January 2019 Recap

Ahem Ahem!

One of the new things I started at the beginning of 2018 is a month-end recap, a sort of newsletter light. Now I’ve completed the cycle with the first recap for 2019. Yay! 🙂

Speaking of cycles, tax time is rolling around again. I’ve been bogged down with tax prep more than usual at this time of the year.

2018 Jan Tax Work

Unfortunately, Etsy changed the way they bill and pay their sellers at the end of last year. The new system has had some glitches which have increased my bookkeeping workload significantly. I can’t wait to be done with the 2018 number crunching and get onto the tax forms themselves because it’ll feel so much easier – something I never, ever, thought I’d say!

Just past mid-January there was a snowstorm, the first snowfall for the year. Then a front of warm weather with rain pushed through and melted almost all of the snow. It was very pretty for all of four days!

One night right after the snow, we had someone scamper across our yard.

Tracks on Snow from Above

There’s a funny gap in the tracks (in the middle of the photo), though, which makes me wonder whether it might be a sign of a fox jumping to try and catch a critter under the snow. Like in the gif below (but probably much less showy).

Giphy BBC Earth Fox Jump

BBC Earth, via Giphy.

I had a small but very satisfying reading pile this month:

Library Reading Pile Jan 2019

From left to right, How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? by my favorite living author Nora Jemisin, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and Michelle Obama’s autobiography Becoming. I also read Ariah by R.B. Sanders and Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang. I’m looking forward to the last two Murderbot novellas, too, which I got as Christmas present. Yay, so many great reads!

On the screen, Husband and I were introduced to the tv series Modern Family by a friend. It’s a mocumentary of three generations of a Californian family. We’re bingeing through the seasons and have gotten up to seven, and are still enjoying it.

My goodness, I never would’ve thought that I’d find a mainstream (i.e., non-genre) family drama interesting, but I do. 🙂 Shows you what production values can do – specificially in this case, attention to quality character-writing and episode structure.

Now that I’ve written a full year’s worth of recap posts, it’s time to reassess. Even though it felt difficult at times, I certainly learned a lot and found that I do like an end-of-the-month look back.

I’m inclined to continue these newsletters, but I might dink around with the topics or proportions. Would you like to read more about something or maybe less about something else? Please let me know!

Awesome Mashup: Pantherpuff Girls

Design & Designers, Movies & TV, Stunt Double

PrimePremne designed an incredible mashup of Powerpuff Girls and women from Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther movie. See for yourself:

Ript Apparel PrimePremne Pantherpuff Girls

PrimePremne via Ript Apparel.

Available from Ript Apparel. Found via Graphic Policy on Twitter.

I’m in transit (hopefully without a hitch) much of today; hope this scheduled awesome cheered up your day.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Discoveries: Frock Flicks

Arts & Crafts, Design & Designers, Fabrics & Materials, Movies & TV

As a dabbler in historical wear and as a Jane Austen fan, I’m excited share with you a delightful, new-to-me resource: Frock Flicks. It’s a blog and podcast venue that critiques movies and tv shows with historical settings primarily from the costume point of view.

Frock Flicks Header

Frock Flicks.

From their About page:

“Tune in to our podcasts where we rip into Hollywood’s attempt at historical costuming and talk about exactly why they’re not accurate to the eras. But we’re not just dissers — we’ll also look at costume movies we love and tell you why they’re fabulous, beautiful, fascinating films.”

You can read blog style, from newest to oldest, but you can also browse the various thematic categories. Erawise, the Ancient and Medieval categories deal with earlier garb styles, and from the 15th they proceed to 20th by century; there’s also a category for scifi and fantasy.

So far I’ve only browsed a little, but I especially enjoyed their series of posts from this fall celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries (check out the posts: first, second, third, fourth and fifth).

This is so going to become a staple in my Internet diet!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Doctor Who Theme on Piano with Cosplay

Geek out!, Movies & TV, Stunt Double

Composer and pianist Sonya Belousova and director Tom Grey staged a version of the Doctor Who theme with cosplay:

Sonya not only steps out of the Tardis, we see her play a Tardis-blue grand piano in a multitide of Doctor outfits in just over two minutes. Neat!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Geeky Room Re-Do: Daenerys’s Reception Tent

Geek out!, Moodboards, Movies & TV, Stunt Double

Just about every set in Game of Thrones is meticulously designed and gorgeous. One of my favorite spaces is the tent that Daenerys uses as a reception room at the gates of the slaver city Yunkai. My description below is based on season 3, episode 7, The Bear and the Maiden Fair.

GoT Daenerys Tent Dais Seas3 Ep7

Game of Thrones, season 3, episode 7. HBO.

 

The tent is an elegant combination of simplicity and luxury. Basics like removable wall panels – it is a tent, after all – get elevated by fabulously rich accents and details. Woven surfaces of grasses, reeds or the like repeat throughout the space.

Plain panels reminiscent of bamboo shades screen the tent from both sun and stray looks, and turn the tent into a more room-like space. At the head of the room, there is a wood dais. On the floor, there is a large, undyed grass rug with a stripes-and-diamond pattern made with naturally darker materials.

The real show-stopper is the furniture: Daenerys’s upholstered sofa with lavish textiles and carved end tables on the dais, and a table and visitor’s chair off to one side. There is also a wooden chest of drawers on the opposite side, which can be seen briefly during the episode. An elaborate decorative element hangs behind Daenerys, leading the eye to her and framing her head almost like a halo.

Game of Thrones, season 3, episode 7. HBO.

Game of Thrones, season 3, episode 7. HBO.

I started my room re-do with imagining a sofa set against a window with bamboo shades to imitate the tent. The bottom edge of Daenerys’s sofa looks like leather that reaches all the way to the floor. Based on that, I went with an armless but chunky chestnut-colored leather sofa. Unlike Dany’s, the end tables in my re-do are not gilt and there’s and extra shelf on the bottom, but the general shape is similar enough. To disguide the oh-so-very-not-Westeros-or-Essos glass surface, I chose round 23” brass trays to top the end tables. An ornate mirror (sometimes called a peacock mirror) stands in for the decorative element behind Daenerys.

Other than the leather sofa and wooden end tables, it was quite difficult to match materials. I chose therefore to try and find the best pattern match I could. For instance, the rug I found is made of wool instead of reeds, and I selected a fleece blanket to drape over the sofa in my re-do.

GoT Dany Tent Re-Do Collage

  1. Arrow orange body pillow cover, 20” x 54”, Vintagechicdecor on Etsy, $50
  2. Orange sunset ikat diamond pattern fleece blanket, 50” x 60”, by JKLDesigns, Zazzle, $59. This print is missing the olive green on Dany’s sofa, but otherwise it’s close.
  3. Vintage Beni Ourain style rug, BoutiqueMaroc on Etsy, $1,211. Not a bad resemblance.
  4. Kasbah large brass trays, Jayson Home, $72 / ea.
  5. Vintage Turkish kilim body pillow, 35” x 16”, Sukan on Etsy, $290. Olive green and orange!
  6. Churchill end tables, Standard Furniture, $300 / ea. No gilding, but the concave leg shape and volute ornamentation are close.
  7. Gold velvet bolster, 13” x 36”, Monsoon Craft, $56
  8. Tuscan bamboo Roman shade, 74” long, Overstock, $29-$59
  9. Golden medallions mirror, Pier1, $100. Almost an exact match!
  10. Belgian Classic Shelter Arm armless sofa in chestnut leather, Restoration Hardware, $2,745-$4,495
  11. Large metal fruit bowl, RawRevivals on Etsy, $31
  12. Vintage copper pedestal compote bowl, Rebekahsretro on Etsy, $9
  13. Oversized pillow-bolster in veranda red, 6” x 48”, Swings ‘n Things, $60
  14. Nuno felted neck roll pillow, 6” x 13”, by AlfalfaHill on Etsy, $118

That was fun. 🙂 What would you change or replace?

Reading Numbers for 2014, with Musings

Books & Mags, My Spaces

Last year, spurred on by the hashtag #readwomen2014, I made an effort to read more books written by women. In the beginning of the year, I compared my previous years’ reading lists to get a rough idea how many male vs. female authors I tend to read.

Here are my complete reading statistics to date:

  • 2007: male 30, female 16 (out of 46 books total, 46 authors total)
  • 2008: male 25, female 18 (out of 43 books total, 43 authors total)
  • 2009: male 25, female 17 (out of 42 books total, 42 authors total)
  • 2010: male 24, female 22 (out of 42 books total, 46 authors total)
  • 2011: male 27, female 18 (out of 41 books total, 45 authors total)
  • 2012: male 35, female 17 (out of 43 books total, 52 authors total)
  • 2013: male 18, female 9 (out of 27 books total, 27 authors total)
  • 2014: male 24, female 45 (out of 60 books total, 70 authors total)

I’ve counted every author/editor once, so a book co-authored by two men and a woman gave two male authors and one female one for my tally; that’s why the number of books may be smaller than the number of authors totaled. Most of my reading is speculative fiction of some sort – fantasy and scifi – but not all of it. I include graphic novels, and count both authors and artists (if different) as authors for the purposes of this list. In addition, these numbers do include a few books without identifiable authors. They were omitted from the gender count but included in the book count.

In 2014, instead of hovering between a third to a half, the percentage of books by women in my reading menu went to two thirds, roughly speaking. This was a welcome find, since I didn’t count any totals during the year. It was also deeply satisfying to note that I recovered from the 2013 slump (of only 27 books the whole year) and read a whopping 60 books. At least, 60 is whopping for me. 🙂

Apart from the not exactly surprising find of “more attention works”, I noticed a definite change in my perspective. For years, stories with only white male protagonists (or with only one woman / black / Asian / your-variety-of-exotic-other character) have seemed imbalanced to me, but I didn’t think about it any further. The tokenization stuck out like a sore thumb, of course, but I basically chose to ignore it. It was what it was.

Now, however, I’ve gotten tired of living with less than a fully operational hand, to extend the metaphor. I want to see more people like me, or at the very least, someone I can relate to or empathize with in a story that speaks to me – in other words, I want writing I’m interested in with characters that I find fascinating by people whose perspective and skill I appreciate. As Michi Trota writes for the Uncanny Magazine:

“We’re often drawn to stories, characters, and people because we find something in common with them, but empathy and connection aren’t reliant on a single, narrow axis of sameness. … I love characters and stories not just because they involve someone like me, but because they take what seems familiar and expand it beyond mere reflection, revealing depths and complexities outside my own perceptions.”

Narratives revolving around white men are fine when they are a part of a wider selection, but having no other choice than narratives revolving around white men just does not cut it for me anymore, certainly not in the speculative genre.

Fortunately, it’s getting much easier to find a broader variety of not only protagonists / point-of-view characters, but of writers with different backgrounds. After reading (and watching, because this also applies to my movie / tv choices) a more heterogeneous range of POV characters, worlds without that variety simply feel lacking. You could even say that, having taken steps to mend the poor sore digit, it’s such a delight to have a fully-functioning hand, thumb and all.

Here’s a gratuitous photo of my first 2015 reading pile:

Reading Pile Jan 2015

A 50-50 split between male vs. female authors. Nice start for the year.

 

Discoveries: 8-bit Art by Adam Lister

Arts & Crafts, Design & Designers, Geek out!, Movies & TV

Artist Adam Lister creates geometric, pixelated versions of popular characters and paintings, geeky or mainstream. His approach has been described variously as urban, vintage and cubist. Whatever your preferred descriptor might be, Lister’s watercolors surely epitomize an inventive and inquisitive mind. Just some of his work that I like most include an 8-bit version of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night…

Adam_Lister_the_starry_night

Adam Lister.

… The Iron Man…

Adam_Lister_ironman

Adam Lister.

… and The Godfather

Adam_Lister_The_Godfather_sg

Adam Lister.

Simply brilliant! More at Adam Lister Gallery page.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

What the Smegging Smeg?

Geek out!, Movies & TV

Every now and then I come across an image of a kitchen with a Smeg fridge:

Smeg FAB5URR

Smeg USA.

Is it just me, or does anyone else have this immediate reaction?

What the Smegging Smeg

Referring, of course, to the one, the only Red Dwarf.

Red Dwarf 1600x1200Cockpit

Red Dwarf Official website.

In all seriousness, it has to be challenging to invent a vocabulary for your imaginary world (or name a product line) when humanity has never before published as much or as internationally as we do nowadays. The chance of constructing something odd or offputting in some language or subculture has gone way up, and that’s not even taking into account semantic change. Just consider this tweet by Mary Robinette Kowal on researching historically appropriate vocabulary for her Glamourist Histories series:

On the other hand, that’s the delight of living languages – they keep evolving. We wouldn’t be here if they didn’t.

❤ languages! 🙂

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a funny thing.

Geeky Room Re-Do: Maester Pycelle’s Entryway

Geek out!, Moodboards, Movies & TV, Stunt Double

While I may have some qualms about the adaptation of The Song of Ice and Fire cycle for the screen, there’s no doubt that the production values are amazing. I am in awe of the costuming, lighting and set decorating departments especially. They do such gorgeous work!

Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, here’s a room re-do from season 1 of Game of Thrones: the entryway into Maester Pycelle’s room in King’s Landing.

GoT Maester Pycelle Entry Seas1 Ep10

Game of Thrones, Season 1, episode 10. HBO.

This corner of the room is seen in episode 10, and it’s where Maester Pycelle dons his official-old-dude posture. In the screencap above, the door is at the left, behind Pycelle’s back. There’s a wooden char in the lower right-hand corner and a mirror on the wall. The shelves are filled with small chests or boxes, jars, some candles, herbs in vases and other doodads.

Finding a chair similar enough was a challenge, just like the furniture in my Eddard Stark office re-do. You might find a replica by searching for x-frame (or x-form) chair, Dante chair, Savonarola chair or scissors chair. It’s much easier to find modern bookcases resembling Pycelle’s shelves, though, and I found an exact match for the mirror. Chests, wooden boxes, old bottles and vases are probably easiest to find in thrift and antique stores, but I’ve listed some online options below.

GoT Pycelle Entryway Re-do Collage

  1. The Edge Mirror, Kirkland’s, $140. Exact match!
  2. An ‘X’ Frame Moorish style chair from Spain, 19th Century, Bonhams
  3. Verona six-shelf bookcase, Cost Plus World Market, $175
  4. Antique Style Wooden Small Trunk, Wayfair, $34
  5. Pirate Treasure Chest, Wayfair, $50
  6. Vintage Polish Hand Carved Box, Ebay, $18
  7. Vintage handcarved wooden box, DragonflysVault on Etsy, $9
  8. Wood Fired Bottle, MBrownCeramics on Etsy, $25
  9. Wall paint: Behr Premium Plus Ultra Cathedral. There are also several other muted teals you could pick from.
  10. Antique Bottle With Handle, WeeLilGlassie on Etsy, $13 for two
  11. Venetian Rib Candle, Target Australia, $5
  12. Vintage Pilgrim Crackle Glass Vase, JaysRoom on Etsy, $18
  13. Light Green Vintage Glass Bottle, willandbequeath on Etsy, approx. $17

(Herb image: Stylish Spoon.)

Anything you’d add or remove?

12th Doctor Trailer & Fan-Composed Theme

Geek out!

Something Doctor-ish must be in the air this week! First, BBC released the Doctor Who series 8 official full length trailer last Sunday.

Not only that, I ran into this fabulous fan composition: Who Am I? (12th Doctor’s theme by James Jarvis).

It went straight into my geeky playlist! One of the comments called the theme “dark yet mysterious.” I’d add that it has potential for contemplation or reflection, even melancholy. Even though we still don’t know much about this incarnation of the Doctor, it sounds like reflection of the past is the theme (or one of the themes) for season 8. The official trailer gives some clues (at approx. 0:25-0:35) when the Doctor says:

Doctor: I’ve lived for over 2,000 years. I’ve made many mistakes. It’s about time I did something about that.

And later, on the Tardis steps (at approx. 0:45-0:55), there is this exchange between Doctor and Clara:

Doctor: Clara, tell me: am I a good man?
Clara: I… don’t know.

Jenna Coleman’s hesitant delivery of Clara’s line is brilliant, as are Peter Capaldi’s pensive facial expressions picked for the trailer. James Jarvis’s composition captures the attitude of the trailer very well – try playing the trailer without sound with Jarvis’s theme in the background.

Can’t wait for season 8!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.