Smokey the Magnificent

Failing the Turing Test since 1986

Superman Mostly

Did you know Dean Cain, aka Superman in Lois and Clark, is one-quarter Japanese? I had no idea. I found it out while perusing the IMDb user comments for said show… apparently his Of Colourness caused considerable outrage during the show’s run, as did the fact that he was, apparently, five foot nine – another factoid that had escaped me for four seasons, but hey, Lois didn’t notice he was Superman and she was an investigative reporter, so I’m not beating myself up over it. Anyway, I was somewhat surprised to learn of the vitriol surrounding him – my favourite quote, buried on page nine of the Comments, was “Hang up the Superman tight’s Dean, and go pick your nose!” Makes me proud to have a degree in Screen and Media. Anyway, how can you not love Dean Cain? He did this:

Which, aside from  promoting pure evil, is all kinds of awesome.

In searching for that, I also came across one of the Internet’s more disturbing phenomena (in a quiet, reflection-of-the-society-in-which-we-live kind of way, not in a making-fluffy-dice-out-of-underprivileged-kids way): the Celebrity Wishful Romance Fanvid. For the uninitiated, this is where fans of a show decide that the lead actors have such amazing chemistry that they must be together in real life, despite the fact that one or both is married. So they edit together sappy clips of Teri and Dean, during and between takes, to a schmaltzy love song and garner dozens of comments about how Dean looks sooooo much better hanging off Teri’s arm than Teri’s actual husband, and how it’s Not Too Late. I once saw a similar video with Torvill and Dean (the other Dean, obviously, not Superman, although now I think about it the tights wouldn’t look out of place on an ice-rink); and another with Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz. And really, how sad is that? Not only does it denigrate the actors the people profess to love by insinuating their onscreen chemistry isn’t the result of, yaknow, acting, but it seems the sign of a highly twisted psyche to desire vicarious fulfilment through the not-so-storybook situation of an actor cheating on her husband with her costar. I mean, sheesh, people. (Note to self: look up origin of the term “sheesh”. Google keeps directing me to kebab pages.) Anyway, Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle dated and ended up breaking up, and that sort of thing would surely be more disillusioning than the fact that actors occasionally marry outside their cast; no?

Anyhoo. This week’s challenge is to edit 20 of my older Suite articles – either content/keywording or pictures – and write at least one article based on solid use of the Google Adwords keyword tool. It’s a fascinating tool but one I’ve only used sporadically; and having just learned that a fellow Suitie earns enough to pay her mortgage with only 50 more articles than myself, I feel compelled to step up my professionalism a notch. Granted, she writes about taxes and finance, which probably has better CPC than articles about washing your hair with baking soda; but still.

I also gotta read a book a day to the snortlepig, and make a birthday present for her small friend who’s having a second birthday party on Saturday. (So it begins.) I’m broke and have a bunch of nice fabric left over from my patchwork skirt/sister-in-law’s baby quilt, and the small friend is about the same size as the snortlepig: so I was thinking of making her a wee twirly skirt. Which is, of course, yet another thing to sew, and with a deadline too; but hey. My current list of to-be-completed sewing items now also includes a Gibson Girl skirt and waistcoat; a steampunk/rockabilly chocolate brown skirt and corresponding tulle petticoat; a padded camera case; and two long-sleeved shirts for the pig.

In fact, I should probably go and sew something right now. Leaving you with the question: Would you rather be married to a man (or woman, as the case may be) with Superman-like abilities, or an average joe (or jane, respectively)? It’s a tricky question; on the one hand, constant feelings of inferiority and the probable impossibility of having biological children (although I’m not sure on the canon of that); on the other, free trips to Hawaii. And a husband who could do the housework in ten seconds flat, but then, what would that do to one’s personal oomph? I for one would always be tempted not to do anything useful, on the grounds that Superhubby could do it in a tenth of the time and I may as well leave it for him; which would not be healthy.

My New Challenge System List Points Thing

Well, minions, I feel it is time to shake things up. This afternoon in a listy mood I devised a cunning stratagem to keep me on the baking-apple-pies-in-a-ruffly apron side of the tracks. (Having led a sheltered life, I’m not entirely sure what goes on on the other side of the tracks. Scarification? Hash beef Wellington? Power-padded shoulder suits?) I have decided to bribe myself.

Basically, I’m gonna use my Suite101 earnings to buy nice things for myself and the house; but given that many of the items I like aren’t strictly frugal, I’m going to use them as a reward for being clean and virtuous. With points. For example, small domestic tasks such as giving the snortlepig a bath, taking her for a walk or changing the pillowcases are worth one point. (So is “eating a piece of fruit”, which might be seen by some as a copout, but given that from one season to the next scarcely an apple touches my lips, I thought it was worth an entry. I don’t like to brag, but the future of the human race would probably have been a good deal brighter if I had been the one kicking about with Adam.)

Slightly more complex, time-consuming or unpleasant tasks, such as cleaning out the chickens’ cage or taking the baby to music class, get me two points. Running errands in town and planting veggies in the veggie garden (to which I have a strong weather-related aversion) get me three; and so on. I have assigned various values to several one-off tasks I need completed, such as finishing various sewing projects and painting the house; and have further decided that the successful sale of a print article is worth an entire 20 points.

Then, of course, I have to assign values to the things I want. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to go about that; probably intuitively rather than mathematically. I was thinking the Dieselpunk bodice I want might come in at about thirty, whereas something really marvellous like this ought to be worth, ooh, a hundred and fifty? Difficult to say. It has to be hard enough that I have time to actually acquire the funds via Suite, otherwise the whole bribery thing is a bit moot.

And not everything will be quite as frivolous as steampunk corsets, I hasten to add. Mostly I’ll be using it to buy fabric, I suspect, for my ever-growing list of Quilts  I Want to Make. And a hat rack.

Helpdesk Man, as usual, treats this scheme with tolerant amusement, telling me that I can buy myself dieselpunk bodices whenever I please without having to assuage my guilt by cleaning out chicken cages. He is a pleasing sort of husband to have; which is all the more reason to clean out the chickens, innit.

Thoughts on Style

My birthday passed like a fish in the night, if the fish were making casserole; not unpleasantly, but without fanfare. We decided to postpone the ticker tape parade until our house is de-Canadianed. Helpdesk Man gave me a copper saucepot though, which is both pleasing to look upon and useful for culinary and defense purposes.

I have been musing upon steampunk again, as I scour the internet for the perfect necklace. I think I’ve decided that instead of a regular steampunk necklace made from watch mechanisms and cogs, I’ll get this fancy necklace and use an actual working fob watch for the pendant. Something like this little critter… only not that actual little critter, because it turns out that where I thought Helpdesk Man sent me the link in a “Hey, you could get this for your birthday” way, he actually sent it in an “I am comfortable enough in my masculinity to desire a watch with a Victorian floral patterned edge” kind of way.

Anyway, I’ve been rethinking steampunk after reading a few bits and pieces about it on The Steampunk Home (I read the entire blog) and various forae. I tend to agree that merely whacking a few cogs on a skirt isn’t really steampunk; that it can be much more authentic and subtle and classy than that. And I’m all for authenticity – if I have a design philosophy, it’s something like “Real, heavy, natural materials, implements rather than knick-knacks”. I’d rather have a kettle that looked like a superbly-crafted kettle than one that looked like a chicken; and I’d rather hang embossed shortbread pans on the wall of my kitchen than, say, cross-stitches about Country Kitchens; but only if I used the embossed shortbread pans, so I wouldn’t hang, say, a lathe up. Because I don’t use lathes. Y’know? I want to avoid kitschiness and matchy-matchiness and false notes.

So the question becomes, how does one strive for authenticity when channeling an era which by definition never existed? So I’ve decided to be very discerning about buying or making anything steampunk: if I didn’t like it before I knew it was steampunk, I ought not to allow myself to think it’s cool just because of its affiliations. Which is not to say steampunk can’t make me open up my mind to new design possibilities; just that I don’t want to dress to fit into the mold, even if the mold appears excitingly individual to the rest of the population.

For instance, I don’t like bustles. Nasty, ungraceful things. So bustles are out, no matter how steampunk they are. Victorian top hats? Iffy… I do look snazzy in a top hat, if I say so myself (long, sordid story involving an amateur drama group, imprecisely-applied goth makeup and the Time Warp); but on the other hand, would I really wear one out and about if it weren’t for being able to think “it’s steampunk”? Not sure. I will muse upon this. Dirigibles, on the other hand, I genuinely like, even though I hadn’t really come across them until recently. And I’m all for corsets, cogs (in moderation), brass machinery, wood, arty posters of flora and faunae and so on. But, say, if I wished to do a room up sky pirate style, I’d do it like a sky pirate would actually live; not like a regular ol’ room where the hamburger phone and the curtains and the bedspread were all covered with Sky Pirate (TM) fabric. Because that would be tacky. Which is ironic, given that I used to have Lord of the Rings movie posters and ill-fitting T-shirts all over my bedroom. Now I’d be more into building a room “in the style of the Rivendell Elves”, or better yet “inspired by the Rivendell Elves”, or – oooo – “a fusion” , no, “a synthesis of Art Nouveau-inspired Rivendellia and eco-practicality”. Maybe “a synergy”. Whatever.

This also ties in with my New Year’s Resolution, which – unlike my previous years’ helpfully concrete resolutions, was a vague waft in the direction of Quality. This, little dogies, is an interesting concept. You know that bod who was all “Eat what you love, but only what you love”? The idea being that your colon will glow and you will become a Slimmer You if instead of half-heartedly munching on aged corn chips sticking out from beneath the dog, you splurge on as many mouthfuls of organic grass-fed Dutch-pressed-cocoa chocolate cake as it takes for you to no longer love it. Savvy? It’s sort of the dietary equivalent of buying one $300 top instead of fourteen nasty weaselly little tank tops from Target.

And I’ve tried, really I have. I have refused to settle on the matter of a spice chest, with the result that my spices are still strewn around my pantry in little boxes waiting for the arrival of my at-least-twenty-drawer-hangable-on-the-wall-copper-lined-with-a-little-scoop-handcarved-wooden-conversation-piece-heirloom spice chest. Which I’m not fairly certain doesn’t exist… but every time I nearly cave and buy those cute modern magnetic spice tins, January 1 looms at me and calls me a quitter.

Same thing with clothes. Ideally: life is short, why wear clothes you don’t love instead of wearing superbly flattering,  fits-like-a-dream last-for-ten-years all-combinable items of the highest quality which express the Real You, right? And indeed, if one does refrain from buying clothes willy-nilly one can afford to splurge on heftier items. Only in reality, it doesn’t seem to work like that. I still can’t bring myself to buy the $300 tops, and my pilly hoodies are there, beckoning comfily from the wardrobe…

Anyway, on one hand it doesn’t matter a bean in the grand scheme of things whether my nursing tank top is the truest expression of Self that ever there was. It’s warm, it’s clean… well, it’s warm. I should be grateful. So I’m probably overthinking it. Is it normal to have occasional surges of panic that one’s older self will look back at one’s cutlery set and think “Why did she choose THAT?”Anyhoo, it just goes to show how complicated living can be, innit.

I wonder if anyone’s ever steampunked a toothbrush. No! Not authentic. See, this is the thing I’m talking about. It’s like how I’ve gone off T-shirts, even ones which are brilliantly witty. ‘Cause clothing should be clothing, not, um, witty. Would Miss Manners be seen wearing an anti-velociraptors T-shirt? I don’t think so. I hope she’s aware of the problem though, ’cause only a fool doesn’t fear raptors.

Steampunk Theme Park