Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Masquerading Tag

Thanks for the 'Honest Scrap' award, Kochuthresiamma. It definitely makes for a good writing prompt, especially when nothing has happened to induce me into another blog post.

First condition:
To list 10 honest things about myself.

(1) I am 40 years old. (Really, truly.) I also look it, and have always looked like that, even when I was 16. The good part is that once I hit 60, people will still think that I'm 40 ;)

(2) I'm not fond of wearing jewelry, even if I ooh and aah over catalogs and designs with friends. After 40 years of life, I've learned to be willing to blend in with the crowd, on occasion.

(3) I've discovered that cleaning and the dishes can always take a backseat to reading and blogging. Visit my house with a mask on (no, not because of the swine flu), but the dust bunnies are breeding like... well, rabbits.

(4)I always have an obsession-du-jour. It usually changes every week, so to be pedantic that ought to be obsession-de-la-semaine. Last week it was Carnatic music concerts, this week it's simulating respiratory flow limitations at work, next week it will be something else, entirely.

(5)No, I don't discriminate between work and hobbies, either.

(6) I'm uncuddly by nature, but what to do? I've been gifted a child who demands 'cuddles' at the drop of a hat. Talk about invading my personal space- that kid has no concept of it at all- she would return to the womb, if she could.

(7)I'm also a pack rat, and have serious difficulties tossing out anything, whether it be clothes unworn for years or papers from a job held 15 years ago or craft UFOs (UnFinished Objects, for newbies). I'm in serious need of the Extreme Home Organization makeover. Could someone recommend my name for that TV show, please?

(8) (Er... there is a TV show by that name, isn't there, or am I confusing it with 'What not to wear"? I suppose I could do with a recommendation to that as well. I would give Susan Boyle fair competition for the dowdiest person around.)

(9) OK, so item (8) was a bit of a cheat, originally piggybacked on comment (7). Which brings me to (9). As you see, I like to bend the rules occasionally, but then, who doesn't.

(10) I'm very bad at keeping in touch with my friends who have moved away. There are those who will religiously call and run up their long-distance phone bills without a qualm, but for me, it tends to be 'Out of sight, out of mind."

The next:
Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.

Hmmm...I'm going to be leaving secret tags, so won't advertise who the awardees of the Honest Scrap are. (How's that for a cop-out ?)

Where's my icon, by the way? I wants my icon, dagnabbit!

Friday, April 24, 2009

One Never Knows...

When the days of famine will strike.

Take a cue from these goldfinches that spent all day at my birdfeeder. Even if three's a crowd, feast on the thistle seeds while they are plentiful!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Voices and Faces

After all the world-wide interest in Susan Boyle, there are still some things about the phenomenon which are rather puzzling to me. On seeing the Youtube video for the first time, I was struck by how exaggerated the judges' and audience's eye-rolling and snickering seemed to be,. Why should they react thus at the sight of Susan Boyle, who looked like a perfectly ordinary lady you might run into on the street, quite literally, if you were paying more attention to your cellphone than who was in front of you. Her speaking voice and dialect were a little hard to follow, but once she started to sing, barely two lines into the song, the amazing roar of approval, clapping, widened eyes and judge reactions seemed a tad bit too pat. Cue the artifice, the unseen signs prompting the audience to 'Stand up and clap'.
Her voice is amazing and true, and like other feel-good stories, says to the average underdog "Yes, we over the world with the secret talents we unleash upon it." It's the stuff of childhood dreams, when soot-covered Cinderella is removed from her ash-filled corner, ensconced in a beautiful gown, parading in triumph in her glittering carriage. Only, in this case, the focus is on the fact that even a pretty dress and getup will not change the fact that Susan Boyle's face was pegged as ordinary, even ugly, by today's societal (or media-driven?) standards of 'beauty'.
From the Wikipedia link:

Tanya Gold wrote in The Guardian that the difference between Boyle's hostile reception and the more neutral response to Paul Potts in his first audition reflected society's expectation that women be both good-looking and talented, with no such expectation existing for men. In a similar vein, a columnist on wrote that Boyle's performance reminded people that "not all fortysomething women are sleek, Botoxed beauties", going on to say that Boyle's sudden fame came from her ability to remind her audience that, like them, she is a normal, flawed and vulnerable person, familiar with disappointment and mockery, but who nevertheless has the determination to fight for her dream.

Several media sources have commented that Boyle's success seemed to have particular resonance in the United States. Writing in The Scottsman Craig Brown quoted a U.S. entertainment correspondent who compared Boyle's story to the American Dream, in that it represented talent overcoming adversity and poverty. The Associated Press described this as Boyle's "hardscrabble story", dwelling on her modest lifestyle and what they saw as urban deprivation in her home town., The Independent New York correspondent David Usborne wrote that America is a country that will always respond to "the fairy tale where the apparently unprepossessing suddenly becomes pretty, from Shrek to My Fair Lady". Piers Morgan, one of the show's judges, also commented on the unusual power this story seemed to have in the U.S., stating that "Americans can be very moved by this sort of thing." He likened Boyle's rise to fame from poverty and obscurity to that of the fictional boxer Rocky Balboa, who was the subject of a series of Hollywood films.


A meteoric rise to fame, fuelled by the technology of Youtube/Facebook/Twitter, as well as major exploding coverage on the network and cable channels. It's hard to believe that this was a reflection of something that happened in January 2009, followed by months of careful editing and virality being unleashed around April 11, 2009.

Talent notwithstanding, the media is unleashing reams of commentary along the lines of "Looks aren't everything, talent is." and "Isn't it amazing how wonderful her voice is, despite her looks and those terrible beetling eyebrows?", "Will she or won't she have a makeover?"

I will confess that I'm amazed by all this silly pontification (Kindly ignore the fact that I'm indulging in it here, as well). Doesn't day-to-day life teach all these millions of people that talent can be wrapped in unlikely packages? Don't they know of mailcarriers or janitors or unprepossessing matrons who share their secret talents with the small circle of friends, untrammeled by the spotlight and glare of airbrushed magazine covers and HDTV?

I seriously doubt it. This is just a temporary phenomenon, even with the huge numbers involved. Tomorrow everyone will be chasing after the next viral thing to hit the internet. But for now, Susan Boyle has achieved her dream, and given fuel to a few million other dreams as well.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Frosted Pinks and Eggheads

Yesterday and the day before brought back the flurries and snow fall. So I was treated to Daffodils on Ice and Frosted Pinks when I ventured out to refill the bird feeder.

We finished the first set of Pysanki that M, S and I attempted at a friend's house. They turned out very pretty, S's orange Egghead, M's burgundy with daisies and my white on blue freehand vines and a more stylized turquoise and royal blue pattern.
I've ordered a set of dyes and supplies to try out more intricate designs: surely these are not meant to be done at Easter alone- they're too much fun to make. It's a pity that the regular craft stores and markets don't carry supplies for Ukrainian egg decorating. I had to special order over the internet and have every intention of trying out some really elaborate patterns soon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Philosophical Question

"What is a Filo- so-fer?" M enunciated carefully.
"Here it says that Muskrat was a..." and she showed me the book page.
"A philosopher. Umm, I think that's a person who ponders hard-to-answer questions, like 'What is the purpose of life?' "
"Or, how did the Big Bang start the universe", M tried to grapple with this new term.
"No, that's a scientific question. A scientist can do experiments to try and find the answers to such questions. That can't be done in philosophy."
"Or, how did God create Man?"
"No, that's a theological question, not a philosophical one."
"Or why are we Hindus instead of some other religion?"
"Not exactly", I was starting to run out of adjectives that could be easily explained (cultural? social?ethnic?).
"Though it is possible that people of different religions may develop their own philosophies."
M gave up trying to get a coherent answer from me and went back to her book and the whimsies of Moomintroll and Muskrat.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Layered Rant

Clothes, current fashions, more sartorial shenanigans.Sigh.
I was folding up M's laundry yesterday when I was reminded that it was high time to go clearance hunting again. But I have no illusions that it will be easy to find anything that I consider remotely suitable wear for a tiny 8-year old who is not into Hannah Montana or the High School Musical XV (in which a doddering Zac Efron and blue-haired Vanessa Ann Hudgens play geriatric sweethearts separated by a scheming old biddy named Sharpay who has her eye on the bank account of .....never mind.)
Standing by the clearance racks, I close my eyes and start to feel the fabrics. Slippery polyester chiffon- lovely prints but not suitable for day to day wear. It wouldn't make for comfortable climbing of the jungle gym. And worse, the paper thin knits, which look like the lowest quality output of Tiruppur's factories.
'The layered look is just the thing.' The Google abounds in reams of advice on how to layer the clothes to look like the latest photoshoot from the fashion catalogs or pop magazines. But all of these have the essential component of thin, barely-there knit camisoles, topped by even thinner woven or weblike gossamer thin fabrics, with the underwear showing generously under the peekaboo necklines.
I HATE THESE LAYERS. Even if the fashion is on its way out. Because I know that all of those will be inhabiting the clearance bins that I love to rummage in. My only hope is that sanity returns for the current season, so I won't be forced to struggle next year to clothe M in clothes that wouldn't survive three washes without looking moth-eaten.