important to the fictional work.

The TV series Orphan Black has a lot of female characters. Sarah, Beth, Kira, Cosima, Alison, Helena, Rachel, Siobhan, Delphine, Gracie, etc. And it's about those characters. About their history, about their battles, about their relationships, about their safety and their happiness and their future.

Many fictional works have the smart guy, the tough guy, the funny guy, the uptight guy, the damaged guy, and the girl. Orphan Black has the smart girl, the tough girl, the funny girl, the uptight girl, the powerful girl, the damaged girl, and so on.

Of course, many of the characters can be described with more than one characteristic--Helena is tough and funny and powerful and extremely damaged; Alison is uptight and smart and tough in some situations and maybe just a little bit psychopathic, and so on. I'm not trying to describe the characters with a bunch of simplistic adjectives. I'm trying to do the opposite--I'm pointing out that Orphan Black covers a great deal of the complex spectrum of human behavior and personality, and it does it with women, instead of with men.

Orphan Black also has men. Felix, Sarah's brother. Donnie, Alison's wife. Daniel, Rachel's monitor. Paul, Beth's boyfriend. Leekie, Rachel's guardian and colleague. Art, Beth's partner on the police force. Vic, Sarah's ex-boyfriend. And so on.

These are great characters, well-rounded and interesting. But are you seeing a pattern here? The men in Orphan Black are defined by their relationship with the women. The story is about the women. It revolves around the women. And that means that when two men are talking to each other, they're almost always talking about a woman. The male characters exist to serve the women's stories.

And it would be hard to insert conversations between those men that aren't about the women. It's hard for Orphan Black to naturally pass the reverse Bechdel test.

Conversations between the men that aren't about the women would seem weird, seem like a waste of screen time. I can only think of one male-to-male interaction that wasn't about a woman--Felix's date with Nicholas. Even that is a little dubious--their first words exchanged refer ot the trouble that they've had with the police, trouble that was about Felix's sister. And their date is interrupted, because of Felix's sister and niece.

Ah, there was that scene between Henrik and Mark about the cow, but we eventually realize that that scene is about the women, even if it's not clear when we see it.

Anyway. Orphan Black is a story about women, in a world packed full of women--strong women, weak women, good women, bad women, smart women, stupid women, women in power and women with no power. Orphan Black amost fails the reverse Bechdel test.

I think that Orphan Black is a great series. But if most movies and TV series revolved around women as totally as Orphan Black does, I suspect that a lot of men would be annoyed. A substantial percentage of movies and TV series revolve around men as totally as Orphan Black revolves around women, and I am annoyed.

The Bechdel Test, again, isn't a test of the worthiness of an individual work. It's a test of the extent to which women exist, where "exist" means that they matter and their stories matter, in the fictional world of television and movies.

Edited to add: Hmm. There's also the conversation between Felix and Tony. But discussing that in any detail would get me into spoilers, which I was trying to avoid.

Link Roundup:

I see that Luz Delfondo at Disrupting Dinner Parties made the point about failing the reverse Bechdel Test long before I did.

Slate has an interesting article, The Brilliant Misandry of Orphan Black. I don't agree with the article's dismissal of the male characters, but it's interesting all the same.

Rambling: Sewing Brain Dump

I often write about big sewing plans that I don't carry out. It occurs to me that while writing them as plans and failing to carry them out is depressing, writing them as thoughts, ideas, a general sewing brain dump, might be fun to read later.

So.

I've been thinking about making a lightweight bathrobe, out of silk or cotton or linen or silk/linen or silk/cotton. Something drapey and not too crisp. I started out with a very conventional bathrobe pattern, but in reading reviews found it described as "slim-fitting." My hips don't like slim-fitting.

So we bought another one, Jalie 2567, which at least describes itself as loose-fitting.  I say "we" because I want to make one for Himself, too. I plan to make up a muslin the quick way (no facings, no hems) in throwaway dollar-a-yard rayon, because I'm just not sure what I want in the way of ease. Well, I want lots of it, but I don't think I can tell if the pattern will have enough or not, without actually putting it on.

However, I may end up making Himself's bathrobe(s) from the Jalie pattern and mine from a Vintage Vogue swing coat pattern, V1083.  It's designed with a whole lot of extra room; the reviews complain about it being too big. It doesn't lap nearly as much as a bathrobe does, but I'll see what I want to do about that when I've got a muslin together.

Once the pattern's right, I want an ankle-length version in something light but with a little body, and then a shorter one in the lightest possible thing, for travel. Well, at least I did before I went to the swing coat; I don't know if it will work in a short version.

Before that, I really should be making two more of the calf-length six-gore skirt for which I have a fitted pattern. I made it in black linen, and have worn it probably six times without ever getting around to adding a waistband hook--I kept using a safety pin. It's that useful and I'm that short on skirts. I have a length of brown linen and another one in a sort of subdued pumpkin, both of them preshrunk and pressed. With the serger I could have them made up fast.

Months and months ago I did cut a straight pleated skirt, very vertical, a pattern that I keep thinking would work very well for directional fabrics and prints that I don't want to break up. It interests me more than the gored skirt, even though I expect it to be harder to fit and to make. I can see it being made up in interesting rumpled fabrics with character.

To go with it, I really want a big drop-sleeved shirt, for interesting-fabric, rumpled, comfy outfits. Maybe with my little short boots. I'm finding it surprisingly difficult to find one; are drop sleeves wildly out of style?

An alternative for the big-and-rumply outfit could be the Sewing Workshop Haiku Two jacket. I discussed this...hm...over two years ago and never got around to making it. One advantage of this pattern is that I think that I can just cut the largest one and expect it to fit--"fit" in the sense of being able to put it on, even if I swim in it. I think. I don't remember why I think this--I suspect that I read a pattern review that indicated that even my hips wouldn't be an obstacle. Or maybe I measured the pattern. Anyway, with  the first one made up just for at-home-cardigan warmth, I can tweak it for fit.

Or I could try to trace, or rub off, or whatever you call it, my favorite ready-to-wear drop-sleeve shirt. It's really comfortable and I'm under the illusion that it's more flattering than the shape should be. It's a lightweight drapey denim -- I don't know if it will work in any other fabric or not.

I went to the Button Emporium (And Ribbonry) recently. I got (lemme count...) eleven kinds of buttons, including the ones in the picture. Aren't they beautiful? The nice lady told me that they were...um. OK, either German glass or Czechoslovakian glass; I 'm thinking the second one. Vintage. Last ones of their kind. I bought several "last ones".  Anyway, I mention them because I got several kinds of black or partly-black buttons, and two kinds of black trim, all of which would be dandy on a black jacket. Well, not all together.

While at the Button Emporium, I formed the theory that it makes sense to stash trims and buttons and other decorative notions instead of stashing fabric, because by the time you add those things to a garment, you usually know if the garment is a success. So if I'm going to overspend on something, overspending on the finishing touches seems logical. Right? Right. So I got some ribbon, too.

Ooh. It occurs to me that a black bathrobe with the hem weighted by some of the black trim that I got could be really cool. Funereal and gothic, but cool.

Hmm.

Plotting happily. That is all.

Image: Mine.