Cross-stitch is not for the weak

While I was in Chicago recently for a few work conferences that were back to back, conversations with girlfriends and boyfriends often turned to DIY and the crafting movement. All the cool kids are doing it, it seems. Now I’m no stranger to the DIY/crafting world as I’ve been dabbling on and off for a few years, including but not limited to the following:

But the one that seems to be all the rage in my circles is cross-stitch. I can name half a dozen people off the top of my head who currently count this as their number one crafting past-time. Their constant yammering about their projects, and since it seems you really don’t need to know how to do much other then thread a needle and sew, appealed to me. I like the idea that it is essentially paint by numbers, but with thread. (I will also admit TheHusband has asked me to put the knitting needles down as my hats keep getting more and more interesting. The latest one ended up shaped like a used condom.)
Since having an instant support group for any kind of activity appealed to me, I took myself off to Hobby Lobby tonight after work to get supplies. Since I was not fond of getting a pattern that was “of the lord” or of a fruit basket, I bought a bag of 150 colors of floss, rolled up tube of cross-stich fabric, a hoop, needles, and other accouterments as seen in the picture above. I figured I come home, have dinner, find a pattern, and go. And if I hated it, I would pawn the lot off to Kristin.
No. Not that simple.
The cross-stitch world is complicated. The surge for wanting things handmade has increased the amount of information on the topic, which makes sense since there are thousands nay millions of pages on just about any topic in the universe, according ye olde googles. But I’m a librarian! I should be able to find stuff easily. No, not quite true either. Bad taxonomy and tag stuffing also thwarted my plans. After an hour of looking for patterns, for an easy one I could do in a few hours, turned out to be horribly wrong. I had thought of coughing up a few bucks to Subversive Cross Stitch, whom I long amired, only to find as I was going through their patterns, nothing appealed.
Kristin suggested creating my own pattern, using something like MyPhotoStitch to generate the colors and patterns for me. But the problem is that I wanted to do something BIG AND FLASHY vroom vroom, when I still need training wheels. So instead of creating something that requires 44 different flavors of floss, I need something that has say, eight. Tomorrow when I’m not feeling so emotionally drained, I’ll probably create a TARDIS or something Doctor Who related.
And hopefully this time, nothing will come out shaped like a used condom.

1. The proof that I broke even on my investment with Excessively Diverting proved to me that I could make and sell something of my own creation, which is a huge confidence boost. Now only if could apply that to other things in my life.

Why I choose The Avengers over #TEDxGR

[Edit: This is the first time I’ve read this since I wrote this back in May and yep, I still agree with much of what I wrote below. I don’t know why I didn’t post this until now, but when I espoused these opinions via Twitter, several people said I should ahve given it a chance before knocking it to the ground. Perhaps they’re right. So next year I’ll attend and see if my vitrol changes. There was also some hubbub about money with TedXGR and there were also major concerns about one of the TedX board members whose ideologies seemed conflicted with the spirit of TED.- Lisa, July 23, 2012]
Like many other edgier creative types, I am a ticketholder for the TEDx event that is currently happening right now in downtown Grand Rapids. But instead of being rapt in admiration or wondrous belief at the current speaker on stage, I’m taking off to see The Avengers and then I’m heading out to get a mani/pedi afterwards.  Then instead of the after party down at the Pyramid Scheme where I could mix with other edgier creative types (read: white people), my husband will then grill filet mignons we’ve had aging in the fridge for the last week and perhaps get drunk on the bottle of mid-range champagne we purchased for our recent anniversary.
Tickets for the event were competitive AND expensive ($115 which also included a forced lunch option, which pissed me off), so willingly giving up something I’ve seen other people badly desire (and I offered to give them my ticket and received no response) seems all kinds of foolish. And on top of that, there is all kinds of fiscal stupidity for blowing that kind of cash on something I’m not following through. Plus you know, I may have actually, might have had a good time!
So then why?
I couldn’t be arsed to be with a roomful of people who were all dying to talk to me (per TEDxGR’s emails that they would be) while dressed creativity (again per TEDxGR’s email) and we were to talk about SPREADING BIG IDEAS  and networking like crazy. Truthfully, the concept makes me want to bitchslap people.
A year ago, I would have given an eyetooth to attend the inaugural TEDxGR event if finances were willing.  However, I feel  the problem is as a society, we’re so overwhelmed with ideas on a daily basis, saturated beyond the tipping point, our language is no longer about carrying and putting these ideas to work but about how much jargon we can extraopolate from the current set of buzzwords while pretending we all look incredibly smart and well read. BECAUSE WE ARE SPREADING IDEAS. The library world has had its own share of TEDx-esque hypsters who are all about MAKING SHIT HAPPEN but you never hear about the outcome of SHIT ACTUALLY BEING MADE. We all want to buy into the idea propmachine that we’re creating and curating new content by becoming change agents to maxmimize our world.
I have no idea what that last sentence actually means but it’s a pretty good jist of what I’m against.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the concept of TED is wonderful. I think there is a lot of good that TED and some of the TEDx events bring to the world. I watch zillions of TED videos and podcasts.  But it gets to the point, again, with the oversaturation being pushed by consumeristic media that we all must think these big thoughts that we never actually get anything done.
Can we actually stop having big thinks and put those thinks into practice?
The children will thank you.
x0x0,
Lisa

If not then, then now

I knew it was time to take a break after working steadily on cleaning my office for a few hours when I put the carbon copy of a check in the envelope and sealed it without thinking. And my brain has been throbbing for half that time. UFYH rules say you should take breaks every so often to keep your focus up and your mind engaged, brain fatigue is painful when attempting to accomplish something, and when finding the simplest of tasks become too mountainous, it’s time to rest. (But am I not superwoman, who can do everything?)
I noticed that I am finding myself struggle with brain fatigue quite a bit as of late. Conversations that require me to think beyond the shallow depths of my knowledge, books that require me to be more engaged then a passive reader, thoughts that I should have but somehow I can’t find the words to express. My inner world seems so rich and yet, when I go to articulate it, I sound uninformed or even worse, like an idiot.
I can physically feel this barrier that is pitting me against the world, I find it even in my superficial thoughts to be a skim over the edge but when I dig deep, and burrow myself in to find what I’m looking for, then I find myself scraping against the wall, my voice shouting on the inside to let me pass! But nothing happens, no break through and no release. So my words are strangled in my throat, in the elbows of my arm, for they cannot get to my finger tips, in the unknown reaches of neverwhere, where everything goes to live and yet nothing seems to come back alive.
The pug continues snoring on, her cadence is reassuring and at times, the most honest thing in the world.

Super Moon

It is the witching hour here and magic is awakening for its nightly crawl across our world. It seeping out of the never, into our peripheral vision, those flutters of something that we cannot not quite capture in full sight.  Magic is easy to ignore in the daylight for we can blame the light for whatever mysteries have seeped over in this realm, but we cannot ignore its rightful place in the night. For what we think we saw and that is gone, what we think we hear and is not repeated, and what we think we feel but do not feel again are those figments of the other that are stretching their gossamer wings as they tiptoe around us, their giggling muted to human ears.
We are interrupting their world now, with our presence, and they want us to hurry up and leave. We are the beings invading their space, this is their time to shine.   While we curly up in our beds, covers tucked to our chins, the other is floating to around us, protecting us from the evil that lurks. The other are here to protect us, but we’ve never really understood that; not  now. Not in a thousand years. They protect us from the unnamed and the ugly, the frightening and the mares that roam, looking for overripe innocence. Their words of protection are rapid fire and come as tickles in our ears, their skips across our forehead we mistake for loose hairs.
“Don’t look under the bed.”
 

Bagged & Boarded: The Best American Comics 2011

Best American Comics 2011 CoverThe Best American Comics 2011 (anthology) | 3/5
Quick Summary: Collection of sequential art works by upcoming and established artists, edited by Alison Bechdel
tl;dr Summary: The book merits a “meh” and is recommended to buy used or to get from the library but not something you want to necessarily keep in your collection, even for reference.
The Best American series and I have an interesting relationship. Something compels me to think I have to read the damn things, thus year after year I buy copy after copy of titles in the series, used/new/eBook, on the premise that I’m going to read them and each year, the books get stacked higher and higher on my to be read shelves, taunting me and of course, never read. (But don’t I look smart with them on my shelves?) When Amazon recently had a one day sale of the Kindle versions of the entire 2011 Best American series for $.99 per title, I snapped up what was available save for Comics (not on Kindle format) and Sports (zzzz). Much like my groaning bookshelves taunting me with unread words, my Kindle app winks at me with updates at its growing collection of books that gather digital dust.1
Now that we have started this review with an oddly charming, yet not terribly related back story of my passive aggressive affair with Best American, let me go into the review of the book.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Best American series, the purpose is to anthologize and introduce a wide range of work in a variety of genres that may go unnoticed (or unappreciated) by the public at large. Each year presents a celebrated guest editor, coupled with the regular series editors, that are big draws in that particular field. In a way Best American is a cheat sheet to being culturally educated. Don’t have time to read all the things? A Best American series has you covered!2
Edited this year by Alison Bechdel, known for Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Dykes to Watch Out For, this years entries ranged all the gamut from the existential to the profane to the heartwarming. As someone who is fairly new world of sequential art, new at least in the sense that I dipped my toes into the water and now safely wading in water up to my ankles, I’m naively expecting anthologies such as Best American to help me down that primrose path. When I sat in a panel at C2E2 a few weeks back, one of the presenters mentioned there was something like over a thousand new release titles for graphic novels per year, with most stores maybe getting in a hundred or two. This is, of course, not including single issue books of comics and other works such as manga, which for someone who is geting interested in this world, it is really overwhelming. It’s also exciting because of all the content that you could be missing
Best American Comics 2011 isn’t a bad book, I was enthralled and engaged on various levels, but it’s not an awesome book either. In some of the works, we’re given snippets of story rather then the entire story line, which can be jarring when the editing between artists is not made clear. So if you’re reading a page about rainbows and sunshine and the next page is about dragons and pillaging, and the work between the artists is similar enough, you get really confused on what story is ending and what story is beginning. Additionally, some of the work apparently required explanation, which is provided the back of the book in the introduction to the artists and writers section. Being lead by the artist/writer on what I should be thinking indicates they themselves don’t know what the hell they were doing3 and that irritates me to no end.
And other problem with the work, is that since some of the pieces are taken as snippets, and thus out of the original context, some of the meaning is lost. If this art form, for it is art, is to be understood with the images AND words, moving it from its orignal location, in some instances, loses the intent of the meaning. This wasn’t prevalent in all of the snippets, but in others it was definitely was noticeable.
Maybe, ultimately, I’m disappointed because I didn’t fall in love with any of the characters, writers, or artists in this anthology. I felt like, even ironically, there should be some kind of guarantee with Best American that I will love at least one thing, but I didn’t. My interest was piqued by some of the work showcased but I felt like overall it was too hit or miss. I felt like some of the editing choices were phoned in and as a reader, I picked up on that. I did, however, appreciate that the series editors added a list of notable works for the year, that were not included in the anthology, in the index. The sheer number of titles alone here, many highly regarded, does give me other options to explore.

1. This smells like a new project. And yes, I concede that I’m hoarding Kindle books but in my defense, they were (mostly all of them) free! And they are (mostly all of them) classics! Except for that bad free porn I downloaded, which scared my eyes and brain, but that is neither here nor there.
2. Which explains why I am totally into this series. A lot.
3. I have a vague crankypants attitude towards Salman Rushdie for this very reason, In a fairy recently interview, someone asked Rushdie his thoughts were on critics or people who were not fond of his work and he stated that he hoped one day their tastes would be sophisticated enough to enjoy him.

Bagged & Boarded: The Best American Comics 2011

Best American Comics 2011 Cover

The Best American Comics 2011 (anthology) | 3/5
Quick Summary: Collection of sequential art works by upcoming and established artists, edited by Alison Bechdel

tl;dr Summary: The book merits a “meh” and is recommended to buy used or to get from the library but not something you want to necessarily keep in your collection, even for reference.

The Best American series and I have an interesting relationship. Something compels me to think I have to read the damn things, thus year after year I buy copy after copy of titles in the series, used/new/eBook, on the premise that I’m going to read them and each year, the books get stacked higher and higher on my to be read shelves, taunting me and of course, never read. (But don’t I look smart with them on my shelves?) When Amazon recently had a one day sale of the Kindle versions of the entire 2011 Best American series for $.99 per title, I snapped up what was available save for Comics (not on Kindle format) and Sports (zzzz). Much like my groaning bookshelves taunting me with unread words, my Kindle app winks at me with updates at its growing collection of books that gather [Continue Reading]

Originally published at: Lisa @ EPbaB

50 Lengths of Cable Ties

For some time now, Kristin has been collecting Sheik romance novels, as a sub-collection for her Arab representation in popular fiction collection at her library. What’s made this particular collection development fun is that she’s crowd sourcing many of her acquisitions, from people such as myself, who pick them up for used/new as we find them to donate. Thanks to people like me, she has almost 200 titles in the Sheik romance genre alone.
In the wake of a conversation held the other day between Alice and Kristin, Alice mentions she has some Sheik books for me to mule back to the States for Kristin when I head to England at the end of the month. Not long after, Alice creates the [Dear Reader]$_ Information Technology Romance! generator,  that pulls many of the keywords from the titles of Sheik romances (and other romances titles) and pairs them with IT terminology to create an IT romance title generator.
Just refresh the page for potential Harlequin/Mills&Boon romances hits such as:

  • Curt Technical Architect, Captive Predicament
  • Surly Network Administrator, Furtive Assignation
  • The Bespectacled Desktop Support Analyst

I smell a potential book series in the making.

1. Where’s my bookplate?