Rejiquar Works 2018-01-21T10:37:03-05:00 copyright 2018 Sylvus Tarn Sylvus Tarn 2018-01-03T00:00:00-05:00 insomnia, a short film about dreaming of sleeping. 03jan2018

cropI'm really trying to be more upbeat, here. —I keep this lists of links to slot into the intros, and suppose I chose this one about insomnia because it's getting late (as I write this) & I'm getting tired; one commenter over at BB ‘wouldn't wish it (insomnia) on anyone’ (nor would I, though I suffer it only sporadically, usually when I'm ‘excited’ (a sort of low-grade, subclinical mania, perhaps?); another says people often dream of being awake. That's also happened to me.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing I ever read was that people, on average, wake up 10x every night. My spouse has repeated reported my falling asleep, and I know, if there's any break whatsoever in my train of thought, it means I slipped into sleep. I gather insomnia has something-something to do with melanin production (also the reason for the hamster-wheel of things to do, which never seem as clear cut or vital in the morning), and there have indeed been times when I've lain awake for hours. —It's easier to ignore in the winter, when there's more darkness to sleep in, and when mid-day light is still relatively pretty; in the warm months I especially hate sleeping through the early light, which is most beautiful.

But for now, it's winter, with cold, snow and sleep. And here's a 15 (plus?) year old stocking to celebrate.

2018-01-02T00:00:00-05:00 Star Wars and toxic masculinity. 02jan2018

cropMuch has been made of the differing approaches of men and women in the latest Star Wars film (including yours truly) but this video essay (via the Mary Sue) lays out a convincing case that not even the underlying philosophy of the original (six) films, as embodied by the Jedi, fails to avoid our cultural toxic masculinity —toxic, because it fails to give men a way to be both manly and emotional (especially if those emotions are sadness, grief, or loneliness).

While I get that sometimes intuition and flow can take people (me, frex) to wonderful places, both are almost always built on hours and hours of practice and picking away, step by step, at problems. I'm not one of those who ‘gets it on the first try’; so ‘trust your intuition & trust in the Force hope for the best’ always annoyed me.

Feminists have been arguing for awhile now that emotions—feelings—are vitally important to being human, no this guy's arguments are not exactly new (he cites bell hooks, frex.) But I think it's helpful to have this stuff laid out neatly; and it certainly helps to explain why some of the fans have been doing their best to diss this current film.

And hey, I have the perfect stocking to go with this topic!

2018-01-01T00:00:00-05:00 Happy new year! 01jan2018

crop“Christmas” ends for me on Epiphany, which means I have another six five days to feature stocking and the like. (Yes, I'm very fortunate to be able to skip out on 90% or more of the pre-holiday xmas frenzy, and for the past few years have relied heavily upon the efforts of the f2 generation to get into the season at all.)

f2tE has been helping me tidy up my life, which includes posting some of the old stuff that's been sitting around—this dates back from the end of 2016, which makes it only about a year old, pretty good for me:)

Wishing you a fantastic 2018.

2017-12-21T00:00:00-05:00 The latest Star Wars movie... 21dec2017

cropWishing you a beautiful Winter Solstice. For many years I'd get up to watch the sunrise, but it's been universally cloudy and this year looks to be no different. Apologies for no posting yesterday and likely none tomorrow, but I'm on the home stretch for holiday preparations and still have a lot of gifts to make/assemble/wrap (& photograph, of course, to feed the maw that is this website...)

Our local theatre has half-price Wednesday, and I wanted to see The Last Jedi before it became hopelessly spoilered for me. Of the latest batch of films, this one is my favourite, for several reasons that I hope won't be too spoilery—

Though if you're worried, I'll try and hide all that behind the cut, and will say that I think Scalzi's non-spoilerish review is a good summary; I found some rather more specific comments which led to some other reviews with which I also mostly agreed.

I liked that it was inclusive, I liked that it was feminist, and I liked that its heroes—while they had great successes—also had resounding failures. There's one chunk of the film that I gather a lot of people didn't like “because it distracted from the main storyline(s) and didn't move the plot forward” —but that was one of my favourite sections, and, for me, ultimately the heart of the film. Mebbe if I hadn't had to close my eyes during the many battle sequences, it wouldn't’ve meant so much. Mebbe if Marcus over sdterr wasn't pounding away on our nation's behaviour or mebbe if someone, attempting to defend their support of Trump, hadn't just said to me, I wish he wouldn't say those things, but our taxes are gonna go down, and well, my 401K is doing fantastic...

Perhaps it wouldn't have resonated. I s'pose Abrams will retcon it back again, but for now, those are the bits that connected, along with General Organa's beleagured efforts to save the resistance. We know—because Disney is all about making entertaining films that extract the maximum amount of $ from its audiences—that the Resistance will eventually prevail. (With lots of cute stuffies along the way:) But looking at the GOP tax bill, net neutracide and the like, I'm not so certain my society will.

But in the meantime, I do have a pretty little necklace. Enjoy.

2017-12-19T00:00:00-05:00 Chelsea Manning. 19dec2017

cropYet another post scheduled for 2feb16, that never went live, so I'm sticking it in now that we're into December:) —Chelsea Manning is one of the bravest persons I know (of). A podcast that speaks more to her personal experience as a trans woman than particularly her politics is still available; I'm so happy that, in the interval, she's been freed.

I get that many people feel she's a traitor. Well, of course, all our Founding Fathers were traitors, so far as King George III was concerned; and frankly, given the awful lack of transparency our government—even at its most liberal—displays, I don't think there are really any better options than the admittedly imperfect, yet I believe sincere, efforts of people like Chelsea Manning & Edward Snowdon.

Oh, and I have a sort of ‘fill-in’ stocking in case an extra is needed.

2017-12-18T00:00:00-05:00 Making do with less, photography version. 18dec2017

cropThis was supposed to go up at the beginning of February, in 2016, but for some reason—perhaps its being so out of season—I never finished it. However, I was delighted to discover the link—making do with less, photographically—that I chose to go with this intro is still perfectly good..

Really, it's amazing what you can do with a cell-phone camera and a piece of white paper.

Or you can check out this stocking featuring water in its varied forms.

2017-12-15T00:00:00-05:00 Some observations on Tillie Walden's _Spinning_. 15dec2017

cropI saw a recce for Tillie Walden's Spinning on some top ten list or other, but didn't get around to reading it until it was pressed enthusiastically into my hands by S, who very much wanted to know my reaction to it. —Briefly, I think it's absolutely brilliant; I was particularly impressed by the author's story structure, especially as she finished this book—and it's over 300 pp. long—before she was even old enough legally drink.

Walden's memoir of her twelve years of skating is divided into chapters, each headed with the name of a skating move (e.g. lutz), a drawing of her doing (or failing to do) it, and her often wry description: these serve not only to provide a brief respite to the often emotionally laden storyline with interesting technical info, but also to telegraph shifts in tone.

Drawn in a simple, linear style, the creator relies upon large blocks of custom colour, dull blue-violet or pale yellow to convey the early mornings, the dark, the cold of the skating rink, as well as her shifting emotional timbre. She started out, she noted in her afterword, to expose the glittering (& tawdry) world of figure skating, but ended up dissecting her own relationship to it—her feelings—far more.

One of the reasons this book works so well is that, like her spare line drawings, Walden doesn't feel the need to explicate every event, or experience, or even feeling: she trusts the reader as her partner to fill in the blanks, and I believe this is why this comic works so well.

So much for the review.

But that's not actually what I wanted to write about, though what follows could be spoilerific (though as I said, the book is more about creating a mood than dramatic reveals, so ‘spoilers’ as such may not matter.) —I think the idea of this story fascinated my friend because although the author knew from a very young age she was gay, and accepted that she was gay, it took her a long time to figure out how to relate that to the larger world (not helped, I am sure, by living in Texas, though skating culture everywhere evidently has an exaggerated—and extremely strict—femininity that doesn't have much room for people who don't fit into that mold (which would include lesbians, let alone trans women, which my friend is.)

So I'm guessing the idea of this book resonates with my friend because of similar issues of trying to fit into a society that is still adjusting to all these “new” forms of gender presentation.

While I certainly emphasized with Walden's detestation of hair-in-a-bun, heavy makeup, tiny skirts & nylons (de rigueur for both figure & synchronized competitive skating), all of which I find so antithetical to my personal style that for many years I just assumed women that who adopted that presentation more or less felt compelled by societal pressure, not any internal desire (aided, to be sure, by the second wave's similar suspicion of very femme dress), what really interested me even more was the inspiration that sent her down the skating path.

Walden started skating very young, and instantly, vividly and completely bonded with her first skating teacher, basking in the warmth of touch and acceptance, to the point of persisting through screaming coaches, 4am alarms for practice and a life dominated by a sport she no longer wanted to pursue by the time she'd completed middle school. Besides not quite knowing how to quit, I suspect also that the precision of the ‘figures’ appealed to the obsessive part of her personality, just as winning satisfied the ambitious bits (I think you have to be relatively ambitious to perform as she did, let alone publish a complete graphic novel by 21.)

I had, for many years, somehow thought not that I was a better artist than some of my less assured friends, but that I had greater conviction; well, looking back, I don't think that's nearly as much to do with personal strength of feeling as luck: I had the same art teacher for 1st and 2nd grade, and I was bitterly disappointed when I returned to find her gone in third. (Back in those days, teachers could still hug their students, and like young Tillie, I have a vivid memory of the young[er] black male teacher comforting a little girl distressed by the departure of her old white lady teacher. Those grade school art teachers—without me consciously realizing it at the time (along with, to be sure, supportive parents)—cemented in me the idea that ‘artist’ was my identity. I am immensely grateful for this gift.

Skater did not ultimately prove to be Walden's identity, but as with all arts, it reflected who she was at the time. Art is about getting a message across to your audience, yes, but they cannot help seeing you, too.

Oh, um. Welp, that was long. Here's a handy link to today's post, about art, or at least xmasy crafts, (2 members of) our guild is doing, aka santa swap. Enjoy.

2017-12-14T00:00:00-05:00 Working on those CiM sample strands... 14dec2017

cropHi all. CiM's standard palette hasn't actually changed all that much from the sample strand I made in 2011, and updated in 2012; I pretty much have all the current colours made up. However, I would like to edit down my notes from lines and lines of ‘made thus-and-so colour’ to actual comments about the glass. Moreover, I managed to make up the ltd run sample pack & document that (i.e. photograph the beads & rods with stock numbers) so now the beads just need to be cleaned & possibly strung up.

All that's coming (along with some samples from Riley dichroic that I still need to make up:) but in the meantime we're back to giftwrapping, which after all was what I originally had scheduled for this week. Enjoy.

2017-12-13T00:00:00-05:00 notes on some 2012 Creation is Messy samples. 13dec2017

cropHey, about a break from all that giftwrapping for some other old and out of date material? The thing is, I won a sample set of colours from Creation is Messy, and though it will be awhile before I test them, I thought I could at least dig out some older samples, such as this one from 2012.

If that doesn't float your boat, how about a link to this gorgeous pic of grand central station? Bonus shots of the hoover assorted dams, the great public works projects of their day, I guess.

2017-12-12T00:00:00-05:00 Cutaway maps of London. 12dec2017

cropThe intros have been kinda heavy lately, to the point where even I don't wanna look at ’em. So here's a cool link to a bunch of cool vintage cutaway maps of London.

Or you can check out the latest in the giftwrap series.

2017-12-11T00:00:00-05:00 Economics, Harry Potter and, um, fan theories. 11dec2017

cropBack when I was a sweet cranky rude young thing, I tended to finish books, because it just seemed proper to do, to not give up in the middle. I'm much less patient now, even with good stuff. So mebbe I'll finish this 80pp paper of potterian economics and mebbe I won't; but having plowed through roughly 25% of it, my opinion hasn't changed markedly from the first page (and, I suspect won't if I do finish) because it can basically be summed up as:

Dude. This is all very well, and I love me some meaty footnotes, but, yanno, fanficcers figured out all this stuff a decade ago. Really. Cuz I was incorporating their observations into my fics in 2008.

That is, though it has a lot more cites and lots more jargon, the author's thesis, so far as I can tell is that

  1. People are influenced by pop-culture depictions/models of economics
  2. Most fiction writers have only a lay knowledge of economics
  3. The potterian universe has all sorts of economic inconsistencies.

Yeah, we know. Fiction is not just about entertaining people, it's about getting into their heads—who knew? (Le sigh.) I still remember someone thoroughly documenting the problems with exchange rates between UK and wizarding money; with the fact that Harry's aunt and uncle would've been receiving a quite generous allowance for him (never mentioned); that the government is inefficient, ineffective and corrupt; that the fact that wizarding kind's magical abilities drastically reduced their cost of living; etc. My own HP fanfic built on these observations, which is why, when urged by a fellow writer to move to original fic, I chose the 1950s as my time period because like the potterverse which inspired them, they were fun and happy on the outside, and problematic once you started digging.

Not to mention the, er, problems with the greasy, hook-nosed goblins and the happy slaves house-elves.

But the authors of this paper aren't aware of those earlier, just-as-serious but non academic essays. To be fair, they were posted on a heterogeneous assortment of blogs, personal websites, livejournals and the like; I'd be hard-pressed to find them today (though I'd probably start with red hen and the Harry Potter Lexicon—both of which are still online.)

Moreover, like a lot of kidlit, the Potterian (adult) world has to have some major problems, because otherwise, the stresses, let alone criminal dangers to which Harry and the other children are exposed (& which drive the plot & make the books fun) wouldn't otherwise be tolerated. But I expect economists, mostly not being fantasy authors, are not as aware of this convention. Even so, there's any amount of thoughtful fanfic that addresses how far ahead the muggle world is not only terms of tech, but social systems as well.

It's not that I don't appreciate rigorous academic analyses being applied to fun little (or not so little) corners of fandom; it's just that I wish there was a bit more crosstalk between thoughtful fen (i.e. laypeople) and the academics. Which is not exactly a new problem, and this paper does show a clear familiarity with, and understanding of, its source material (as opposed to those high-falutin’ interpretations of art, though I think dadaist manifestos and the like didn't help...) —I'm just stumbling over that old problem of marginalized communities (in this case the fans) having their voices ignored outside of their own spaces until someone with more prestige comes along and all the sudden everyone is so impressed, I guess.

Oh, and here's another little holiday giftwrap job. Enjoy.

2017-12-08T00:00:00-05:00 #metoo, time person of the year: the silence breakers... 08dec2017

crop’Tis evidently the season not only for snow, commercial xmas stuff but also stories about sexism in school or the workplace. An awful a lot of people (mostly women, but some men, too!) have been telling their stories for years, just not particularly publicly. Well, here's mine:

Back when I was taking commercial art classes—keylining and airbrushing, specifically—post-degree to improve my job chances, I had completely different experiences between my two profs at CCS (widely regarded to be the commercial art school in our region, especially for industrial design).

I took keylining long enough ago that we were still using spraymount and wax to affix our copy, though I expect the pros were already on board with computer layout. —I don't think the teacher liked me very much. The two incidents I recall the most were these: He asked me, once, whether I was pregnant, because I was in (quiet, non-class-distracting) tears over a ruined (expensive) board (I was poor). And he called me Syphilis.

It was so appallingly mean I simply didn't know how to react. Now, of course, I'd report him to the dean, or whoever, stat. But to say something so ...unprofessional to a student —it just blows my mind. I consider myself lucky, in that I knew perfectly well I was in a committed relationship with no chance whatsoever of contracting an STD, so that shaft went wide. I just couldn't imagine a teacher —someone who presumably loved transmitting knowledge to others—being so cruel. It didn't even occur to me to wonder whether if his (clear) evidence of despising me affected my grades. I count myself fortunate in that this event was unusual, and thus I realized, even then, that the problem had to be with him, not me.

My airbrush teacher, on the other hand, may not have been terribly impressed with my talents (with justification, I suspect), but he was always kind and professional. He worked in the same city as I lived, and I stopped by the firm to pick up a reference at the end of class. He was almost non-verbal, he was so deep into his work, which fascinated me deeply, since he was perfectly able to teach. He was a good teacher, passionate about his subject. Those two were alpha and omega.

In fact, aside from this one creep, I had good to excellent relationships with most of my profs; certainly no others creeped on me, even if they weren't happy with me academically. In that, I guess I was incredibly lucky, though perhaps the combo of being nearly oblivious and having permanent resting bitch face helped.

Oh, and here's another giftwrap post, a elegant silver confection by my friend Page. Enjoy.

2017-12-06T00:00:00-05:00 I have been super-busy the past several days, so didn't quite get this stuff queued up properly. So also, here's a link-dump of the some of the stuff I've been reading: 06dec2017

cropI have been super-busy the past several days, so didn't quite get this stuff queued up properly. So also, here's a link-dump of the some of the stuff I've been reading:

  • the NYT 10 best books of the year had some interesting titles; I ordered a couple of them from the library.
  • This year's hugo fan writer, Abigail Nussbaum, whose blog, Asking the Wrong Questions, has a ton of sharp reviews & observations on sfnal/fantasy related works, both in print and cinematic. She also links to other sharp observations about such works, such as this Lawyer, Guns & Money takedown of the international politics of Captain America: Civil War (which is considered by many fans to be among the most thoughtful & best in the superhero genre)
  • Dr Who's theme music creator, Delia Derbyshire—a woman barely allowed to work in the lab where the iconic music was created—was awarded a posthumous PhD.
  • the cruelty to which fat people, especially fat women, is subjected, is astonishing. I love the gentle, sweet pushback in this comic. Via Alas, a blog.
  • Autistic women: I thought I was lazy. I'm not autistic; but it took years for me to realize that I'm not precisely neurotypical, either. (Like so many ‘women’ [cuz I'm evidently not precisely that, either...] I didn't realize this till I saw some of the symptoms in my offspring, which held true for my M-i-L as well.)
  • Fred Clark makes an argument for reading Adam Sewer's The Nationalist's Delusion. The teal deer version is that, backed up with studies that tease apart economic insecurities and racial ones, whites voted for Trump because he assured them they were still the best, the greatest; moreover his policies have focused on assauging those fears, showing that, whatever else his failures, 45 understands his base.
  • a black man moves to the deep south —despite the history of slavery, jim crow & still-rampant racism.
  • Finally, though it's gonna be pretty emphemeral: Seth Abramson's tweetstream about Robert Mueller's investigation of the current administration is absolutely riveting, like reading a political thriller in real time.
2017-12-04T00:00:00-05:00 Ann Leckie has a new novel out, _Provenance_. 04dec2017

cropI'd kind of been casually hearing—not least on Leckie's own blog—that she had a new book out, and had even read a review which I dimly recall the reviewer not finding the new pronoun scheme as convincing as defaulting to feminine pronouns, as in the Ancillary series, and also the book wasn't quite as good satisfying.

I quite liked it, and I suspect the story resonated with me in ways it didn't for that other reviewer in a couple of ways:

  1. The protagonist is a gentle—even timid—soul who sees herself unfit, either to step into her ambitious politician mother's shoes, or best her older, more handsome, & better connected brother.
  2. I know gender non-conforming folks, who immediately served as a model for the E pronoun group: I actually had to think harder about it than the default feminine, and appreciated this.

Both are fosterlings, but his family sponsored him; she was just plucked out of an orphanage, because her biological parents couldn't (or wouldn't) take care of her.

However, she risks literally everything she has on one last, desperate scheme in an attempt to win her mother's approval: extract a felon from no-return prison (called ‘Compassionate Removal’, of course) and convince him to hand over priceless ‘vestiges’ he stole, thereby building up her mother's—and her own—political and familial standing on the planet of Hwae, itself pretty obviously a backwater running beneath the notice of the Radch, (who have almost no presence in the story.)

It's a hare-brained scheme and begins to go awry pretty much from the first page. The person whom she's delivered is not the right one; a ‘numan’—evidently neither male nor female—introduces us to the new set of pronouns. Aside from a minor character's bitter animadversions on the lack of it, tea—and gloves—so crucial in the other books, matter not. (The Conclave, called at the end of the Ancillary trilogy, is a distant, years-long protocol, important to be sure, but with almost no impact on the day-to-day lives of these characters.)

Which is not to say that Hwae doesn't have its own cultural traditions, just as important to it, of which the greatest are mementos with provenance: “vestiges”. These objects, imbued with the touch and weight of history, are deeply venerated by the Hwae, most particularly the document that is pretty obviously an analogue to the USian Declaration of Independence. —Yet that is not its only analogue, as the reader slowly discovers. Nearly all the characters are politically motivated (i.e. they lie. A lot) so untangling their real layered backstories lent real pleasure to reading the story.

While Provenance has a planetary, rather than empire spanning scope and is therefore a more intimate story, I found the implications of its worldbuilding sharply critical of our current one, and its characters’ story engaging: trademark Leckie. Recommended.

2017-12-01T00:00:00-05:00 A composer demonstrates differing musical styles with a simple tune. 01dec2017

cropI thought this little video essay of a simple tune rendered in various composers’ styles was a blast. This sort of thing has been done plenty of times before, but what made this example so appealing was that the performer not only labelled the various flourishes that distinguished & differentiated the composers, she also had a birds-eye view of her hands on the piano, so you could see visually how the styles differed. Bonus: a portrait of each famous composer (complete with snark of her imagined capturing of his particular style) popped up. As a visual learner, this really helped anchor what I was hearing.

It was only slightly disappointing that the only female composer she played was herself.

And seeing as it's now December, we segueing from beadcurtain to more holiday themed pages. Enjoy.