Monthly Archives: December 2012

My Happy Musician Fantasy

I’ve been spending the past week catching up on all of the blogs that I love but haven’t had the time to read over the semester. One of them put me back into my “grr Amanda Palmer” state by reminding me that she didn’t want to pay her musicians on her most recent tour, and giving me more details that activated the “GRR Amanda Palmer” state. But this post isn’t actually about Amanda Palmer so if you feel like activating your own “grr Amanda Palmer” states, you’re going to have to Google her.

The whole thing made me think a lot about the situation for most musicians, who have to play gigs for free until they get lucky. Then I came up with my own fantasy rules for venues. I don’t think that venues should be completely banned from having bands play for free, because it gives lesser-known bands who the venue might not want to risk a paycheck on otherwise a chance to prove themselves. I like the idea of bands getting live auditions, since even if the venue decides it doesn’t like the band and doesn’t want them back, the band still gets to perform in front of an audience. However, we all know that venues abuse the promise of exposure for free entertainment (which is especially egregious when the band is responsible for all advertisement). I think venues should be limited to say, ten free bands a month, and not be allowed to have the same band play for free more than once ever. If a venue agrees to have a band back a second time, clearly they like the band enough to pay them.

So there you go, that’s my happy musician fantasy. I would love to hear yours.


Let the mocking begin!

I love essays. It is the reason I am in uni. No, really, I almost dropped out, but turned it into a gap year because a few months into fall, all of the Facebook posts from my friends complaining about their essays made me miss it so much. I do have trouble getting started writing though. I tend to research up to the last minute, believing that I don’t know enough about the topic I’m writing on until I actually write it. This usually involves staying up late going “Gah, why did I think I could do academia? It involves words!”

I was working on my last essay of the semester a few days ago. I could not get out of research mode for the life of me, so I decided to write the stupidest version of my essay I could think of, just to get myself writing. It is dumb, it ignores facts, but I asked on Facebook if people wanted to see it so that they could mock me, and some of them said yes. You’re welcome.

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The nineteenth century was the time when people said “Hey, maybe music is an actual art form that we should be studying,” so they did. But they had this whole romantic ideal where composers were gods, so they didn’t really look beyond that. Also, they hated women and foreigners, so you could only be a god if you were a white man. Fortunately, since these people were also white men, they could ignore this and study works of music based on the score alone. “Context? Fuck context,” they said, “These pieces have to be great because they’re written by these awesome white men, so we have Schenkerian analysis to take out all of that extra, not necessarily good stuff in order to explain why it all makes sense and is actually genius.” They particularly liked to do this with Beethoven. Most notably, he wrote his ninth symphony after he went deaf, and also after everybody decided he was god. People heard it and thought “This is strange, but it’s Beethoven, so it must be brilliant! Bring on the Schenkerian analysis!” The thing is, everybody fucking loved Beethoven, so they decided that his music, especially the last movement of his ninth symphony, should be used to support their own agendas. Hitler demanded it be played at his birthday party. It was played in celebration of the Berlin Wall coming down. Wagner decided to become Beethoven. This piece was so easily politicised because it was Beethoven, and Beethoven is god.
So with Wagner deciding to become god, he wrote a ton and composed a ton. If you were in the nineteenth century, you either like Wagner or Brahms, and Brahms didn’t build theatres with dumb seating structures and write the longest-ever operas to perform at them, so clearly everyone loved Wagner. Wagner hated the Jews, but no one really cared at this point. After WWII, of course, people went “Oh hey, this is mad problematic, and his whole “I am god/Jews and women suck” ideology kind of leaks into his music. So this, and things like this, are why we have new musicology. It lets us know when the music we are listening to is EVIL.


On the discussion I’ve seen around the CT shooting – A Rant

Look, I agree that there needs to be better mental health care and less stigma around getting treatment, but please everyone stop being dicks when talking about this? Don’t complain about HIPAA as an obstacle, it lets people like me keep their right to privacy and not be given forced treatment, which is traumatic as hell. It’s not my family’s responsibility to get me, an adult, treatment. If I did get to a point where I was so unwell that it was decided I needed treatment whether I wanted it or not, HIPAA would not stop that.

Also, I have seen people blame the shooter’s mother for owning a gun when she had a mentally ill kid, and also for not getting him treatment. What the actual fuck? Having children, disabled or not, is not a reason to take away people’s rights. On top of that, he was an adult. She was not responsible for him. This is victim-blaming. Stop it.

I am also sick of people saying “it’s all about mental health treatment, shut up about gun control.” Of course this is fucking about gun control. What? You think we can’t focus on two problems at once? Mentally ill people need to be able to receive treatment AND guns should be hard to access because as we’ve seen, treatment for mental health doesn’t always work. Yes, there are other weapons. Guns kill faster. Yes, guns will be sold illegally. They still won’t be as easy to access. More planning will be necessary, and that takes time. And if you even think about saying “I need my gun to protect me from all of these shooters,” fuck you. You’re making the situation more dangerous for everyone around you.

I’m done. I have been clobbered with posts on my Facebook talking about how my rights should be taken away because my brain isn’t “perfect” and neurotypical, all because you can’t stand to lose your fucking guns.

UPDATE: I wasn’t in a state to articulate this when I wrote this post, but talking about mental health at all in relation to this shooting is problematic. This post says it better than I ever could.

UPDATE AGAIN: Here is another great post on the subject.


A Quick Update

Ideal Koala is also a band now! So don’t be confused if you were looking for the band and found feminism/atheism/all my rants/knitting and vice versa. Though this blog is run by me, Ariana (cellist/singer), most of the views on here are shared by the other member of Ideal Koala, Seb (drummer).

We don’t have any demos to upload yet, but our first official show is on February 16th at the Hollybush Inn in Oxford. We are playing as part of a One Gig Closer to Wittstock Festival show, and, while I haven’t heard who will be on with us yet, I’m sure it will be an awesome night.

Finally, we also have a sad twitter account with no followers yet. Any news about available music and upcoming shows will be there first, so please follow us at @IdealKoala. Thank you!


Some awesome and easy knitting techniques

I rant on this blog a lot, don’t I? Seriously, you guys must be sick of reading about sexism, immigration, and consent. And I don’t mean that in a “you don’t care” way. I mean that in the way I get sick of reading about this stuff, in this “oh god it’s everywhere and people are awful and why can’t it just stop way?” So today I’m going to give you all a nice post about knitting. There are no awful people in sight, and knitting is fun. If you knit, hopefully this is useful to you. If you don’t, you’ll be a step ahead if you ever decide to learn!

Over the years, I’ve picked up a lot of small tips about how to make your knitting look nicer and overall more professional. Most of these I saw somewhere on the internet that I don’t remember, or was told by people I know. In no particular order, here is a brief rundown of some of the things I do.

  • If you are doing anything with a seam, count your rows! This is the one that makes me the saddest when people don’t, because I’ve seen beautifully knitted garments with seams that aren’t great because the knitting was done just by a measurement. Doing this allows you to sew your knitting up row to row, and you won’t end up fussing with your knitting to make the edges line up later. It may seem a bit tiring at first, but you’ll get used to it and it is very worth it. It’s also helpful just for making sure that two things, such as gloves or socks, are the same length.
  • When you are starting to knit in the round, cast on one stitch more than you need. Then take the last stitch on your needles (the slip stitch you started with) and move it in front of the stitch you will start your knitting on. Making sure that nothing is twisted, knit those stitches together. This hides the join and makes it easier to start working in the round, because you don’t have those first few rows where everything seems loosely connected.
  • When you have a ribbed edge, knit the first row, then start the rib pattern on the wrong side. This makes a smoother edge.
  • With the exception of ribbing and planned stockinette curl, I almost never leave an edge without an edging. Personally, I don’t really like the look of the cast-on row or the cast-off row. Usually, I use an applied i-cord on my projects. It’s fast, goes with a lot, and makes your edges look neat. Instructions to make one are here. Of course, this doesn’t always work with what I’m doing. There are tons of beautiful edgings you can work, so don’t be afraid to try one, even if it means more sewing.
  • This is a great way to weave in yarn ends when you need to add a new ball or change colours. It’s also useful when you’re going to have long floats in fair isle knitting. On the subject of adding new balls in the same colour, this post has three methods. I’ve heard about the first one the most, but I’ve never gotten the hang of it. I have used the second option many times with good results. I’ve never heard of the third method before, so if you try it or have done it, let me know how it goes!
  • I was told a few years ago that a good way to make a straight side edge on knitting smoother is to slip the first stitch every row. I don’t usually use this because I usually do edgings, as I said, but it’s probably useful for things like scarves and strips/squares for blankets. This trick generally doesn’t go well if you’re using a stitch pattern with other slip stitches in it.

I hope these are helpful to start. The internet is amazing for finding out tricks like these, and they really can make all the difference in how your knitting looks.