Concerts, Nerds, Sub-Culture, and Shirts

Warning: This post may contain tangents, rambling, and streams of consciousness. Maybe unconsciousness. It also has puppy sized elephants.

Yesterday I went to Chicago. I traveled in a car with 2 other people to see Driftless Pony Club and Hank Green in concert (Andrew Huang, Rob Scallon, and Harry and the Potters were also on the ticket, and were great). Previous post about Hank Green: Here. I also brought Morrígan and Mitsuko (I would put links to other posts about them, but, just read the last handful of posts I’ve written. Because it’s been a thing.) Yes, I brought my dolls with me to a concert. Because I’m a grown woman and that’s how I roll.

Look! Here they are riding a puppy sized elephant on the way to the show! (Puppy sized elephant belongs to my friend Sierra’s cousin Logan who rode in the back seat. Thank you, Wolverine, for graciously letting me hijack your puppy sized elephant.):

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Driving through Chicago was a nightmare. Parking was a nightmare. And it didn’t help that the venue was more or less across the street from Wrigley Field. On a game day. I really wish I had taken a picture of all us nerds standing in line for the concert while legions of cubbie fans walked the sidewalk opposite us, as we all looked at each other from across the road and thought, “Ha! Losers!”   No? Ok.

Two super cool ladies we met while standing in line. Note the clothing with the DFTBA slogans and Nerdfighter insignias.

Two super cool ladies we met while standing in line. Note the clothing with the DFTBA slogans and Nerdfighter insignias.

But… it really got me to thinking about our different little sub-cultures and niches and uniforms. I mean, while my friends and I were driving around trying to just locate the venue in the first place, it was the people wearing Pizza John tshirts that tipped us off that we were in the right place. Something as simple as a tshirt let us know that we had found our people.  Our People. That is such an interesting concept. I mean, we never really belong exclusively to one subset of people – we are also students, parents, punk rockers, hip-hoppers, nature lovers, and introverts. And even within our subset of nerds, we are varied and overlapped with different subsets -Whovians, Trekkies, Gamers, Book-lovers, etc. But in this space, we unify together as people who identify as nerdfighters. And it’s a beautiful thing.

Sierra, myself, and Logan.

Sierra, myself, and Logan.

The concert itself was absolutely amazing. I tried to take some photos, but, they just didn’t come out very well. And the zoom function decided to stop working on my camera. I did get a little frustrated, though, when the venue staff made me put my purse in coat check (which charges $3 with an additional $2 to recheck it -cash- when I needed to get something out of it mid show). Other purses were allowed through. But, because my little black backpack purse is shaped like a mini-backpack, it doesn’t constitute a purse in their eyes. (Urge to rant and go on about prototype theory – I won’t)

Arguably the most awesome event of the evening was getting to have an actual conversation with Craig Benzine – Frontman for Driftless Pony Club and Youtuber, Wheezy Waiter. It was the coolest thing. I was standing at the bar getting a soda, and just happened to see Craig standing at the back of the crowd of people watching the show. Just blending in amongst the mortals, chilling, watching the show. I decided to say hi – trying very hard to not be all fan-girl squee. He stood and talked to my friends and I for a few minutes and let us take a photo. He is one very cool, very laid back individual. He told us he was nervous about his band’s upcoming set, because they were starting with a song no one had heard. Craig, I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but, you and the rest of Driftless Pony Club were just brilliant. And you guys need to come back to Champaign-Urbana. 🙂

Myself, Craig Benzine, Sierra.

Some other concert photos that didn’t come out as well as I’d hoped:

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After the show, out large crowd of people swarmed the merch area to buy stuff and meet the artists. The security staff, because of the sheer number of fans, rushed us along – which makes the earlier encounter with Craig even more amazing. Sierra was able to get her photo with Andrew Huang (who she had come to see, specifically), and then we all lined up outside to meet and have our pictures taken with Hank Green.

Standing in line, waiting to meet one of my heroes, was a nerve-racking experience. I mean, there is already that uncertainty – what do I say? do I look ok? am I going to come off awkwardly? – but the time you spend in line waiting just builds that anticipation. I could feel my heart beating in my throat and I could have sworn it was beating so loud that everyone else could hear it. And then, because I still had my dolls in my backpack, and because I don’t know how to leave well enough alone, I pulled my Lammily doll out and spent my time in line debating whether or not to include the doll in my photo with Hank. One person near us had a stuffed hanklerfish, and Logan had her puppy sized elephant – but those things tie into the nerdfighter and vlogbrothers universe. My doll doesn’t really mesh…  and I felt very self-conscious and weird and out of place. But the nerdfighters in line around me encouraged me and told me to go for it. And Logan, this 14 year old girl that I had only met that afternoon on the ride over, reminded me of something important. She reminded me that being overly excited about something, even when others around us aren’t, is ok. We are Doctor Who nerds, comic book nerds, gamer nerds, and book nerds. I just happen to be a doll nerd.

So, I went for it. I did it. I was still self conscious, and none of my words came out right, and I looked like a creepy fangirl zombie, but I did it. And he rolled with it. I wanted to tell him about her, about how she helps to decrease world suck, because she has realistic human proportions, because she can give kids a healthy representation and help girls with body image issues. But all I managed to get out was “Have you seen these dolls? She has actual human proportions!”  And no, he has not seen her or heard of her before. And now he has.

Sierra doesn't know how to work my camera, totally snapped this before we were ready. He *did* smile, and laugh, I assure you, lol!

Sierra doesn’t know how to work my camera, totally snapped this before we were ready. He *did* smile, and laugh, I assure you, lol!

And now other photos that I didn’t know where else to put:

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And, as a parting gift, a prolific Wheezy Waiter video:

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My Fangirl Crush on Hank Green and a New Tshirt!

The last time I posted, I was making pants. Those pants are not done. I got frustrated with the stupid zipper and banished them to the finish-some-random-months-later-because-you-angered-me pile. I keep that pile in the corner next to the couch. That will give that zipper time to think about what it’s done.

In other news, I discovered Hank and John Green. I know, I know.. oh so many people out there that were years ahead of me on this, but I’m apparently the first one in my circle of friends and family to have come upon them on the internets… and I’ve developed a huge fangirl crush on Hank. Yes. Hank Green is now officially in my guilt-free three (which goes 1. CM Punk 2. David Tennant 3. Hank Green if anyone is curious). I’m subscribed to Sci Show and Crash Course and am going through and watching every Vlogbrothers video in chronological order. Because when I get interested in something, I dive all the way in and no one recognizes me for several weeks until it’s leveled out. And now I have to share that wonder of discovery. So, here is a song that Hank sings about tshirts and jeans (Hey, look at that, I just made a random new obsession relate-able to the topic of this blog. I should get bonus points for that.)
However, as awesome as this song is and as awesome as Hank is, we here at A’Cloth the World know that even a tshirt and jeans carry meaning.

I kind of what this Nerdfighteria shirt. Because I want to communicate my nerdfighter status and my love of the entire concept when people stare at my boobs.

Don’t we? Yes we do. I like to wear my personality on my clothes. A lot of us do. I always see all these tshirts that I want but I never buy. I look at shirt woot and tshirt hell and ban tshirts regularly, and I see all these designs that I like and all these shirts that I’d like to have, but I seldom buy anything. Because I’m frugal and it’s hard to justify new clothes to me. My boyfriend has gazillions of tshirts and no qualms about spending money to buy more tshirts. Thankfully, he has good taste and we wear the same size. So, I raid his tshirts when I want to change up what I’m wearing.

Some months back, I purchased some Crayola fabric crayons, because I thought it would be fun and easy to decorate clothes that way. I mean, I love the look of embroidery, but, sometimes I want a faster turnaround, ya know? So, like a lot of my ideas for projects, the crayons sat in the bottom of a box of stuff for months before I reminded myself that I had them in the first place. I decided to try them out tonight. I saw a couple of disappointing reviews (here and here), but I wanted to try this out for myself.

I started with a plain tshirt and decided to draw and color directly on the shirt itself with the crayons. The instructions say to draw on paper and then transfer, but, that didn’t bode well for others, so, I just drew directly on the shirt.

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And then I used an iron to heat set the designs. You can actually see a difference.
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Here I am rocking my new shirt!
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Yeah, I'm now a nerdfighter.

Yeah, I’m now a nerdfighter.

 

 

Old Tshirt Becomes New Halter Top

For all of my Facebook followers, here is the promised “How-to” for the halter top I made the other day. If you haven’t been following the official Facebook page (there is a convenient little box to the right of this post), then this is completely new for you.

Before I get too far into this, I have to give credit to BrittneyNGrey over at Youtube for the inspiration on this one. I followed her basic construction, but I made some of my own modifications.

Start with a T-shirt larger than your size

I started with an XL tshirt. (I typically wear a size S or M. If you’re in an XL or higher, you may want to use 2 shirts for this) This particular shirt was one I had raided from Neil’s dresser (with his permission) one afternoon while I was helping him fold and put away clothes. I noticed that he had 2 of the same t-shirt and asked if I could have the spare.

Altering the Shirt

I followed the above video for the beginning. I cut off the collar and sleeves, cut the back up the middle and across in the same fashion. (I did not stretch out the fabric, though)

It is at this point that I diverged from Brittney’s pattern. Rather than using the shoulders as the tie around, I decided to make my own, less bulky tie around:

Fold the shirt in half..

Use a marking utensil to draw an even cut line that will separate the shoulders from the rest of the top.

Use a strip from the pieces you have cut away to create a tunnel for some string or ribbon to go through. This will be your tie around.

I created my back laces and tie string (please refer to video at the top of this post) using stretched out strands from another tshirt for color contrast. I had some leftover tshirt yarn from the knitting workshop I did last year, so I just used a couple of pieces of that.

Adjustments

I like my clothes to fit me just right, so, I flipped the halter inside out and tried it on, ready to mark any places that needed further work.

As you can see, there is some unsightly bulging going on.

But if I just use those natural protrusions to make darts, I’ll have a more form fitting top.

I just stood in front of the mirror with needle and thread, stay stitching the darts in place while I still had it on.

The Final Product

From the back

And the front view! Feel free to accessorize with your own arm candy 😉

 

 


T-shirt Memes, Humor, and What They Tell Us About Ourselves.

I was scrolling through my Facebook this morning and came across a link one of my friends had posted about a former TV star speaking out against certain t-shirt JC Penney had been selling a few months ago (they have since stopped). Here is the link if you’d like to read it yourself: Former “Blossom” Star Speaks Out About Controversial T-shirts

This is not the first I’d heard about these shirts, and it really isn’t just JC Penney. I can remember, maybe a year ago, while sorting through clothes at the second hand store that is my current day job, I came across a woman’s t-shirt reading “Why do I need brains when I have THESE?” written across the chest. I couldn’t tell you where it originated, but it could honestly have come from any number of stores.

The T-Shirt Meme

It wasn’t until after WWII and into the the 1950’s that t-shirts as we know them really came onto the scene. Before that, the t-shirt was really nothing more than underwear. They started off rather plain and nondescript. While I don’t know exactly when, I can peg it to sometime in the 60’s when these simple pieces of clothing started to evolve into the forms of art and expression we know them to be. Tie-dye, the iconic Happy Face and a wide range of other designs were to be found.

”]Amid all this decoration and corporate advertising over the last half century, it’s really hard to truly pinpoint when we started designing these shirts more to be read than just gawked at. Some pages claim it was the 80’s, some the later part of the 90’s. Having been a child in the 80’s, I can remember wearing shirts and dresses with slogans on them, band tees and Disney characters with the occasional adorable caption. I also remember a lot of home-made fabric paint/ applique artwork as a child. Applique ::shudders::
I didn’t really start noticing t-shirts with no other designs aside from the one-liner until I was in High School (of course, I wasn’t yet working and thus able to actually shop for myself before then). Whenever they began, it seems to me that we are becoming increasingly hooked on all these encompassing one-liners (and the occasional paragraph). Our t-shirts are reflections of ourselves, our personalities, our beliefs and convictions. They make bold statements about political issues or just make us laugh with witty remarks on everyday miscellany.

What’s So Funny?

The biggest question that Mayim Bialik is trying to ask in her statement is why do we find this phrase to be humorous? Indeed, when we try to actually understand why we find a thing funny, we are learning about ourselves and our society. There was actually an entire section on this subject in one of my Linguistic Anthropology classes at UIUC, and I suddenly find myself wishing I had kept those textbooks. We use humor to make statements about our world and how we fit into it.  We use jokes to address difficult subject matter in a way that connects us to others and helps us cope. Comedians look to culture and society to find their material and similarly, we can turn the mirror around. So when we read the phrase, “I’m too pretty to do homework, so my brother does it for me”, why would we find this even remotely funny? Our cultural history has long placed women and girls as these creatures who are valued by their beauty.
You find it in artwork hundreds of years old, in the traditional archetypes. Women are glorified as chaste and beautiful goddesses or maidens, or chastised for their tempestuous sexuality, or mocked for their lack of physical beauty. It has only really been within the last 30-40 years that we’ve started to see women entering the workforce and daring to do jobs traditionally assigned to men. Before that, if a woman hoped for a relatively well to do life, she needed to find and charm a successful man to marry her. The idea being that if you’re attractive, you’re more likely to have a better life. For men, the jobs that brought about more prestige and more money were those jobs that utilized their brain-power more than their brawn. (Your classic blue-collar/ white-collar distinction). So, the successful man was intelligent and clever while the successful woman was physically appealing. Even once we started seeing more “smart women” archetypes, they tended to be dowdy or plain and usually single. (Note Daphne vs Velma from Scooby Doo)  The idea here is that, pretty women don’t have to resort to using their brains because they can find a successful man to provide for her. We still see this idea as a driving force in our popular culture today. (Hello, Desperate Housewives?)

Despite advances women have made in Western society to be considered equal to a man, we’re still living in a half-changed world. It is this tipping back into lingering archetypes and gender roles that makes the shirt both funny and offensive. Some would even argue that it’s funnier _because_ it’s offensive – a resistance to change and a satire of the recent cultural conscience and awakening.
While I am glad to see JC Penny has removed the shirts, I know that this is the tip of a large iceberg.

Some of my t-shirts

Fitting for the tone of this post...

Now 10 years old and falling apart, I bought this shirt with my first paycheck at age 16.

From CafePress.com, this is my first internet only tee.

Made by the artist, Mary Tumulty.