January 30, 2006

How adornable.

The arts and crafts to which I alluded earlier today were prompted by the need to accessorize my somewhat anonymous book bag. I tried last week by putting my militant Stop Snicket! button on it, but only succeeded in losing the button entirely during my Wednesday dash from Mediterranean Anthro to LGBT Studies (since the dash in question covers 75% of the diagonal distance across the campus, finding it again would be like finding, well, a 1-inch button in a half-mile of heavily trodden ground). Now I'm down one really awesome and difficult to replace button, and my bag is still plain. Hence, the potential entry titled Get Lost!

An obvious choice for a good thing to have on my bag is a rainbow flag. I bought one to put on my backpack during my first year of college and haven't been without it since, but since that was six years ago the patch is so grubby and worn that its rainbow nature is pretty debatable. The sidewalk stand from which I bought it has disappeared or stopped selling them, and strangely, there doesn't seem to be anyplace else in Berkeley to find such a thing. There are shops on Telegraph where one can buy a 420 patch or a stack of 25 supposedly vintage patches saying Boise Youth Forestry League, but not so much a rainbow. The downtown area is far too neutral to associate itself with something so marginal as a rainbow flag (madam, I am shocked you would suggest it), and my own neighborhood with its Baptist churches on every corner contains no help either. I eventually turned to the internet and had one shipped from Florida, which is preposterous but actually less expensive than BARTing to the Castro to look there. You cannot, indeed, buy a rainbow in Berkeley.

Since my mail-order rainbow is still en route, I am still wandering around with a frustratingly anonymous book bag. Rather, I was indeed wandering thus, but after this weekend's arts and crafts frenzy I am doing so no more. In my internet shopping I discovered the strange phenomenon of cute and clever vegan-related stickers which are available precisely nowhere in patch form. Stickers?! What am I supposed to do with a sticker?

Plagiarize it in homemade patch form, obviously. Thus:

And then go on to turn every half-baked doodle created in the process of laying out the text into its own patch whether it's worthy or not. Thus:

Which is all well and good, but omits the essential issue of what happens when these slapdash homemade patches fall off my book bag, fray beyond recognition, or simply become dirty and worn? The answer is, they will be replaced with legion upon legion of identical patches with absolutely minimal marginal effort on my part, thanks to the wonder of amateur home screenprinting! Behold, the cottage industrial revolution! Personal, quirky arts and crafts on a scale of mass production!

One of those "deep-fried vegan" patches is already adorning my bag, and today while walking between classes I overheard two people behind me discussing whether it is indeed possible to deep-fry things in a vegan manner. They arrived at the right answer on their own, exempting me from becoming involved to any greater degree than puffing out my chest a bit more as I stomped the rest of the way to lecture. It's working! It's working! I am a discursive cause! People are thinking about the possibilities inherent in a life of glorious overindulgence in cruelty-free fats!

The last of the post titles which I can reasonably work into this entry is the one about marination, which was simply the thought that occurred to me during lunch while I slouched around the rainy campus holding a tupperware container of delicious warm Thai coconut soup and finding no dry places in which to eat it. It wouldn't have been a good idea to drop me into hot oil around 12:15 unless you were wearing substantial splatter protection, so perhaps for today soaking would have been a more appropriate sentiment than frying.

Mind you, now that I think about it, stewing would be more appropriate still. But that's a general condition and not terribly related to today's weather.

Posted by dianna at January 30, 2006 10:06 PM

I deep-fried tofu in a vegan manner last week. It went quite well. Except for the part when I threw the first batch of tofu cubes into the hot oil and the oil began foaming and bubbling, in the way oil in the process of frying does.

I've had some bad experiences with grease fires, so this sent me into mostly-panicked mode. In that frame of mind, I threw a lid on the bubbling pot, on the theory that this is the sort of thing one should do when there is a grease fire. I was thereby launching a pre-emptive strike against my treasonous oil-pot, with its combustible inclinations.

This, of course, was exactly the wrong thing to do under the circumstances. The heat entering the pot now had no means of leaving it, so the oil temperature began rising faster. The pot began shaking and making loud metallic popping noises. This caused me to go into Fully Panicked mode. I spent several minutes running around in circles, trying to figure out a way to avert the expected explosion while remaining far enough away from the pot to minimize the explosion's lethality.

I eventually summoned the wherewithal to sneak a furtive hand over and flick off the burner. I then pushed the lid off the pot, grabbed the pot by the handle, and relocated it to the sink, spattering hot oil all over the stove and floor in the process. Having expended all of my surplus courage reserves, I ran to my bedroom, crawled onto my bed, and assumed a fetal position, expecting an explosion any minute. None came. I cautiously returned to the kitchen and carefully went back about the deep frying process.

The tofu came out quite well, though.

Posted by: Zach S. at January 30, 2006 10:58 PM

That's awesome, Zach.

Dude, Di, your homemade patches rule!! Are they just on regular old material and then you sew them on? This is the kind of brilliant shit I totally, totally wish I'd thought of, but now I'm glad that you did. Are you taking orders, by any chance? Batbatbat?

In entirely related news, my friend Carl has recently acquired whatever it is that you need to make your own pins/buttons at home, for the official purpose of making some boring old official pins for, I don't know, his band or some bullshit I can't even remember. But when he was done he had the following materials lying around the house:

extra pins
pin-making apparatus
porno magazines

So he did what any thinking (or drunk) person would do under the circs, and made a whole other line of pins, which I first caught sight of when he pulled his jacket open to retrieve his darts from the inside pocket the other night. The pin he was sporting on the inside of the jacket was a lovingly snipped and centered, ahem, beaver shot, all of a quarter inch in size, with a small bit of leg attached. I commissioned one immediately, but now I'm starting to think that he's on to something with this inside-the-jacket business and that I'll never be able to wear this anywhere that shows, ever. At least not on campus. At least not in my office hours, unless I want to see how fast I can get Title IX pulled down on my head. Dammit! I don't know how much longer I can live in a world where a girl can't wear a pussy pin proudly to work!

Posted by: katie at January 31, 2006 12:08 PM

I am indeed taking orders. I've also been speculating that you might be interested in being a Deep-Fried Vegan or something like it. Possibly my favorite thing about this is that, given the minimal effort involving in reprinting and the ridiculous cheapness of plain canvas fabric, I can just arbitrarily decide to hand out copies of marginally relevant patches to people and neither I nor they need to worry about whether they might, in fact, hate the damn things because in defiance of all known economic laws they cost me neither time nor money in any substantial amount. So you're getting a Deep-Fried Vegan patch anyway, and the rest of you are all on notice of potentially receiving a Sugar Fiend or whatever else at any moment. Ladies, don't offer me your hand, because I'll put a patch in it.

Oh, but on the subject of requests, I should tell you that the "inverse" designs -- white on black like the Sugar Fiend one -- are vastly easier than the black on white. Vastly. Those little fiddly bits between the letters are a real pain to fill in on the screens, and they don't even look as cool in the end. So you can try asking for something in black on white, but I may either a) not do it or b) invert it anyway.

Katie, I saw a quote in my LGBT Studies reading today of which your last sentence reminds me. From a woman participating in a 1930something study of sex variants... "Titty calms me. If I can't have it every day I get evil."

Before you ask, that's way too long to put on a patch. That's a job for Carl and his button machine.

Posted by: Dianna at January 31, 2006 06:13 PM

Zach, you are in absolutely the right place for that kind of kitchen behavior. Don't believe me? Just look at Kristen!

Posted by: Dianna at January 31, 2006 06:15 PM

I think the ultimate lesson I've learned is that I should leave all forms of deep-frying to professionals. Or, at the least, to non-professionals who will be doing the deep frying in a place far enough away from me that I am unlikely to wind up on fire/exploded.

On the actual topic of the post, I'm quite interested in this whole patch making idea. I remember you sent me to a site on the subject a while back, but, not being a very crafty person, I looked at the number of steps and articles involved and decided that it was too daunting for me. Would you say this is the sort of thing that can reasonably be done by someone whose last crafting experience involved poorly-made friendship bracelets?

Posted by: Zach S. at January 31, 2006 07:31 PM

Best not to limit the amount of deep-frying in the world by requiring it to be done by professionals. Me, I say, the more deep-frying the better. Did you ever eat at Great Wall, the vegetarian Chinese restaurant near College and Alcatraz? Overall I don't love them that much, but their travestical (that's a word now) lemon faux chicken is heavily deep fried and sends me into gustatory rapture.

I would venture to say that anybody with the patience to spend half an hour painting glue onto a piece of fabric with a tiny paintbrush would have no trouble with the rest of the printing process. Here's the link to the tutorial again -- she makes it pretty foolproof and easy. Once you get your hands on the materials all you'll be doing is tracing, filling in areas with glue, and then painting ink through onto your fabric of choice. I will recommend, if you give it a try, starting with patches instead of t-shirts, because non-stretchy fabric and small designs make the process easier and the results much neater.

Try it! It's good fun! And good fun with a startup cost of something like $20 for all necessary materials. For a hobby with the potential for mass-production, that's pretty damn good.

Posted by: Dianna at January 31, 2006 08:40 PM

I never got to Great Wall. I'll have to try it the next time I'm back in the Bay Area.

Hmmm. That sounds like a good project for the weekend. I've had no superfluous time for leisure this week, between job hunting and moot court. I'll reward myself by making patches this weekend if I can get 20 letters off to judges by Friday begging them to make me their bitch for the summer.

Posted by: Zach S. at January 31, 2006 10:10 PM