Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Maille DNA Bracelet 2.0

I like my DNA maille bracelet well enough, but I thought there was still room for improvement. Or just room for variation. I sat down about a week ago and put together another one, this time with smaller connecting jump rings. As a result, the bracelet retains its spiral shape much better than previously, and has a smoother silhouette overall. (I think the original one looks quite "spiky" somehow.) On the left is the first bracelet; on the right is the second.

I didn't think I'd like the two-tone look that much, but I'm surprised to find that I don't really notice it!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Trek Thursday: And the Children Shall Lead

#31: And the Children Shall Lead

In case you forgot: The Enterprise answers a distress call only to find the chilling leftovers of a mass suicide: dead bodies and cheerful kids totally unaffected by their parents' deaths. The landing party takes the kids back with them to get them to a star base and it turns out that the kids are in possession of some godlike powers. Apparently their power stems from some ancient green ghost who's fueled by the children's belief in/allegiance to him. Kirk convinces the kids the ghost is a bad guy and saves the day (and the children finally grieve).

Note to Adrian Spies (of "Miri" fame): this is how you write kiddie antagonists. I don't mean so much that "oh, they're possessed by a ghost, they're not so evil after all." I mean that the kids scheme and plan like reasonably intelligent kids would do, and also that they conduct themselves using proper English.  The eleventh-hour ghost cop-out is kind of unfortunate, but then I suppose it would be too dark for TOS to have truly evil children as an antagonist.

What I like about this episode in particular is that to do the right thing and to save the day, Kirk has to ruin these children's lives. YOUR MOMMY AND DADDY ARE DEAD BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T LIVE WITH THEMSELVES ANYMORE, THEY ABANDONED YOU. THEY WEREN'T BORING, THEY LOVED YOU. YOU DIDN'T APPRECIATE THEM ENOUGH.

Yeah, those kids are going to need a lot of therapy.

A solid episode but not without its flaws. The mechanics of how exactly the green omnipotent ghost works in the world are hazy and unsatisfying and it smacks a bit of backassery. ("How can we get kids to act evil without actually being evil?") Also, the jerk-off motion the kids make to use their powers isn't scary or threatening; it just detracts from the creepiness of it all.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Five Fandom Friday on Saturday: Comfort Films

This week's 5 Fandom Friday is one that I think anyone can relate to: comfort movies! Distraction and escapism are popular ways to cope with stress (maybe not always the best ways, though) and what are movies if not distraction and escapism? It didn't take me long at all to come up with my list.

1. Little Miss Sunshine

The weird thing is, I've only seen this movie once. I was having a really rough patch at one of my jobs in South Korea, and one of my friends had me over for drinks and noraebang duets and watching this movie. "It's the perfect movie to watch when you feel like shit," she told me, and it is. It gave me the renewed determination I needed to leave a toxic job—and wouldn't you know it but I found another job just a week after I gave my 30 days' notice, the best school I worked out in Korea hands-down.

I haven't really felt that worn-down and stressful since, but I know that if I ever do, this will be an instant pick-me-up. Do what you love and fuck the rest.

2. My Neighbor Totoro

This movie is just pure feel-good, 100%. There might be some darker shit going on behind it, but I steadfastly choose to believe otherwise.

3. The Comedy of Terrors

I stumbled across this one at my favorite Suncoast Video back in high school, one of MGM's "Midnite Movies" series of double billings. This one came on a disc with The Raven, a horror-comedy adaptation of Poe's poem of the same name by none other than Roger Corman. It's fun and goofy but it doesn't stand up to The Comedy of Terrors, even though both were written by Hollywood legend Richard Matheson. 

I loved it from the first and I love re-watching it. My favorite is to watch it with someone who hasn't seen it before, because whatever they're expecting, this movie subverts it. A childhood of watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 may have made me an unlikely expert on low-budget horror movies of the 50s and 60s, but it wasn't until I saw The Comedy of Terrors that I truly began to appreciate the wonderful camp that is horror movie staple Vincent Price.

4. Pitch Perfect

The movie is hilarious, but I have to admit that my "comfort" part is the last performance at championships (or nationals or regionals or whatever they're called). I am a sucker for OTT music performances as a Crowning Moment of Awesome. I have watched that clip on YouTube too many times to count.

Honorable mention for this slot includes the battle of the bands scene in School of Rock and the final concert by Mr. Holland's grown students in Mr. Holland's Opus.

5. The Goonies

A childhood classic. I never saw it in the theaters (I was born too late for that) but I watched it a lot on tape. My brother and I had a babysitter (not quite like a nanny—it was more like a daycare thing, only we were the only children she watched, and she took care of us right in her home) and her son, maybe like five or six years older than me, was our big brother and hero. He taped loads and loads of movies from TV and then watch them with us. The Goonies was one that got a lot of repeat viewings. It's not a perfect movie—even 6-year-old-me was irritated by the girls' irritating and useless characters, sensing an injustice I couldn't quite put to words at the time—but I love it and never tire of it.

Friday, March 20, 2015

New Item Prototype: DNA Bracelet

I've been wanting to try chainmaille forever. I kept on putting it off in the states because I worked at a bead store and couldn't help constantly replenishing my bead stock with new and wonderful stones to play with. But now that I'm in Stockholm, I have yet to find a good brick-and-mortar bead store. This means that I'm not replenishing my bead stock quite as quickly, whereas my supply of jump rings has more or less remained steady. (Makes sense, since I buy them in large quantities and you really only need 2, maybe 4 at most for your typical beaded piece.)

These are jump rings, for those whose interests do not include jewelry-making.

Necessity is the mother of invention, or in this case, experimentation, and lately my attention has been directed less towards beads and more towards chainmaille: the art of interlocking jump rings to create a wide variety of projects: clothing and armor, chains for larger projects, standalone pieces, and more. It's not just for SCA and Ren Faire enthusiasts!

I have a couple ideas regarding chainmaille that I want to try out. Some of them will have to wait until I get different rings, but I did manage to get one project done: a double helix DNA bracelet!

Hopefully the resemblance between this (a weave called This Is Not Food) and DNA is easy enough to see here; my small jump rings may be a touch too large (or my large jump rings not large enough). It definitely looks nicer in real life. I should have spent more time on staging the photos so you can get a better idea of how it "really" looks but I was too impatient!

Overall I'm quite pleased with how it came out. There are a lot of different spiral weaves available but there aren't a lot that have the shape I'm going for. The only other one I could find is the 4 in 1 Spiral, but it's hard to get it to maintain its spiral shape. This Is Not Food, on the other hand, maintains its spiral shape naturally. This one was the learning piece, so I won't be selling it, but I expect to crank out a few more right away. Unlike beaded jewelry, chainmaille jewelry has a lot of potential for the men's/unisex niche, so I'm excited to be able to add this skill to my repertoire!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Trek Thursday: That Which Survives

#32: That Which Survives

In case you forgot: Kirk, Bones, Sulu, and a blue-shirted redshirt are investigating a planet that is by all accounts a scientific anomaly. The redshirt dies and the Enterprise is thrown over 900 light-years away. Spock and Scott work to repair the ship while the landing party faces off against a woman programmed to destroy.

Another solid "extinct alien technology" episode. This one has some solid questions: how can a planet so young seem so old? What happened to the Enterprise? Who is this woman who can kill people with just a touch of her hand? And, unlike some other episodes, the questions that get asked in the beginning are all satisfactorily answered by the time the credits roll.

Whenever the Enterprise encounters the technological remains of an alien race, there's always a good bit of melancholy and wonder: with so many races out there that we don't know and can never know, who knows what kinds of advancements and exchanges we're missing out on, even in a future full of faster-than-light travel and medical miracles? It's a galaxy full of tragedy and missed opportunities.

That said, it seems too easy an out that the computer-woman can only be programmed to kill one party member at a time (until the three of her show up at the end), or that she can kept away so easily by the other two members of the party. Guess you have to level the playing field somehow...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Failure of Mars One

I missed out on Pi Day and St. Patrick's Day on the blog, but it warmed my hear to see so many other blogs observing some math nerdiness! The truth is that I am still a little busy at the moment, so I couldn't really give Pi Day its proper due. And St. Patrick's Day? Living in neither the US nor Ireland, I can assure you that the only place that was a "thing" was in Stockholm's Irish pubs.But I'm taking half a minute out of my life to talk a bit about Mars One.

This is a project that has been getting a lot of hype, and it's not hard to see why: most sane people are concerned about the potentially irreversible changes we're triggering in our planet (or they at least agree that it will eventually be a problem for someone to deal with). If we've unequivocally ruined Earth, expanding out into other space and other planets is our only hope for long-term survival. Even if we manage to salvage Earth's climate so that it remains more or less hospitable for humanity, there's nothing we can do about the Sun's inevitable life cycle—either way, space travel is part of our future, if humans are going to play the really long game. Space colonization and extraterrestrial life is the premise of so much science fiction, from the classic (Star Trek) to the obscure (Henry Martinson's Aniaria), that the appeal is no surprise.

It seems like the Mars One project has taken that appeal and turned it into a poorly-organized cash grab. This Medium.com article has a great run-down on it. That's really all you need to read on the topic.

I really hope that I can live to see a successful mission to Mars. I think it's entirely possible, but maybe it isn't.