Karie Bookish Dot Net

Tag Archives: Pop Culture

That awkward moment..

.. when the media decides to call you an expert .

STV

(thank you Alison for the commemorative photo)

Why the Overlap?

A good friend of mine, Emme, went to her knitting group the other day and noticed something (link in Danish): there is a huge overlap between knitters & people who read scifi/fantasy. She notes that Ravelry has at least 65 groups dedicated to fantasy but has just two groups for Copenhagen knitters. And Emme is really surprised by this overlap between scifi/fantasy-reading and knitting: “I don’t get it”.

My first thought? “It’s a geek thing.” Emme responded to say that my response was a cop-out, it had to be something a bit more profound.  And so I’d like to ask you, dear readers, why this overlap between scifi & fantasy geeks and knitters?

(From my own observations, there are also huge overlaps called “librarians & knitting” and “GLBT-orientation & knitting”, but we’ll have those discussions another day..)

I like reading books, full stop. I like imagination. I like books that take our mundane lives and turn them inside out; books that take our world and expand upon it. Many of my favourite books tend towards the speculative end of the spectrum with a healthy dollop of misanthropy and dystopia. And I’m horrifyingly entertained by dragons, airships, and ray guns (not necessarily in the same book).

And I knit.

And I think it has to do with imagination and creative space. Knitting is just a ball of string which you loop together in a manner which you find pleasing. You can have an entire jumper in a ball of wool: it’s bigger on the inside, if you like. You can knit optical illusions, crochet ray guns and buy steampunk-themed patterns. And make your own chainmail, of course. All these things that you can create yourself whilst playing with numbers and watching Game of Thrones – what’s not to like?

(Or could it just be that fantasy/scifi happen to be very, very popular genres?)

I Saw the Best Minds of the Rebellion Eaten by Sarlacc…

Who on earth likes both Star Wars and 20thC poetry? ME! And this is one of the funniest things I have seen on the internet this week:

so much depends
upon

a scarred young
jedi

stitched with cyber
netics

beneath the black
helmet

Or how about

For I have ordered them, ordered them all—
Have crewed the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have crewed my life with storm-troop goons;
I know clones dying with a dying fall,
And Alderaan, beneath the Death Star’s doom
The soundless, vacuum-muted boom.

Or indeed

There died Hunter Fugitive.
And the best of them, among them
For old Boba gone in the teeth
For a botched storyline.

There is just a smattering of Shakespeare in the linked post, which is fine by me, but I do think this cries out for some rock’n’roll 17th C poetry. A bit of Andrew Marvell – but sadly filking is beyond my abilities. I can but dream.

Lovely Things

This has to be my song of summer 2011. It’s so lovely in all its pomo pop glory.

Other lovely things right now:

  • I find this picture of David Tennant in the Fright Night remake strangely compelling. I always did have a weakness for almost-Glaswegian men wearing eyeliner.
  • “Not since Bowie before him had anyone been as responsible for raising awkward questions between parents and their sons as Brett Anderson.” Suede is back in fashion here in the UK – so the media say. Suede fell hard from grace when fey, lithe men wearing girls’ shirts were displaced by laddish beer lout music (i.e. Oasis). I particularly liked the quote: “Apparently it wasn’t just me who’d been sat at home in 1995 doused in glitter and eyeliner watching Performance on repeat” .. oh no, dear journalist, oh no.
  • I should rewatch Velvet Goldmine soon too.
  • Moving on from eyeliner and glitter, how about a Warhol Spock? Okay, so it’s Leonard Nimoy wearing makeup but it’s slightly different..
  • My beloved kiwi band The Phoenix Foundation is being championed by the mighty hipster godfather himself, Jarvis Cocker. Going Fishing is always on my iPod. Kiwi music is the best, honestly.

And with that, I am off to back my bag. Not-so-sunny Aberdeenshire awaits and I have books and knitting to pack.

Linkage & More

LarisaMy commuting project is zipping along nicely.

I’m currently knitting the Larisa scarf for myself in Kidsilk Haze, shade 582 (Trance). The beads are teardrop-shaped beads from The Bead Company. Recently Rhiannon finished knitting Larisa and seeing somebody else’s version of your own design is the coolest thing imaginable (it felt even better than when I got published some years back and that felt pretty good). I have no deadline for this scarf – it is just a portable project and if I can sneak in one or two repeats of the lace pattern on the bus, I’m happy.

I’m currently waiting for the new Kim Hargreaves book, Touching Elegance. Clever people have tracked down some blurry photos from eBay and I’ve been trying to guess which yarns were used for the various designs. Straight off the bat, I’d say that Patsy is my favourite. Not that long to wait, though, as the book should be arriving in stores next week (should being the operative word). I was wearing my Icelandic jumper earlier today in anticipation of proper autumn knitting (the weather is still a bit too warm, though) and I cannot wait to get started on some lovely woollen cardigans.

Mmmm. Wool.

Some linkage:

  • Frank Kermode has passed away at age 90. Absolutely devastating. In the words of one of the Guardian’s commentators: “On behalf of English Literature graduates the world over, thank you Frank. R.I.P.”
  • Morrissey’s 13 Favourite Albums are exactly as you’d imagine: glam rock, Iggy Pop/New York Dolls, Jeff Buckley and people who sound like Morrissey.
  • Delivering Gatsby – “How effective is it to use literature to seduce men?” (Thank you, Emme).
  • Sympathy for the Devil – Looking at the Facebook fan groups for British killer Raoul Moat, this article is as far removed from tabloid sensationalism as you can get whilst still not budging an inch. Highly recommended read.
  • Bree Sharp: ‘David Duchovny’ (youtube). I showed this to D last night as a response to a certain pop song about Ray Bradbury (no link: very NSFW, very crass, very funny – go seek it out). I could not believe D had not heard of Bree Sharp’s ‘the man, the myth, the monotone’ song. It was huge in my student hall circa 1999.

Diggi Loo Diggi Ley

It is that time of year again. The daffodils are blooming, the birds are singing and Eurovision is but a month away. As per usual I have subjected my ears to all the participating songs and here is a quick First Look & Listen response. More to follow when/if my customary Eurovision mania takes hold.

The Alright Ones: Albania have set themselves up as providers of decent pop and this year is no exception (even if it starts out sounding a bit Doctor Who). Denmark have pulled up their socks and have sent an epic sing-along schlager. Estonia proves yet again their knack for sending excellent oddball songs (it’s like they don’t know Eurovision is about cheese). Germany is surprisingly emerging as the pre-show bookie favourite although it is a bit too Gabrielle Cimli/Duffy/Paloma Faith for my taste. I have a weak spot for big Balkan rock ballads and Macedonia brings it this year.

The Disappointing One: Turkey is usually one of the countries to watch and have in recent years provided some real highlights (Mor ve Ötesi’s Deli is still totally awesome). This year they are significantly less than awesome, even if Turkish Emo is .. an interesting concept.

The “What Were You Thinking” Ones: Finland is notoriously hit-and-miss. This year .. well, you be the judge of Kuunkuiskaajat’s Työlki Ellää. In Moldova the local youth club is stuck in 1997, while the Dutch send Sarah Palin singing a local radio hit circa 1977 and the United Kingdom yearns for a pre-drugs Jason Donovan in 1990. Meanwhile Serbia sends something I don’t even know what is (and this is the same country which gave us Molitva!).

Last year Alexander Rybak was a runaway favourite early on. This year nobody really stands out and even the usual heavy-hitters like Russia, Ukraine and Greece are failing to bring a big song/performer (even if Ukraine is trying to court Twi-Hards by sending a blond Kristen Stewart). Prediction? Your guess is as good as mine.

Excitement

Pardon my knitterly excitement, but I am a few hours away from my first finished garment of the year. I cannot believe it has taken me this long, but I am now a frill and a neckband away from a Summer Tweed cardigan. This is exciting because a) I get to wear a new cardigan verrry soon and b) I get to cast on a new project.

This reminds me.

I do not consider myself a Hardcore Knitter but when an incredulous Other Half asked me why the beep not, I could not really say why. The evidence is stacked against me:

  • When I want a little treat, I buy yarn.
  • I have a .. sizeable yarn stash.
  • My social circle consists of almost all knitters.
  • I attend two knitting groups.
  • Yarn fondling forms part of my my working life.
  • On-line social networking revolves around knitting activities.
  • I knit lace, socks, fair-isle, cables and do this using both Continental and English knitting techniques.
  • I can recognise a knitting pattern or yarn from a distance.
  • I can talk about rare sheep breeds.

But I still maintain I’m not Hardcore. How would you describe a Hardcore Knitter? Are you one?

But back to the new project I get to start so very soon. I am torn between knitting a hat for myself and casting on for a birthday present. A friend of mine turns forty this summer and has dropped hints about wanting a lace shawl. I have two balls of Kidsilk Haze in Ice Cream and I’m currently trying to find the right pattern. My friend is petite and very feminine, so I want something to match her personality and style. Ishbel is really the perfect pattern, but I have already made three (the same goes for the Swallowtail Shawl) so I’m looking for something .. else. Mooncalf suggested Citron but it is not as girly as I’d like.

Ideas, please.

However, most of all I am excited by the return of Doctor Who, the delirious, mad-cap, fantastic British sci-fi show. The first episode of the Eleventh Doctor’s reign aired tonight and it was even better than I had hoped. You can read a quick spoilerish review here, or just trust me when I say it was a very good Steven Moffat episode. Moffat penned some of the best Doctor Who episodes in the recent past and I’m so pleased he is now on board as the show runner. I hope my non-UK Whovian friends get to sample the new Doctor soon. You’ll like him.

Lost Boy? Lost Girl.

Pop culture and I have an on-off relationship. I mostly attribute this to growing up in Nowheresville, Denmark, in a family obsessed by 1940s and 1950s American popular entertainment (think Frank Sinatra, Vincente Minnelli films and the Great American Songbook), so when I went to school and was surrounded by kids immersed in current music, I was woefully lost. It took me about three months to figure out what song the kids were singing in the playground and, as my family rarely went to see current films, most 1980s teen films completely passed me by. I’m reminded of my 1980s pop culture black hole as most of my peers are reminiscing about The Lost Boys and License to Drive in the wake of Corey Haim’s death. I finally saw The Lost Boys some six or seven years ago. It is undeniably an entertaining slice of comedic vampire horror, but I was obviously way too old to connect with it. So, in an odd way, Haim’s death does sadden me but my sadness is reserved for that young girl who failed so miserably at fitting in at school and not a shared piece of pop culture fading away reflecting our mortality etc.

But watch this space once people like Ewan McGregor (oh, Trainspotting, the film that defined my generation and demographic segment), Jarvis Cocker (playground singing? No, massive dance-floor singalong) or even Douglas Coupland (whose early novels spawned a mild obsession mid-1990s) start ‘shuffleing off this mortall coile’. I’ll be right here bawling my eyes out and wondering what happened to that bright-eyed lit student girl with the funky charity shop clothes.

A few random links:

Finally, I have promised to mention that Lucky 7 Canteen on Glasgow’s Bath Street is super-keen to host knitting groups. They’ll keep lighting up and be very happy to serve delicious food/drinks to discerning knitters. Ask for Mel if your knitting group needs a new hang-out.

Little Women & Werewolves

Yes, the classic “Little Women” has fallen prey to the publishing trend that started with “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”. Joy. I never read the Austen-goes-supernatural novel.  I mean, I still have issues with casting Colin Firth as Darcy in that BBC mini-series, so imagine what issues I’d have suddenly encountering zombies in the midst of Pemberley!

Anyway, the synopsis of “Little Women” reads thusly:

In this retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s classic, the beloved little women must keep not just the wolf, but the werewolves, from the door…and the kindly old gentlemen next door and his grandson may have some secrets to hide — or share with the March girls.

There is a silver lining, though. On io9, commentators have fun trying to come up with the next installments in this classics-goes-monstrous trend and they’re really quite funny:

  • A Sentimental Education of Vampires
  • Canterbury Tales from the Crypt
  • Uncle Tom’s Kraken
  • Love in the Time of Cthulu
  • The Barchester Martian Chronicles
  • The Handmaid’s Tail

Can anyone come up with a synopsis for any of these?

Eurovision ’09: Preview

After Georgia pulled out/was forced to pull out of this Eurovision Song Contest with their gun-to-head song called “I Don’t Wanna Put-in” (get the “pun?”), what can we expect from ESC?

You know I’d only do this for you, my lambs. I’ve sat through every.single.entry and this is the cream of the crop (in more ways than one).

Armenia: Bizarre video – part glamorous folklore, part gym class, part street dance. Surprisingly catchy but maybe be too weird for mainstream Eurovision.

Belarus: Mullet plus “his admiration with the vocal capabilities of Ian Gillan inspired a spiritual journey into the creative heritage of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Even today Petr cherishes the hope to perform the part of Jesus in the famous rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.” A must-see video (for about forty seconds).

Bulgaria: A former mime(!) who sounds a bit like Jimmy Somerville. Classic Eurovision, in other words. In my weak moments I might put this on my iPod.

Estonia: The song reminds me a lot of Georgia’s 2007 entry whilst being really interesting in its own way. I also rather covet the singer’s hair.

FYR Macedonia“I can’t see it qualifying, unless Europe is overwhelmed by a simultaneous and collective wave of nostalgia for early Bon Jovi b-sides.”

Norway: Full-on favourite to win – with good reason. Bloody catchy and upbeat. Looks even stronger now I’ve sat through the other countries.

Slovakia: Jesus, I’ve got records older than that girl. It is the year of dull ballads but at least this one has drama. Reminds me of Cyprus in 2000 (amazing and underrated).

Slovenia: Quite a year for violins. You only need to watch it from the 2.10 mark on maybe twenty seconds onwards. That dress. The voice. The song. Words fail me.

Turkey: Hotly tipped to win or go top three – and while it is certainly one of the most interesting songs this year, in a stronger year it’d just go top ten. Not a patch on last year’s Turkish entry (one of my favourite songs of the noughties in a completely un-ironic way).

Acts hotly tipped: Norway, Greece and Turkey. Finland and Ukraine are outsiders. Estonia is the dark horse.

And as Germany has just roped in Dita von Teese to help with their stage show, they’ll get some votes now. UK is completely deluded in its belief that a Lloyd-Webber dirge will win, of course. I expect Denmark to land midfield, bless Brinck.

Over all: A really weak year (unless you like boring ballads).