Dear All of the Stupid Teenagers at the Eaton Center

April 29, 2006 at 4:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

I know that the boho/hobo/whatever look is in style right now, or was in style last year, or something, but after watching you guys today at the mall, I think you’re going to need some sartorial help if you want to navigate life outside of the hallowed halls of high school without looking borderline homeless. Here are some suggestions:

1. It is highly inappropriate to wear sweatpants–torn, dirty sweatpants, no less–anywhere except a) the gym and b) the couch. If you are going to a public space, you MUST wear some kind of actual pants. May I suggest jeans? Mary-Kate and Lindsay may disagree with me, but I have the entire adult community of the world on my side, ladies.

2. Uggs are played.

3. Do not, under any circumstances, leave the house looking like you haven’t brushed your hair in months. If I, standing behind you in line, can see clumps of matted hair (and don’t even TRY the dreadlocks excuse; we both know you’re not that cool, and futhermore, white people and dreadlocks are ridiculous together), it’s time to become friends with the hair brush.

4. Your Louis Vuitton bag SO does not go with holey t-shirts and sweats. If you can fucking afford LV, you can put on a pair of real pants.

Basically, ditch the sweats and brush your hair. That way, real adults with actual jobs won’t completely hate you, and you might actually survive university and the working world.



Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

April 27, 2006 at 6:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I’ve never really been into hip-hop, either the music or the culture; I have been and probably always will be a rock ‘n roll kind of girl. Hip-hop never spoke to me, except for a brief moment in like ninth grade when I was trying to be cool. I can appreciate the music and the beats, and one of the best shows I’ve ever seen was the Word of Mouth tour with J-5, MC Supernatural, and Dilated Peoples, but I almost never listen to hip-hop. However, the history of hip-hop has always struck me as being interesting, in part because its beginnings were so grassroots, unlike this ridiculous bling-bling bullshit that we have today. Additionally, 20th-century history is fascinating, and I’m particularly interested in the 1960s and ’70s, and that’s when hip-hop originated.

So, I’m reading Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, by Jeff Chang (for the website, click on the title of this post), and it’s dangerously interesting. I started it yesterday and I can’t put it down. And I’m not even into hip-hop! But Chang is a really good writer, and it’s obvious that he loves the music and the culture.

Reading this book has made me realize why hip-hop has never really spoken to me: it was originally the music of the disenfranchised, the residents of the ghettos of the South Bronx, who were the guinea pigs of a social experiment called “benign neglect.” You ever wonder what happens when you conveniently forget about an entire segment of your city’s population, depriving them of adequate housing and employment and healthcare? You get escalating racial tension and teenage gangs. You get a subculture that turns within to find law enforcement and creativity. You get an entire group of people–already oppressed by the mainstream white culture–that cannot rely on anything or anyone for survival but themselves and the sheer force of their energy. It seems clear, therefore, that hip-hop wouldn’t appeal to a white, suburban kid like myself, even while in high school. I went to high school with plenty of wannabes and while they somehow managed to appear tough and appeal to the ladies, it always seemed sooo false and forced. I know myself and my peers well enough to know that quiet, shy girls who get good grades are generally not considered “down.” And that’s fine with me.

One thing that I’m already loving about this book is that Chang is utterly unapologetic about hip-hop and its culture. He doesn’t apologize for gang warfare, he doesn’t apologize for graffiti, so far he hasn’t apologized for the bitches-and-hos aspect of contemporary hip-hop (possibly because that’s not what the music was about in the beginning). Instead, he explores the positive aspects of the original Bronx gangs–how they chased out drug pushers and junkies, for example–while accounting for their violence and anger (gang warfare is not glossed over); he reveals the artistry and skill behind graffiti, while still acknowledging that quantity over quality isn’t always a good thing; he quotes influential hip-hop artists and gang leaders, from Trenchtown, Jamaica, to the South Bronx, using their dialect, which allows them their own language. I can only imagine that someone who really appreciates rap music would looove this book.

Spinny McGee

April 27, 2006 at 5:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Last night, I took a break from magic loop knitting to wind some yarn and knit up some swatches from handspun yarn. I definitely have the worsted-weight spinning thing down–these swatches were knitted using 4.0mm needles and–huh, actually I have no idea what the gauge is. I know I could go find out but I’m pretty comfortable writing this from my bed.

I love the soft variegation of the purple yarn and the green yarn.

I’m not really sure what I’ll do with this yarn…at one point, I was going to spin some white merino that I have and with the purple, green, and white, make a garment. I probably won’t have enough though. Still, I’d like to make something wearable, not just hats and mittens, which seem to be my mental backup projects.

This yarn is God knows what, possibly merino, and it’s Navajo-plied. I was thinking of getting some white yarn, or perhaps gray, and doing some sort of honeycomb stitch thing, where you can see the color changes, sort of like this (you have to scroll down on the linked page to see the honeycomb slip stitch that I’m talking about). Again, I don’t know what I’ll make with it. I still have a lot more left to spin. God I have so much spinning to do.

Anyway, here’s a final image of the three swatches.

I am the master of the Magic Loop

April 25, 2006 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

So, on Friday before we left for Montreal, I decided I needed a good portable knitting project. I finished my dad’s socks, didn’t want to bring my sweater, and didn’t want to start my mom’s socks on the bus. I acquired a skein of Opal sock yarn a couple of months ago and, having heard all about the Magic Loop technique for knitting small items in the round. Normally, socks and other small items are knit on double-pointed needles. I’ve never had any problems using them but I also don’t knit many socks, and I think that the reason is that I’m a really slow knitter on dpns. For some reason, I can’t knit continental-style when using dpns, and I find continental to be infinitely faster than the English style. Anyway, when I heard about the magic loop, I was intrigued. I tried knitting socks once using two circular needles (think Cat Bordhi’s Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles), but I didn’t get very far. One circular needle, on the other hand, seemed manageable. I found a pattern for a simple toe-up sock online and printed it, and by the time the bus had left the station in Toronto, I’d figured out the figure 8 cast on and the principle of magic loop knitting.

I am in love with not having to graft the toe of this sock:

The red bit in the center is the figure 8 cast on. I can’t explain why or how this cast on means that there is no grafting. I just know that it does.

This is how much progress I’ve made since Friday night:

That is pretty impressive for me. I am a sloooooooow sock knitter. Have I mentioned that I LOVE MAGIC LOOP KNITTING??????


April 25, 2006 at 9:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I spent the weekend in Montreal with Lorien. We took the midnight bus from Toronto and arrived in Montreal at 7 a.m. (Note to self: never, ever, take the midnight bus anywhere ever again. You cannot sleep on public transportation, but since everyone else can and wants the lights off, you can’t indulge in any late-night knitting or reading. It’s hell and you hate it.) We were staying at Auberge Alternative, a backpackers hostel in Old Montreal. I’ve stayed in a few hostels in the US and Europe, and as any budget traveller knows, the quality and comfort of these places varies immensely. One of my least favorite hostels was India House, a hostel in New Orleans. In theory, it was great: cheap rooms, large kitchen, soda machine that dispensed cans of Red Dog, a crazy kooky pond with alligators. In practice, though, it was awful. The main reason I hated it was because they had one common room that allowed smoking. I think I’m pretty reasonable about people smoking; I don’t really mind it in bars and I think that the impending smoking legislation enactment in Ontario is ridiculous. However. For a hostel to allow smoking in its one and only common room, with its one and only TV, and the only indoor opportunity for reading past sundown (the lighting in the dorms was bad), is a very cruel practice and should be ended immediately.

Auberge Alternative, on the other hand, was wonderful. Lorien and I arrived at 7:30 in the morning, exhausted and dirty. Check-in wasn’t until noon and though we could’ve stayed in their common room until then, the wonderfully accommodating staff allowed us to sleep on air mattresses in the bedrooms, free of charge. That in and of itself was a blessing, as I hadn’t gotten any sleep the night before. The common rooom was pretty cool: very bright and colorful, with lots of plants, tables, and chairs. We hung out there at night and drank our wine.

We were put up in a four-person room which is pretty reasonable for a hostel. One of our roommates was this guy:

Richard is a totally goofy but kinda cute English guy travelling around Canada. He made an excellent dining companion and had a great sense of humor. Which was good, cause the other guys we shared the room with were major snorers.

The hostel is in Old Montreal, which contains most of the tourist attractions.
That would’ve been fine if I’d been with my parents but really, I feel like I’ve seen enough churches and museums to last a lifetime.
Case in point: this is the history museum (Montreal history). It was right across the street from the hostel but we didn’t make it there. Oh well. That said, though, we did go to the Notre Dame Basilica. No pictures cause I’m not that into God, etc. So, most of the time we just walked around the city and checked out the neighborhoods. Honestly, I can’t think of a nicer way to spend our time there. One area that both Lorien and I liked was the Mont Royal Plateau. The main street had lots of funky shops and boutiques and restaurants. We also wandered into the residential district, where the houses all have these cool stairs leading up to the second floor.

Here are some pictures of Lorien and I posing in front of a pretty painted staircase:

We were going to try to be proper tourists on Sunday by going to the Mont Royal park to see the view of the city but the weather was definitely not cooperating. It rained all day. All day. Like it rains in Portland, but worse. Of course, both of us got water in our shoes and our pants were soaked. Instead of going to the park, we went to Notre Dame, then shopping! I love shopping. I go through phases where I think, maybe I don’t love shopping, but when I’m in the mood, man, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. We went to Rue Crescent, which has a lot of bars and restaurants, and also contains this total gem of an accessories store, “something with the word bijoux in it.” We both found great screenprinted shirts there that were 50% off. That’s like the magic phrase, open sesame and all that–50% off. I got this lovely shirt:

At the end of the day, we were trying to figure out where to go next, and we stopped in a random doorway to look at the map. Some guy walked by and was looking at us strangely, which I couldn’t figure out. That’s when I realized we were standing under this sign:

All in all, the weekend was a success. The weather definitely crapped out on us, and we didn’t get to experience Montreal’s nightlife, but other than that we both had a great time.

Goodbye Blogger, hello WordPress

April 25, 2006 at 9:03 pm | Posted in random | Leave a comment

I’m not really sure why I decided to switch from Blogger to WordPress. Part of it was that I was at work and needed something to do. Part of it was that I was tired of having problems uploading pictures to Blogger. Part of it was that I was sick of the template I had on Blogger. However, Blogger allows you to change the tags and coding of your template to customize its look; WordPress doesn’t. I’m not too much of a techie and I don’t know CSS and XHTML or anything, but I enjoyed playing around with my Blogger template to get the colors and typeface that I wanted.

Apparently, I’m not a very loyal blogger.

I will post pictures from Montreal and knitting pictures this evening.

April 25, 2006 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Merry Christmas, Dad

April 21, 2006 at 8:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I finally finished my dad’s Christmas present!

Yup, in April. The end of April, no less. So basically in time for Father’s Day. Good thing I’ll be seeing him in a couple of weeks when we go to Turkey. Good thing, too, that neither of my parents are much into presents. Cause I haven’t even started my mom’s Christmas present yet.

I think I win the Daughter of the Year award.

I’m off to Montreal for the weekend. Updates when I get back. (Let’s ignore the fact that I know about as much French as I do Chinese. To the point that when I so much as attempt to pronounce French words around Lorien, she bursts out laughing. Whatever. In the US, we don’t learn French. It’s just not our second language. [Remember the whole Freedom Fries debacle? I think that speaks for itself.] But ten bucks says I could run Spanish circles around you, sistah. I think I’m feeling sorry for myself cause I keep getting laughed at. No matter, right?)

Plants and yarn

April 20, 2006 at 9:05 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here’s the basil as of yesterday:

Look at these goddamn beans! Keep in mind that this picture of the beans was taken three days after the last picture.
They’re growing like mad.

And here are my flowers. Not as exciting as the beans, I guess, but it’s cool cause there are so many different kinds.

Finally, this is the green Corriedale yarn spun from a batt of Grafton Fibers’ wool.

This fiber was easy to spin. The only problem that I had with it is that during plying, it tended to break easily if I wasn’t really careful. I had to make sure I didn’t pull on it too hard to unwind it from the bobbin on the lazy kate. However, that could have been a deficiency in my spinning, not in the fiber itself. What I love about Grafton Fibers’ fibers is that they are colorful but they’re not stripy. Because the batts are dyed and then carded, the mix of colors is more harmonious than with dyed roving. I’ve spun some beautiful dyed roving but I get kind of tired of stripes in my knitting. Anyway, that’s pretty much all I have to show for my week of non-schoolness.

A post in which I interview myself regarding books

April 19, 2006 at 3:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Favorite book: The Brothers K, by David James Duncan.
This is currently my favorite book. I cannot describe how much I love this book. If and when I meet someone who’s read it without me recommending it first, I will profess my undying love for that person, even if they are my mortal enemy. My favorite book in high school was Girl, by Blake Nelson. At the time, I imagined myself to be kindred spirits with Andrea, the main character, cause she was a suburban teenager who got into the underground punk scene in Portland, Oregon, and I was a suburban teenager who got into the underground punk scene in Miami, Florida. I’m not saying that this book is the reason I went to college in Portland, but I’m not saying it’s not, either.

Least favorite book: American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis
I know, I know, American Psycho is riveting and scathing social commentary. I don’t care. I hated it. It’s one of the only books that I forced myself to finish because I didn’t want to let it get the best of me.

Most important book: It’s a tie between A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, and The Weather Makers, by Tim Flannery
These are books that are sometimes difficult to read, either because the subject matter is not always what one wants to read after a day at work or school, or because the subject matter is painful and, in some cases, heartbreaking. However, they are still incredibly important to read: Zinn’s book reveals the too-often hidden grotesqueries of the founding of the United States; Flannery’s book emphasizes that our increase in carbon dioxide production has caused indelible harm to our planet and if we don’t act fast, we soon will not have the opportunity to reverse our mistakes.

Most overrated book: The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
I. Did. Not. Like. This. Book. And I don’t get the hype. ‘Nuff said.

Movie that made me want to read the book: I Capture the Castle
The movie, directed by Tim Fywell, wasn’t bad or anything. It’s just that seeing it made me want to read the book. Dodie Smith (think 101 Dalmations) is the author of this coming of age story that is so far removed from today’s sex-drugs-bitchy-girls stories for teenagers (Gossip Girls, The Clique) that it is the ultimate breath of fresh air. Though at seventeen the main character, Cassandra, is obviously interested in boys and does have more than one potential love interest, she is far more interested in her burgeoning skills as a writer and the fate of her eccentric family. I cannot tell you how relieved I was that this story did not end with the fairy tale “happily ever after;” had it done so, it would have been a disservice to the book, Cassandra, and teenagers who need to believe that life does not begin and end with high school.

Movie that made me glad I’d read the book first: High Fidelity
John Cusack is adorable, Jack Black is hilarious—I think that I need to acknowledge this first, and also say that whoever cast this (and About a Boy) is a genius. However, I read this book, by Nick Hornby (see About a Boy and How to Be Good), several years before the movie came out, and it was one of my favorites in high school. The top-five lists? Love them. The ridiculously dead-on caricatures of record store clerks? So fabulous. The way that Hornby takes a narrator who is actually quite despicable and turns him into the guy we’re all rooting for? Brilliant. The movie just didn’t compare. If you liked the movie you’ll love the book.

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