Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale

Staci, Dez, and possibly everyone else I know may be tired of hearing about my new fandom by now but since I have been remiss in doing an official post on the Easel, it is possible their friends, families, and frenemies have not been introduced to the engaging world that is Night Vale.

Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast by Common Place Books. The protagonist, Cecil Palmer, is the host of the Night Vale Community Radio News Show, and each podcast is a broadcast of that show. Night Vale is a small desert community riddled with strange supernatural or clandestine happenings involving or orchestrated by the sheriff’s secret police, the mysterious hooded figures at the dog park, and the sentient Glow Cloud seeking mayoral office so the news is quite a bit more interesting than that of the average small desert town. I love the darker humor, Lovecraftian vibe, and clever writing. Also the community cast: Carlos, the scientist with the perfect hair, Josie, the old woman who speaks to angels, and John Peters, you know, the farmer.

This twice monthly podcast is available for free download on iTunes and streaming at Podbay . Each show is about a half an hour and completely endearing. If you decide to check it out, let me know what you think!

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Daisy Stitch Hat in Louisa Harding Hulda Yarn

Daisy Stitch Hat in Louisa Harding Hulda Yarn

Fall is in the air and thus knitting needles are in my hand. Here is my latest project, a Daisy Stitch Hat using Louisa Harding Hulda Yarn. This pattern is very easy to follow and the project is knit flat and seamed with mattress stitch. The decreases at the top happened to form a nice radial pattern for me, an added bonus to the swirling body. Knit as written, this hat ended up slightly too big for my head but will make a nice gift item for a friend. You can access the pattern (I think written by Hannah Fettig, but I’m not entirely certain) by clicking on the picture.

I always like to learn more about the yarn I use, especially ones given to me by awesome people like my Aunt Jane. Hulda is 50% Wool, 30% Acrylic, and 20% Linen and looks like a hot cotton candy mess in a ball. However, it knits up into an awesomely warm and thick fabric perfect for winter. I can’t believe I let this yarn sit in my stash for so long before using it. Lucky for me I have most of another skein in this color and two in a maroon tweed. Expect to see more projects using this yarn in the near future.

I googled this yarn and was extremely interested to find it connected with the Macmillan Cancer Support fundraiser called HImalayan Hiking Hats. In gratitude to the Macmillan Cancer Support group for their help and care throughout her husband’s battle with lymphoma, Harding published seven beautiful hat patterns, proceeds from which benefit the MCS group in Britain. To find out more about the fundraiser and MCS go to http://www.louisaharding.co.uk/macmillan/

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Only Curtsies & Conspiracies Could Exceed Etiquette & Espionage

Only Curtsies and Conspiracies Could Exceed Etiquette and Espionage

I was thrilled to be one of the lucky reviewers to win a (signed) advance reader copy of Gail Carriger’s Curtsies & Conspiracies from Carriger’s blog contest. I received my copy late in the week but quickly found myself engrossed to the degree of happily finishing it by the same week’s end.

When we rejoin Sophronia at Madmoiselle Geraldine’s (floating) Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, she is sitting her 6 month examination, an affair that leads her to serve cold tea (gasp!), to lament the implications of almond aroma, and to covertly liberate an oddgob of it’s mini-prototype valve of unknown purpose. Everyday activities for a young intelligencer in training. As the lessons advance, so does the intrigue, including, but not limited to kidnapping plots (of which the Plumleigh-Teignmott siblings are reluctantly the subject), love triangles (of which Sophronia is reluctantly a vertex), and the political entanglement of Picklemen, Flywaymen, Vampires, Werewolves, intelligencers, and evil geniuses in training (they all seemed rather enthusiastic to me!). My favorite scene described the fortune telling of each of the main players and its clever use to Sophronia’s own end.

I worry that I will spoil something if I continue to skirt about the plot but one thing I can clearly express is that Curtsies & Conspiracies exceeds the expectations set by Etiquette & Espionage. In C&C, Carriger really hit her stride in this setting and as a result the plot is executed greater efficiency while exuding light-hearted style, the dialogue delivered with greater wit, and the characters filled out as much as their voluminous skirts. The plots in this book are much more extensive than hinted in its predecessor but the clues and plot developments are revealed expertly throughout the narrative. As much as I loved Book the First, I was not prepared for how much I would enjoy Book the Second.

Curtsies & Conspiracies will be published in hardcover November 5, 2013. I highly recommend pre-ordering this book and clearing out the late Autumn weekend to float above the moors with the ladies of Madmoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

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Thirteen years ago, yesterday

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Thirteen years ago yesterday, my Mom picked me up from volleyball conditioning and took me, still in sweaty knee pads, sports shorts, and a Vikings T-shirt to Walmart to buy Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This acquisition laid to rest dozens of hours of speculation with my friends Amy and Lianne and countless nights spent mining Harry Potter Rumor sites on a 56k dial up modem. I had discovered Harry Potter in the eighth grade shortly after Prisoner of Azkaban came out and was hopelessly hooked. This was my first big anticipated book to be released. I carried it everywhere even when I could not read it and I think there is still a mosquito smudge between two pages from when it accompanied me down on the creek to chop out tobacco. I tried not to read it too fast, but soon enough it was gone and again we were left to rereadings, speculation, and Mugglenet. It was my first real taste of fandom.

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Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock Bring “The Heat” Back to the Buddy Cop Genre

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My dear friend, co-conspirator, -blogger, and all around initiator of great ideas, D3Z, mentioned over dinner that she wanted to see the new comedy by the creators of Bridesmaids called The Heat. True to form, I had a moment of reluctance. Apparent to many of those close to me, this moment is my customary exhibition of what I like to refer to as “Resistance to Awesome.” To paraphrase what I was thinking in my moment of hesitation while watching the trailer: “Well… I
don’t usually like to laugh or have a good time at the movies. I may have really liked Bridesmaids and I may have only been waiting my WHOLE LIFE for a well-done buddy cop movie starring two strong female characters but…. I surely won’t like this obviously good time, right?!” Like I said, that was a bit paraphrased. All I have to say now is thank goodness I have friends with better instincts than my own or I’d never do anything worthwhile.

If I tell you The Heat is a buddy cop comedy brought to you by the director of Bridesmaids Paul Feig, written by the up and coming female writer Kate Dippold starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, I’ve pretty much told every child of the ’80s what they need to know to put a movie ticket and a box of overpriced popcorn in their hands. The Heat has gotten a lot of attention for gender bending the rules of the buddy cop genre and rightfully so. But what I really want to know is “What the Hell Took So Long?!!!”

It is the first buddy cop movie featuring two female leads I can think of. There is precedence on the small screen dating back to Cagney and Lacey and maybe Charlie’s Angels. Recently in comics, an all female teams has been coming into its own in Brian Wood’s The X-men and the team-up and friendship between Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) and SpiderWoman (Jessica Drew) has been growing in popularity but even it is mostly within the context of The Avengers. Many female teams in popular literature, Nancy, Bess and Georg(ia), The Friday Society, The Finishing School are all well done but often restricted to young adult fiction.

One trope that we get to see a lot in buddy cop fiction is the “I would die for my law enforcement partner/queen/country/career/American Way” dynamic. Examples are rampant in Hot Fuzz, James Bond, my husband’s Warhammer Novels, and cowboy fiction. We also definitely get this in The Heat, no problem. However I don’t often find this quality in traditionally female literature. More often the female protagonist is fighting to save her love interest, child, or family in general, no doubt highly worthy motivators but this exclusivity is suggestive of a more worrisome disturbance in the female force. It’s almost if women are blatantly viewed, even in their own fiction, as people who, after puberty, can’t form the same bonds men do in bromances with other adult women. If that’s the case, it’s really really lame and disappointing and I for one would like to see this trend bucked further in the future.

Finally, one obvious reason we haven’t previously gender bent the buddy cop genre is ridiculously simple: Hollywood doesn’t like to mess with moneymaking formulas. They do not believe women (or men) are willing to pay to see strong female characters not driven by family or romance in an action setting on the big screen. While it pains me to tell you to continue feeding money to a broken machine, the best advice I can give on how to generate more movies like this one is to go, pay the money, eat the overpriced popcorn. But then come home and open the dialogue. Tell them with money and buzz what we want to see. And don’t forget to let me know in the comments what you thought and to recommend any movies, books, or graphic novels that contradict my sweeping generalization of women’s lit because I would love to be more wrong than I think I am.

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Meet Norbert

Meet Norbert

“With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound
He pulls the spitting high-tension wires down.”

I am so happy with my first forray into the world of amigurumi. He may have large, soulless eyes in need of button-pupils and lack ears and dragon wings but he’s adorable and he’s my tiny little Godzilla. I may not sleep tonight.

Click the picture for the link to the pattern I used by Marjorie Jones, originally found on Pinterest. I had a lot of leftover Paton’s Classic Wool in Nouveau Denim from past binge yarn purchases and crocheted it up using a size H hook.

My mom and grandmother taught me some basic crochet techniques when I was a child but I never really put it to use outside of some extremely uneven scarves and baby blankets. For what they lacked in symmetry and complexity of stitch, they made up for in love and haste. I fell in love when I first found this pattern on Pinterest but knew I was going to have to enlighten myself on higher order crochet techniques. It turns out you really can learn anything on YouTube. Seriously, if you ever think you can’t do something (short of open heart surgery), give YouTube a chance. There are some really great tutorials on Magic Circle, increasing, and decreasing in crochet.

I learned a lot doing this project, it was fast, fun, and rewarding. My husband has already requested an amigurumi Squig and I think I can make it happen. Wish me luck since I may be making my own pattern!

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Mouse Guard Did in Eight Pages What “How I Met Your Mother” Has Taken Nine Seasons To Do

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Today, the first Saturday in May, was Free Comic Book Day across the land (oh and this little horse race thing we like to do here in Kentucky, you may have heard of it 😉 FCBD packs the Local Comic Book Shops with loyal folder customers, small children and extended family, cosplayers, and curious onlookers getting their introduction to the world of comics and graphic novels. I dropped by Collectibles Etc. on Richmond Road for a quick visit and to pickup a few free titles LCSs purchase and distribute for free as a good will gesture to the community and to garner interest in new and ongoing titles.

This year I picked up Mouse Guard, Molly Danger, Atomic Robo, and Endangered Weapon B. My favorite by far was the Mouse Guard short telling the tale of an infinitely beautiful and talented mouse choosing from a field of mouse suitors by testing their talents, comittment, and resolve to love her. If you read this love story and aren’t somewhat moved , you must check your heart for Grinch-like shrinkage. Seriously, pick it up if you can get your hands on it and you won’t be disappointed by it or any of the other super cute shorts. My friends are obviously welcome to borrow my copy.

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