Suicide Squad, takin’ me back

I went to see Suicide Squad the other night. I was on the fence about going in the first place. DC has been a little lackluster in the film department. It’s not entirely their fault; Marvel beat them to it this time around. Anything they do is going to be compared to Marvel by default, and the bar was set relatively high, if only because everything they’d done hadn’t been done before (or at least not well).

Suicide Squad, based on the DC comic, is out now. Photo from Suicide Squad official website.

It wasn’t just that, though.

Suicide Squad is meant to be over the top. It’s about the *bad* guys being the kind-of-good guys. They save the day, but they do it with chips on their shoulders and a little bit of dark attitude and crazy. Honor among thieves! Harley and Joker really love each other, like Bonnie and Clyde!

Sure, when I was 15, I was obsessed with Harley Quinn. She just got me. She was dark because the world is dark, and she loved Joker, who was also dark. She laughed in the face of it, too.

And I did all the things that one might expect of a 15 year old obsessed with a character that is written to be cool to a 15 year old. I wore a lot of black eyeliner. I talked about the darkness and the weirdness and the uniqueness of everything. I read the Bell Jar like 87 times. Sylvia Plath understood my pain. And so did Harley! She was kind of crazy but in a *fun* way.

I was all kinds of stereotype.

And then I grew out of it. I stopped romanticizing depression and mental illness in general because, you know, it’s not romantic.

Now things are weird between us: me and my interests, I mean.

I want to go to conventions, enjoy myself, indulge in some comic buying, what with the whole disposable income thing. I mean, why do I work if not to enjoy my various interests, right?

The problem is that so many of the things that I enjoyed, that were somewhat obscure, are starting to become mainstream. I was not prepared for that. And I most definitely was not prepared for having to see 15 year old girls prancing around in impossibly more suggestive outfits than what Harley Quinn used to wear. Because apparently skin tight black and red wasn’t objectifying enough – now she wears barely-there shorts and t-shirt that says “Daddy’s Lil Monster.”

I could go on for days about how offensive that is.

These girls have the eye liner and shorts that leave literally nothing to the imagination, corsets, and thigh-highs. They are laughing about all of the dark things in the world, and they are romanticizing mental illness.

I want to smack them into their 20’s, so they grow out of it.

And going to see Suicide Squad was a culmination of these things. It was the joy of seeing a childhood interest come to life, combined with the abject disgust of seeing versions of my younger self walking around.

The movie itself wasn’t memorable enough to overshadow all of this strange introspection.

It wasn’t bad. It really wasn’t. It just wasn’t worth the baggage for me.

All that said. Go see it. It IS a fun movie. (I’m allowed to contradict myself. Back off.) And it’s not the worst way to spend a couple hours.

I should take Frodo’s advice

“My dear Sam,

You cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole for many years.”

This quote has been running through my head on an incessant loop for the past few hours. The rain outside falls in patterns that mimic the cadence of the quote in the film, and if I stare into my mug of coffee long enough, I can see the words floating there.

I caught up with a dear friend of mine today; it was great to hear from her. She is going to Italy for the summer to be an au pair. She’ll know more of my great-grandparents’ mother tongue than I do by the time I start fall semester. I think she’ll make a great nanny, and I think she’ll have a great time.

I also can see the green gleam of envy sparking in my mind, and I hate that.

Knowing my weaknesses is something that I have striven for ever since I learned how to be introspective. I know them; I have intimate knowledge of each of them, when they are present, and why they are. I have not learned how to combat them. Generally, I try logic, but logic has so little control of emotions, which in me, run rampant.

For the most part, I have learned to just let those emotions run their course. I allow myself to feel jealous, to wonder freely if I’ve made the right choices, maybe even wallow in something akin to self-pity. I don’t know how else to handle them. I think about them; I study them. Often times, I hate them.

I am trying to learn how to harness them.

Sure, it’s true that, in my life now, I cannot simply pick up and move to another country for a few months. I have a husband. Soon I’ll have a mortgage. I have a cat.

But I can do other things, and every day that goes by with me not doing them is not doing me any favors. If I’m completely honest with myself, then I know that, even were my circumstances different, I still wouldn’t go for a grand adventure because it requires work, and the thought of that work exhausts me.

Really, I am very lucky that Eric is patient. To spend every day with my contradictory nature, every moment switching from one extreme to the other, must be a chore that only a saint can handle. I tell him I want to travel, so he says we can delay buying a house, but then I tell him I don’t want to do that. He says okay, and then the next day, I’m looking at airfare to London.

Perhaps the most ridiculous part is that, really, I could have it both ways, but I am unable to reconcile that fact in my mind. I get so caught up in the details that I completely forget that nothing in this world is so black and white. It’s not even gray scale; the world is technicolor.

So Frodo’s advice is perfect for me, and not just because he uses my name. I’ve simply been interpreting it the wrong way. I always thought that, between the lines, he was implying that Sam would have to choose – adventures with Frodo or settling down with Rosy. But being torn in two does not lend itself to choosing one half; it is about finding a way to reconnect the disparate pieces, to become whole again.

I desperately want that. I wish it were easy. Sometimes I wish the path were visible ahead, marked clearly to avoid straying off course. It’s not. It never will be. The road goes ever on and on…

Homemade apple butter – the extended edition

I am writing with the intention of sharing how Eric and I made apple butter last week for our DIY Christmas this year, but before I start, I just have to talk about yesterday.

As some of you might know – hopefully all – on the 14th, The Hobbit will be released in theaters. That is great news. But what was even better news to me was that this past weekend (8th and 9th), theaters around the country/world were showing all three extended versions of Lord of the Rings. And I mean in a row. 800 minute run time (with breaks). And because last week the Universe seemed to be smiling upon me, I had yesterday off for the first time since I’ve started this new job.

So Eric and I went to see all three Lord of the Rings in theaters, and it was amazing. There was a small group of people there (I hope Saturday was busier. I can’t imagine how more people would not want the opportunity to see these films on the big screen again). Between films, one of the theater managers would come out toward the end of our break and have trivia questions for us, with prizes. Via Eric’s insistence, since I kept muttering answers under my breath while other people were participating, I actually stood up for one question and won him some candy. I mostly stood up because I was shocked no one had shot up immediately. The question was “What is the translation of the inscription on the one ring?” I wasn’t going to bother standing because everyone knows that. But no one stood!

If you’re not familiar and are curious, the inscription is “One ring to rule them all; one ring the find them. One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness, bind them.” It’s actually part of a longer poem about the rings of power that I will save some face by not posting in its entirety, even though I recited it on the way home last night. I told Eric that in the nerd world, he’s my trophy husband.

The showing started at 11am, and we left the theater just after midnight. Worth it. Totally worth it.

Now onto the crafting/cooking. Last week, in our hurried pace to get through making the last of the Christmas gifts, we made a rather large batch of apple butter. Here is how we did it:

1. We washed, peeled, and diced(ish) the apples. The instructions said to core, and since we don’t have any fancy device to de-core, I just chopped around it. It worked out fine.

2. We added the apples, along with a cup or so of water, to a pot and let it simmer for about a half hour. We wanted the apples soft enough to go in the blender.

It took longer than I expected, but we could tell they were done when they gave under a spoon.
It took longer than I expected, but we could tell they were done when they gave under a spoon.

3. When they were soft, we threw them in the blender and pureed them. I now have an old-school grinder that would have done the trick, but we were going for fast, not necessarily authentic, though I would love to use that device sometime.

4. When the apples were blended, we essentially had applesauce. In fact, when we make applesauce this week, we will get to this step and part of step 5, then be finished. But moving on!

Applesauce, soon to be apple butter.
Applesauce, soon to be apple butter.

5. We added the cinnamon and ground clove that give apple butter that slightly spicy taste, and we threw it back into the pot to cook. We cooked it until it was sticky and did not slide easily off the spoon.

This is not even close to ready
This is not even close to ready

6. It took almost another half hour before the butter was the right consistency. Luckily we had practice with the peach butter, although that did seem to go a little bit quicker.

7. When it was ready, we poured it into our sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space, screwed on the lids, and processed them in our boiling processor for 10 minutes. We made 12 small jelly jars.

Here they are standing in row. Bomp, bomp, bomp.
Here they are standing in row. Bomp, bomp, bomp.

All that’s left for these is some decorative flair. I will put the labels on and cover them prettily.

All that’s left for Christmas goodies are some blank-in-jar things (cookies, pancakes, soup, etc), the applesauce, and I think I will bake some cookies for those without the penchant for cooking/baking even pre-made mixes.

And Eric’s gift. I am caving and buying him some things, and while I’m not terribly pleased with giving in, I am more interested in making sure he has useful and enjoyable things that he wouldn’t buy himself. Which, if I’m being honest, is not a lot of things because he generally just buys what he wants. He’s gotten better around Christmas, though, after three years of me bugging him about it. 🙂

Well, then, I am off to continue my adventures. Keep it crafty!




Twofer Tuesday 2: Scarf start

This is a short post because I am cooking dinner and need to shower after a run.

While thinking about how to make the messenger bag work yesterday, I made a little felt(ish) embellishment for my sound effects fleece scarf.

I haven’t sewed it together yet because I’m not sure how I want to do it. But when I do, I will attach it to the sound effects scarf, and it will be, well, pretty awesome.

Perhaps I will make a second one?

Look at me being patient and not having to finish the scarf immediately.

Next on the docket: Spider Man Duck Tape wallet?

Twofer Tuesday 1: Messenger bag, polymath style

Solve this equation:

(2 yards of Spider Man fabric + approx. 2 yards of black fabric + aida cloth + bias tape)Sam’s frustration = ?

You probably guessed, based on the title…

A Spidey messenger bag!

A few posts ago, I mentioned making a tote bag out of the remaining fabric from the Super Birthday Project, but then I remembered that I don’t like totes, and I rarely use them. Besides, using a Spidey tote for grocery shopping seemed, well, sad – Spidey deserves better.

The reason I don’t like totes is that I don’t care for bags that sit on the shoulder and hang down. I much prefer them to across the body. You know, similar to a messenger bag.

But, as usual, there was a problem. Messenger bags are generally sturdy, and they tend to require thick cloth. I have a ton of cotton prints and some fleece. Show me a messenger bag made with thin cotton and fleece, and I’ll show you another item that does not exist anywhere. In answer to this, I wallowed in self-pity for about an hour, bemoaning my lack of good fabric.

Then I got crafty because that’s what I do.

About a year ago, I purchased some black aida cloth for a cross-stitching project that never happened. If you are unfamiliar with this type of cloth, it can be fairly rigid, but it is also riddled with holes, since it’s for cross-stitching. Of course, it’s also easy to wrap in other fabrics.

So that’s what I did.

For whatever reason, I don’t generally use patterns. For better or worse, I just go forward with my ideas when I get them.

Pictured here: fabric about to be mauled

I trace things, sure, but I am not a stickler on perfect cuts or anything. This is probably where a lot of my problems start, but until it becomes a major issue, I seem to fake it fairly well.

I did trace the aida onto the cloth for the panels

I could have done three completely separate panels, but I opted for one large panel in which I sewed three pockets, essentially. I used black for the outside and Spidey for the lining of the insider of the bag. I lined them up on the wrong sides, sewed around the edge, then flipped it back right-side and sewed the smaller middle pocket (which became the bottom).

The flap for the opening

My thought was that having one panel of fabric with three heavy inserts would be stronger than three panels sewn together. Once I had the main panel done, I just had to sew the sides together.

Luckily I had not finished sewing it all up before I remembered I needed a flap for the opening, otherwise it would not be a messenger bag. It would just be a cross-the-body bag. So I made that rather quickly.

Kids, this is what happens when you rush

I did it so quickly that the bias tape is not actually attached to the fabric in one spot. This is a relatively easy fix if I ever bother to do it.

And besides, you can’t tell it’s there unless I pull the bias tape up and out, and even then, you have to be close to it.

The other part that is rushed and looks bad, though I forgot to take a picture, is where the flap attaches to the bag of the purse. To cover the spot, I added a bit of bias tape (why did I not use this stuff before?!), but my sewing machine went a little crazy in the middle of it, and there is this fine curve right in the middle. Luckily, that is the side that rests against my person, so it’s not noticeable.

New Holland shirt courtesy of Pa.

The straps I made with *gasp!* bias tape and Spidey fabric sewn together. I had not planned on making this, so I didn’t have anything stronger. To ensure it can hold up, though, I sewed probably close to a bazillion stretchy zig-zag stitches.

Things I might change if doing again:

1. I would actually buy some heavy cloth, though making the aida pockets worked great!

2. I would have made the pockets with all black fabric, sewn the straps on, then made a liner of the Spidey fabric, so that it would be reversible!

3. Had something more strap-appropriate.

All-in-all, I did a Happy Dance when I finished this project last night. I had a pretty important meeting today (more on that later this week), so I didn’t break it out today, but I definitely will tomorrow to see how it works. But seriously, I can’t believe I made that!

Birthday Boy Project: Super no-sew fleece throw

Yesterday I picked up some Marvel-licensed fabrics and a no-sew fleece throw blanket for birthday present crafting. I started on these crafts last night, to ensure I have plenty of time to work on everything and get them shipped out in time for the special day.

I took up the fleece blanket first because I could do it downstairs while watching Coraline, which I scored at the dollar store for $3.50!

I knew that the blanket was n0-sew, and I knew that it would probably take some time, but I did not know how sore my back would be after leaning over for about 2 hours. The work was also repetitive and felt a little bit uninspired. Not to say that the final product was not worth it. Perhaps the saddest part is that getting the kit was cheaper than buying fabric to make a throw. With the discount we nabbed, the kit was $20; to get the same amount of fabric needed to make one of these from chosen fleece would have been closer to almost $45 for one panel.

So this project was easier on my wallet if not my fantastic whimsies.

The highlight of working on the blanket was Zoe, who upon coming downstairs when I was nearing completion, decided that the blanket was obviously there for her. She came over and plopped right down on it and didn’t move until the thing was done, and I had to pick it up to shake it off and fold it. Ah, cats.

The finished product does look great, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous. I should have purchased the Batman one for Eric and I. Oh well. Hindsight and all that.

Here are the pictures, from start to finish! And, yes, Zoe is included.

Miniature Magic: Nurgle Chaos Warrior

A little back story: Eric and I were up North last weekend visiting some of his friends, and we spent Sunday morning/afternoon in a game store playing Warhammer 40K. While there, we picked up some Valejo paints for historical miniatures, specifically some German WWII colors. We’ve been slowly switching from Citadel paints (made by Games Workshop) to Valejo because the Citadel paints dry out too quickly.

With these new paints in hand, a new unit of Chaos Warriors to paint for my Warhammer army, I decided to try some of the drab green colors and paint the unit devoted to Nurgle.

Here’s what I came up with:

For the armor, I did a base coat with the Olive Drab

The Valejo paints dry a lot flatter than the Citadel paints, so the color is subtle. I actually preferred that for what I was doing.

A little dry brush with German Green

I dry brushed and highlighted the armor (and shield) with German Green, which is obviously much lighter. I didn’t like how light it was when I first tried this, but the solution was easy, and this two-tone under coat makes the final color a little more realistic.

Now paint over them with Catachan Green

Catachan is a Citadel paint, but that’s alright. It’s hard to see in the picture, but with the lighter green against the olive, there are natural highlights now.

Some details getting done, now

Here’s his backside

For the cape and leather bits, I used Valejo’s chocolate brown, another flat color. Then I highlighted.

Sword done and horns fully painted