Tag Archives: rant

“Capitol Couture”? Oh, give me a BREAK

K, really? Before I rant about how wrong, wrong, wrong and WRONG this is, I should probably preface my opinion by talking about how unfashionable I am.

Merriam-Webster online lists several definitions of the word ‘style’, and guess what? They contradict:
– “A distinctive manner of expression”
– “The state of being popular, as in ‘clothes that are always in style'”

Well shit, English. You’ve got ‘distinctive’ and you’ve got ‘popular’. How about you make up your mind so those of us who try to communicate can actually make some sense?

I have come to terms with the fact that I am completely useless for fashion. Any attempt I have ever made toward keeping up with the new thing has made me unhappier in exact proportion to what the item cost me, an item that will sit in the deepest dregs of my closet because it was trendy and ergo is now worthless. I used to make myself buy colorful clothing in the latest seasonal shades but I would always opt to wear the black, so I stopped wasting money and reconciled myself to the fact that if I wasn’t going to be ‘hip’, I would at least be honest.

If I am ever complimented on my style (and it happens, somehow) it is because my ensembles represent me well. Not to advocate judging a book by its cover, but you can pick up cues as to what I am about by how I choose to adorn myself. I guess you could say I wear my heart on my sleeve. The fact that my particular tastes are not represented in couture magazines or high-end stores means that I am not ‘fashionable’, but the fact that my look is distinctive says I do have ‘style’. I would like to see these words forever distinguished from one another because it really rankles me when trend-followers are described as ‘stylish’ when they are in fact the exact opposite.

You might be wondering what sent me off on this rant. Behold: in anticipation of the highly anticipated Hunger Games movie, a Tumblr called Capitol Couture has been launched, celebrating all the wonderful fashion goodness that is in store for us in the movie.

Here’s the problem with that. The story is set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future. The country of Panem is made up of 12 poverty-stricken disctricts that are ruled by a fascist Capitol that is filthy with wealth and luxury. The heroine of the story spends the entire series hating the Capitol, bashing the Capitol and eventually (spoiler alert) overthrowing the goddamn Capitol. She ridicules the residents of Capitol for their absurdity and their superficial emptiness. She criticizes how the Capitol media is only interested in fashion and appearances. The whole trilogy is essentially a critique of what post-industrial processes are doing to the world and what it might look like should this corruption and rampant consumerism continue. Full stop. This is what the books are about and they’re awesome and people are shitting themselves with excitement about the movies, this crankypants included. Does anyone else see the irony here?

I am a horror fan. I get how sometimes you want to root for the bad guys. Sometimes I honestly wish zombies would come cause some shit so that we would all smarten the fuck up. But the Capitol? Come on, people.  You’re going to take this wonderfully subversive story and make it a fashion show. Thanks for ruining everything for everyone, “fashion”.

Oh, and before anyone rolls their eyes at me and tries to tell me the Tumblr is meant to be ironic, it doesn’t matter. Whatever it was “meant for”, it’s going to sell millions of dollars worth of hideous shit off a genuinely oppositional story and that is what pisses me off.

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I understand that disappointment is the result of unmet expectations. As such, when I’m disappointed I like to re-examine my expectations to make sure they were realistic in the first place. That way, I can avoid similar disappointment in the future. Sometimes I expect too much of people, but sometimes people just aren’t cool at all. As my good friend Kristina put it; “Fuck me once, shame on me. Fuck me twice… oh wait.”
Nevermind. I’ll leave it at that.

The headaches I had anticipated having from my new contacts were actually worse than I had anticipated; I wore them from 2pm to about 8pm before they became unbearable and I had to take them out. The optician guy did warn that I should ease into it. It sure is exciting to see without glasses; I was reading every sign on the bus like a first-grader who just learned how to read.

In a superhuman effort to not be in a bad mood today, I share this video. It’s impossible to be bummed when raccoons are so awesome.

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“womanhood” – mini-rant

We don’t get cable at my house, but we do get a few channels off the antennae; most of which are french. As such, I’m often watching something I don’t really want to watch. Today, for example, I sat down to my mac-and-cheese lunch (eaten out of the pot, of course) and watched that bitch* Martha Stewart cook something amazing in under twenty minutes.

After Martha Stewart, there was this new talk show called Steven and Chris. Steven and Chris are very obviously gay, and their show (which I’ve seen a couple of times before) centers on classic stereotypical gay/female topics such as interior decorating, hot new fashion trends (gag) and fitness.

Today, they were discussing the findings of a recent survey where women were asked what they would do to lose weight. Some reported that they would shave their head to lose 15 lbs, and others would go so far as to spend a week in jail. Still others would be willing to have a 6th toe or lose ten years off their life. These findings are repugnant, but it’s not what this rant is about. This rant is about how Steven and Chris talked emphatically about these findings and discussed where they fit in with the findings as if they were women.

Straight women and gay men share two things: sexual attraction to men, and (only in some cases) identification with traditionally feminine gendered stereotypes. That being said, being sexually attracted to men and identifying with traditionally feminine stereotypes A WOMAN DOES NOT MAKE. I’m not trying to lynch these guys for their gender identification, or the fact that they are successfully hosting a show aimed at a predominantly straight female demographic. I’m more irked at how I’m seeing womanhood conceptualized lately.

Recently, someone close to me revealed that they were seriously considering getting breast implants. She had lost most of her breast size due to having children. When I expressed my concern as gently and un-judgmentally I could, she confessed that she didn’t “feel like a woman” any longer… despite the fact that she has kids! To me, the ability to give birth is among the most fundamental aspects of womanhood! Not to say those who are unable/unwilling to procreate are not true women. I count myself among this group. The point is that if woman is defined in opposition to man (which is almost always is), that’s the biological difference. That’s it. I’d much rather see womanhood reduced to biological difference than sexual orientation toward men, or obsession with losing weight.

*- I love Martha. She’s still a bitch.

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DISCLAIMER: I’m very sick and couldn’t get rid of my shifts today and tomorrow; CRANKY.

Hear ye. “Stationary” is not the same as “note cards”. One is lined paper for letter-writing. The other is folded cardboard. Where on earth can I find some frigging STATIONARY?!

(Before any Ottawans suggest that I try The Papery, Paper Papier, or any of the art stores on Bank St – I have. Not only have I tried there without success, but I got some of the worst service EVER. Walking into the Papery and Papier Paper alike, I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman; as though this girl with headphones and a nosering or whatever has NO BUSINESS buying paper. Is my appearance really so offensive? Am I supposed to dress up nice to look fruitlessly for decent stationary? Why didn’t they have decent stationary?!?)

Even Etsy.com let me down. Searches for stationary yields notecards. Note to some entrepreneur; there is a market for lined paper. Make it happen!

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Knitting books – a rant

I collect knitting books. By knitting books, I mean books containing patterns; for technique, I have the Stitch n Bitch series by my hero Debbie Stoller as well as Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I collect them for purposes of inspiration as well as actually making the projects from the book. I was happy to get a gift certificate for Chapters for xmas; I couldn’t wait to scour the store for a new book of fun and exciting knitting projects. After spending about 45 minutes perusing the tiny section I wound up leaving, frustrated and empty-handed. Why? Read on…

First of all, I don’t like it when knitting patterns give the brand of the yarn used and that’s it. Stitch N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker was the first knitting pattern book I’ve ever seen to include the yarn’s weight number as well as the yarn actually used in the pattern. This is tremendously useful when you’re substituting, and since most of my knitting books are American and use yarn available only in the US, I have to substitute. When the patterns don’t give the general yarn weight information, I have to look the yarn up online and hope to find the info on it. I don’t think I should have to do that.

My second and more serious gripe was brought to my attention by a certain Maggie Righetti, author of Knitting in Plain English. In her famously funny and no-nonsense style, Righetti drew my attention to a problem with the photos of the projects in contemporary knitting pattern books. She stresses that if you’re going to invest X amount of dollars on yarn and XY hours of your precious time working on a project, you need to be really sure that you want what you’re making. The only info you have toward that is the photo. However, Righetti points out that often, the photos are taken by professional photographers, NOT knitters. As such, their job is to make the photo look good. This might mean putting the model in a really stupid pose where you can’t really see the construction of the garment, or even pinning the garment if it doesn’t fall right!

Having read Righetti’s warning against evil pro-photos, I took a critical eye to some of my favorite knitting pattern books. Lo and behold, I found some serious transgressions. One violator was Pretty in Punk by Alyce Benevides and Jacqueline Milles. The photos are beautiful, which is likely what attracted me to the book in the first place. Unfortunately, beautiful photos and useful informative photos are not always the same thing; in the photo for the “nautical vest”, the adorable model is making a navy salute. Cute, to be sure, but her pose obscures the fit of the garment. Also, the pattern makes mention of adding an anchor to the vest, but it’s nowhere to be seen.

Another reprehensible example nearly broke my heart; Stich N Bitch Nation by my precious Debbie Stoller! There’s a turquoise sweater the wraps around, kimono-style and ties shut just below the bust. I was looking at it one day and wondered if the loose-edged panel at the bottom tends to flap open. Sure enough, on close inspection I saw that the garment was pinned shut at the bottom. I can only imagine the rage of some ambitious knitter who slaves over that sweater just to have it look nothing like the well-fitting sweater in the photo!

This isn’t to say that a beautiful photo can’t be a functional one, and vice-versa. An excellent example of good, functional photos is Jennifer Stafford’s Domiknitrix book. The patterns in that book are pretty challenging, and I have to read over a given pattern several times before I could really make sense of the construction (she uses a lot of angular shaping and short-rows to create very shapely garments, which I love). She gets props because as complex as her patterns are, the photos are straightforward and she even includes thumbnails of certain details of the project throughout the pattern. Bravo, Miss Stafford!

I’m not sure how much control designers have over the photography of their garments, so I direct my complaints to the blogosphere rather than the authors of the offending books. My intention is not to bash either of these books, or even to give them a negative review. I’ve made several successful patterns from both these books, and other books with even worse photos (I saw one in Chapters yesterday that didn’t even have photos; it had hand-drawn illustrations!). My words are meant as an extension of Righetti’s warning to knitters; beware the lovely, glossy photos!

Take advantage of online forums like craftster.org and ravelry.com where you can search for projects and contact other people who have made them. Ask them questions, and be patient and grateful for replies. I find these knitters to be almost as valuable resources for pattern information than the pattern itself!

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Really pissed off

I didn’t always loathe Mazim magazine they way I do now. I used to ignore the pictures of airbrushed, plastic hookers and enjoy the frank attitude of the articles and reviews.

Then one day the photos started to really bug me. Eventually I came to believe that these magazines that feature these fake women as ideals are not just annoying, they’re harmful. They are doing voilence to women in 2 ways;

  1. Perpetuating an impossible beauty ideal hurts women physically and emotionally. Because of the sheer impossibility of these bodies, even very beautiful girls feel a pang of inadequacy. How can one be expected to feel good about herself if she can’t airbrush away her so-called imperfections?
  2. Not only are women subconsciously comparing themselves to these fucking cartoons, so are men. And who can begrudge them looking for perfect dolls when these magazines insist that they’re out there? They’re not. They exist in photo editing software.

My distaste for the magazine has currently come to an all-time high; http://www.maxim.com/Entertainment/5Britneyspears/slideshow/7318/435.aspx

They’ve gone to the next level; rather than just promoting fake women, they’re bashing real ones. Score 1 for patriarchy! The disgraceful list of the “5 most un-sexiest women alive” is comprised of Britney Spears, Madonna, Sandra Oh, Amy Winehouse and Sarah Jessica Parker at the top.

How surprising that they target five women who subvert the androcentric mold of how women should look/behave. Madonna- too old. Women are no longer sexy after 30, right? Britney Spears- five years ago you were jizzing all over her, and now she’s crap? Admittedly, she’s in pretty poor shape these days, but she’s only fucked up because her sense of self-worth was hypersexualized since she was 16 years old. Giver her a fucking break, please. Drugs and tattoos are cool if you’re a male rocker like Tommy Lee, but not for women like Amy Winehouse. And Sandra Oh’s presence on the list is blatant racism. We Westerners like our Asians skanky and submissive, not educated and assertive. Fook-yu!

When interviewed about the matter, Sarah Jessica Parker shrugged it off. She is quoted as saying “I believe in the old ‘sticks and stones’ philosophy, so frankly their words don’t come close to hurting. I don’t think I am (sexy) either.” Undaunted, Maxim continues to kick her while she’s down, making fun of her dismissal of the magazine, citing that she took it in “gallop—er, stride” http://www.maximonline.com/SarahJessicaParkerHasSenseofHumorStillGroadie/articles/9396.aspx

I am literally enraged by this. I wish I could do more than simply boycott the magazine. Sending an angry letter to the editor would undoubtedly submit myself to allegations of being a fat, ugly, man-hating dyke-feminist. So what can I do? I write this rant to let out some steam.

Next time I buy Maxim magazine, it will be because the store was out of toilet paper.

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