Be the Knope you want to see in the world

Have you read this terrific article about Liz Lemon, Leslie Knope, and the significance of their characters in the realm of TV and in the world in general? If you haven’t, go read it now.

I identify a lot with Leslie Knope, especially as I look at the earlier days of my professional career. I also identify with Liz Lemon in some respects, though Leslie’s loves-the-smaller-town, public-service-oriented, hyper-organized enthusiasm is definitely more like my own outlook on life.

One of the points that stood out to me in this article was this:

To be likeable as a woman, it seems, you have to ensure that you’re also non-threatening and slightly useless. You have to point loudly to your “flaws,” but not your, you know, actual flaws.

http://normreedus.tumblr.com/post/87235697255

I have run into this over and over and over! In the past few years I’ve been striving to get better at accepting a compliment sincerely and at recognizing my own talents (FYI: just because you were too lazy to do actual work in math class in high school does not mean that you are not good at math. You might discover that you are actually really good at it when you look around and notice that a ton of the work you do every day requires significant math skills.) but I still find myself making dumb self-deprecating remarks on occasion.

So, ladies, I’m asking you: What are you awesome at? How do you inspire yourself? How do you do feminism?

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a bone to pick with Bones

SPOILER ALERT – Spoilers from the most recent seasons of Bones herein.

this is a disapproving look

I finally got around to watching the first episode of the latest season of Bones, which has been languishing in our Hulu+ queue for ages. I’ve pretty much always had a problem with the show’s propensity to put its characters in mortal peril, but it has been a fairly reliable procedural with a female main character, so I was willing to be a little forgiving.

However, jumping into this most recent season, we find Booth in major trouble for some thing that he appears to have done (but OF COURSE he is innocent and/or only did things for the right reasons and/or he’s been wrongly accused as part of a conspiracy against All That Is Good And Right In This World). I had forgotten that this was the cliffhanger from last season.

For me, putting the characters of a procedural/mystery show in mortal peril/serious trouble/whathaveyou is lazy writing. A lot of series resort to it on occasion (and for me it’s a different thing when it’s Jessica Fletcher calling out the murderer and they threaten her because SHE KNOWS – this threat lasts for approximately two minutes and WE KNOW that someone is going to step in at the right moment so she’ll be fine. JESSICA FLETCHER WILL ALWAYS BE FINE.) but Bones has pulled this crap throughout its many seasons, and I’m done with it. I feel like the writers must have run short of ideas when they resort to this type of shoddy storytelling, and I am no longer willing to waste time on it, waiting for them to get around to actual mysteries to be solved. Much as Temperance Brennan is an interesting character and I like a lot of the actors, I am afraid that we are done, Bones. I hope you get your act together, or just stop stretching things out if you’re out of ideas.

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writing and expectations

So the fall TV series are back on, which means that many shows have returned to Hulu+ (where we watch most of our current TV, as we don’t have cable). I’d been feeling some fatigue with some shows already, but a few that we’ve watched as the new season started have been Just Awful. Warning: spoilers, probably.

Castle, for instance, is a show I have quite enjoyed in the past and really want to like because it has a female main character and has Nathan Fillion, who is generally good and in good things. The first episode of this season picks up where the last one left off (spoilers, I guess): Castle is in peril on the way to marry Beckett. I have a problem with this already, because it feels like SUCH a cop-out when shows resort to putting their main characters in mortal danger. It’s not enough that they’re in the regular, every-day-for-a-crime-solver danger. They have to be attacked and kidnapped and who-knows-what-ed by The Bad Guys. So we’re starting off poorly already. Then we add in some seriously poorly written actions for our main characters. It appears to the completely oblivious eye that Castle has been hiding out to avoid getting married to Beckett, and in about no time at all, Beckett and the sidekicks from the police department have all shed any benefit of the doubt they ever possessed and are convinced that Castle has made terrible choices and is wronging everyone he ever loved. They treat him like he’s a horrible person and are pretty obvious about how much they’re hating him, despite the fact that he just got rescued, has obviously been traumatized, and has little memory of what happened to him. We’ve had how many years of them building up their relationships and they’re willing to give up on him in a matter of days? This is so inconsistent and not in character for basically ANY of them. The fact that Castle just takes all this abuse is pretty annoying, too. I won’t even get started on the long-running problem of Beckett running around with perfectly blown-out hair, getting into scrapes and tumbles without a hair out of place or even a fleeting thought of a hair-tie. COME ON.

Anyway! I’m going to give Castle another shot, but it should consider itself On Notice. A number of other shows have recently fallen off my will-watch list. I generally have a certain amount of loyalty for a show in which I’ve invested a season. But I was a bitter-ender for How I Met Your Mother and look where that got me! (NOWHERE. We actually watched the first half of the two-episode series finale, not realizing that there was a second one, and thought, well, that’s it! When we did realize there was a second part and watched it, I didn’t feel that it really added anything to what I had previously thought was the wrap-up.) Watching the returning episodes of a few comedies, I’ve realized that entire episodes will pass with not one laugh or even a chuckle, and I’m calling it quits. Modern Family, there are so few jokes in your episodes, and the ones that are there aren’t actually funny! Big Bang Theory, fat jokes still aren’t funny, and all of your characters being plain mean to each other isn’t funny, either. ESPECIALLY when you resort to all the mean girls crap that a show with three main female characters so utterly does not need. So I’m officially freeing myself of the compulsion to keep watching these. My thinking here was informed by the second episode of Bellwether Friends, which – if you haven’t checked out this podcast yet, do it now! It’s far more worth your time than any of these TV shows.

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So you want to be right

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching creative reality TV competitions, it’s that if you focus on being right, you’ll nearly always shoot yourself in the foot. If you want to be successful, you need to instead focus on the creative outcome and put your pride aside. Of course, this is all the more noticeable because these shows are designed and edited to make the most hay of all disagreements and struggles. But it’s still true that generally you’ll end up looking like the ass you are if you insist on making sure everyone knows you’re right. This has also consistently been proven true in my life, especially in workplaces. We’ve all worked with (or worse, for) That Person, the bully who always has to be right and will sacrifice anyone they perceive to be blame-able for whatever went wrong. That Person always knew it wasn’t going to work from the start, and they will often sabotage the team process from the get-go, to create patsies they can later blame.

Finishing up one project

This is one of the reasons I’ve lost some interest in a lot of creative competition shows. Project Runway has devolved into what feels like a competition to set up the worst possible teams to guarantee fights between the jerks who have to be right and those suckers who don’t recognize what’s in store for them. Same goes for Under the Gunn, in which two of the mentors even seem compelled to bully the less jerky competitors. Face-Off falls into the same trap, as does Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge. I still watch, but more often than not while playing Animal Crossing or tumblring.

If you’re looking for a creative competition show that avoids this type of bullshit, The Great British Sewing Bee is perfect. It’s cozy as all get-out and has yet to devolve into the bullying and bratty behavior that is so typical of USian creative shows. The competitors are driven to do their best and they have a clear desire to win (or at least do well enough to stay in the competition), but there is absolutely no element of sabotage or even, really, ill wishes toward their fellows. As a viewer, I’m rooting for all of them to do well, even if I have favorites, and I love that even though it’s a competition, it doesn’t feel like a zero-sum game. I’ve seen that there will be a US version of this show, and I really, really hope that they don’t ruin it.

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cunning

I’ve made a Jayne Hat before, but I have been meaning to adapt that pattern (which I improvised) for varying sizes. I finally got around to it this past week, and figured out adult small, medium, and large, as well as newborn (yet to come: other kid sizes).

Cunning Hat (baby)

This is the newborn size. Much as I admire the creepiness of Blythe, I find baby dolls too creepy to be comfortable having one, so I used this owl as a model instead.

Cunning Hat (baby)

I am not the world’s biggest fan of making pom-poms, but I’ve been honing my skills while making all these hats.

Cunning Hat (baby)

Overall I’m quite pleased with how this turned out! I’ll likely be making one to keep for myself to use this winter.

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Fez

Inspired by the Doctor, I wanted to try making a fez for Blythe. It turned out a bit too big, and I’m not 100% happy with the shape – I’ll revamp the pattern before making another attempt – but it’s okay for a first try.

fez test - a bit too big for Blythe

Clearly it needs to be smaller and a bit less wide at the bottom to be a proper fez shape. As it is, it sort of reminds me of a forties (?) winter hat that I can’t think of the name for.

fez test - a bit too big for Blythe

Pretty soon here I’ll give it another shot.

fez test - a bit too big for Blythe

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best/worst

guitar & amp pr0nI’ve been watching VH1’s 100 Greatest Bands of All Time and it got me thinking. Not so much about the bands I love (most of which have never had the mainstream popularity to end up on a list like this, not that I’m complaining), but those I hate but others love.

There’s one band I truly can’t stand: The Doors. The awkward-teenager-poetry lyrics, the endless meandering songs that go nowhere, the pompous posing…I could go on but I don’t even want to think about them. I’m sure that for many people they have a lot of redeeming qualities, but I don’t even care to know why anyone thinks they’re good.

What I do want to know about is: what band do you hate? Answer the poll to the left and comment here. If your hatred band isn’t on the poll, who is it? I’m here to hear it, people: spew some venom!

photo (CC license) by Marco Raaphorst

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