06 December 2011

WIP Worldbuilder notes

I was preparing the worldbuilder notes for a modern-themed steam punk story to do as my final short story for creative writing... and then the professor said in class that we should do straight up literary fiction as opposed to genre fiction.


But I kept the notes, and I thought I'd post them, 'cause some of the stuff (I thought) is pretty clever, and I just turned in my non-steam punk final today - oh, sorry, that breeze you just felt was my profound sigh of satisfaction - anyway, here they are:

protagonist: young, sheltered girl working to become a creative writer

world: modern steampunk

plot: briefly meets a person whose philosophy changes her outlook on life/internship w/Conclavical Refractographic?

Ephemera: constantly writing "fantasy stories" about character named Harrigan.  no excerpts or direct information, we only hear about these stories through dialogue protag has with best/childhood friend (male) also working to become writer

Sub-atmosphericals - airships.  protag's father worked on some while in the Aerotime Forces

loving but somewhat maddening parents; mother keeps pointing out to protag that many famous writers were originally painters who failed art school (the only implication that protag ever wanted to be painter); father and protag never know what to say to each other, so father will randomly pick out topic of conversation - usually either historical or technical

Celebrities: ruler of New Year's Conclave, Pamela Bean (who single handedly started a craze for cooking with sea-serpent fat), E. S. Swintenberg, author of the reigning popular fantasy series, Fisticuff Master (needs work) - as in, "Well, we can't all be ESS now, can we?"

PudgyBird Press, Conclavical Refracographic

"New homes at Laborer's mudpuddle!" "Hearts of Romaine, in (needs work)  prismatriums soon!"
Refractography = photography

05 December 2011

Halloween Knitting Project

This last Halloween, I dressed up as a Gypsy and went to a Harry Potter Party.  I had some yarn in a nice white/brown tweed looking color... Bernat brand, I believe - anyway so I made myself a vest.  The pattern originally started out as someone elses', but I modified it so heavily it's really hard to tell.  I've only made the one vest, which I wrote the pattern for as I went along, so there might still be a few bugs in it, but here it is, with some pictures:

yo=yarn over
ssk=slip, slip, knit
k2tog=knit two together
m1=make one

Halloween Gypsy Vest

Cast on 59 st

Side shaping: k1, yo/yo k1

Left panel right side: k1, yo, k28, k3tog, k26, yo, k1

All wrong sides: purl

Follow this until 21 right side rows have been completed

Bind off 29 stitches, knit to last three st, ssk, k1

Knit to last 3 st, ssk, k1, repeat until 17 st remain

Knit 2 tog, knit to end, repeat until 10 st remain

Next row k2tog, k7, m1, k1

Repeat this row twice

*K2, yo, k6, yo, k2

Purl last row then bind off

Cast on 59 st

Side shaping: k1, yo/yo k1

Right panel right side: k1, yo, 26, k3tog, k28, yo, k1

All wrong sides: purl

Follow this until 21 right side rows have been completed

K1, k2tog, k27, bind off last 29 st

Reattach yarn, k1, k2tog, knit to end

K1, k2tog, k to end, repeat until 17 st remain

K to last three st, ssk, repeat until 10 st remain

K1, m1, k6, k2tog, k1

Repeat this row twice

*K2, yo, k6, yo, k2

Purl last row then bind off
Finishing: choose a lace-up yarn and thread it through the yo holes, then tie in a butterfly knot at the top.

*At this point, I was afraid I was going to run out of yarn, so made two yarn over holes on each strap and threaded some of the lacing yarn through them to be makeshift ties.  If I’d had enough yarn I would have decreased instead of yo, then knit st st until the straps were long enough to tie at the back of the neck.

This pattern was originally based on and borrows heavily from the Fanny Liege “Waitress” pattern, available on Ravelry

02 December 2011


A garden starts in winter.  Breath fogs as the ground freezes, old stalks rustle and fall down.  Clearing begins in spring, when the old material can be turned over and buried to help feed the new.  Daydreaming about what to plant where is a winter survival tactic; afternoons spent pouring over the seed catalogs with their brightly colored pictures, so cunningly sent out in the dead of January.  Except by the time the frosts are far enough apart to count, “where” questions are mostly settled, and it’s time to start thinking of “when.”  Frosts are a central pillar around which gardeners plan and hope.  Good pea plants are born of hard frosts, but less hardy plants, like tender greens, need warm soil to grow in.  Hard frosts tell a gardener when to plant indoors and when to move indoor seedlings out.  In mid spring when all the frosts are gone, transplanting and direct sowing can begin in earnest.  Just like magic, or seems like.  Keeping watch, day after day, over a stretch of ground that looks empty and then spotting the very first tiny leaves one fine, sunny morning.  Later, when the weather warms up even further it’s time to plant the heat lovers like tomatoes, peppers, and basil; a late start for a late crop.  Maybe as far back as the first day of February another set of tomatoes and peppers have been started indoors, and now is the time to transplant them; a very early start for an early crop.  Now starts the long haul towards harvest time.  Other than a rogue hail or windstorm, the garden is relatively safe weather wise until the real heat of summer sets in.  Perfidious pests are another matter and must be dealt with severely.  Quietly multiplying aphids, voracious Japanese beetles, legion squash bugs and distance jumping grasshoppers, all make an appearance.  Rightful garden denizens like ladybugs, tachinid flies, and soldier bugs seem in much shorter supply.  Scented herbs, both aromatic and sweet, dominate the air.  Trailing vines of peas, cucumbers and melons act like common thugs in their attempt to dominate their own little portion of the world.  Underneath the shading leaves of larger bushes, less heat resistant plants shelter, and grow as best they can.  Vital water flows in the muggy cool of morning and the sticky heat of evening.  With the passage of June and July, the heat really sets in, causing weariness even among such veterans as the tomatoes.  X-acto blades clear away dried and dying vegetation.  Yielding its harvest, the garden goes mostly dormant in the weirdly mirrored, yet polar opposite image of winter.  Zooming oppressively by, the summer will soon be replaced by the cool of autumn, but not soon enough.

01 December 2011

Yunte Huang on Charlie Chan

Whenever I have a spare moment lately, I've been reading "Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History" by Yunte Huang.  I'm about half way through the book.

I owe my knowledge of the book to a commenter on a FaceBook page that I follow.  After I became aware of the whitewashing scandal of The Last Airbender film, I discovered Racebending, a discrimination awareness group focusing on the entertainment industry. 

Racebending's latest project is highlighting and critiquing the upcoming Akira film that follows The Last Airbender pattern of filling all the main good-people roles with Caucasians (although for Akira, and this makes the situation particularly ludicrous, they retain their Japanese names), and, on occasion, making the staggeringly generous decision of allowing the main bad character to be played by a person of color [sarcasm cleanup on aisle four].  On a post about it - I believe it was the one announcing Kristen Stewart's gracing of the cast with her presence - someone posted a link to an NPR article about Yunte Huang's book.

Huang's writing is wonderful, and the book is interesting and quite engaging.  According to Huang, his book details four versions of the Charlie Chan legend,

" The first story, of course, is the man himself, beginning with Chang Apana, the bullwhip-toting Cantonese detective in Honolulu. Then there is Earl Biggers's story, unwinding from the cornfields of small-town Ohio to the old-boy parlors of Harvard Yard, followed by Chan's reinvention on the silver screen, a legend annealed in Hollywood and America's racial tensions. And, finally, there is Chan's haunting presence during the era of postmodern politics and ethnic pride in contemporary America."
But in addition to being in bulk a biography of Chang Apana, the real-life person who inspired Bigger's character and providing a look at Hawaiian history that's in-depth enough to serve as a framework with which to view the rest of the book, Huang also relates and reflects on  some of his personal experiences, both from his childhood and days as a student in China and his studentship and eventual professorhood here in America. 

The book is a must read for history buffs, classic movie fans, and those who simply enjoy being treated to an alternative point of view from the mainstream Caucasian culture.