The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but it was definitely one of those books that just by changing one or two things it could have been FANTASTIC. The fresh look at zombies and vampires and fantasy creatures in a modern urban setting was nice. This is no True Blood, or Twilight, or even Charles DeLint, it is definitely its own thing, and I loved that unique view. I loved the concept, a human woman writing a travel guide for unnatural creatures visiting New York, awesome. It had a good sense of humor, definitely some silly moments, some witty lines. I understand that its supposed to be a fluff book, and I wasn’t looking for anything too serious.
But… I got so sick of plot twists that entirely revolved around the romantic history and sex life of the main character. Really? I mean REALLY?! She’s supposed to be a strong intelligent driven woman, so why is it always about the MEN in her life???
Why is it always about the fact that she slept with her last boss who was actually married? Why is her coworker a super sexy incubus who somehow talks her into going to a bdsm sex club and nearly having sex with her in front of a crowd. (Which, of course, she doesn’t protest at the time, but gets pissed about later). And of course, her next door neighbor just HAPPENS to be a super sexy knight in shining armor, employed by Public Works, the secret police force of the unnatural world. And OF COURSE the big evil of the climax of the book just HAPPENS to be her ex-boyfriend’s wife, who is a voodoo queen coming to take over New York City, and also has a personal vendetta agains the main character. I mean, really?!
That just pissed me off no end. The villain of the book is the wife of the man the main character slept with. Think about what that says for a moment. And, by the way, the married guy in question isn’t portrayed as evil, or a true shithead, just a kind of weak, icky womanizer. When the main character runs into him again, not only does she NOT kick him in the balls, or at least punch him in the nose, she saves his life. Twice. I’m not saying he deserved to die, and good for her taking the moral high ground. But she also doesn’t even TELL HIM HE’S A SHIT HEAD FOR LYING TO HER AND CHEATING ON HIS WIFE. Neither woman knew about the other, the guy is the one who’s really a freakin’ jerk AND YET its the two women who end up battling each other with constructs in central park. I’m not saying every woman who’s ever been cheated on by her husband is automatically a good person, but COME ON. That just left a nasty taste in my mouth. Especially since every other plot device was also SOMEHOW related to the main character’s sex life and the fact she slept with her last boss who happened to be married. Ick.
But enough about that. One of the other things I really liked about this book is that the author is local. Not in a super flattering light, but its still mentioned. And that makes me smile, because I love where I live, and I love that interesting people who are succeeding at their dreams are living here too.
While this book definitely had things I didn’t like about it, it had enough things I did like about it that I will continue to read works by this author. I want to support local authors, but also because I think the flaws that so bothered me are somewhat from her being such a new author. This is apparently her first largely published book, I’m excited to see where she goes. Hopefully she’ll find her strengths in her humor, and her fun new look at urban fantasy, and NOT in her sense of “romance” or dependence on male characters as plot points.
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Fifties Mad Hatter Dress
A friend of mine was having an Alice in Wonderland themed party, and what else could I do but go as a 1950’s style Mad Hatter?
The dress is mostly spoonflower’s organic cotton sateen. The overdress is hand dyed, and the underskirt is printed textured checkerboard (because with Alice there must ALWAYS be a reference to chess!) The top of the bodice is purchased lace, and you can see in the back where I used the pretty edge of the lace.
The pattern is my ever favorite Butterick Retro B5603, which if you’ve been following me for awhile, you’ll notice I’ve made this dress five or six times. However, I made some pretty substantial alterations to it, this time around. The sweetheart neckline and lace is all mine, as well as the pleats up the left side. I had a lot of fun making this dress up as I went along.
The final picture is my favorite from the night of the party. Alice, the birthday girl is centered, with a rave-styled Cheshire Cat on the left. We clearly had the best headgear at the party (Photo by Jayce Williams). Also pictured are my fellow Fifties Caterpillar (see the long cigarette holder? Hehe), and her Cheshire Cat (his bowtie has orange kitty faces on it!) One of the best nights I’ve had this year.
You don’t know how long I’ve wanted to / been meaning to share this photograph.
If you remember, ages and ages ago, I was super excited about the Neil Gaiman Calendar of Tales project. We ended up missing the competition because I can’t tell time, but I don’t even care because this turned out so fantastic. If you somehow missed the project as it was happening, you should definitely check it out. (Here’s the post I wrote when I finished the dress.)
This photo is of the scene in January, when 1914 greets 2012 in the place where years go when they’re over. In the background, you can see several of the other years hanging out, enjoying life beyond time.
The photography was done by Sonja of Soulfire Studios (facebook, tumblr). Isn’t it fantastic? Everything feels magical and sort of timeless. (My favorite part is how she got the color of the water to actually match my dress, haha).
2012 is modeled by Matthew Sumner, of Beat Down Boogie.
I think my favorite part of this project is that I didn’t even know half the people I was working with when it all started. I just decided “Hey, I want to do this. I won’t be able to pull it off alone, so I should find some other people who want to do this.” And I sent out a bat signal, and friend of friends of friends responded. And this happened. And it was fantastic. Love of art and love of neil gaiman collide, and cool things happen.
I love my birthday, I mean really really love it. And to a certain extent, I don’t understand people who don’t love their birthday. I can understand not liking cake, so eat pie, or hamburgers, or whatever you want to eat. I can understand not liking the attention, so avoid people. Don’t like parties? Well, don’t throw one. Don’t like presents? Make that clear, and tell people why, and they probably won’t give them to you. What I can’t understand is the fear of getting “older.”
Well, okay, I “understand” it, I just refuse to give into it. I think it’s entirely the wrong way of looking at things.
Every year that passes is a success. You survived. You made it to where you are, and it wasn’t easy. And there will never be a point where it becomes easy. You don’t cross a line where it all starts to make sense, it’s life.
Having a birthday isn’t a time to look at all the things you thought you’d have accomplished by now, that’s all backwards. Birthdays should be about going, “Look what I did! Look who I AM. I did this, I made this, I saw this, I am this.” And it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, or made, or saw, or been, because the mere act of doing those things is a huge accomplishment. That’s life, and you’ve survived it, you’ve made it this far.
Birthdays are literally a celebration of life. To me, saying that you don’t enjoy your birthday also says that you don’t enjoy being alive. Everyone seems to imply that I only feel that way because “I’m young.” Bullshit. There’s no line you cross where life comes easily, and its not a reason to celebrate the fact you’re still alive. Oh, I only like birthdays because I’m not 30 yet? Bullshit. I’ve been waiting to turn 33 and throw a Hobbit Coming of Age Party since forever.
I fill my birthdays with tiny rituals. Things that make me feel good about myself, feel good about the world, feel good about being alive. Why would I do anything else? It’s MY birthday! Every year I make a mixed cd of all the songs I want to hear that day, songs that make me happy, or that move me, or feel beautiful. Every year, I try to do something outside, surround myself with trees, or flowers, or anything thats alive. Because I’m alive, and no matter what you believe in, thats a pretty amazing mystery, and if there’s one day a year when I should think about it, this is it. But I like over romanticized silly faux-philosophical meanderings like that. I also do shallow things like eat whatever I want, get a hair cut, follow my every whim, hang out with only people I want to.
Maybe I’m just selfish like that, but its been working for 25 years so far, so I don’t really plan on changing it. If there’s one thing you shouldn’t feel on your birthday, its guilt. You have 364 other days to worry about the things you should or shouldn’t have done, to feel down on yourself, or to be annoyed with people around you, or be unhappy. Don’t do it on your birthday.
Don’t do anything you don’t want to on your birthday, if you can help it. And if you can’t help it, then don’t let it overcome you. Don’t give into the world’s expectations for your birthday. If you don’t like parties, don’t have one. If you don’t like cake, don’t eat it. If you don’t like people, take some time to be alone. If you don’t like being alone, surround yourself with people you love. Don’t think about the things you haven’t done, revel in the things you HAVE done, no matter how small. Celebrate YOUR life in whatever way makes you feel alive.
And there’s my platitude of the year. Sermon done. Happy birthday to everyone. :-D
Have you voted in the Spoonflower Staff Challenge yet? No? Why not?! Go vote! Right now! I’ll still be here when you get back.
Yes, I’m going to continue to spam everyone on my tumblr feed. Because this is a steampunk chess quilt. And it deserves to win. You know it does.
Did you know the quilt also has a story you can read on the back of it? Yes, it does.
Did you also know that YOU could make this quilt yourself? We made it that easy! We uploaded a cut-n-sew version to spoonflower. All you have to do is buy two yards of fabric, cut out the pieces, and follow our easy instructions for how to make your very own steampunk chess quilt. Astound your friends and family!
Don’t like chess? Just buy one yard and play CHECKERS! (which we all know is the superior game anyways…)
Seriously guys! GO VOTE. NOW.
Orange and pink light up fur coat progress. Crazy collar/ruff still to come.
There are no words for how wonderfully cool and creative this girl is. I mean really. Crazy light up clothing? You know you’d wear it every chance you got.
Voting is now open for our 2013 Staff Contest at Spoonflower. You may remember my previous posts about it.
Please go vote in the contest! Its one of my favorite things about working at spoonflower. Obviously, I’d like it if you voted for me :-D but you can vote for multiple entries!
Just click the link above, and on the right hand of the page you’ll see a button for “Vote in this week’s contest" You don’t even need an account to vote!
This is the blog post where we wrote about our quilt. You can also read about every other team’s quilt, and there are some seriously great quilts.
This is our quilt. Its also a chess or checkers game, with plush pieces you can actually play with!
These are my pictures of the final dress for the January Tale from Neil Gaiman’s (and blackberry’s) Calendar of Tales — Keep Moving Project.
If you haven’t heard anything about it, you seriously need to check it out. Neil Gaiman’s openness to his fans, and willingness to participate in something like this is a big part of why I admire him so much.
I chose to work with the January story for several reasons. One of the easiest reasons is because it was one of the only stories where clothing was mentioned, and I wanted to sew something fantastic and fun. It was also the most Gaiman-esque story in my opinion. It left so much open, there are so many more stories just aching to be told. One year, one lifetime, second by second, battling a fight…
Anyways, this is the dress I imagine 1914 would be wearing. I copied a style similar to what fashion was like historically during that time, with a high waist, straight skirt, and lots of embellishments But I took a few liberties of my own, of course…
I also very much liked the imagery of sand trickling through an hourglass, and I tried to incorporate that theme in as many places as I could. The main fabric of the dress is gradient dyed, going from a deep midnight purple at the top and fading to timeless white. The embroidery on the bodice echos that transition, and the shape of falling grains of sand. The beading in the back train of the dress does the same, individual beads trickling away like seconds of time.
Gaiman builds an image at one point in the story, the final grain of sand caught in the hourglass, the final second of Twelve’s time… One grain of sand per a second, for a year. I’d like to say there are as many beads on this dress as seconds in a year… But I did the math, and that comes out to be 31,536,000. Thirty one million, five hundred thirty six thousand seconds, in a normal year. (I wonder if the personalities of leap years are different? See, there’s a whole new story someone could write within this story…)
There aren’t that many beads on this dress, but there are probably a good couple of thousand.
Edited at 1:26pm local time (which happens to be 5:26pm GMT): Actually, I missed submission time by TWENTY SIX MINUTES. FML. Stupid Greenwich Mean Time.
Also curiously appropriate, given my mental meanderings on the meaning of seconds, and time, etc etc. *sigh* Oh well. such is life.
My newest fabric design, and my next dress project (well, one of many “next projects.”)
This features quotes from my favorite authors, including Dorothy Sayers (as always), Neil Gaiman (for an even longer always), Lois McMaster Bujold, Jasper Fforde, JRR Tolkein, Connie Willis, and others.
Words mean a lot to me. A lot a lot. I want to wear my favorite words, because I take them with me everywhere anyways. This will at least warn people what they’re dealing with when they talk to me.
The fabric is Spoonflower’s organic cotton sateen. The quotes fabric is by me, you can see it here. The book spines fabric is a lovely design by peacoquettedesigns, and I’ve wanted to do something with it ever since I first saw it.
My version of the book pages shoes that floated around tumblr awhile ago. The text is, of course, from Dorothy Sayer’s Gaudy Night. Where Harriet finally overcomes her reservations about love, and marriage, between intellectual minds. And Peter finally begins to understand the effect of his person, and position, and reputation on the world.
And everything turns out well in the end.
"Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?"
"So easy that, to tell you the truth, I am seldom perfectly sober."