Blog for language nerds: Language Log. This site appears to be an eclectic mix of etymology, observation of word use in the wild, history, misconceptions, etc.
I don’t care about the band or the song, but the cinematography and use of shadows here in this Inverse Order music video demonstrates just how expressive and unsettling mannequins can be. I need more mannequins [with heads!] in my life.
While I do patronize my local, independent booksellers, if I want a used book, I am much more likely to go to half.com. Why? Because I can often find ridiculous deals where the shipping price is much greater than the book’s price. Witness my recent haul.
Just to provide some context, the first three are scholarly treatments of sexuality and courtship in historical America, soundly written, well-respected titles, you know, the sort that cost half a hundred dollars when they first come out. They owe their disgusting cheapness, I assume, to their promulgation [hence quick use and discard] as college course books. The last is the aforementioned book My Husband Betty, which, as a popular, recent trade paperback, is significantly more expensive. Note, however, that shipping still makes up more than 50% of the costs.
All in one set, the entire run of the original Twilight Zone for your viewing delectation!
I didn’t know, but Helen Boyd wrote a follow-up to My Husband Betty. The follow-up, She’s Not the Man I Married, chronicles her husband’s transgender transition. [I think…I haven’t read it.] I may have to look at it.
She’s the one!
She went and joined the army, passed the medical…don’t ask me how it’s done!
She’s got medals…
–David Bowie, She’s Got Medals
That’s one of my most favorite songs ever, especially the bouncy tone in which it’s sung. It’s from his early years, when many of his songs sounded like nursery rhymes or children’s play songs, even as they addressed child rape and murder (Please Mr. Gravedigger), sexual masochism (Little Toy Soldier), depressed veterans (Little Bombardier) and stupid people using drugs (Join the Gang). He was just around 20 when composing and singing most of these songs, and he just sounds so gleeful about the whole business.
Oh right…I was going to write about a blog I found. First off, let me recommend Helen Boyd’s book, My Husband Betty. It’s about her relationship with her cross-dressing husband. I think this is one of the strongest books on sexuality that I have ever read because the author describes her ambivalence very well, as well as her confusion about the sex and gender significance of cross-dressing. Also, she writes strongly, with psychological and critical insight, not to mention emotional balance, even as she describes emotional tumult. Anyway, she has a blog, (en)Gender, about trans news and debates and media and topics, and I’m poking in it now.
So there are your three recommendations for today: She’s Got Medals by David Bowie, My Husband Betty by Helen Boyd and (en)Gender, also by Helen Boyd.
…is about a guy with a Real Doll and his brother and sister-in-law who are worried about him. The preview plays it as a comedy about a delusional, immature man who needs to migrate from silly, lifeless toys to much better real-life people.
Plot-wise, that’s the least realistic thing imaginable. From my research [see documentary Guys and Dolls here] and experience, people who are that into dolls, especially sexual substitutes, usually pursue this interest because a) they’ve have bad experiences in the past with women or b) they actually aren’t interested in real women. In case a, they’ve turned away from interactions with real people, and they are not likely to turn back because they are soured. In case b, they fashion their experiences with love dolls to such an idealistic extent that no real women would ever satisfy them in the same way. All of this is to say that, if this were a realistic movie, the man would probably get a girlfriend who would break up with him because of his RealDoll, and he would return to the RealDoll, soured and even more intent on remaining with his safe, plastic toy.
That said, I’m very curious about the movie. While playing for obvious laughs, the preview seemed to treat all characters with respect. Hmmmm…
Hah! I know people like this. Not me, though. I just drone on about Labyrinth.
Witness the paltry fruits of last night’s labor here. It’s Part I of my stoopid Labyrinth parody, slightly rewritten by me, animated by Meez [I’ve made 105 at last count, but they aren’t all in this short], set to the tune of clips from the Labyrinth soundtrack. Parts II and III are done, waiting for upload, and I have plans to do the rest of the movie. I don’t promise that it will be more than mildly amusing, but it will be a good killer of half an hour.
P.S. If you do watch it, leave a comment and a rating [on the Google Video site, not HERE!], will ya?
I wonder if iClone software really works as it claims to… It says that its features include 3D character construction, clothing, prop building and placement, set generation, character movement and animation and sound import, all so a person can make little CGI movies.
If each 12″ alterna-fashion Dykedoll comes ready to play with a dildo, harness and vibrator, but she is articulated only at the shoulders and the wrists, how is she supposed to use her accessories? HOW?
Sarah realizing it’s 7 PM and she stayed out too late and she has to babysit, so of course she says her favorite phrase, “IT’S NOT FAIR!!” Shut up, you whiny bastard.
Holy fork, I’m clearly a) brain-dead and b) obsessed with Labyrinth. I just made about 50 [?] Meez animations of Jareth and Sarah so I can create a little version of Labyrinth. Preview below of Jareth doing what he does best: playing with his balls. This should tell you what kind of movie I’m making.
In my wildest dreams, the version will consist of GIF animations [thank you, Meez] and interstitial text, as in a silent movie, and clips from the appropriate songs in the background. I’ll settle for GIF animations and interstitial text, however. Watch my blog for further information about stupid animations. Labyrinth Lite — that’s what it should be called. Although there are a bunch of Meez music videos on Youtube, I’m fairly certain that the makers of this program did not envision people hacking out ridiculous little movies from it.
I enjoy psychology, cultural analysis and subjects of mental health, so I was excited to find out about Psychjourney. I just sampled one of the site’s podcasts, an interview with Courtney Martin, author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, an Interesting subject, but the audio was echoic and blurry, and the interviewer’s voice was too measured and soporific. Another randomly sampled podcast on body dysmorphic disorder, suffered from the same problems.
The jury’s out on whether I recommend these because they provide substantive overviews of interesting topics (auditory hallucinations, compulsive hoarding, rumor and gossip), but the audio quality is mediocre. It’s like listening to a low-tech tape of someone’s phone conversation. Why don’t you try one out and see if you can stand it? I know that I will be dipping into a few subjects of interest before blowing the site off entirely.
Does this sound like you: Female, age 18-28, told you can have it all, convinced you need to save the world AND take care of your friends AND your family AND your body, andover-achieving person who’s constantly striving to look better, smiling to the outer world, hitting the gym every other day, reading the latest self-help book [outwardly mocking but secretly listening to it], going vegetarian for health reasons…only to throw up your hands in exhaustion, eat an 8-ounce rare dead animal, despair at the hope of ever getting promoted, wish you could just have some hugs, nix the family reunion because you really can’t stand your great-aunt, feel sick and tired of your personal responsibility to be eternally successful and put together… Blogger [for Feministing] Courtney Martin’s new book, Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, talks about the widespread struggle between perfection and exhaustion experienced by many contemporary bourgeois women.
Ignore the categorization and ads for this book that say that it’s all about eating disorders. From what I can tell, the book appears to address the larger issue of young women’s anxious relationships with their bodies. Super-achieving feminist go-getting vies within us against secret tiredness and desires for affection and peace. I saw a clip of her reading about the perfection vs. exhaustion struggle, and I thought that it had greater applicability than to just those women who have eating disorders. The internal strife she was writing about can be found in many current bourgeois women’s lives.
Perhaps I’m particularly interested in it because I’m trying to pack and simplify my belongings and write a book and do seven hundred and eleventy-five book reviews and do all my occupational work and ensure a raise and eat right and sleep tight and keep the bedbugs from biting all at the same time…anyway, I think I’ll check it out…after my nap [hahah!].
…and all the book reviews I’ve been writing and all my other obligations, I’m starting to feel like a reanimated corpse:
This is about as animated as I get these days:
Unfortunately, even though I feel like death warmed over, I do not even have the consolation of cool hair, cool make-up or cool clothes as demonstrated on the avatar. This is probably why I like the Meez program. It has a large array of facial features, costumes, backgrounds and animation, which offer extensive online customizing possibilities. Furthermore, Meez are larger than, say, pixel dolls, and, unlike, say, Zwinkies, they do not contain any downloadable spyware. They’re also 85% free, although some cool shit, such as thigh-high boots, costs money. Thigh-highs aside, though, Meez provide an amusing outlet for the brain-dead.
In her spare time, Jennifer also keeps compact, detailed notes of everything in her memorandum book.
When she’s not cooking, cleaning, maintaining the limo or otherwise running the mundane details of Frank’s life, Jennifer likes to ride her mountain bike around Burlington, Vermont. Unfortunately there was no option to add a bike helmet, which she would not be caught dead without!
Here’s my closest approximation of movie Jareth… Amusingly enough, the chair and cane come from a set called “Pimp Throne” and his pants are wet suit pants. Not that you can tell… Non-animated picture here.
In a more casual setting, Frank designs clothes. That really is what his bedroom looks like inside my head. Animation below. This shit cracks me up for some reason.
I did these a while ago, but couldn’t upload them until now. Witness Frank in his element, makin’ faces.
I did some dolly wrasslin’ after work today, using 18 gauge plastic coated steel wire to thread through Will’s arms. Since I had trouble getting one piece of wire all the way through both arms and the torso cavity [daunted by the curving holes in his upper arms — who thought that was a good idea?!], I ended up using two pieces of wire. One piece goes all the way through his left arm and out his right shoulder hole, down his right upper arm, while the other runs from his right forearm to his right upper arm. Now he can achieve the following poses without aid from me.
The much-enhanced Sabrina Sabrok looks like a CG 2.0 with a Bloody Rose body, especially in this photo. [Also here — I really like this photo, actually, mostly because of the combo of flagrantly orange hair + black vinyl.] Part of me is pleased that this freakish body shape appears on a real, live human being, while part of me is repulsed by the unnatural sphericality of those…growths…on her chest.
Sites like this push me that much closer to making a LOLbyrinth blog, which is pretty much what I do in my spare time anyway: make stupid captions for movie stills.
Frank's in pieces all over my desk and bed right now because finally, after a wait of over a year, I finally have a bulkier, larger set of double-jointed arms, more in proportion with his body, than the defaults than came with the Doll More Model Doll girl body. Yes, the TwigLimbs arms have arrived, and I'm pleased with them.
has balanced an intimate knowledge of musculature and solidity with a pleasingly realistic style. Pictures below.
An hour with the hair dryer on high [half an hour for each hand] produced these results for Frank's new TwigLimbs hand and Will's left hand. To change the position of fingers, I placed the offending fingers right against the dryer nozzle and left them there for about 30 seconds. The resin then grew pliable, Soom's more quickly than the TwigLimbs, probably because the TwigLimbs are denser. I then removed the digits from the heat and pushed them into the position that I wanted, using medium hard pressure. I then held the hand in its new position until it cooled. I repeated the process several times, pushing the fingers toward their final position in stages because I did not want to risk overheating the fingers and melting them or pushing too hard and breaking.
In the case of Frank's TwigLimbs, twigling made a beautifully sculpted and accurate set of hands for her limbs, but I disliked the hyperflexion of the left fingers and the crumpled-up pinky. I reformed the fingers into a more relaxed, less tense posture. Compare the modded version on the left to the unmodded version on the right. The angle between the thumb and the first finger is also smaller.
No comparison pictures for Will, just an illustration below of what his newly curved fingers can do. Before he couldn't even hold a Tarot card, but now he grasps my tweezers without dropping them. I may press his thumb and forefinger closer together so he can hold smaller objects.
I really need to get some more elastic to help restring Frank's arms and also some wire so I can stiffen Will's elbow joints and really make him cross his arms and touch his face without support.
As much as I like a good polymorphously perverse pirate [lookin’ at YOU, Captain Jack Sparrow!], the appearance of such a character type in Stardust worries me exceedingly. I wanted to go see this high fantasy fairy tale…until I heard about Robert DeNiro playing the sky pirate as a cross-dressing ham. Well, okay, the presence of a cross-dressing ham doesn’t scare me away so much as does this quote, from a New York Times interview by Charles McGrath (New York Times, August 5th, 2007) with the perpetrators of Stardust:
//…Tristran grows up, falls in love and has a hair and wardrobe makeover under the care of a pirate captain (De Niro) who if he’s not gay nevertheless enjoys dressing up in a tutu in the privacy of his cabin.
“I don’t know where that came from,” Goldman said in a telephone interview. “It was just one of those magic moments. Matthew and I were thinking it might be interesting if the captain was in some ways wrestling with identity issues the way Tristran is.”//
The offending comment, the one that got me anxious, is in bold. Basically Goldman’s statement can be translated as the following: “I have no idea why the sky pirate is a prissy poofter. Someone just got a silly brain fart one day and, since we were all drunk and/or hopped up on drugs, we laughed uprorariously and decided to incorporate this bit of throwaway, sophomoric stereotyping into our film because we’re self-indulgent wankers. Captain Shakespeare’s sartorial interests really have nothing to do with anything, but, since I’m being asked about it, I’ll pull an answer about its relevance out of my butt to give the illusion that we actually really planned it.”
I’m not amused.
I’ve died and gone to Heaven. Over at Sur La Lune, Heidi Heiner has annotated a translation of Andersen’s The Little Mermaid with hypertext footnotes and explications in a fine exploitation of the online form. I’m drawn to Andersen over and over again, for his creepy sadism, self-abnegating protagonists and thoroughly gloomy view of life, so it’s always a treat to find illuminations of his stories.
P.S. For lovers of fairy tales, Sur La Lune provides interviews with fantasists, discussion boards, analyses of stories and other fascinating avenues to explore.
Moping looks extra picturesque at night. Thank you, Will. Most of these photos were created by tinkering with greyscale, levels and burn/dodge around his eyes. They’re gloooowwwwwing…. First is my favorite.
Carnival of Souls does not have much going for it. There’s the cheesy title, a definite strike against it, followed closely by its director Herk Harvey, better known for making simplistic mental hygiene films designed to drum good manners into 1960s schoolchildren. Then there’s the low special effects budget, which means that the creepiest things our protagonist experiences is attack of the pancake make-up and occasional periods where the soundtrack just fades to silence.
I’m happy to report, though, that Carnival of Souls rises above these limitations to be a surprisingly effective, almost existential, horror film.
I refuse to provide spoilers, although it’s evident to anyone with half an episode of Twilight Zone under his or her belt what’s going on…and I think Twilight Zone is the key reference for this movie; Carnival of Souls really reminded me of that episode where that guy is alone in a ghost town, chasing telephone rings and smoking ashtrays in an attempt to find another living person. Carnival of Souls takes a simple twist and spins it out, sustaining it for an hour and a half so that it can linger on character development and mood. As Carnival of Souls dwells on Mary’s isolation and confusion, it becomes rather philosophical; she laments her inability to connect with others to such an extent that her anomie turns into existentialism. Because the viewer identifies so closely with Mary, her feelings of invisibility and pointlessness become ours. The movie seems to point out that you can’t outrun death; you can’t ignore it; you must face it, recognize it, because it’s the only thing that gives our lives boundary and poignancy.
Since most of my movies are packed in preparation for my move, I’m watching movies through my compooper. The latest…An earlier example of German expressionism than Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1919), directed by Robert Wiene. I highly recommend it because a) it’s the prototypical horror film, involving murder, twisted psychology and the analysis thereof; b) it really exploits the form (black-and-white) to heighten the delirious, dream-like atmosphere; c) it’s a well-done classic.
The Cabinet features the magical mountebank Caligari who commands a clairvoyant murderous somnambulist Cesare. When Cesare correctly forecasts Francis’ friend’s death, then tries to run away with Jane, Francis’ fiance, Francis pursues Caligari. Cesare dies along the way, while murder, confusion and doubling take over, not to mention all the crooked doors. The entire set is askew, which, along with the half light/half shade dichotomy of the lighting, makes the film look like a disturbing dream in which even gravity doesn’t work right.
I’m a bit fuzzy on the plot, with its multiple layers of mania and mistaken identity, but I do like its examination of the man called Caligari. He consciously decides to reinvent himself in the style of a mythical monk who could command a sleepwalker so that the sleepwalker acted as his golem. The motivation of the Caligari wanna-be, however, seems murkier, with sexual, even sadistic, components. When Cesare is first admitted to the mental hospital where wanna-be Caligari is the director, Caligari rejoices, caressing the inert man with a demonstrative, lascivious affection that reminds me of, say, Nosferatu reaching for Ellen. Caligari seems to want control over Cesare as much as he wishes to possess Cesare in an inert, doll-like state to care for him, objectify him and quite possibly desire him. Note that the wanna-be’s reaction to Cesare’s death looks very much like a stereotyped silent film husband’s reaction to seeing the corpse of his dead wife. I humbly submit that there are sadomasochistic homoerotic tensions at work in this film which, along with the slippage of identity, make it all the more interesting.
Everyone go see Nosferatu at archive.org! This is a vampire film before it became a silly cliche, a vampire film before the vampires became romantic tortured souls, back when they were barely formed things out of the ooze of of our symbolic nightmares. You will not find much character depth or subtlety in this 1922 work, but you will find a steadily creeping sense of dread and a memorable exploration of what it’s like to be stalked by death. Answer: It’s freakin’ scary!
Nosferatu closely hews to the plot of Dracula, with a stupid real estate agent visiting the gloomy castle of a creepy count, who then follows him back to his homeland, killing along the way, and only the real estate agent’s wife, with which the vampire is obsessed, can stop the Black Death. Though Bram Stoker’s widow won two suits to stop distribution of F.W. Murnau’s film because it ripped off her husband’s novel, copies of the film had disseminated too widely for them all to be pulled.
Fortunately for us, the best, moodiest, most unforgettable vampire film remains in circulation today. The form — silent except for music, black and white except for blue-tinted nights and red-tinted sunsets — strips the story to its schematic, structuralist basic: a story of light and shadow. While Ellen, the real estate agent’s wife, glows in her white nightgown, Nosferatu is literally a shadow sliding across the walls, menacing innocents with his mere disembodied presence. The one-color tints for different times of day also add eerie feelings. The pale blue tint of night gives a cool, icy, drowning sensation to all scenes, while the red tints of sunset communicate alarm, sensuality and, of course, blood.
None of this color and light symbolism would work if it weren’t for the actors…or one actor in particular, Max Schrek, who plays Nosferatu. As stiff as a coffin plank, he doesn’t seem to walk or float so much as he just manifests, further away and then closer. He does very little except for looming, but he incites the mad realtor Knock to fidgeting and murder and Ellen to dangerous sleepwalking. Nosferatu’s minons, the bubbling, squeaking rats, link him explicitly with plague and, in their seething motion, demonstrate the confused panic he incites in humans. But, in a genius twist of interpretation, Nosferatu doesn’t really seethe himself. He merely exists, inexorable, quiet, pitiless, dire. While he does roam from place to place, in the end, he lets his victims come to him, for he is death, and no one can resist him.
See The Media and Communication Studies Site. Okay, well, they’re not really old, mostly 5 to 10 years old, but that seems like eons where such papers are concerned. All sorts of juicy stuff is linked here, including queer theory, social psychology, online communication et hoc genus omne ad infinitum. Despite the age of the material, a random sampling of links proves that most work and actually go to the content promised! Have fun.
So saith Perversion for Profit (1965), an anti-smut rant. “Newsprint filth” apparently weakens children’s moral fiber, leaving them less capable to resist the Communist threat. With a few changes in stats and terminology [I doubt the Communist menace would fly really well today], I think this content would transpose very well into anti-porn propaganda put out by, say, Focus on the Family.
I’m not going to even argue with the mindset portrayed in the film, but I do seriously question its tactics. Announcer George Putnam wants you to believe that exposure to porn corrupts innocent minds and damns people irrevocably. So why does most of the film contain examples of porm?! Following the logic of Putnam’s argument, wouldn’t these examples [even if eyes, butts and tits are barred out] corrupt at least a few innocent minds? It would be far more effective for this film to attempt to tie porn to violent crime by studying the porn habits of child molesters, serial killers, rapists, domester abusers, etc., to establish a [supposed] causal connection between newsprint filth and criminal perversion. In other words, don’t show us the perversion; show us the result!
In fact, I am one. Area Man Way Too Into Local County History.
So I just watched Boys Beware (1961), a mental hygiene film warning teenaged boys against “homosexuals.” My brain broke because
1. The boys in the film were so stupid, even by the standards of the day. Hitchhiking I can understand, as it was more societally acceptable, but what about hopping into a car just because some guy says he’s chasing kids on stolen bikes? Or just watching your friend hop into said car with a stranger and doing nothing, not even trying to dissuade him from vrooming off with a stranger, but only casually writing down the car’s license number? All of that is appalling ignorance that demonstrates a complete disregard for self-preservation.
2. While the film technically has a correct definition for “homosexual,” the film is only about homosexual desire in the most general sense, in the same way that a story about a father sexually abusing a daughter is about heterosexual desire. Since the film focuses on sexual predators who pursue children, any uses of “homosexual” should be replaced with “child molester.” There is no equivalence between the two terms, just a confusion on the film’s part.
3. Of all the misguided, harmful and downright wrong things in this film, a comment near the end struck me the most. The narrator says something like, “Never get into a stranger’s car unless you have your parents’ or teacher’s permission.” This sentence is the culmination of an entire film that portrays the perps of sexual abuse as predatory strangers, foreign intruders who stand in stark contrast to trustworthy parents and teachers. The film’s inaccurate conception of molesters as strangers disguises the true statistical fact that a child or teenager is much more likely to be taken advantage of by a parent, a teacher, a clergy member, a babysitter, a relative — someone familiar with the victim who abuses the victim’s trust.
Looky here — a big fat juicy archive of ephemeral films, including promos, social hygiene films, educational stuff that was shown in schools, all tagged with the promising phrase “gender roles.” Archive.org has much more than such films, though; there’s also a trove of old animation, sound files and, of course, the WayBack Machine, the archive of the entire Internet. I could lose days poking through such stuff…
reports that a set of Twiglimbs arms and hands is in the mail for Frank to replace his scrawny, disproportionate defaults. How exciting!
I took pictures of Will in the areas outside around my work. He drapes so nicely on stonework and he exerts an irresistible gravitational pull on my camera. He is just as much a pleasure to photograph as Submit [Elfdoll Hana Devil], only more so because he’s bigger!
These are my favorite from this shoot because the wind in Will’s hair and the upward angles seem to give a sense of him being up high and enjoying it. You can also see the green shadows from the leaves on his face…and you can admire his swan-like neck.
The world needs more Sabik pictures demonstrating the beauty of this doll, so here’s my excuse to talk to Will and show him off at the same time…