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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
21st-Aug-2011 10:26 am
Sunday is bread-baking day! Huzzah!

Unrelated to bread: The amazing pharminatrix sent me a custom-dyed skein of luscious sportweight yarn.

Just look at that.

The colorway is called "Victoria"! Because this is for Victoria. She sent it to me specifically to make something to auction at kittycyborg! I've been looking for ideas, and Ive narrowed it down to a few things I think would be gorgeous. And then it occurred to me that I should get the input of potential bidders. And so.

What shall I knit with/for Victoria?

Brambler scarf (but longer)
Beetle Tracks scarf (but longer)

Anne Hanson's scarf patterns are so short - so's that Beetle Tracks pattern. But they call for 200-220 yards, and I have 327 yards, so I can make them longer. *nod*

What do you think?

And you should check out pharminatrix's Etsy store!

I have otherwise been in semi-retreat from the internet. My life will be in flux until Elayna goes back to school and I can get a real schedule going. At least she's almost done with her summer reading, which she hates with the fire of a thousand suns. She has requested a Miyazaki movie marathon when she finishes, just to remind her that there is some joy in life and that all is not endless despair and cruelty.

Oh. I just asked her to give me her thoughts on the book, and she shared a Google Doc with me. Apparently she has been taking notes. Elayna's informal review-so-far:

The second you open this book, you are COMPLETELY weighed down by negativity.
Every single character has a negative outlook on life, their lives SUCK, and everything around them makes it worse.
No one likes each other. Hell, they all have MUTED HATRED for each other.
No one talks as if they mean what they say. It's like they're talking AT their companions instead of WITH them.
Reading this book makes me feel trapped and sad and very, very tired.
You know how, when you watch a Miyazaki movie, everything about it makes you want to be there?
The joy in which people do simple housework. The food that always looks delicious no matter what it is. The people being friendly and well-mannered.
This book does THE OPPOSITE OF THAT.
They deliberately describe characters to be less attractive, accentuating their negative aspects and using aesthetically displeasing diction.
What's the worst about these people having crappy lives is that they DON'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!
They let their lives waste away because they're too scared to fuck up any more than they already have.
They think that doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING is okay, because it's better than doing BAD things.
So they just let their lives continue to be bad because they're SO TIRED and SO SICK OF LIFE that they can't be BOTHERED to help themselves!
Every single character is wasting away.
It feels like they're all already dead but their hearts are still beating.

There you go. The existential horror of Olive Kittredge. (Although I do love that my daughter uses the phrase "aesthetically displeasing diction" even when she's just talking to herself.) I'm afraid that Elayna's first question to her new English teacher will be "What were you thinking?!?"

We are all looking forward to her finishing this book. Her so she won't have to read it anymore - me for that reason and so I won't have to nag her all day to read it. Today will probably be the day. So later today there will be freshly-baked bread and Miyazaki.

Anyway. Onward! If you think you might like to bid on something made with that gorgeous yarn, which is 50% alpaca, 50% merino wool, please do vote. *decisive nod*
21st-Aug-2011 02:32 pm (UTC)
I might suggest that she replace "fuck up" with "screw up", but, other than that, I think she's got a book report written that she ought to turn into her teacher, whether or not one is assigned. I mean, she's got the work done already, and the teacher deserves to know.
21st-Aug-2011 02:37 pm (UTC)
I think she's going to refine it a bit, do an actual essay on why this book is awful and should never be assigned again. :) These are rough notes!
21st-Aug-2011 02:50 pm (UTC)

I have knit exactly one thing in my life, which I never finished properly, but zomg drool. I love yarn porn.

My suggestion for a book full of people you cannot stand is to kill them all and give them Spoon River Anthology style poems. It only ever works once for any given teacher, and once or twice it failed miserably and quite literally, but it always made me feel better.
21st-Aug-2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
Seriously check out her Etsy for yarn porn. Ooooh, the colors. I have about 30% of her store wishlisted, I think.

The poetry may be therapeutic for her - thanks for the idea!
21st-Aug-2011 03:13 pm (UTC)
Ah, the idealism of youth.
21st-Aug-2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
I have no idea why books full of crushing depression and unending despair are considered "great literature" and appropriate for ALREADY PROBABLY DEPRESSIVE TEENAGERS to read for their summer reading (and during the school year).

(I mean, come ON, I'm sure the fucking Grapes of Wrath REALLY never needs to be assigned. Surely, somewhere along the way, SOMEONE has written a better, less crushingly horrible book about the Dust Bowl. [And frankly, I think all Steinbeck ever should be struck from every goddamn lit list.])

It's like English teachers want their students to dread every book ever. And people wonder why teenagers don't read?

[/rant of the ex-horribly depressed teenager who only wanted to read more Austen]
21st-Aug-2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
She was nodding like a bobblehead while reading this comment.
21st-Aug-2011 04:12 pm (UTC)
Luscious yarn!

I was wondering, have you seen the The gluten-free goddess's bread recipes? We're baking a loaf today, though without the breadmaker.
21st-Aug-2011 04:14 pm (UTC)

Now I want to bake bread all day.
21st-Aug-2011 04:19 pm (UTC)
The phrase aesthetically displeasing diction struck me as I read it. Well done. A good take all around. I have confidence in many of our children that they will shine out in their generation. Thanks for sharing that.
21st-Aug-2011 04:47 pm (UTC)
I, too, love her "aesthetically displeasing diction" comment.

The yarn is seriously yummy.

My twelfth grade reading list was an endless slog of unhappy tomes: The Stranger, Native Son, MacBeth, Heart of Darkness. At least we got to read the randy bits of Candide. The kicker? One of the questions on the English AP exam that year was about USE OF HUMOR.

Being a teenager sucks enough as it is. Why do we force them to read depressing books?
21st-Aug-2011 04:57 pm (UTC)
One of the questions on the English AP exam that year was about USE OF HUMOR

2002? I wasn't prepared for that question, either :-(
21st-Aug-2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
Overwhelmingly, wow, Elayna is your child. *salutes* And to borrow an emoticon from Spike Trotman, (O_O)-b

There's also new "Weird" Al in the world, too (GUESS WHAT I JUST SPLURGED ON?), so there's that waiting for Elayna, too, unless she doesn't like "Weird" Al. Nothing's for everyone...
21st-Aug-2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
I haven't read the book, but skimming the synopsis on Amazon, doesn't Elayna's summery seem to say it's a book that has explored its themes really well?
I feel bad she has to read it when it's making her miserable, but it sounds well crafted if she had such a strong reaction to it.

Learning to negotiate fiction where the characters aren't sympathetic is a good thing to learn imo.
I was a mopey goth teen who hated happy endings though, so maybe I'm biased ;-)
21st-Aug-2011 06:26 pm (UTC)
Good point! But also: it's possible that the reverse is true. Excellent writing can make stories of unrelenting misery completely enjoyable (viz. Cruddy, by Lynda Barry). Olive Kitteridge does not have excellent writing.

And there's a difference between feeling harrowed by a book's misery and feeling annoyed by a book's misery.
21st-Aug-2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
I'm about to be a high school English teacher, and I will be keeping this in mind. I remember feeling similarly hollow-eyed and annoyed at the end of a long year of misery. Got to temper it, or at least find authors who can be funny about it.

Also: aside from anything else, Olive Kitteridge does not earn its obvious self-satisfaction. Such wretched writing! So many cliches!
21st-Aug-2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
wow.. well it's a pity you can't give book reviews stars... because that would get five stars and thumbs up for being helpful. [I also wouldn't touch that book with a ten foot pole now.]
21st-Aug-2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
We think she'll write it up for Amazon.com. Then you can rate it "helpful". :)
21st-Aug-2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
After reading the description of Olive Kitteridge on Amazon, that sounds like a bloody awful book to bring into any classroom, much less one filled with teenagers.
21st-Aug-2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
I know, right?
21st-Aug-2011 07:49 pm (UTC)
Totally randomly, the yarn photo made me think of this: http://myloveforyou.typepad.com/my_love_for_you/2010/03/kate-mcgwire.html
21st-Aug-2011 07:59 pm (UTC)
**squeak** at the feathers with numbers and words!
21st-Aug-2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
This is going to make for one awesome book report. Will she get to read it aloud or distribute it to the rest of her class?
22nd-Aug-2011 12:42 am (UTC)
Ca I just say that Elayna's issue with the book's characters only to further to show how well her head is screwed on?
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