Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thomas the Triceratops.


Originally uploaded by slothmuffin

This is Thomas the Triceratops, who I made for my friend Jamie. I started him...before Christmas even, I think, and for a long time he was a collection of parts---sans head, since I wasn't sure how to make the head the right shape and did it last---in a plastic bag. I didn't use a pattern for him, nor did I bother to write down what I did, so he's the first and last of his breed. (And when I finally got around to making the head, it just kind of...came out that shape. I honestly have no idea how. I played with some increases and decreases and was pleasantly shocked when the thing in my hands was roughly the shape I'd been thinking of, with a sort of little...beaky bit on the end.)

In the interests of full disclosure (the photo hides this bit), his tail is a little lumpy and odd because I increased it too fast and then didn't want to redo it, since it had four colour changes in it. The horns are polymer clay beads, and I had to make them before I made the head (since they had to be sewn in while the head was unfinished), so the fact that they ended up the right size was nice.

It was weird taking so long to make all the pieces (...once I finished the head, it took me forever to get around to making the little frill-crest that went on the head...), it made me feel so disconnected from the finished product. I kept Thomas hanging around the house for a few days before mailing him out (with his horns wrapped in little pieces of bubble wrap) and I kept picking him up and thinking ...wait, I made this? I like how he turned out, and I'm kicking myself for not paying closer attention and taking some notes about how the head got made. But in a way, it's kind of cool that he's unreproducible. (By me, at least. I'm sure that someone who's a more patient and experienced crocheter could figure it out.)

I haven't actually done any amigurumi for a while. I'm waffling about what my next project should be. I'm at this weird stage where I don't really want to use a pattern made by someone else, but I'm not consistently good enough to design my own, either.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

fruit-related titles.

...Why is it that whenever I end up posting about books here, they're YA novels? Possibly because those are the only sort of books I really feel qualified to talk about, hah.

I'm reading A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass (which I'd seen around before, but kept getting confused with The House on Mango Street. Definitely not the same book.) The book deals with synestheisia---I always want to spell this "synaesthesia" with the extra a. Wikipedia tells me that's a valid spelling, though, which is nice.

The book's protagonist is a synesthete, and the descriptions of the way she sees the world (she sees shapes and colours when she hears sounds, and also associates words/letters/numbers with certain colours or shapes) are really nicely written, vivid and strange and interesting without being confusing. I had to wonder about a plot element where the protagonist (who's finally admitting that she perceives things differently than everybody else to her family in the novel, and getting shuttled around to doctors) goes to a psychotherapist, who makes some condescending references to "middle-child syndrome" and refers her to a neurologist (who's the first one in the book to actually use the word synesthesia). I mean, I can see why Ms. Mass wrote it that way, from a plot-making perspective, but wouldn't a psychotherapist know about synesthesia, and be able to inform someone who sees coloured shapes that correspond to sounds that this is probably what's going on with their brain?

Or maybe I just think everyone knows what synesthesia is just because I know what it is. Sometimes that happens. Synesthesia (I'm not even going to think about how many times I've just used that word here...) is one of those things that I don't remember when or where or why I learned about it, but it interests me. I've always thought it would be a really frustrating condition to have, because it would be so difficult to share the way you saw things with other people. It's hard enough for me to try and explain things like the way I perceive the atmosphere on M*A*S*H or how I feel about the guitar chord changes in a song.

I don't know if I can finish reading this book, though. It seems like something bad might happen to the protagonist's beloved cat, and death-or-illness-of-beloved-pet is something with which I cannot deal at all in books, right from when I was under four feet tall and just venturing into books without pictures. (I remember, with embarrassing vividness, crying buckets over a character in this book dropping a goldfish-in-a-bag they just won at a carnival and the fish dying. In a way, it's nice to know that I've always been a little unhinged about this kind of thing.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Jour de la marmotte!

...is how you say "Groundhog Day" in French, Wikipedia tells me.

As holidays go, I kind of like Groundhog Day---although it drives me nuts when people refer to it as "Groundhog's Day" instead---because it's silly, involves a cuddly rodent, and doesn't mandate the spending of money. (Although if I'd known they existed ahead of time, I'd have been sorely tempted by some groundhog-themed party items.)

I was wondering last year why sometimes you see groundhogs (in conjuction with Groundhog Day, anyway) depicted in top hats, and a cursory google image search today makes it seem like the groundhog ends up with a top hat becuase in Punxsutawney, the nexus of all Groundhog Day activities, the handlers who get the groundhog out of his burrow wear top hats. So then, of course, the question becomes but why do the groundhog handlers wear top hats? So far, no answer about that. I did, however, learn that the people who wear these hats (and tuxedos, apparelty!) take care of Punxsutawney Phil/plan the Groundhog Day proceedings are known as "The Inner Circle," which is hilarious in itself.

The Wiki page on Groundhog Day has a whole table, listed by year, with various groundhogs' predictions about the weather. So far for 2009, only five groundhogs have predicted an early spring and eight groundhogs (including Phil) have predicted six more weeks of winter. However, Staten Island Chuck, who must be my geographically-closest marmotte, thinks we are in for an early spring, so I'm going to trust him! Because I hate winter.