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Something Sucks Around Here October 29, 2012

Posted by J. in FYI.
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So, the opening of the last chapter of the Twilight Saga is just around the corner. And I have a confession to make.

I can’t WAIT.

Here’s what happened.

My daughter brought home the first Twilight book. I wondered if it was appropriate for a 4th grader to read. Sometimes I’m a dutiful parent. Mind you, I think I read The Thorn Birds when I was in fourth grade, but I was curious about it. I started reading, and about four pages in I got so mad I threw it.

I do not approve of that novel for any age level to read. It is bad. I washed my hands of it. I figured it was not up my alley because it’s a YA novel, and I am no longer a Young Adult. I’m an old adult and prefer to read something a bit more challenging. I let it go and figured Twilight was something I need never again worry my head about.

Then my friend Loraine found out I’d never seen the movies. “I don’t want to,” I said. “I have no interest at all.”

“You HAVE to. I have them on DVD. You will come over some morning and we’ll watch.”

She talked me into it. I brought knitting that I later had to rip out because my gauge was so tight from anger. She sat and laughed as the movie went on because I kept getting madder, and madder, and madder. I started yelling at the TV, and then at her. She dropped me off at home and I was PISSED. Super-pissed, even.

The story was already Not Great, so the movie wasn’t going to be Citizen Kane or anything. I knew Robert Pattinson wasn’t going to be the handsome, ruddy youth of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (rest in piece, beautiful Cedric Diggory). I knew whatsherface has one facial expression.

What made me mad was the fact that somewhere, the author of those books is raking in money hand over fist and is swimming in a pool full of gold coins like Scrooge Fucking McDuck somewhere. I could go off on a diatribe about what was wrong with the movie and the book, but I’ll let Matt Inman of The Oatmeal explain it. He does it so much better than I.

So when she asked if I was ready to watch New Moon while crouching behind the circulation desk at the library and well out of the reach of my swinging fists, I said yes, but this time I brought a big, honkin’ cup of coffee with a healthy dram of Bailey’s in it to take the edge off. And take the edge off, it did. Plus, New Moon had werewolves. Some very yummy werewolves. I was a little buzzed and liking the shirtless boys quite a lot. They weren’t so emo as all the vampires. It was a refreshing change. I found myself…enjoying it a little. I was not super-pissed when I got home.

Then there was another one, and I got me some coffee with a good, stiff shot in it and by this time I was rolling with it. I knew what was coming, and as it unfolded I just sat back and enjoyed it. It was hilarious. I was a little drunk. So when the first part of the fourth one came out, I was all over it. Now, up until this point, Loraine had seen them all. In the first and second ones, she sat and watched my reactions and laughed her ass off. She knew what stupidity was afoot and was wetting herself while fearing for her very life.

She hadn’t seen the fourth one. I hadn’t either, but I’d also watched three of these stupid movies in a row, fortified by Irish cream liqueur, and I was getting quite used to it. I was looking forward to what inanity they could dream up next, and I wasn’t disappointed. The first part of Breaking Dawn reached new heights of horrible awesomeness, but the best part was watching Loraine.

Rage face ensued. LORAINE SMASH. She was yelling at the screen. She almost stabbed the cat with a knitting needle. She was mumbling epithets about Scrooge McDucking in a swimming pool of cash.

When she dropped me off, she was super-pissed and I was the one laughing.

Honestly, for me the movies are like Rocky Horror. You know how the first time you see a cult classic like that you think to yourself, “This is the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Why do people like this so much?” Then you watch it again, and again, and before you know it, you’re hooked. You just get it. I will never understand why anyone is seriously in love with this franchise, but for me, it has all the appeal of a cult classic. The whole saga is so bad it’s actually amazing. It’s amazingly bad. But it’s serious in it’s badness and that makes it terrific.

And I can’t fucking WAIT to see the last chapter.

I’m dragging Loraine’s ass to the movie theater. No worries. Smitty’s serves alcohol. It’s going to be EPIC.

 

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NaNoWriMo–Yes or No? October 27, 2012

Posted by J. in FYI, Genius.
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Last year, I did it. I won NaNoWriMo. I wrote a 40K word novel in 30 days.

I’m not saying it was a good novel. I gave it to four beta readers and none of them could get through it. Well, I assume they couldn’t. The only feedback I got was “I haven’t finished it yet” and then I don’t like to push when folks are doing me a favor, so I let it drop. The fact that it wasn’t devoured eagerly and commented on either favorably or un- is telling.

It also doesn’t exactly make me want to write that way again.

The one good thing is that it made me get forty-thousand words on paper. It took a lot of hours to do, with an end result that’s worthless to me. I can’t edit it because to me, the story is told. It’s just (apparently) not a very good story. I can live with that.

But I have three full-length novels in progress that have all stalled for one reason or another, and I’ve had very little time to write lately. I’m thinking maybe during NaNo this year of setting aside a block of time every day to write. Perhaps log so many hours on the stories I already have instead of counting the words, and give myself a victory if I can get any one of them into a readable draft form. Hell, finishing all three and having manuscripts to submit to publishers would be an amazing accomplishment, even if I don’t earn a shiny new badge for my sidebar.

It’s for sure that writing is a discipline. I have to do it all the time, every day, or I get out of practice. Even blogging is hard (in case you couldn’t tell) because the words don’t want to come out of my head. My writing seems halting and forced and stilted to me, and the words flow only in messy, lumpy, stringy, scattered bursts.

It will be good to get my head back in the game.

 

Look at MEEEEEEEEE! October 22, 2012

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I kinda want to be famous.

I’ll admit that to you because I know you won’t judge me for it.

As it is, I have a bit of a Big Fish-Small Pond thing going on. I live in a small town and have lived in the same house I grew up in for most of my life. When that happens, folks get to know who you are. There’s a great feeling of familiarity. It’s not the same as celebrity, but there is something very cool about walking into the town hall, or the post office, or the library and having everyone there know who you are and what you’re there for.

I get a bit of that same feeling of familiarity but in more of a “you know me but I don’t know you” kind of way at church. Because I cantor, mine is a fairly visible ministry, and it happens quite a lot that people will say “hi” to me and I don’t know who they are, exactly. Usually I recognize them, but on occasion I’ll have strangers come up to me and tell me they enjoyed my singing and I don’t know who they are at all.

I imagine celebrity is like that but on a far grander scale. And I can see why it’s alluring.

It’s flattering to have people come up because they know you for something and tell you, usually, how much they enjoy what you do. Though I suppose there are those who go up and say just what they don’t like, and that must suck. I figure I’m due for that to happen any day now.

I don’t know so much about being famous for the sheer sake of being famous, though. I mean, beyond being recognized, what is the attraction of fame for fame’s sake? What’s in that sort of attention? Or worse yet, being infamous. I think of the Jersey Shore fucktards and wonder why on earth you would want to be recognized for the reasons that they are. They don’t do anything, and are known for being stupid, shallow, self-obsessed, and ignorant. See also, The Kardashians.

They’ve sought fame and achieved it without actual achievement, and I can’t imagine either being interested in these people for being uninteresting, or for the celebrities themselves wanting that fame without cause.

I wouldn’t mind being famous, but I’d like it to be because I did something notable. If someday my name is known because I’ve contributed to the knitting world in some significant way, that would be the bomb, even if I’m only known at Rhinebeck or the local yarn shop. I wouldn’t mind being known as one one of the names that blazed a new trail in the erotica emergence of the 2010’s, even if I’m known by my pseudonym. Would I like to be the next Bloggess? Hell yeah, I would.

I don’t think I’m in any danger. I have enough trouble working social media to my advantage well enough to keep a few extra bucks in my Paypal account, so I don’t imagine the Fame Machine is going to spin wildly out of control any time soon. I’m so very uncomfortable with the whole social media and self-promotion thing that I really can’t even wrap my head around doing it just to become known. It’s crazy.

Back in the Saddle October 18, 2012

Posted by J. in Sticks and String.
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This morning I was sitting here and my dusty spinning wheel caught my eye. It sits here in the kitchen beside my desk, and I was trying to remember the last time I used it. There was a brown bit of roving on it that I actually had to look up in my records to see what the fiber is.

In case you were wondering, turns out it’s an alpaca combed top. It’s the softest thing I’ve ever had in my hands. Just dreamy to spin, as I recall.

I was looking at it and admiring how even I was getting my singles when I decided to take it off the wheel and leave it be. I bought that roving in May of 2011 and I know it’s been a year since I’ve touched it. I don’t trust myself to be able to get that kind of consistency at this point. Luckily, the other three spindles are empty! After I dusted the wheel and polished it up, I loaded up and got to work.

I got a box of roving in a destash from a Regretsy friend, and while the two colored braids of roving are too felted to spin, the loose roving in the box is great. I’ve been using bits of it here and there as stuffing in some of my projects because it’s firmer and shifts less than polyester fiberfill. There’s a ton of it and it’ll be good for practice. I figured I’d spin for an hour, watch the monks of Shrewsbury and their shenanigans on Netflix, and see what’s what. I worked on spinning the single a bit thicker, and I am overspinning like a madwoman. Got some serious energy going on in this bad boy.

 

I made myself stop after one episode of Cadfael and rest my foot. I tend to overdo it and then my ankle and foot kill me for a few days. I gave myself tendonitis when I was first learning and don’t wish to repeat that. Besides, I have the cutest hat on the needles today that I’m hoping to finish. It’s going to be a Halloween costume for a very sweet little boy.

Picture the scales doing down the back of the stegosaurus hat. So freaking cute! RAWR

I also need to put the spinning away and do some work because I checked my stats on my other blog this morning. Oof.

That, my friends, is what happens when you take two days off for a well-earned break. I have been trying hard to ramp up my self-promotion efforts. You may have noticed. And all the blogging and tweeting and tumblr-ing and all that other stuff has had some payoff, at least in the Fiber Arts Empire side of my world. I’m bellybutton deep in special orders, thought I’m overtaking the end of the list, so if you’d like something for the upcoming holiday season, now is a great time to get in the queue for something lovely and handmade for all your gift-giving needs. This advertisement has been brought to you by the Poops Lacey Fiber Arts Empire.

The writing side? Well, not so much. Disappointingly so. Frustratingly so. It’s a lot of work to write stories, blog posts, create tumblr posts, think of pithy things to tweet during the day and so far it’s not translating to sales at all. I don’t know why or what I’m doing wrong, and I decided that it was burning me out. So I took a couple days off and watched my stats plummet.

How fickle are people? It was two days. Two of the slowest days. But come Monday, they didn’t come back. Now I’m back to trying to get readers back and figure out what’s next.

The two days I took off were fantastic, though. I actually got to get back in touch with my real life again, the one that is away from this desk and this house. On Friday night, we had Lori True and David Haas come to our church for a concert. For the un-Catholic, Lori and David are liturgical composers and musicians. In fact, if you open up a Catholic hymnal, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting something written by David. They both write beautiful songs and to see them perform is something special, in part, because it doesn’t feel like a performance. It’s an intimate evening and the audience is part of the event. We are encouraged to sing and we do. Because the music they write is suitable for liturgy, it’s all prayers, and when they invite us to join in, we do. Even the most hesitant person in the pews is singing along by the end.

Lori and David came back on Saturday to lead workshops, and I’ve been looking forward to it since last year when Jeanne got the idea to bring them here. The last time they came was six years ago and I took Lori’s cantor workshop the weekend before I cantored for the first time. I still think of all the things she said that day every time I get up there to pray the psalm and every time I open my mouth to sing. I remember her instruction specifically that if you don’t know the words that you are singing, if it’s just another piece of music for you, or if you are up there performing, you need to rethink your whole mindset of being a music minister. She taught me that I’m a minister first and a musician second.

Saturday’s workshops brought that to a head again, reminding me of the special role I have as a liturgical minister. Church has changed for me this last year since Fr. Albert left. It’s been a struggle, and being part of the music ministry is the only thing that’s kept me going to Mass some days. But listening to Lori and David talk about our role was encouraging, but it was more than that. Lori and David, in addition to being talented musicians and composers, are both theologians and liturgists, and they said over and over again that Jesus is in each one of us. If you don’t see Jesus in the face of every person around you, you’ve missed the point. It’s not enough to pray. It’s not enough to sing. It’s not enough to say you love Jesus. You have to see him in the face of the person you despise and reach out anyway. It’s a challenge I’ve not heard in that building since Fr. Albert left and I’ve missed it so much. I know the message is the same and the challenge has never left, but to hear it issued again with such passion and conviction was moving and inspiring and I think I got that reminder when I most needed it. Strange how the Holy Spirit works sometimes.

So Saturday was spent in holy reflection, and after Mass Sunday morning where I cantored with new energy and vitality and conviction, I went shopping and to lunch with my mother and sister. We usually do that on Mother’s Day, but this year my grandmother had just recently passed and Ma didn’t think she’d be up to it. We made it up on Sunday and hit the Christmas Tree Shop, had a great Italian lunch, then a little Trader Joe’s before heading home. I brought my knitting and finished most of a Cthulhu cocksock in the car. I can’t read while I ride, but I can knit, which is awesome news.

He is a handsome bastard, make no mistake. And the pattern (click the link) has been pretty popular so far.

But, come Monday when I’d neither blogged nor tweeted all weekend, I found my stats had gone down and weren’t coming back up. And here I am, on Thursday, with low numbers on both blogs and trying to decide if Twitter is worth it or not.

*sigh*

The idea of never getting a couple of days off again without having to work twice as hard to play catch-up is unnerving, though.

I Reject Your Reality and Substitute My Own October 15, 2012

Posted by J. in FYI, Genius.
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I remember when the first season of Survivor aired. It was one of the coolest things I’d seen on TV. Real people competing in harsh conditions for a huge prize was fascinating as a premise, and I tuned in personally because one of the girls on the show had been a co-worker of mine only a few weeks earlier and I wanted to cheer Jenna on and see how she did.

I liked how back in the early days of reality TV, it was mostly anthropological. They put the “cast” in a situation and let it unfold. Look at those folks up there. They looked like real people because they were real people. Yeah, it was edited, but remember early on? It was much more raw in those days. I stopped watching the show part way through the second season when I realized they were just copying the basic formula as the first show and manipulating the “cast” into situations that were remarkably similar to the previous season. You could see the thought process behind it. “Okay, we need this type of character and this type of character…” If you look at the cast photos from later seasons, you can see people chosen to fit a script. There’s nothing real about them at all.

On the whole, I can honestly say I’m not even equipped to talk about reality TV because I can’t make myself sit through an episode of anything unscripted. I see so many shows full of nothing but human beings behaving badly. I see greed, ambition, vanity, arrogance, rudeness, self-righteousness, pride, and anger. I see people becoming famous for nothing at all save behaving badly. Or stupidly. Or ignorantly.

I understand the obsession with reality TV. I get the voyeuristic aspect of it. What I don’t understand is why we spend hours watching people behave badly? Would we not tune in to see people behaving nicely? Would we watch a show about the brightest people in the world doing intelligent things? Would we tune in to see people doing well and being kind? Even shows like American Idol and the like are punctuated by episodes where we can watch people perform and fail dismally. We dissect every mishap and make fun of every failing that happens on camera.

Why?

I have no idea. I suspect part of it is our need to feel superior to someone. Life can be a chore some days, and seeing someone else fail makes us feel like less of a failure, perhaps. We watch Real Housewives behaving like painted baboons and we feel better about ourselves. We see the vapid and shallow Kardashians and feel better about ourselves. We watch that little monster Honey Boo Boo and feel better about ourselves.

Beyond that, I just don’t know. On the whole I prefer fiction. I’d rather watch inventive stories and see programs where characters develop and change and grow, rather than a few seasons of real people acting like assholes until the next show and the next crop of assholes comes around as the “next big thing in reality TV.”

Personally, I’ll just put on reruns of Family Guy and knit until my fingers bleed.

WIP Wednesday: Cthulhu Rises Again October 10, 2012

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I have a confession to make.

It’s WIP Wednesday, and technically, at the moment, I have nothing on the needles. But that’s only because I finished a pair of mittens last night and had just enough time to ball the yarn for the next project before calling it day and turning in.

All hail the mighty Cthulhu…hat! Eventually, that is. Countdown to cast on!

It’s going to be a Cthulhu hat. Inspired by the Cthulhu Cocksock pattern, a hat was requested, probably because the intended recipient doesn’t have the correct anatomy to pull of a willy warmer. Like so many of my “interesting” hats, I’ve got a basic idea of what it will look like in my head, and I’m winging the rest from there. Stay tuned on this one.

And last night I finished these pretty Norwegian mittens as a special order. They still need their moment in the lightbox to get proper pictures of them, but here’s their informal shot. A candid, as it were, just hanging out on the desk waiting to be photographed, listed, tagged, and packaged.

My own pattern, Cascade Pastaza (50% wool, 50% llama) in “charcoal” and Valley Yarns Berkshire (85% wool, 15% alpaca) in “cream”.

It’s a never-ending list of things to do here in the Empire.

He Is a Master Baiter October 8, 2012

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Geoduck wants to know which is worse: My Little Pony or the Star Wars remastered special editions.

Geoduck is also baiting me.

I said I wouldn’t discuss My Little Pony, and yet, here we are. He’s waiting to see if I’ll take the bait. And he sweetened it by including Star Wars in the question. He’s dangling a big old worm out there for me.

Yeah, buddy. I see what you did there. I AM SO ONTO YOU.

But then last week I came out of the closet as a writer and talked about religion as well, so what the fuck. In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say. What do I think is the greater abomination?

Well, the truth is, I don’t dislike the ponies much more than I dislike any other children’s programming. Now, I know what you’re thinking.

No, I haven’t gone over to the Dark Side. I see My Little Pony for what it is. It’s a children’s cartoon that puts stuff in that appeals to grownups. Bugs Bunny did it famously. Spongebob does it. The Animaniacs is another one that brought it to new heights.

That video clip right there? It’s a joke about fudge-knuckling a pop star. And I really should own the collector’s edition of all the Animaniacs ever made because that show was fucking awesome. I watched it as an adult all the time. If you say to me, “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?” I will come back with a reply.

But essentially, what makes a cartoon watchable as an adult is the annoyance factor. I have three kids and have spent a lot of time over the last 12 years listening to and watching children’s programming. There are shows I can hear or see that don’t bother me. Super Why is on right now and I barely notice it in the background. They’re asking questions and every now and again I can hear Dave play along and shout out the letters they’re asking for.

Now, you put the Fairly Oddparents on in the next room and my hackles go up. That is a collection of the most annoying voices on television, hands down. I hear Timmy Turner start to speak and it’s like nails on a chalkboard. I’m the same way with Dora the Explorer. WHY IS THAT CHILD ALWAYS SHOUTING AT ME? Kick it back a notch, chica. We’re not deaf. Not all of us.

The ponies has the same effect. Honestly, with the sound turned off, I don’t get stabby. It’s ponies. Weird-ass looking ponies, but I’ve seen worse. It’s the SOUND, man. I can’t take the voices, or the music. And if my kids wanted to watch it, if they kept the sound down, I don’t care. They’re children.

I do not understand Bronies.

I can’t understand how a grown person could subject themselves to that mindless crap for hours on end, on purpose. I guess I just don’t find it witty or clever, or the songs particularly engaging. And the voices. *shudders* Just awful.

Then again, my kids have discovered reruns of Full House and I’ve never understood the appeal of that show either but it ran for-fucking-ever. It’s painfully unfunny.

But I digress.

Again.

As usual.

Is My Little Pony a greater abomination than the remastered Star Wars special editions?

Oh, George Lucas. Let me tell you what I told a friend of mine years ago as he planned to do a back flip off of a 6 foot set piece: just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

I understand his frustration, honestly. It’s well-documented that when George made the original Star Wars he was limited by budget and technological constraints, and he always felt he could have done it better if he hadn’t had those kind of imposed limits on his creativity. I mean, I can see that. It sucks to have to work on the cheap, or to have an idea in your head and not be able to realize it because the way to make it happen hasn’t been invented yet.

Not for nothing, but those limits are what pushed him to and other filmmakers like him to grow and invent and create and take movie making places it had only imagined. And that is amazing.

But part of the charm of the original Star Wars in its original format was that there was a bit of cheesiness about it. It was reminiscent of the old Saturday afternoon movie serials. The effects were simple, but it let the story shine through. And as confined as he felt he was, he still managed to make a movie that was like nothing we’d ever seen. There’s a reason it was the top-grossing movie of all time for so long. Simply put, it was amazing.

When I watch Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope, I want to watch it in the original format.

But there are things I like about the enhanced version. Some of the effects, like the Death Star explosion are much cooler now. And I kind of like Mos Eisley fleshed out a bit. And honestly, I really prefer the ending of Return of the Jedi where they show the celebrations on all the distant worlds of the Empire with new music that’s not that stupid Ewok song. Though I’m not sure why Hayden Christiensen shows up at the end.  I mean, we see Old Yoda and Old Obi-Wan, but young Anakin.  Why? Old Anakin makes more sense. Seems like a cheap tie-in to the prequels.

Which, I hate to say it, sucked. The prequels were just bad movies. EXCEPT. Except for the last ten or so minutes of the third one, when Anakin becomes Darth Vader and he gets his helmet and you see the panic in his eyes. And seeing Luke and Leia go to their separate families and destinies. I got goosebumps. The rest of that horrid lead-up was worth it to get to that precious, well-done bit of screen time.

Goosebumps, man.

I like how they torture him when they’re getting him in his Vader suit. I mean, they can make a robot man, but they hadn’t invented the spinal block or even a good sedative? God is in the details, George. And how did he go from being average Haydn height to 7 feet tall in the original movies? And why?

*shrugs*

Curiously enough, back in the day, I was obsessed by Star Wars. I can quote every line of dialogue from A New Hope verbatim, and most of the second two. I was the Star Wars equivalent of a Brony, I guess. I still am. I just watched YouTube clips of Star Wars all morning while I was writing this.

Of course, ponies are stupid and Star Wars kicks ass, even if George Lucas fucked around with it too much.

So I guess to answer Geoduck’s master baiting question, I think My Little Pony is the greater abomination, because at the end of the day, I have to force myself to watch even a clip of those god-forsaken ponies, but I will sit here and watch clips of both the original and remastered Star Wars trilogy all day if given a chance. And since the girls have gone to the fair today and it’s just me and Dave, and I have a lot of knitting to do, I might do just that.

Then again, I’m thinking it’s a good day to pop in the original letterbox version and let it wash over me.

Because movies formatted to fit a TV screen are an abomination. Letterbox format for life, man.

All Hail the Mighty Cthulhu! October 5, 2012

Posted by J. in Genius, Sticks and String.
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It looks like I’m back in the design business!

Last weekend, I was showing the Hexapussy Hat progress to a group of my online friends. I was saying how I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. An octopus? A squid? Admiral Akbar? And a voice from the crowd piped up, “Cthulhu.”

I’m not a Lovecraft fan, or really into much sci-fi at all, and I lack serious nerd credentials, so I really didn’t think much of it at the time. But then not long after, another guy chimes in and says he’d love a “Cthulhu penis coozie.” Now, where I’m from, a coozie is a thing you slip around a beverage can to keep it from sweating on anything you don’t want to get wet. So my first thought was, “I could make that.” But my second thought was, “What the hell does a Cthulhu penis look like?”

I just saved you from having to Google “Cthulhu penis”. You’re welcome.

During the ten or fifteen minutes I spend looking at some truly disturbing tentacle porn, it was clarified in the thread that he meant a willy warmer. A peter heater. A man mitt. A cock sock.

THAT I can do.

So I spent my day with my needles, yarn, and a notebook and I designed a Cthulhu Cocksock, and I wrote up the pattern. And before the day was through, it was a thing.

For your thing.

Because I can, people. Just because I can.

The pattern for the Cthulhu Cocksock is available here in my Etsy shop and here on Ravelry. It’s only three bucks and it’s a quick, fun little knit. I think it would make a great stocking stuffer. There’s also a joke in there about stuffing socks, but I’ll have to get back to you with it.

And before you ask, I don’t as yet have any made up for non-knitters to buy, but I plan to make some for the shop in the future. Right now they’re a special order item only–contact me if you want one and we can hash out the deets.

It also has me jonesing to get back to working on my knitting book. I call it Clit One, Purl Two: Designs for Naughty Knitters. It features some lovely accessories such as The Man in the Boat Mitts, The Conception Cowl, The Placenta Hat, The Asshat, and the Ribbed for Her Pleasure Mittens.

I wasn’t joking.

Okay, back to my special orders list. I finished the second Dead Pony hat yesterday and today’s project is a Christmas present, so shhh…

WIP Wednesday: It Came From the Deep October 3, 2012

Posted by J. in Genius, Other People's Genius, Sticks and String.
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Technically, it’s a Hexapussy, since it’s an octopus with six legs instead of the usual eight.

Here’s the deep sea critter I was working on last week. It came out even better than I had imagined it would in my head.

If there’s one thing I can say about my friend Mary, it’s that she comes up with fantastic ideas for headgear. She showed me a picture of a squid hat that someone had crocheted and asked if I could do “something like that”. Sort of a carte blanche to do with the basic idea what I will. I chose “ocean” colors and just started knitting. I kept the basic structure of a hood with a tentacle scarf, but that’s where the similarities ended. After much figuring out of things and a couple of false starts, the Hexapussy should arrive at its forever home today.

I went right from finishing the Hexapussy Hat into another dead pony hat. It’s going to look like this when it’s done:

But right now, it just looks like this:

Hanging out on top of my 12 item to-do list next to my Harrod’s knitting bag, my Hellephant picture, the Smutmaster 6000 and Leering Bill. I have my own little wonderland here.

But it’s better than what it looked like a couple of days ago when I pulled on the working yarn and instead of getting a nice, single strand, I got a pile of yarn barf.

*blllllaaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh* It’s pretty, but a bitcharooniedoonie to untangle.

I have a feeling I’m going to become known as The Broad Who Knits Weird Hats and Crochets Dead Things. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying. Though the next project in the queue is some pretty fingerless mittens, and a cute, crocheted doll that hasn’t been disemboweled or anything, and another pair of Norwegian mittens. But then there a Cthulhu hat too, just to keep me on track, I guess.

I also have a new pattern that’s a work in progress and if all goes well and the creek don’t rise I should have it in my Ravelry pattern shop and on Etsy by the weekend. I’ll keep you posted. It’s a masterpiece of fuckery indeed, but man, are my pattern-writing skills rusty. It was like pulling teeth to get it on paper!

Oh, and speaking of patterns, it seems I always forget that I have patterns for sale on Ravelry, probably because I seldom visit there. I was looking at hat patterns the other day and found one of mine in search and it stopped me short for a minute. I was all “I knit that hat!” And then I was like, OH YEAH. *facepalm* I’ll put a handy link in the sidebar later, but today is my 14th wedding anniversary and Mr. Poops has taken the day off. After the kids are all safely off to school, we’re going out to breakfast and then home to enjoy a brief stretch of a blessedly empty house to each other’s company with no little voices interrupting.

Rawr.

Turn, Turn, Turn October 1, 2012

Posted by J. in FYI.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

Ah, today we come to the question that took a few years off my life when I first read it. Buffy, there’s a reason I write using a pen name. Not everyone is privy to my unique literary stylings, and it’s with good reason. So when I saw your comment, I swallowed hard and realized I was going to have to suck it up and deal with that question in my own life eventually, and honestly, it seems as good a time as any to cross the streams.

“Have you written about how you balance church and erotica yet? Do you have Catholic guilt rear it’s ugly head ever?

There are a small group of moms at my daughter’s private Lutheran school that are all closet fuckery lovers. We private message each other with various bits of fuckery all day long. This includes the principle’s wife. That balance between how people expect us to act and how we actually act always has interested me.”

This is actually a few questions in one. No, I haven’t written about how I balance church and erotica, mostly because I’ve not let the cat completely out of the bag about writing erotica in the first place,. Some of my friends know, and some do not. If you’re an eagle-eyed reader or a shameless stalker, you may have seen that I’ve updated my About Poops page and let my proclivities slip out a bit, complete with links and disclaimers. I’m not ashamed of it by a long shot. I write, and I write well. At the end of the day, I’m a published author, and I’m damned proud of it. But erotica is a literary genre that tends to pull some folks up short. If I said I wrote grisly murder mysteries, or really bad poetry, no one would bat an eye. If I wrote about most anything else, this wouldn’t even be an issue. But write about sex? Hoo, boy.

I don’t feel guilty about writing about sex, and for the record, I have no Catholic guilt about anything, ever. I mean, I feel guilt from time to time when I’ve done something I know to be wrong. I’m a bit of a sociopath, not a complete one. I wouldn’t classify my guilt as “Catholic” because I have to admit that the Church and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on what is wrong and what is right.

And this is where we start wandering into territory of what I really don’t like to discuss on my blog. I spend half my life defending my Church for a variety of reasons and the other half condemning it for a variety of others, none of which I wish to discuss here. It’s personal and complicated.

I’ve been asked why I write erotica, or more accurately, “Don’t you ever write anything that’s not sex?” The answer is no, or at least very rarely. Sometimes my erotic stories aren’t very “sexy” but they are always erotic. I do wonder if anyone thinks to ask a mystery writer why they only write mysteries, though. It’s my genre, I say with a shrug. And for a long time–and yes, I’ve been writing erotica for a long time–I thought it was just because I had a dirty mind. But then I read something by another erotica writer that made me look at things differently. I found his opinions and ideas challenging and enlightening, and he writes some of the best erotic fiction I’ve ever read. He was answering the question, “What’s the difference between erotica and pornography?”

“The law’s never been very good at making objective standards for subjective judgments. And etymologically there isn’t, at least as far as I can tell. All the dictionaries I looked at make no distinction between pornography and erotica.

“But from a literary and aesthetic standpoint I think there’s a world of difference and that it’s very significant. Porn is aimed at the genitals; erotica is aimed at the mind. Porn deals with concrete sex while erotica deals with the abstract of sexuality. The fact that we’ve lost sight of this distinction for the last 200 years or so is the reason why we have next to no serious sexual literature in the West to this very day (though things have gotten better over the last 20-30 years or so). It’s also one of the main reasons we live in such a puritanical and sexophobic society, because the erotic has become so tightly associated with the obscene.

“A man and a woman meeting for coffee has no pornographic content. A man and a woman meeting for coffee does have a huge erotic content, though, and a good artist can bring that out and make us see how it works. And that’s the point of literature (or one of them, anyhow): to reveal the world to us and help us see things we wouldn’t notice on our own.

“To the Greeks, Eros was a powerful force, and didn’t just rule things sexual. You had an erotic relationship with anything you were attached to deeply and viscerally–a place, a person, even an object–and even patriotism was considered an emotion rooted in eroticism.

“Eventually the Philosophers–Plato, chiefly–decided the erotic way of knowing the world was inferior to the intellectual methods they favored, and the seeds of the exaggerated mind-body dualism that would infect early Christianity were sown, based on the supposed superiority of spirit over matter (intellect over emotion). But eroticism as a way of relating to the world was rediscovered and embraced with a vengeance by the neo-Platonists of the Italian Renaissance, which is one of the reasons for all those chubby Cupids in Italian art. They represent eroticism, sexual feelings without the sex.

“Today we still live in a very anti-erotic culture. It’s very sexual, but not very erotic. The great authors we think of as treating with sex in their works–Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, Erica Jong–really just titillate rather than examine. Anais Nin maybe comes closest to capturing the real spirit of eroticism that infuses our lives, and she’s considered a pornographer. I think Pauline Reage (”Story of O“) is up there too, though not many people are comfortable with her brand of eroticism.

“So that’s my take on it. We all fuck, we all have sex, and anyone with at least some literary ability can describe a sexual act and voila! — they’re a porn author. But to discern the threads of eroticism that run through our lives, to be able to know them when you see them, to understand how sexual feelings are generalized and applied to the mundane, how we apply them in our relations with ourselves… That takes a special kind of talent and perception.”

In respect to the original question he was answering, one of the drawbacks to writing erotica is that in the same way dictionaries make no distinction between erotica and pornography, neither does anyone else. They have become synonymous in the publishing world as well. But the stories that are well-received, and the kind of stories readers are really looking for are beyond that. Yes, they’re sexy as hell and they’re meant to be. But if I’ve done my job well, they make you think. They make you care about the characters.  I wish there was a more defined line between erotica and porn, but then I suppose one finds Dorothy Sayers novels in the same section at Barnes and Noble as James Patterson, so maybe it’s a matter of just taking the well-written along with the half-assed.

I admit part of my timing of coming out of the proverbial closet also has to do with the sudden upsurge in popularity of erotica as a genre thanks to that literary abortion called 50 Shades of Grey. Did I enjoy it? Hell to the no, and if you want to know why, author Jennifer Armintrout has written the best, most comprehensive analysis of what was wrong with that novel that I’ve ever read. I can’t add anything to it that she hasn’t already said, and eloquently–also hilariously. I belly laughed at that blog more than once. Even if you’ve never read the novel, read the recap. You won’t regret it.

But I digress, as usual. Suddenly, people–women in particular–are finding that reading about sex is enjoyable. God bless the Kindle for making it possible to read something a little steamy without anyone being any the wiser. See, there’s still that stigma attached. Good girls don’t like to read about sex. Respectable women don’t enjoy coarse language and adult themes. And church ladies certainly don’t write stories containing such sinful elements as extramarital affairs, premarital shenanigans, and *gasp* masturbation.

Or do they?

I don’t think writing about things that are considered sinful by some is in and of itself, sinful. In that case, no one would be able to write about much of anything, would they? Writing–in fact all art and not just the theatrics Shakespeare described–“whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure” needs to be honest.

The human sex drive is normal and natural. It is a part of everyday life. I write stories about that aspect of humanity and create characters who are dealing with their own sexuality. And my stories resonate with people because for the most part they aren’t just what we in the world of erotic fiction call “stroke pieces.” I get inside my characters’ heads in the exact same way any writer does–or should, if they’re any kind of a decent author.

Have I written stroke pieces–purely sexual fantasies? Sure. Have I written stories designed to titillate and arouse? Oh, you betcha. But is that wrong? Should I feel guilty? I ask myself that from time to time as I struggle to keep my erotica-writing life separate from my regular life. In the end, I don’t think writing something arousing is any worse than writing a cookbook that makes the reader hungry, or a horror novel that gives the reader nightmares, or a romance novel that makes a lonely woman pine for a white knight to carry her away. It’s what the reader does with their feelings that matters.

I believe in my heart that my writing is not dirty at all, but rather that it serves an important purpose. It makes us examine an aspect of our  humanity for sure, but it has a more immediate effect as well, and when I read first hand about what my writing and talking openly about sexual issues has done, I’m more convinced than ever that I’m behaving neither sinfully nor scandalously. Here’s what a friend of mine said just this morning, in fact: “For the past couple of months, my sex life and my relationship have been getting better and better, and I really do feel I owe it to you people for making me feel sexy and inspired again. So, you know, thanks and stuff.”

She’s not the first person to say that. Within a small group of people, as we shared stories we’d written and links to other stories we’d enjoyed, more and more of us reported the same thing. Hell, you can read in the mainstream media about the 50 Shades phenomenon and how women who used to lie there and think of England have suddenly found new passion in their own marriages.

I can state unequivocally that getting back into writing erotica has been one of the two things that has saved my marriage, and I make no bones about that. Getting help with my depression was the first step, particularly since depression was the thing that made me put my pen down and stop writing for awhile. I didn’t have the mental energy to write, and our sex life was almost non-existent. Larry hung in there, and his loyalty and fidelity to me during a rough stretch of years means more to me than he will ever know. He refused to let the fire go out when it would have been a whole lot easier to do so.

I had help. I got some supplements that helped my body cope with the changes brought on my menopause and I could feel the fog lift from my brain. That was the first part. The second part was stumbling quite by accident into writing again. I hung out in the forums of a website and met a group of friends there. And as sometimes happens in forum life, there was a thread started that was full of drama. There was name-calling and hair-pulling and some first class trolling like you wouldn’t believe. Two of the guys got into a very heated argument, but realized that they were fighting about something that had nothing to with the topic at hand so they decided in a rare moment of maturity, to take it off-board and hash it out in chat. They did, and came back after dusting themselves off and shaking hands. Feeling silly, I wrote a couple of paragraphs right out of a gay bodice-ripper where the two men fight themselves bloody, then wind up looking into each other’s eyes and sexiness ensues. It was tame, for me, but the enthusiasm with which it was accepted was astounding. I was greeted with a chorus of “Do me! Do me! Write me into a story!”

So I did, and before long, we had our own thread that we called the Verbally NSFW (Not Safe for Work) thread. Other voices chimed in and added their own stories, and for me, after a few months, I was getting my chops back as far as writing goes. Two really good things came from it, besides making some really great friends. One was the people, women especially, who reported that their sex lives had improved. Some from writing and some from reading, and all from talking openly and honestly about sex. I include myself in that number. Poops got her groove back. *cue cheesy 70’s porn music*

The second was people telling me that my little stories were as good and better than what they’d read in officially published capacities and had I thought of submitting anything for publication? Over time, with their encouragement and support, I came to do just that. I’ve had two short stories published in anthologies of erotic short fiction so far, with a third one just accepted this month and in the publication process. I have self-published three books and I have a fourth one in the works. I get paid to write. Not a lot just yet, but it’s a start.

I blog and tweet under my pen name and I link to all my books from that blog. It helps me keep things separate. Secret, as it were. If you don’t want to read adult-themed stories or if frank language is off-putting to you, you don’t have to read it. It won’t hurt my feelings, honestly. In the same way if you were to write a novel about politics, I would be proud as punch of you, but I doubt I would read it because it’s not my cup of tea. Or if you wrote a story where bad things happen to animals. Jesus, I hate that.  We all have our likes and dislikes and I understand and accept that erotica doesn’t have a wide appeal because of how we as a society view sex in general. I’m okay with only being read on Kindle, though I have to admit that holding in my own hands a book that I wrote was a genuine thrill.

I probably won’t talk much more about my life as an author here because of the fact that what I write is still outside of the mainstream and first and foremost, I never wish to embarrass anyone. But the second, more pressing reason is that I realize that it’s not my own opinion that is making me hesitate to discuss and defend my writing choices but the opinions of others. I always hesitate to argue any point with anyone who has a very staunch, rigid view of anything, and nothing brings out staunch, rigid views like religion and politics, and it’s why I don’t discuss either as a rule. I know that there are those people who would not and will not listen to any explanation of how I can sing the psalm on Sunday with the love of God overflowing my heart and then sit at my computer and write a story using dirty words like cock and cunt. I can explain it and I can defend it, but I’m not keen to because I know that more often than not, I’ll wind up breaking my own prime directive of never trying to teach a pig to sing because it wastes my time and annoys the pig. Basically, I’d rather not. I can only state my case and either they’ll see my side or they won’t.

Oh, sex. It’s still so very, very taboo to discuss. So I’ve done my work in secret. Not secret in a way that secrets are bad, but secret in that it’s not meant for public consumption. If you are inclined to think that what I write is sinful, I know I can’t change your mind. But I have a close relationship with God that supersedes any church on Earth and I have never felt that I’m doing anything but sharing a gift I’ve been given. My conscience is clear on this matter.

Finally, as to how I balance who people think I am with who I actually am, all I can say is that I just am. I am me. I don’t put on one face for some people and show a different face to another. I just tend to not cross the streams. I have different bits of my life that are in different places. I mean, I don’t need my kid bringing my books into the middle school, so I don’t talk about it with them, because it’s not appropriate, though eventually we’ll have discussions about it. And rest assured, when I’m singing at Mass, I’m concentrating on God and focusing on how to best live my calling to love my neighbor, not working out a plot in my head.

I keep things balanced and separate because as it has been observed, there is a time and a season and purpose to every thing under heaven.