wooly bully.

wool hanging on the wall.  wool hanging on the wall

The other day,my mother-in-law gave me some beautiful hand-spun naturally dyed wool she made  that is now older than my old man.  It is gorgeous yarn in beautiful colours and is well documented textile experimentation:  I now have a general idea of how certain natural dyes look and a bunch of yarn to keep my idle hands away from the  devil’s work.

Each bundle of yarn was labeled with a hand written note of the organic matter used in the process and stuck through with a straight pin.  The notes read things like ‘hickory husks, which made a beautiful gray-green, and ‘black current berries’, which made the deepest Van Gogh blue. 

in the beginning, there were several rows completed.

scarf-in-progress.

My step dad taught me to knit many years ago and now I’m muddling through my  seventh-or-so scarf.  My tendencies to drop a stitch every 9th or 10th row and poor technique in changing colours are forgiven by the beautiful rustic wool. I restarted several times and am learning that those things they animate about cats and yarn are true. 

Still, the act of creating something from raw materials is empowering and satisfying. I feel assured that when the revolution comes, I will be able to knit my family warm scarves, as long as my mother-in-law is there to make the wool.  More important then the ‘revolution’ in my head though, with times as they are, what is painfully obvious to me is that we cannot consume the way we are used to consuming. 

Brown-bag lunches are really just the minimum of what any conscientious consumer of the new socio-econ-eco reality can start to do to begin the process of reimagining cycles of production, goods, consuming, wearing,and using.  I think the future of personal goods production is going to find its way back into the home as we increasingly turn to secondary economies and new/old ways of being consumers. Picking up skills like sewing, knitting(etc.) and mending help in the creation, reusing, and longevity of clothing that sticks it to the man, in a good way.

In this spirit, I have decided to have a contest to give away the scarf I am making as there are only so many necks in my family and I am excited to interact with readers through a contest.  Somewhat unrelatedly,  the contest is to email me (a.g.bushfield at gmail) or comment with websites you read everyday and I will pick my fav and the person who recommended it first will get the scarf!

And this is my other cat who was especially photogenic today. ❤

oo-wee-oo, his name is buddy holly. meow.

oo-wee-oo, his name is buddy holly. meow.

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monster mash

The ones we got didn't look like these. My Rock Band character wears ones like these. 

 

the ones we got didn't look like these. my Rock Band character wears ones like these, though.

Did anyone else love this movie when they were a kid?

The recent history of movie theatres in London, Ontario is a sad one.  The New Yorker was slightly before my time, but I hear it spoken fondly of.  I personally had a lot of awkward adolescent first-to-third dates at The Capitol and thought one of the greatest comments on my city was when someone rearranged the marquee message of “Reopening Soon” to RIP when it became quite obvious that the theatre would never be reopening.  

I think it could go without saying that the movie theatre has been in a slow tailspin sine the advents of television, home video, and the internet.   It has affected second-run theatres most as these theatres thrived on the time between theatrical release and home release.  All theatres suffer  movies being downloaded or livestreamed right onto giant home televisions, greatly mimicking the feeling of a plain old movie theatre with more comfortable seating and cheaper snacks.  There, I said it. 

Today I went to see Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D and have decided that after I have my own counter-culture fashion and lifestyle media empire, successfully operate an organic automat cafeteria/diner, and live in an off-the-grid self-sustaining farm, I will be opening an experience theatre.  

The movie was amusing and delightful.  It had interesting ‘monsterous other’ and empowering themes as well as tolerable humour and adorable characters.  But the real star was the 3D animation.  It scared me every time.  It made the movie experience so enjoyable and positively worth the money even though I wasn’t able to use my coupon on 3D movies.  I was reminded of  a documentary I watched in grade nine science on experiential movie theatres in the 50s, including buzzing seats and scratch n’ sniff movies and now I’m convinced it all needs to make a comeback.  

I was worried about the theatre I went to because recently there has been no one there when I’ve gone, except for huge blockbuster opening nights, of course: it is built with a large capacity in mind but I haven’t seen it fully functioning since it opened about a decade ago.  It’s obviously either ill-thought out over consumption, like a big box theatre, or is victim to (un)foreseeable trending.  They did, however, advertise several 3D movies before the feature which may tell of a renewed theatre experience.

The 3D glasses themselves were satisfyingly Buddy Holly-like, and while they can’t be used as sunglasses and aren’t red and blue lensed, I do plan to hold onto mine to use them when I go to my next 3D movie.  However, in order for it to be extremely successful with me and mine, there will need to be non-cartoons made, which currently doesn’t seem to be the case.

This is currently my most anticipated movie. 

p.s. Would you rather a link for a movie be to the wikipedia or imdb page?

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review of Black Hole by Charles Burns

available several places.  

My friend has the coolest last name on the planet.  But you can never know it for reasons of privacy.  She also has a fabulous graphic novel collection from which I have  borrowed several to read.  

Black Hole by Charles Burns is the second one I’ve picked up.  For those who do not know it and will not click on the link, it is a series from 1995-2005 about teenagers in the 70s getting an STI that causes grotesque mutations. And there are murders. 

The idea seemed fascinating and having flipped through it I felt the art was well-done enough. I was expecting loosely veiled HIV/AIDS  references only to find really loosely veiled vag imagry.  (not at all related vag hating and ethnic stereotypes) I mean, ‘Black Hole’…really?

The mutations are super cool.  And it’s sort-of super cool in the way that Heavy Metal is super cool. But the art is nothing particularly special with poorly executed narration boxes that block  a lot of what could be neat urban landscapes and pretty much miss the point of a graphic novel: the drawings are themselves highly narrative and literal and the addition of the narrative boxes make graphic interpretation redundant.  

Reading it also gave me a headache and made me nauseous, which I attribute to the high relief contrast in black and white and awkward panel reading movement.  This, according to some people, is in turn attributable to me being  a so-called ‘weiner-kid’.  Overall, the art is quite lovely in places but very hard to read.

The plot is a missed chance at character development/making a comment on the modern state of adolescent sexual politics and STIs.  It might be trying to be erotica, but it I would call it hetero-normative, white bread weirdo boy erotica. 

Should definitely be read but is officially not worth a headache.

p.s. poor Bea Arthur, she wasn’t Rufus Wainwright’s grandmother.

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no, Obama!

UPDATE  04.21.09   Clearly President Obama read my blog.  Hopefully after I edited out all of the incorrect possessive apostrophes.

not my hero today, President Obama.

not my hero today, President Obama.

During the primaries, I was a sworn Hillary Clinton fan.  She remains a loyal yet appropriately dissenting patriot who often speaks strongly about the responsibilities of the USA in foreign affairs.  (Though in this particular instance, I think USA drug policies suck in a very different way than she does). However, I feel honoured to be politically aware during the first American presidency of a black man; Obama certainly moves me when he speaks, I feel he could be a catalyst for progressive change, and no, I don’t hope he fails.

But today I must lament “No, Obama!” because of this.  

As the first line of my newly started overdue paper for Philosophy of War and Peace says, President Obama’s decision to forgo the prosecution of CIA agents who committed acts of torture because they were acting on the counsel of the Department of Justice and following orders poses a distinct ideology of utility, identity, and action as pertains to sanctioned, violent representatives of the government of the United States.  And this ideology is not one I am a fan of (note: this sentence  is not from my paper). 

This paper is about rules of engagement and a soldier’s responsibility  to peace and pacifism.  This is a very different approach to that of the philosophers who I am responding to that mostly discuss a soldier’s responsibility to their government. And while dogmatic obedience is certainly ingrained into trained forces, the reality is that their actions are the actions of an individual and moreover, these actions are acts of violence and therefore carry a certain responsibility.  And in the case of the CIA agents, these acts, sanctioned or otherwise, are particularly heinous and the lack of responsibility particularly egregious. 

Acts of war are essentially individual acts of violence enacted by individuals,or groups of individuals, sometimes under orders and some times not.  But in either case, we can’t suggest that the actors are completely blameless.  For one, Obama’s plans to not prosecute violates obviously weak, though present, international law.  Second, let’s apply the good ol’ ethical litmus test: Nazis.  Nazis unsuccessfully argued the ‘I was only following orders’ at Nuremberg. Well I, for one, am really glad they were unsuccessful; if you’re a Nazi, you’re pretty much guilty of BEING A FUCKING NAZI. The whole only-following-orders thing is not a particularly good ethical argument, especially when it comes to horrific acts of violence, like genocide, or torture.

Obama should be taking a cue from Clinton and start owning up to the actions of Americans, even past actions, instead of shuffling the docket back an administration. Releasing the memos of the Bush administration that sanctioned the torture and not prosecuting the agents who actually committed the torture is scape-goating the dead horse.  We get it, Bush was bad.  And yes, I believe he was a war criminal too.  But a war cannot be fought without willing soldiers, and torture cannot be performed without willing torturers.  

 I am absolutely sympathetic to the soldier complex.  I do support the women and men who are risking their lives to help others.  That is helping others.  Not torturing them.  The international laws are pretty clear and the ethical question, as far as I am concerned, is even clearer and one would hope CIA agents are intelligent enough to know the difference between an ‘order’ and a ‘crime against humanity’ and those that can’t should be held to account.  

No, Obama!

peace,

-a.b.

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living room, where i live.

My main man and I are in the middle of redoing our  living room.  It was always OK, but a little dark and had weird doors in the archway between it and our front room.  Also, we bought this with stale wedding money to go with this, our fav wedding gift, which we do in fact refer to as “The Nagouchi” , and needed to make room for ‘The Eames’.  So we took down the doors and put them in the front hall closet, which gave us about 4 cubic feet more floor space and about 8 more cubic feet of visual space, and started the rearranging yesterday.

We have a lot of furniture and a lot of art because we are design junkies and pack rats.  It has been a real adventure fitting everything into our three bedroom apartment.  But in redoing the space we’ve gotten rid of a lot of stuff and realized that we needed more art than we already had.  But we are broke.

Solution: inventing art with stuff we have in the house.  I spearheaded the project and decided that high art was the way to go.  A few years ago I won an essay contest and in addition to cold-hard cash I got an art textbook.  But we already had one art textbook and I spilled coffee on the prize one.  We also had a bunch of small old frames that we bought at an auction sale and have been keeping around in a box ‘just in case’ (pack rats).  I now feel totally justified in purchasing these frames, keeping them around for two years, and moving them at least once as I have turned them into beautiful art! artblog

As per my plan to become as much like Martha Stewart as possible, here are the instructions for the project:

1. Prepare old frames of many sizes and styles by cleaning the glass and cutting off stand flaps.

2. Cut out pictures of famous pieces of art to fit the frames from a superfluous textbook, or print some favourites off the internet, mixing portrait and landscape, styles, and don’t be afraid to crop.

3. Put pictures in frames and glue on hanging devices with hot glue gun and glue or tape description of art to the back. 

4. Trace outline of all of the pictures-in-frames onto paper, marking whether the picture is landscape or portrait and making a description of the art so you know which one is which, also marking the precise location of the hanging device.  Cut out.

5. Arrange cut-outs on wall by taping them on.  Make sure to vary colours and styles in layout.

6. Hammer in a nail on the hanging mark you’ve made on the cut-outs, ensuring to leave the nail far enough out of the wall to accommodate for any stand flap leftovers.  

7. Place art over appropriate cut-out and rip traced cut-out away from the wall. 

Voila!

This one is my fav  because the frame and image work so well together <3.

The Treason Of Images by Magritte

The Treason Of Images by Magritte

And this is one my cats on my newly laid-out bar/plant stand.  Aww<3

georgia 'georgie'

georgia 'georgie' peach, in the jungle

peace,  

-a.b.

p.s. I’m going to start adding suggested listening for my blog entries:

Living Room, Track 8 on Tegan and Sara‘s 2002 album If It Was You

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too cool for school.

Public education as a concept is a mark of socialism.  In some forms, it represents an understanding that not everything can be based on profit derivation.  Not in the form that we have in Canada though.

No, our system is based on the Prussian model of education which exists to create obedient citizens.  Its values include ensuring that pupils become wrote machines of consumption and that those who struggle with this are kept at arms length of social participation.  Not to sound too Marxian or conspiracy theoristy, but the system of education in Canada exists to sustain capitalism.  Booo!

I feel as though I have a lot of ground to stand on when I complain about the public education system in Canada – particularly Ontario – as I am product of its system, sort of:  I have attended 7 schools, dropped out 3 times, and did not graduate from high school.  And yet I am an honours student in University.  I could come up with many excuses as to why I couldn’t get those last 4 credits, but the plain truth is I just really didn’t like school, and now,thanks to my Politics of Education course, I can tell why.

In the class I learned that our mandatory, public education system exists, fundamentally, not to educate children and allow them to fulfill their potential, but rather to indoctrinate them into being good little consumers and capitalists.  Schools reward obedience, routine attendance, and not thinking outside the curriculum with high grades and the sense that ‘good’ students are special snowflakes whose opinions always matter; I was, and still am, contrary to the core and appreciate self directed learning, I don’t show up to do things I don’t like to do, and I really don’t feel as though I am a unique and special individual with constant profoundness and importance.  

I also hated the curriculum, which I continue to deride to this day.  Among many things I find lacking about it, a friend of mine remarked quite profoundly the other day on a serious problem with curriculum in Canada’s school pertaining to the education of Aboriginal students.  She was reacting to Mr.Ignatieff who politically name-dropped  free post-secondary education for Native Canadians when he did a town hall meeting at our school the other day, without making any mention of the fact that very few actually make it to post-secondary education – or a program or policy that would help rectify this.  Her claim, which I would say is correct, is that our curriculum teaches history, language, and social studies written by white people about white people for white people.  Her directive was to rethink education to create curriculum that would include Aboriginal perspectives so that Aboriginal students may be engaged, empowered, and therefore be more likely to graduate.  Imagine!

How about school as a place to receive care and nurturing toward selfhood?  Well, guidance counselors in London can help you if you need to make that super-tough decision of which school to go to: the one with all the parties, or the one where you got a scholarship to in recognition of all of your attendance, punctuality, and obedience as opposed to actual ability to function in academia.  But if you’re ,say, in a gang or, god-forbid, GAY, then no:

When I was in high school, I was part of a group of queer and queer-friendly youth who were reacting to recent violence against young gays in the city and attempting to make safe spaces and provide literature for queer youth in schools.  At the school board meeting I went to, one trustee claimed that support literature for queer youth should not be put in the library or counselor’s offices as there were already enough of ‘them’ in the school and they didn’t need to create more of a problem. 

I reflect on this because I was recently shown my yearbook from one of the times I didn’t graduate , the caption that appeared below my misprinted graduation photo read ‘too cool for school’.

How true! 

peace,

-a.b.

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progressive stances pt.2.

smashThere is a gigantic disconnect between social taboos and the actions of our citizenry/government.  For instance, I think we can all agree that excluding women  from participating in society and making sexist remarks are pretty much prima facie no-nos.  Not that it doesn’t happen, but there are laws, Bills of Rights, and etiquette norms against it.  And yet…

Despite it being not OK to hate on women, it’s totally fine to hate on feminists.  I believe this is the case for many reasons, but one important one being that the majority of people feel that the work of feminism is done: we can vote, serve on government, take maternity leave, control our reproductive destiny, and have an all-access pass to the public world.   Great.  Except that women by and large don’t serve on government, feel immense pressure to choose between career-baby-career/baby/double-day of labour, suffer depression and hormone-related disease from the pill, and make .67 to a man’s loonie.  Oh! and 1/3 of us are sexually assaulted in our life time.  

Yet the people who are working towards solutions to these systemic problems are constantly belittled and forced to explain themselves via one monolithic answer for ‘what does feminism even mean’?   I wonder if judges and lawyers are constantly asked ‘what does justice even mean?’ only to be told that their clearly relative, personal, and complicated answer demands that they should give up their struggle for it.   

And while punidts and politicians alike scratch their heads over the lack of gender-representation in Parliament, our public school system still has yet to teach a history which includes a meaningful discussion about women or the proper emotional curriculum  necessary to influence gender interaction towards health and mutual respect and  away from violence and oppression giving young women no empowering role models and no empowerment. 

Not even Canadian post-secondary institutions and supposedly learned people **can stop themselves from undercutting progression towards a society wherein women gain parity of  participation and freedom from rigid gender construction and violence.  

And who can forget this stunning move on behalf of the Harper government?

What do we want?  “A fair and just society!”  When do we  want it?  “Once it stops requiring us to do something about it or change our attitudes!” 

peace,

-a.b.

** Interesting that this person claimed progressive education is ‘brainwashing’…more on this in next the post.

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