pop culture

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.