Thursday, November 11, 2010

It Was Better On The Hellmouth

We watch a lot of tv here in The Burrow and the fortuitous mash up of this past weeks tv lineup had some enlightening comparisons. So, if you'd allow a little ranting from this angry nerd I'd like to take a moment to juxtapose two of my favorite shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Glee, and how they dealt with similar issues across the span of 12 years. In fact- there was a single episode of each show that so strikingly mirrored the other that I was PHYSICALLY UNABLE to not rant. (The episodes in question are Buffy's 2nd season's Phases and Glee's 2nd season's Never Been Kissed. *** SPOILER ALERT FOR BOTH SHOWS!***)

I'm not an academic but I am a queer person who loves pop culture and has been wishing and hoping for a show that has as many gay themes as Glee has. I was ecstatic with Kurt's first season coming out episode- especially with the way they are writing his father. As the second season progresses, however, I seem to find myself getting angrier and angrier after each episode.

But somehow I never leave Buffy feeling the same sense of betrayal and disappointment. Let's take a look at the episodes in question and the themes they share.

1.) Closeted Gay Bullies

Both shows feature bullies who, it turns out, are only acting out aggressively to cover their own closeted homosexuality. Both bullies eventually get confronted and end up outing themselves in different ways. Let's take a look:

(Yup, folks, that's a Thumbs Up.)

(Rape Kisssss!!!!! Not Okay!!!!)

Buffy's bully pulls this 24hr 180. The next time we see him he's picking up a girl's dropped schoolbooks and thanking Xander for helping him come to terms with the truth. Ok, so Xander's homophobia is kind of an issue but over all the episode has a positive message. Glee's bully freaks the fuck out, violates poor Kurt and continues being a jerk. Awesome.

2.) Inappropriate Kissing and How to Handle It

Willow wants to kiss Oz- secretly to make Xander jealous- but when she comes on to Oz, he turns her down. Articulately. In Glee? Neither Kurt or coach Beist has been kissed by someone they like. When they confide in Blaine and Mr. Schu respectively, the characters get different responses.

(Willow's face reads: "Wow, I'm so impressed with your able to articulate your feelings."*)

(Kurt's face reads: "Damnit, Blaine, I don't want a sandwich, you jerk. I want you to kiss me already.")

(Mr. Schu's face reads: "I'm gonna have to kiss this woman in order to keep her from quitting and leaving me terribly guilt ridden.")

Oz tells Willow that he wants their first kiss to be perfect- and he says it in a way that diffuses the situation and makes her feel wanted. I think Glee's images speak for themselves.

(*Okay, technically this scene is from the episode "Innocence" but still.)

3.) The Fight for Feminine Identity/Strength

Each show also highlights a female character who's femininity/strength is questioned. Glee's butch football coach, Beist, is made into an anti-sex symbol while Buffy is confronted by an uber-masculine hunter who vocally doubts her ability to defeat a roaming werewolf. (Yeah, the shows are a little different- but the comparisons hold!)

(Buffy beats the hunter's evil shotgun. Superman style.)

(Beist get's a hug. All better!)

After safely capturing the werewolf and proving her abilities, Buffy even gets a chance to show off her strength. Beist gets her femininity (and her JOB) handed back to her by an uncomfortably awkward Mr. Schu and a handful of jacket-clad, pop singing and dancing highschool boys. Uuuuuugh.

In the midst of the "It Get's Better Movement" we are calling on pop culture to help us provide queer youth with alternative images of sexuality and to give them hope for the future. But tv is not getting better. From what we have seen here, it's getting worse. We are too rushed to acclaim anything gay on tv that we often miss what's really going on. Yes, we have more gay characters on television than were available in Buffy's hayday. We had Ellen, we had Will and Grace and yes, we have Kurt. BUT- We need to be having new conversations- not worse and less nuanced versions of the conversations we were having more than 10 years ago. Was the Hellmouth in 1999 really that much better than Ohio is in 2010? Ouch.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

10 Things You Can't Sew Without!

Hi Friends! Here's another blog post I did for the Lill St Textiles blog last week. Enjoy!

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There are a few things that, obviously, you can't sew without: fabric, a sewing machine, thread... But there are a few other tools and tricks that make a home sewing studio oh so much more functional. Here are my top 10 (additional) things you can't sew without:

1. Scissors

I have three pairs of scissors: Fabric Scissors, Craft/Paper scissors and snips. It might seem excessive to have so many but... I promise you, they're each useful for different actions.

2. Rulers/ Measuring Tools

Measuring tape: good for measuring the body and fabric that is longer than a normal ruler. Great for measuring anything flexible! Tailors ruler: good to keep by your sewing machine to measure small things like seam allowance. Large clear plastic ruler: Awesome for measuring on a grid and marking with a straight edge.

3. Self Healing Mat/ Rotary Blade
If you're ever sewing anything with straight edges, it's worth investing in one of these! Protects your tables and helps measure your fabric!

4. Fabric Markers
Pencils, Tailors Chalk, Marks-B-Gone... anything that let's you mark up your project in a non-permanent way.

5. Iron/Water
You can't sew without an iron and you can't iron without water!! Irons make everything you're working on look more professional and behave better.

6. Pins/ Needles

Lots of pins. I prefer the "quilting pin" (long body with a yellow plastic top) because they are super long and easy to grip. But any sewing pins will do. I also highly suggest keeping some hand needles around for detail or basting emergencies.

7. Seam Ripper

ESSENTIAL! Being able to take out seams and sew them again takes a lot of the unnecessary stress out of sewing.

8. Sketchbook/ Drawing Tools

Taking notes, drawing plans, remembering ideas for future projects.... Having a sketchbook handy is always a good idea.

9. Q-Tips
Cleaning your machine on a regular basis will help keep it running smoothly. Q-tips are the perfect tool for getting into those dusty little spaces behind your bobbin case, etc.

10. Music!
Because having fun in the studio is the most important part!

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Ok, so I wanted to keep the entry (fairly) short but the last two things I would suggest having in a studio are:

Extra Bobbins (keep them filled with standard colors for quick thread changes!)

Hand Sewing Needles (great for basting, finishing and tricky spots!)

Yay! Hope you all enjoyed my rambling... more housekeeping stuff on it's way, I promise!

(ps. also love how sometimes blogger only lets me type in italics. You really want me to mean this stuff, don't you, blogger? Grrrrrowl.)