Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Seconded.

I think people were actually excited when Michael Chabon announced he was working on a TV show about "magicians and Hitler." My first thought was, give it a fucking rest. Someone please write a piece on why writers keep setting books during WWII, despite the fact that there are no new angles to work there, seriously, let the ground lay fallow for a while.
- Jessa Crispin

Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: Sucker Punch (SPOILERS) (updated x2)

I am in general agreement with Alyssa Rosenberg on Sucker Punch, which is not a good film, but worth seeing if you find the concept of "Sin City + Return to Oz + Girl, Interrupted" intriguing. Zach Snyder is one of a mere handful of working directors with an immediately apparent visual style, and if he's not known for his subtlety, he at least makes failure interesting, which is more than can be said for most big-screen action-fests these days.

As set-up: After the death of her mother, the unnamed protagonist (called "Baby Doll") attempts to protect her sister from sexual molestation by their stepfather. She accidentally shoots her sister, and this gives the stepfather a perfect excuse to bundle Baby off to a shady mental institution while he enjoys the inheritance left to the two girls. He pays off a corrupt orderly to forge papers so she will be lobotomized in five days. In shock, but knowing her time is limited, Baby escapes into a fantasy world where she and the other female patients are trapped in a bordello and a small group of fellow dancer/inmates agree to join her plan to escape. The interludes where they undertake plan objectives are portrayed via a third dream-level, in which the girls are machine-gun-toting commandos in a series of surreal, war-torn landscapes.

That Sucker Punch owes some debts to Sin City seems obvious, and my impressions of the depiction of female autonomy in that picture go double here. Instead of a political war for independence, we have a Great-Escape narrative, but in each case it's important not to allow the women's scanty costumes to obscure that their struggle is one for freedom: here, freedom from patriarchal and oppressive medical "treatment" meant to silence and suppress them. The decision to play out a similar parallel narrative in the 1985 Oz sequel was widely criticized as being disturbing: when faced with young women telling us things we don't want to hear, the system tends to come down with a cruel and patronizing force.

This is explicit in Girl, Interrupted, but the sexuality of the protagonists is downplayed here, and as Alyssa notes there's no romantic angst playing any part in the characters' motivations, or even their reasons for ending up in confinement. As befits an action movie, the desire is for physical freedom, to be procured through physical means.

And boy are those means physical! Part of my disgruntlement with the pre-release criticism of Sucker Punch was the extent to which the arguments presumed a male audience: Sexy costumes are just there for the titillation of the male audience; violence is there for teenage boys to get off on. But large portions of this movie are effectively video-game style action sequences with an all-woman cast of avatars. They are competent, human, kickass, and emphatically female---but they are not reduced to sexual objects. They are instead excellent vessels for the enjoyment of a female action viewer (and we do exist!). I speculated after the fact whether the choice to make all of the targets in the action sequences non-human was a deliberate decision made to appeal to women.

So there's the surface attraction. But what makes this more interesting than a simple shoot-em-up is the layered structure and what it says about coping and powerlessness. Much of the movie takes place at the middle level, in which the various girls are sex-trafficked workers in a club/whorehouse run by a mustachioed and violent pimp. The girls use their sexuality, via dance and charm, to procure various items necessary for escape. But this level of the narrative is just a proxy for what is really happening in the mental hospital, where the head orderly (the pimp) violates the girls in mostly unspecified ways. There is, thus, a lurking horror at Sucker Punch's heart: What terrors are inflicted on Baby and her fellow patients such that a fantasy of being imprisoned prostitutes (who at least wield sexual power, and are valued, if instrumentally) is a psychological improvement? What "real world" events in the mental hospital occurred to correspond with the brutal murders of two girls and the accidental killing of a third? And how horrible must life be if only through multiple and corrupted layers of distancing can women conceptualize their struggle?

UPDATE: Just saw this post linking to Sady Doyle's review. I'm still finding the hostility mostly misplaced. As one commenter at Coates's blog put it,
[Doyle's] analysis of moviegoing habits doesn't really add up for me. For one thing, it assumes that the primary audience for the girls-with-guns genre is male, and thus apparently has gotten more so since the 80s - which doesn't really square with my own anecdotal experience. Also, the rape-fantasies aside, it seems pretty incoherent to critique an action movie for putting its characters in harm's way - "When its female characters aren't fending off rapists, they╩╝re being lobotomized, stabbed, imprisoned, sold, shot in the head, forced to strip, or blown up on trains in outer space." Isn' that basically what action movies do? The question for me would be how prominent the sexual victimization is, and; what kind of reaction - sympathetic? titillated? - it seems to be aimed at provoking from its audience.
The leads in Sucker Punch are not Women in Refrigerators by the conventional definition, i.e. they are not killed or injured as a plot device in a story about a male hero. Even if you broaden the critique to include female characters who are injured and not returned to the status quo, the movie ends with one female character giving her life so another female character can be restored to freedom---hardly a clear case. Perhaps the dead sister qualifies, but she's if anything a plot device in a story about a female hero.

UPDATE 2: I particularly liked Alyssa's interpretation of Baby as someone who chooses oblivion. The fact that the ending seems to have struck many people as jarring or disappointing is partially a function of how it subverts our viewing expectations and partially as understandable discomfort with her decision to embrace her own "mental death" in order for her friend to escape. And yet her choice, albeit regrettable and tragic, is comprehensible: what remains for Baby, on the outside? Everyone she loves is dead. If she does get out, she will have to fight her stepfather to remain free (and may still go to prison), haunted every day by the memory of killing her own sister.

But the dignity of her choice---to embrace oblivion like a lover, and in doing so both escape her own torment and enable someone who still has family to rejoin it---would have been more clear were it not for the MPAA. Because depicting that embrace, within the dream-context of the layered narrative, would have involved a scene of consensual heavy petting with Jon Hamm, and the MPAA would only give a PG-13 rating to that scene if it was re-cut so he was taking her against her will. And Snyder, to whom most reviewers have been willing to attribute all kinds of sexism, didn't want to send that message.

Isn't this fairly strong evidence that Snyder intentionally avoided any actual scenes of rape (which is what the whole dual-distancing is about---when Baby dances and fights, it's obvious, at least to me, that her distracting sexual display/physical struggle is an escape from assaults occurring in the asylum, but this is never presented for our titillation) and instead wanted to show Baby's sexuality as something she ultimately owns and chooses to exercise? It's easy to put all the blame for the muddied themes on the writer/director, but the inclusion of this scene would have underlined Baby's decision and provided welcome contrast with the many previous examples of choice denied.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ah, the French.

i don't know which part of this post I love best. "Scratchy-backside jam"? Getting your legs measured at the sock store? That in France, "people from [Auvergne] are known as being particularly hard-working and industrious (which is a quality that is both admired, and frowned-upon)"?

Semi-unrelatedly: I highly, highly recommend Mesrine

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Signifier Songs

You know how movies set in the Boomers' youth always seem to pick the same few 60s songs to evoke the decade? What 1990s and 2000s songs do you think will be equivalent movie shorthand in the future?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hearts of gold, dull as dross

It is very troubling to me how this post on female characters in SF/F sets up a dichotomy between "convincing women characters" and sexualized women characters/characters that are prostitutes.
A lithe, athletic girl in a tight-fitting leather costume is not a significant improvement, in feminist terms, on a whore.
 I'd think this is true for certain values of "whore," but if the author believes that they're both morally neutral (as I would contend), it's not coming across. Sexuality is part of the human experience. Is there anything necessarily disempowering about sexualizing yourself? What if another facet of your persona is the one being accented? That whores and other sexualized women are more considered objects than persons is a function of sexuality's place in our society, not anything intrinsic to sexualization.

A female character who embraces her sexuality (or even sells it!) can be a "strong," "convincing" woman character. She may not be taking the speculation part* of the speculative fiction where you want it to go, but that's a matter of taste, not evidence sufficient to find the book anti-feminist. In fact, it's possible that the speculated setting could be one in which women can embrace many aspects of their personhood, including their sexuality, without the baggage and judgment and disempowering objectification that make doing so problematic in our world.**

It's one thing if you are bored with male writers defaulting to prostitution as a job for their female characters,*** but there's no need to imply that hookers can't be three-dimensional when the problem can much more easily be attributed to bad writing.


* I don't care if your imaginary world has perfect gender equality (or even eliminates one gender altogether), if the characters are Homo sapiens, then they're going to sexualize themselves and others. Maybe that's not the focus of your book or your protagonist is relatively asexual, but my suspension of disbelief will not extend much further. 

** I willingly admit that this is not what is happening in a lot of SF/F with sexualized female characters.

*** I'm bored as hell with writers using writers as characters: that's even more lazy and gender neutral to boot!

The glorious liberty of unreachability

I didn't get a cell phone until 2003, when I needed to put a number on my resumes for 2L recruiting. With the exception of its cancer fearmongering, this article makes a good case* for the freedom of not having a cell phone. Of course, it's not like calling someone socially is really done these days. I'd gladly swap voice minutes for unlimited texting, but as a grandfathered-in subscriber with an unlimited flat-rate data plan, change scares me.

* One side note: The benefits of a good connection with a land line are undermined by widespread use of speakerphone and cruddy headsets, both on other people's land lines and on their cell phones.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Counterpunch

I know absolutely nothing about Suckerpunch except that it's a Zach Snyder joint, so guilty pleasure material, and it's got teeny girls kicking serious ass. And though my inner feminist is usually on a hair trigger, I'm going to drag a companion to see this movie even if it's terrible. But even if it is awful, I'm not sure that this is a really good basis for saying so:
[T]he petite bloodthirsty girly-girls of Sucker Punch still bare their midriffs and cleavages even in what is supposedly their own fantasy scenarios. Maybe I’m alone here, but when I am imagining myself kicking some high-fantasy ass, it’s sheathed in the sort of Kevlar weave, full-body armor that would put a Nolan-verse Batman to shame. Leather hot-pants, after all, have a tendency to ride up when one is jumping out of bomber jets into frenzied combat.
I fail to see the problem. It's not like male avatars of superherodom aren't fit and muscular and don't take great pains to highlight their secondary sex characteristics through inches of steel/rubber/Kevlar. And if you are willing to suspend disbelief in order to make yourself a 100 lb girl ninja paratrooper, are wedgies really a reasonable sticking point? If you want to get all buzz-killer about it, how do you go to the bathroom in Batman-style body armor? Might it not cause you to overheat? Hot pants: Not so much.

If you are fantasizing, why not have perfectly smooth airbrush-tanned legs that bad guys barely have time to salivate over before you kick them in the face? There is no universe where incredible fighting skills + attractive is not >>>>> than incredible fighting skills. What exactly is attractive about a Kevlar jumpsuit? That implies you might get hit. A crop top and daisy dukes says "you will never, ever touch me (unless I want you to)."

(Now the whole bit about male-gazing and using sexual abuse for audience outrage and titillation, probably a good call. But in the grand scheme of things, I am less troubled by obviously fantastical sexism than I am by, say, the pernicious and horrible sexist influence of rom-coms and reality TV. And this has swords and explosions.)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Scraps and tidbits

- Easter's not for a month, but the first day of spring is Sunday! I've got festive seasonal yarn for you.

- Mike asks in comments who the readership is these days. If you're comfortable with doing so, pop up in comments and say hi, maybe how you came to the blog, and what you want to see more of.

- Sometimes I don't think my knitting is ambitious enough:




Nice! These squares are prettier, though.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The more things change

Just as I suspected, the "Etsy privacy Valdez" is more of a leaky sailboat:
I'm the founder and CEO of Etsy. I'd like to add a bit more explanation here, because we haven't made any recent or unannounced changes. This is a combination of how things have always worked (feedback), with a feature we launched in October of last year (real names).
What happened? Purchases are made visible via our feedback system, which has not been changed in almost six years. As part of building a trust score on Etsy, buyers leave feedback for sellers and vice versa. We've always linked to the item purchased when feedback is left.
Lots of people on Etsy have identifiable usernames. Many include their real name, or are a recognizable public persona. We saw this, and we also wanted to deepen the trust relationship between buyers and sellers, so we gave all members the option to enter their real name. We feel that being who you really are is an important part of trust on the Web.
We created the option for real names in mid-October. Since then, nothing around this issue has changed. If you put your real name in Etsy, bought stuff, and received feedback, it'd link to the item you bought. Google would also index this stuff.
Did we make a mistake here? Yes, and we worked till late in the night yesterday to take a step in the right direction and plan our next steps: http://www.etsy.com/teams/7716/announcements/discuss/6818578/page/1/ [Ed: link fixed.]
We did not suddenly make some changes without telling anyone. Our feedback system has always linked to items. Additionally, most people on Etsy don't use their real names, and haven't filled these fields in.
We're talking today about what we need to do better, and we'll do it better.
Upshot: You were always Googleable if you put your real name on your Etsy profile. Etsy's change made it possible to find you by searching through the Etsy site by real name or email address.

Of course, now your shopping history is veiled because Etsy has eliminated links in feedback to items purchased and disclosure of feedback left for you by others, which prompts one to ask what the purpose of feedback is, anyway.  (They've kept feedback from you given to others, although there's no link to the other you gave it to, if that makes sense.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Cats need to eat a high protein, high water content, small volume meal, i.e. a mouse."

PSA: Do you have a fat cat? This is your solution.

Constant Readers may recall that Snape's leg was mysteriously broken some years ago and that he had surgery to fix it. Because part of his hip was removed (it's held together with ligaments, the body's duct tape), it's important that he not become overweight and stress the load-bearing capacity of his non-joint. Nonetheless, because Snape is history's greatest and most ravenous monster, he got fat. But Lily is and always has been slender. Diet food is exactly what she doesn't need. Male cats also need lots of water to avoid UTI problems.

Enter canned food. Snape lost the 3-5 pounds that put him in the roly-poly category and has not had any other health problems. (Lily is her usual svelte self.) Any cat owner with a pudgy pet should consider this.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is chess good for anything?

I love Ta-Nehisi Coates's "Talk to me like I'm stupid" blog feature, in which he asks his very large and civil readership to lecture him on areas that he's interested in but doesn't understand. The inability of people to admit that they lack knowledge and be open to education is a major problem in internet discourse, where bluffing and bullying your way into the winner's circle is all too prevalent.

That said, talk to me like I'm ten years old: What is chess good for? Does teaching your kid chess give them any skills that are useful in other endeavors? (For example, it's often said that learning music helps you learn math, and many sports develop strength and coordination that are generally beneficial.) If you spent your youth playing chess, are you better or worse off than if you devoted a similar amount of time to computer programming, bridge, billiards, or the trombone?

It's totally fine if chess is just for chess's sake; it's not like I'm opposed to impractical hobbies. But I was curious.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

50 Book Challenge No. 5: Ghost Map

I've got a soft spot for books about deadly disease, when they're leavened with personalities and points of human contact. Ghost Map documents London's deadly 1854 cholera epidemic and the discovery, via innovative use of maps and creative thinking, that cholera is spread via contaminated water. Like the lantern overturned by Mrs. O'Leary's legendary cow, a single upended chamber pot started a cycle of rapid and terrifying death. Many factors aligned to instigate the epidemic: A single household's use of a front cesspool rather than the rear, that pool's proximity to a poorly lined well, and the tendency of that well's refreshingly tasty water to draw children and adults for blocks around. The single, dogged doctor who managed to pull the pieces together, John Snow, is artfully drawn as the sort of classic polymath made impossible by our current state of specialization and scientific progress. His triumph over the pseudoscientific theories of his fellows stands as testament to his genius, and one wonders what other discoveries he might have made given a long lifespan (Snow expired early, the price of his using himself as test subject).

The chief quarrel I have with this book is its pacing. Snow convinces authorities to remove the handle from the contaminated pump and the epidemic trails off. However, Johnson spends a few chapters after that establishing that the epidemic was petering out on its own, and that Snow's accomplishment with respect to lives saved as a direct result was arguably nil. After dampening our passion and excitement for Snow's victory for several dozen pages, though, Johnson reveals that the same household in which the epidemic began had one of its last victims. The disposal of bodily fluids from that victim would have reignited the disease and caused it to spread again through the neighborhood with lethal effect---had it not been for the pump handle's removal. Perhaps for someone who read this book in a more detached manner, this about-face would not have seemed as jarring.

The only other issue is that the closing chapter connecting Snow's mapping and discovery with the present day feels tacked on. An editor might have told Johnson that the story of the outbreak and those who fought against it stands just as well on its own, without need for didactic discourses on modern threats. But that is merely a quibble. Recommended.

By request: The Etsy experience

Sarah asks for comments on how my experience as an Etsy seller is going. Today I sold my first custom order (reproducing a one-off colorway on the laceweight base), so emotions are positive for the moment. Dyeing is something I do in fits and spurts, and I've not yet hit the sweet spot in terms of keeping a constantly updated stream of listings. It also takes a while to photograph things well enough to capture colors accurately, which I sort of rolled my eyes about when I saw people say before, but am now intimately familiar with. I have goals of purchasing some additional equipment that will ease or speed the preparation of the skeins for sale: a light box (the current one is handmade, although I suppose I could just make a better one) and a nicer swift.

I did buy an advertisement on Ravelry, which on a per-click basis was much more cost-effective than a Facebook ad would have been. I've also started discussions with a person organizing a book project, so with luck Marli Tharn yarn will be used as the suggested yarn for a pattern or two, which always helps, since many people prefer to use the indicated yarn (sometimes even down to the color shown) for their projects.

Etsy support has been very responsive to requests I have made as a seller, although I am still disappointed that they disabled the advanced search function's capability to search item descriptions. (That affects me more in my capacity as Etsy Stylist than as Marli Tharn proprietor, though.) The fees Etsy charges don't strike me as high, although if I frequently relisted items to raise their position in search results, they would quickly mount. Overall, Etsy strikes me as a very good thing for a hobbyist and potterer. And if it's exceedingly unlikely that you can make a living as an Etsy seller, I deem that part and parcel of working in the arts (broadly defined), not as anything unique to internet sales of craft.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Monday, March 07, 2011

By request: SF/F Gateway Drugs

Isabel asks for entry points to either genre for the lit-fic reader, as well as books to avoid. There's an old AskMe on this for fantasy, which is my stronger suit, but I'd supplement or qualify many of those recs. I'm assuming existing familiarity with the "I'm a real author and not part of the genre ghetto" stuff that Atwood, Chabon, Ishiguro, and the like churn out on occasion---those may be of interest, but they are dead ends, genre-wise---they take from it, but do not give back.

Suggestions:

- George R.R. Martin is one of the most popular authors working, and he straddles both genres. If you have any interest in historical fiction or epics, try A Game of Thrones (bonus: HBO series based on this volume starts in spring). For SF, his collections of short stories are better than the novels; Tuf Voyaging gives a good sense of the flavor.

- China Mieville: A prominent author who occasionally draws notice by the conventional literary establishment. His two best books are The City and the City (which is an odd genre-straddler) and The Scar. Prose is not his strongest suit, but for a sense of the New Weird subgenre, there's none better.

- Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game ONLY. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Useful for analyzing the inner child of many libertarians.

- Connie Willis: If you like your lit fic to put you through an emotional wringer, this is the author for you. Several of Willis's more prominent works revolve around time travel, but she uses this device in the way that (IMO) speculative fiction is intended to be used: as a mechanism for examining the human condition. If you read one, make it Doomsday Book.

- Vernor Vinge: A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky are awesome, in the sense of inspiring a sense of awe for the universe. It's hard SF for people with souls. Best read both.

- Iain M. Banks: Also writes lit fic as "Iain Banks," so there's a natural progression. The Player of Games is probably the best entry point to his SF work, which chiefly deals with a post-scarcity society populated with humanoids and AIs.

I think Jack Vance is boring as all hell, but he gets accolades for his prose. Likewise, Bujold is often recommended but her stuff can be fluffy and mostly consists of an interminable series about a very short space captain. I have a love/hate relationship with Gene Wolfe's style, which can be opaque and muddled* at times, but if you do wish to try him, The Book of the New Sun is the place to start. Wolfe is meant to be read closely and rewards revisitation.

To avoid, at least for now and possibly forever:

- Neal Stephenson: These are not gateway books; the info dumps are too large, and Stephenson cannot write endings to save his life. Once you're a genre fan, go back and start with either Cryptonomicon or The Diamond Age.

- Ursula LeGuin: Much of her work has aged poorly. The Left Hand of Darkness is the closest thing to a gateway book I could recommend, and I'd really only do so if the reader had a preexisting interest in gender politics.

- Robert Heinlein: If you're not a teenage boy, a lot of his work is silly or distasteful.

- Frank Herbert: Like Heinlein, a titan in the genre, but best recognized for his overall contribution to mythos creation, not for prose or characterization.

- John Crowley: Unless you do a lot of drugs, avoid.

- Mervyn Peake: Gormenghast is ghastly. If someone tries to tell you it's like Tolkien but more literary, first punch that person in the mouth, then run.

Other authors that are NOT what you want: Donaldson, Brin, Octavia Butler, Sheri Tepper, Zelazny, Ann McCaffrey, Walter Miller, Kim Stanley Robinson, William Gibson, Sam Delany, Tad Williams. Some of these folks are fine authors, but they are best appreciated after a period of genre immersion. (Others are horrible, terrible, no-good-very-bad authors. I will not say which is which.)

* Sidebar: Is there a term for when someone takes the unreliable narrator one step further and the author himself becomes deceptive and unreliable? The predominant sensation I have when reading Wolfe is of being shown something through a deliberate haze.

The Definitive Spinach Quiche Recipe

A mixture of Cook's Illustrated, Martha Stewart, and trial & error.

Crust:

1 1/4 cups flour
4 tbsp butter, cubed (frozen or very cold)
3 tbsp shortening, cubed (frozen or very cold)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
Ice water

Preheat oven to 375. Process dry ingredients to blend, then add shortening and process for ten one-second pulses. Add butter and repeat. Turn into a mixing bowl and fold in ice water with a spatula, 1-2 tbsp at a time, until the dough coheres into a slightly tacky ball. Turn out onto plastic wrap and squish into a 4 inch disk, then freeze for 30 minutes. Roll out with a little extra flour, rotating after each couple of rolls. Fold in quarters and unfold in a deep quiche pan, turning in any overhang and pressing against the sides. Lightly fork the bottom several times and freeze for 30 minutes. Bake for 25 minutes (pie weights may be used). Remove pie weights if necessary and bake for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. (Do not add cheese later if the crust is still hot enough to melt it.)

Filling:

10 oz. raw spinach, chopped and large stems removed (no frozen spinach)
2 shallots
1 tbsp butter
4 oz Gruyere cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream (do not substitute!)
1 cup milk
2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
1 dash ground nutmeg

While crust is baking, saute shallots in butter in a large, deep pan until translucent. Add spinach, a little at a time, until it is uniformly wilted. Remove, place in strainer, and allow to drain liquids, pressing firmly to encourage this. While the spinach drains further, grate the cheese finely. Beat spices with eggs, then add milk and cream and whisk together.

Alternate layers of the drained and pressed spinach (the spinach should not dribble even a little) and the finely grated cheese in the cooled pie shell, spinach first. Place the quiche pan on a rimmed cookie sheet, pull out the oven rack, and put the whole thing on the rack. Then gently pour the filling liquid into the pan, making sure not to pour all in one spot. Gingerly slide the rack back into the oven.

Bake at 375 for 35-50 minutes, or until top has golden brown spots and the center jiggles only slightly. (Check at 35 and 45 minutes.) Allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes before removing the quiche from the pan.

Follow all directions exactly and happiness will be yours. This filling also works with 4-5 slices of roughly crumbled or chopped bacon in place of the spinach and shallots. Note: Do not add the spices to the milk and then the eggs. Do not grate the cheese too early or with the coarse side of the grater. Do not use half and half in place of the milk and cream. Do not skimp the draining of the spinach. Do not use vodka in the crust---I don't care what you heard. Do not touch the dough directly with your hands except when flipping it to roll and when folding and unfolding it and patting it into the pan. Touch the butter and shortening as little as possible. Do not use all butter; shortening will not kill you. If you use a shallow quiche pan, the baking time will be shorter and you will not have a huge, thick, beautiful slab of quiche. If you don't put the pan on a cookie sheet and your crust develops an invisible crack and leaks egg all over the oven, don't come crying to me.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

By request: What kind of exercise can you stand?

I have never liked sweating. Growing up in Houston, sweating was a gross and omnipresent burden on existence. The humidity hangs over you like a damp towel at all times, making all the sweating completely ineffectual, as if further insult was required. I was eighteen before I realized that people could wear the same clothing item twice without laundering. To minimize perspiration, you ambled from air-conditioned car to air-conditioned building and back again as quickly as you could without breaking a sweat. Not sweating, for a girl from the south, can be raised to a fine art.

Thus my hatred of exercise. People sweat on purpose? Not to win a game, even, or do something arguably artistic, but just ... for its own sake? Disgusting. But at a certain point, one's lifestyle and metabolism conspire to make the strategies perfected as a teen on the Gulf Coast maladaptive. One must exercise, lest you blimp out.

With that preface and qualification, I have managed to stomach the following exercise methods and activities:

- Walking to and from places which one is required to go (work, grocery store, etc.)
- Weightlifting, very occasionally.
- Elliptical machines, even less frequently, and only when completely distracted by a very specific type of audiobook, namely an airplane read/plot crack page-turner.
- Day-to-day activities from which a certain amount of exertion is integral.

I am sure that spinning yarn with my foot-powered wheel burns some tiny percentage of the calories expended in the more famous "spinning" exercises, but that hardly counts.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

That's the internet for you.

Funniest line from the new Bleeding-Heart Libertarians blog:
I didn't realize that this blog was going to be read by so many non-philosophers.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Same here.

This is where I'm at, too. Inspiration, please?