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TWoP interview with James Marsters: Sexy intelligence and BTVS insights

TWoP interview with James Marsters: Sexy intelligence and BTVS insights published on 1 Comment on TWoP interview with James Marsters: Sexy intelligence and BTVS insights

I really respect highly accomplished artists who fuse technical skills with passionate execution and attention to detail. I respect them even more when they are intelligent, analytical people who have insights into themselves, their craft and how their craft affects others. For example, Sarah Michelle Gellar is a highly accomplished actor, and I respect that, but I can’t respect her as a person because she’s not very thoughtful or reflective; plus she’s really squandering her talent. 

James Marsters, on the other hand, ranks right up there with David Bowie for me. He’s really talented AND really intelligent, not to mention jovial and humorous, as you can see in the latest Television Without Pity interview. After reading the transcript, I conclude that he seems to be a charismatic, extroverted person with the gift of making almost anyone feel relaxed and accepted.

Anyway, in case I need any more reason to have a crush on him, here he is saying intelligent things about the massive popularity of Spike in BTVS. Brains are such a turn-on. A cut from the TWoP interview:

CB: Speaking of Spike, one more question about him. Obviously, I don’t have to tell you how popular a character he is, but if you can separate acting ability and looks from the equation, what is it about his essence that makes him so alluring?

JM: Hmm…that’s a really hard question for me to answer, because I wasn’t objective about it. I think at the end of the day, it’s either of two things or both of them, and one is probably more for women than men. But the first is that the show wasn’t supposed to be about sexy vampires. It was supposed to be about ugly vampires who die. The mythology was that the vampires stood for what sucks about high school, and so Joss got talked into Angel, which was not in his ground plan, and the character just took off, and he’s like, that’s it, it’s one sexy vampire, I will allow you no more. And then I come along, and I think that he was trying to keep a cap on…he recognized that I was thematically dangerous to his show. He didn’t want it to become a soap opera of sexy vampires. And so he, uh, marginalized the character, and it’s ironic, because the show is about outsiders, it’s about people who are not the popular people, and he didn’t really realize it, but he created within…so the show is about these outsider outcasts, and in this group of outcasts, there’s this other outcast. So he made me the super-outcast, and the show speaks to everyone who feels sometimes like an outcast, which is pretty much everybody. So thematically, I don’t know that he meant to set it up that way, but it kind of went down that way.

China Executes Lead-Contaminated Toys!

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Sometimes The Onion is funny, but, when the writing committee combines its historical perspective and incisive sarcasm, as in this article, their satire can be almost sublime. I especially like the ways in which the conventions of genocide and execution have been adapted for toys, with the Barbies being “separated from their Kens” and “leaned against the wall” for the firing squad [because they can’t stand up by themselves]. The best detail, however, is the nonchalant, almost bured mention of civilian deaths. Genius!

A blog to poke into much more thoroughly

A blog to poke into much more thoroughly published on No Comments on A blog to poke into much more thoroughly

Morbid Anatomy is a compendium of posts about medical and death-related art, such as post-mortem photos, anatomical waxes and ecorches [engravings of partly flayed people showing musculature]. Off I go to waste my lunch hour. Janet would definitely have some of this stuff in her lab alongside the Kraftwerk posters. 

EDIT: The links from Morbid Anatomy are most instructive and detailed. For example, The Fantastic in Art and Fiction is a bank of thematically grouped images [Madness & Possession, Angels & Demons, the Grotesque] from across the centuries, supplemented with lists of scholarly studies, literary works, plastic arts and movies that pertain to the theme. There are many wonderfully freaky out-of-copyright images here that would be great for indie authors illustrating their own book covers.

your likeness behind me shines & incubates purple shadows

your likeness behind me shines & incubates purple shadows published on 1 Comment on your likeness behind me shines & incubates purple shadows

We have long had magnetic alphabets on our fridge, but those have only so much entertainment value because we quickly reach the limit of 52 letters [2 alphabets]. When we moved into our new apartment, I bought some magnetic poetry. I enjoy using it, but then I want to preserve my stupid creations for all eternity, which prevents me from raping them for recombination. So I’ve decided to photograph the results of my magnetic maundering. As you can see, it’s all in character: long sentences that take unexpected turns as they tell fantastic stories burbling with unusual conflict.

First effort, early on in September… It was supposed to be “bitter iron cities,” but apparently the basic Magnetic Poetry set doesn’t have cities in it.

we love gorgeous winding road trips
under lazy pink mists
away from those bitter iron forests
& into the easy cool void of death

Second effort, same date of early in September. When you divorce words such as “breast” and “blood” and “wave” from context, you realize that they can all be nouns or verbs.

peach visions breast the
delicate winter waters

Effort from last night. Is it just me, or does everything sound erotically charged with this damn magnetic word game?
we are weak from these
luscious moments & drunk
on beauty together

Another effort from yesterday, probably someone straining desperately to have a rational reaction to a supernatural apparition. I suspect the sordid urges are winning. They usually do. They were originally “bloody urges,” but, combined with “flooding,” that left a menstrual impression that I didn’t want.

will you please elaborate
for your likeness behind me
shines & incubates purple shadows
flooding my will with sordid urges




That’s not a word!

That’s not a word! published on 2 Comments on That’s not a word!

You know what really pisses me off? When I’m reading an otherwise cogent, insightful and pretty well-written work on the philosophy of Victorian corsets [‘Hooked and Buttoned Together:’ Victorian Underwear and Representations of the Female Body, Casey Finch, Victorian Studies 34(3):337-363], and the author pulls a sentence like this out of his/her ass:

The ideology of reproduction was troped into a system of erotics where the meaning of sexuality operated not as a public “fact” but as a private secret.

TROPE is not a verb! It’s a noun, a pretty obscure noun, unless you live in the rarefied atmosphere of the academy. Bloody hell, people! “System of erotics” is just as bad. What is a “system of erotics?” Nobody knows! How am I supposed to enjoy my history of underwear if you keep making up jargon-laced sentences that don’t actually mean anything?!

Why not write something like this:

Erotic images centered around women’s reproductive capacities and visible sexual signs slowly changed into a set of erotic ideas about sexuality as dissociated from public reproduction and thus secret and hidden.

Sure, my version definitely has more words in it, but it’s much more readable, especially if you stopped living in an English department upon graduation.

Histories of underwear should be lucid, limpid, lively, highly illustrated and see-through, not complicated, obscure and difficult to undo.

P.S. And, if you’re going to use “trope” as a verb, don’t use it twice within 4 pages! Bad form, as Captain Hook would say.

Good, evil and moral heterogeneity in some supernatural TV shows: BTVS, Charmed and Supernatural

Good, evil and moral heterogeneity in some supernatural TV shows: BTVS, Charmed and Supernatural published on No Comments on Good, evil and moral heterogeneity in some supernatural TV shows: BTVS, Charmed and Supernatural

Whether you believe that the universe tends toward good, bad or mediocre, there’s still the question of where to assign these capacities. Are people good, bad, good+bad, bad+mediocre, etc.?

Such questions are complicated in TV shows with supernatural elements. BTVS, Charmed and Supernatural all accept the existence of non-human creatures, including demons, ghosts, spirits and monsters. The question of moral value applies to the supernaturals as well. In each show, the supernaturals have different moral values. In BTVS, they’re morally heterogeneous with a tendency toward goodness and humanity. In Charmed, they are good and bad, with bad being more potent than good. In Supernatural, they are just bad.

BTVS, as I have discussed before, makes its monsters sociological metaphors for the struggles of modern bourgeois youth. Said struggles, such as having a romantic relationship, entering the work force, graduating from high school, going to college, being responsible for siblings and getting married, are neutral in and of themselves, not inherently good, bad or mediocre. Thus, by extension, the monsters that personify these struggles aren’t inherently good, bad or mediocre either. 

In fact, BTVS’ entire trend seems to be toward humanizing and discovering the good and beneficial in something that first appears as a puzzling, bad threat. Example: Angel used to be a person, but was transformed into a soulless demon, but, due to a curse, literally became human again when his soul was returned to him. Though he does lose his soul for a good part of season 2, he eventually returns, subdues his soullnessness and recurs occasionally on the series as a friend and helper. Despite his morally offensive past and his period of death-dealing in season 2, the surrounding characters believe in his perfectibility, and the show ends up putting more emphasis on his peaceful, helpful, caring actions. 

Same with Spike, who started off cheerfully sadistic and rather flat in his first appearance because he was only supposed to be a one-off antagonist. Due to audience popularity, however, he was introduced as a regular and suffered the entire series getting the moral repulsive parts of him beaten into submission. [Hmmm, I think there’s another essay here about the endless degradation this character goes through — mocked and abandoned by sire Drusilla, inserted with computer chip and experimented on a la lab rat, chained in Giles’ basement for a good chunk of season 5, exploited as a sex toy in season 6 by Buffy, physically pounded by that demon who returns his soul, possessed by the First in season 7. It’s like some sort of torture porn narrative on how to break the will of a restive sub.] Anyway, he ends up pretty much good. 

Finally, there’s the character of Dawn, who pretty much embodies the whole theme of threat made human. I mean, she’s a big glowing ball of energy that, if harnessed by Glory, could bring about the end of the world. But she is personified, literally made into a person, and she is shown as capable of love toward Buffy and Joyce, friendship and solicitude toward the rest of the gang — typical tendencies toward moral good. The entire crew responds to her not as a doomsday device, but as a person who has dangerous powers, but is worthy of respect and love. All of this is to say that the BTVS universe may be full of inhuman things, but the general tendency is to seek the understandable, good and redeemable in these things and force them into moral, controllable, acceptable domesticity. [This begs the question: If something doesn’t want to be good, should you make it so?]

Charmed, tragically enough, lacks the depth, subtlety and emotional heft of either BTVS or Supernatural, preferring instead to base its longevity on boobs and comedy [and comic boobs]. That said, it has an interesting moral framework in which good is distant and ceremonial, while evil is corporate, ruthlessly efficient and immediate. What strikes me most about Charmed is that, aside from the Halliwell witches, there ain’t much good directly available for them to depend on. Supposedly they get help from whitelighters, but do we ever actually see them? I watched a bunch of season 4, and they never appeared! In fact, they were notable for being off-screen. Leo visited them once an episode for help or advice, but his absence always led to demons hurting someone, and the advice he came back with never did any good anyway. In summary, the forces of good in Charmed are just a plot device with no actual moral bearing. 

On the other hand, as the season 4 arc about Cole being the Source and trying to get an heir illustrates, the baddies are amongst us! Apparently the evil minions of the Source occupy skyscrapers and offices in downtown San Fran. They work effectively through a familiar corporate structure where the Source is like the CEO, and the demons who all sit around the table are like middle management, and the ones who actually appear and snarl at people are like the labor. Evil doesn’t just exist in Hell [world’s cheapest Hell set = sound stage and dry ice], but here on this plane. It has regiments, legions, armies! How are three witches who are too busy flashing their tits supposed to combat this stuff? Even if they are “aided” by a terminally dense and frequently off-screen whitelighter [I’m looking at YOU, Leo…], their cause is hopeless. For all its gooey insistence about “the power of three” and the strength of family ties, Charmed has a grim world view.

Supernatural is pretty binary about its assignment of moral values. All the good goes to the humans, all the bad to the supernaturals. The only good supernatural is a dead supernatural. You might say that the cow-sucking vampires in Bloodlust were good because Sam and Dean let them live, but those vampires were permitted to live in the same way that non-practicing pedophiles are reluctantly allowed to settle down in boarding houses instead of under highway overpasses. In the moral calculus of the show, those vampires are still morally objectionable because supernatural, no matter how restrained and non-murderous they behave. They are tainted, and they can’t ever be cleansed. 

Evil in Supernatural is irredeemably evil; in contrast to BTVS, empathy doesn’t help at all. Supernatural makes gestures toward psychologizing and understanding the activities of the paranormal creatures. In Playthings, which was about a ghost girl who wanted to drown a living girl so she could have a friend for all eternity, the show gestured toward poignancy by suggesting that the spirit was really lonely and, like most kids, wanted someone to play with. But no attempt was made to deal with the spirit by any means except the usual: KILLING IT! 

Realistically enough, stabbing every damn threat in sight is a psychologically valid reaction when the paranormal creatures you encounter are just your own private problems writ large. Killing things, in this case, can be seen as a mental defense mechanism, Dean and Sam’s way of avoiding the reasons for their psychological disturbance. They do that a lot…avoiding. In season 2, they’re always keeping secrets from each other; Dad sacrificed his soul for Dean, but shhhh, that’s a secret. Dad says Dean might have to kill Sam, but shhhh, that’s a secret. Dean promised his soul to the yellow-eyed demon to get back Sam, but shhhh, that’s a secret. Not to mention the whole ingenious frame of the brothers tooling around in a car — that’s a master image of avoidance. Sure, they may be driving to jobs, but they have no fixed destination, which smells even more strongly of RUNNING AWAY than it does of any particular QUEST. Anyway, my point is that all the supernaturals are bad because everyone thinks they’re bad, which leaves open the hope that Supernatural might move on to a more morally heterogeneous view of paranormal creatures as Dean and Sam address their hang-ups more directly. In the mean time, paranormals are BAD and brotherly love wins the day [not THAT kind!]. 

Group shots: my desk layout and a group portrait

Group shots: my desk layout and a group portrait published on No Comments on Group shots: my desk layout and a group portrait

Here’s what my desk looks like in my new apartment. As you can see, everyone is very interested in whatever I do on the computer! [I have no idea why it’s so small. I must have resized it twice.]

And here’s a larger shot of my entire collection of BJDs. Frank and Jareth are not looking at the camera because they are too busy taking advantage of Frank’s new arms and groping each other. Will, as usual, is ennuye and melancholic, so he can’t be bothered to look at the camera. Only Jennifer and Sardonix are paying attention, probably because they figure that, the sooner they cooperate, the sooner they can return to stabbing annoying people with a unicorn [Sardonix] and writing in her memorandum book [Jennifer].

Frank N. Dolly

Frank N. Dolly published on 2 Comments on Frank N. Dolly

Frank now combines the head of Volks Yukinojo, the body of a Model Doll girl [Bella Auden] and, for the most recent addition, Twiglimbs arms and hands made by twigling. Poor Frank has been languishing without arms since the end of August. A month later, I finally got around to reassembling him today with a pathetic improvisation of regular stringing elastic, round cord elastic suitable for tinies and 18 gauge plastic-coated steel wire.

I’m extremely pleased with the result. Ever since I got Frank’s Model Doll body, I disliked his narrow shoulders and scrawny, slender arms. Now with the Twiglimbs arms and shoulder cups, he has appropriately broad shoulders. His thicker arms and larger hands are also much more proportionate. Now his overall look is one of extreme muscularity and extreme curvaceousness, which is a much more accurate representation of how he looks in my head. The addition of his robust arms also makes him look less like a lollipop and more like the ambiguously sexed and gendered being he is. His arms have the squareness and muscle definition usually associated with men, as does his face. The rest of him, however, looks ridiculously long and curvy, like certain comic-book heroines. Success!

Monsters as metaphors in BTVS and Supernatural

Monsters as metaphors in BTVS and Supernatural published on No Comments on Monsters as metaphors in BTVS and Supernatural

I like supernatural creatures. Partly I like them because they are a testament to human inventiveness in the face of the unknown and inexplicable. They’re beautiful creations of folk logic [“Well, if it looks like the corpse’s nails and hair are growing and it’s in a pool of blood when we dig it up, that means it must be alive and feeding on blood!”], fear and wonder. That’s why I will devour stories about them: because, as human creations, they are clever, rich and powerful, full of meaning… They’ve got a hold on us.

I also like supernatural creatures because they work as lovely metaphors, which partly explains their continuing fascination, even to people who do not believe in them.

On the subject of vampires again, you can easily freight them with any sort of baggage you want. You can play up their blood-drinking, infection by bites and sensual nature, and you can make them avatars of diseases transmitted by bodily fluids. You can accentuate the fact they they are dead, cold, unmoving and still chasing you [as in the genius movie Nosferatu], and you can then make them symbols of inevitable mortality. You can view them as person-like entities that used to be people and do many things like people [eat, sleep, make more of their kind] while yet remaining apart from people, and this view entails a characterization of them as a shunned subculture, an oppressed minority group. On a slightly different tack, you can view their nocturnalism, blood-drinking and dislike of religious relics as just facts of life, limitations that they happen to have, and your vampires can be metaphors for disabled people. Polymorphous metaphors aren’t limited to vampires. Think of any other supernatural creature — zombies, ghosts, werewolves, even all the way to mythical creatures such as unicorns and mermaids — and you can pile on the meanings any which way you want.

…Which gets me to the subject of BTVS [Buffy the Vampire Slayer] and Supernatural. Both of them have the same premises, in which vigilant, unnaturally empowered humans eliminate supernatural menaces. However, both shows have different metaphorical perspectives on the monsters that each main character confronts. In Buffy’s case, the monsters are metaphors for the trials of adolescence. Those involved with the show have said as much, and people who analyze BTVS have hammered this point home ad nauseam.

BTVS’ conception of monsters as the challenges of modern bourgeois adolescence appears most clearly and humorously in an episode like Doublemeat Palace, in which Buffy is forced to take a low-status, low-paying day job at a fast-food place to support herself and Dawn. This being Sunnydale, a demon haunts the place, killing employees. It’s not much of a stretch to see how dead Doublemeat employees make concrete the fear of Buffy [and many modern bourgeois teens] that your horrible first job will crush your soul and make your life meaningless.

Even such a plot arc as Angel’s re-demonization after he and Buffy have sex — even this development can be interpreted as a universal teen turning point. While Angel’s loss of a soul after sex with Buffy is clearly the manifestation of a personal demon, an anxiety that Buffy has by her own self, it’s also a more universal panic among modern middle-class girls. Angel’s unensoulment realizes the feminine panic that one’s boyfriend may turn nasty, avoiding calls, harming friends and generally behaving like a dickhead, after one dares to be intimate with him. It’s a generalized feminine fear of crass exploitation by a male sex partner.

BTVS’ view of demons may properly be labeled a sociological interpretation, insofar as demons are taken as metonymic of the problems facing a whole group of people [modern bourgeois teens]. As we move over to Supernatural, we find that its view of demons may properly be labeled a psychological interpretation, insofar as the demons personify anxieties peculiar to the characters involved.

Season 2 shows some obvious examples of demons as psychodynamic figures, especially in the plot arc where Sam is worrying about being a “chosen child” according to the yellow-eyed demon. Being a chosen one or potential bad seed is not a problem endemic to modern bourgeois teens; by contrast, it’s a problem in Sam’s own head [and in Dean’s too because Dean hangs around with Sam]. Conveniently enough, many of the monsters that the brothers encounter exemplify Sam and Dean’s worries about Sam’s identity.

I mean, for God’s sake, season 2 gives us not one, but two, eps about shapeshifters: The Usual Suspects and Nightshifters. In both cases, people behave in unexpected ways, and the brothers must determine whether this unexpected behavior signifies a long-hidden part of someone’s true character or whether it means that someone is being exploited by malevolent forces. In Born Under a Bad Sign, the show’s psychodynamic interpretation of demons becomes explicit when Sam is possessed. While Sam thinks that the murders he committed when he was possessed indicate that he is truly a bad seed, Dean argues that the murders can be explained by an outside evil force: a demon. Avoiding the whole debate on free will that subserves this disagreement between the brothers, we can still clearly see that the demon is an excuse to debate Sam’s individual psychological problems: Does he have an unavoidably demonic [=evil] destiny, or can he overcome these tendencies to be a good person [the kind his brother thinks he is]?

It may also be pertinent that, in BTVS, the monsters inhabit a range of moral values [see, for example, Spike, who runs the gamut from gratuitously sadistic and BAD in season 2 to noble, self-sacrificing and GOOD in season 7], while, in Supernatural, they all exist on the BAD end of the moral scale. However, this is probably a separate essay.

Supernatural arrived!

Supernatural arrived! published on No Comments on Supernatural arrived!

I got my season 2 of Supernatural in the mail today! I’m so excited! I’m disappointed with’s “expedited” shipping, however. The default shipping method is media mail, which takes 2-4 weeks. “Expedited” shipping is regular first class.

Fine, right? Well, my “expedited” DVDs took a week to arrive from TN. First class mail, even a package, from TN to MA should take 3 days, according to the handy-dandy postage calculator at the USPS Web site. Why did it take double that? Why did I even bother “expediting?” [Answer: Because I wanted my dose of stupid TV NOW!] is not the source for instant gratification or even slightly delayed gratification. The low prices are so low in part because the shipping is a flat fee for a slow postage method. Most of the time I can stand the trade-off, but I was especially impatient for these DVDs.

My Jareth doll in print?

My Jareth doll in print? published on 1 Comment on My Jareth doll in print?

Back in February, 2006, Mercy on DOA put a call out for “celebrity dolls,” that is, BJDs made after famous persons, real or imaginary. I submitted information about Jareth and Frank. Anyway, out of the blue, Mercy PMed me to say that pictures of someone [I think it was Jareth] got into Doll Reader a few months ago, and she’s trying to get Doll Reader to send me a copy of the magazine. That was completely unexpected. So maybe some day eventually I will get a copy of a magazine with a picture of Jareth in it or at least a quote from me about him. Fascinating, I know.

Moody shots of Will

Moody shots of Will published on No Comments on Moody shots of Will

When I look at Will with my eyes, I feel as if I am seeing his character the way that he presents to the world. When I look at photographs of him, I can adjust color, contrast, levels and burn/dodge so that I can see his moods, feelings, thoughts and parts of his character’s mental state that he keeps hidden. Apparently his mood have lots of eyeliner….

The sad, ironic and really insulting anti-abuse ad

The sad, ironic and really insulting anti-abuse ad published on 4 Comments on The sad, ironic and really insulting anti-abuse ad

 If you really want to see an offensive ad, check out Kabayanihan’s anti-violence print ad below the cut, courtesy of AdverBox. 

The ad contains outlets labeled Wife, Partner, Soul Mate, Confidant, Spouse, Friend, Better Half, Companion, Cover Up, Concubine, Servant, Punching Bag, Vagina. A plug is in the outlet labeled Vagina. The text nearby says, “How some men think of women.” Then it says in smaller letters, “If you are a victim of abuse, please report to Hotline number 603 2143 3361 and we will help. Kabayanihan.”

Where do I begin detailing the stupid, sexist, reductionist attitudes operating in this ad? First of all, let’s start with the symbolism of plugs and outlets. While the women are represented by white outlets of pure vacuity, the man is represented by a black plug. As something that can fill up holes, a plug is an aggressive phallic object. The black color connotes that its power is a negative, dangerous one. This is actually not a bad symbol for the sort of domineering, sexually aggressive man who is assumed to be battering the female consumers of this ad.

While the man=black plug equation works well, the symbolism for women in this ad is problematic. Women are represented as white outlets. Outlets are holes that wait on the wall for something to be stuck into them, or, in other words, to be used. The symbolism of the outlet implies that women are passive, exploitable victims, even if they are held in esteem by men as Friend or Better Half. The color white also brings to mind purity, innocence and emptiness, which makes women not only actionless and limp, but also blank and lacking in substance. So, basically, according to this ad, women are full of negative connotations.

You could argue that it is only the male abuser sees women as white outlets full of negative connotations, but that’s not precisely what the ad says. Remember that the ad text states that it is showing how “some men” perceive women. “Some men” think that women are just Vaginas. But, the ad implies, there are other ways for men to perceive women, as indicated by the alternative white outlets. However, please notice how the whole grouping of outlets is NOT a subset of a wall containing a myriad of outlets including Sister, Mother, Grandmother, Aunt, Cousin, Acquaintance, Role Model, Goddess, Fag Hag, Medium, Dominatrix, Object, Pest, Earth Mother, Bluestocking, Dyke, etc., etc. The whole grouping of outlets is neatly centered in the photo, arranged so that it forms a discrete, total, complete set. The ad, in effect, says that these 14 ways are the only ways in which men can perceive women. So, to get back to my topic sentence, it’s not just the male abuser’s view that women are a yawning void of quiescent, dependent boringness; it’s ALL men’s views of women. Even the perspective labeled Confidant is still, yes, a white outlet, meaning that even the more positive views of women in this ad are contaminated by the demeaning, infantilizing symbolism.

The underlying structures of this ad are bad enough, but even the surface messages are blatantly misleading, overly specific, confusing and just plain wrong. For example, the fact that there is just one plug in the Vagina outlet suggests that ONLY those men who see women as Vaginas abuse women. Also, the fact that the plug is in the Vagina outlet, denoting a sexual orifice, defines sexual abuse as the only type of abuse extant. First, men who see women as Concubines and Cover Ups and, yes, even Wives, also abuse women. Second, there are more types of abuse than just sexual abuse. Am I the only one who is revolted by the casual use of the term Punching Bag in this ad? The fact that the Punching Bag outlet does NOT have a plug in it seems to imply that men who see women as Punching Bags, that is, men who hit women, do not abuse women, since abuse, according to this ad, does not include hitting. This ad has an extremely narrow focus that seems to exclude verbal abuse, emotional manipulation, assault and other forms of abuse besides sexual, not to mention abuse of wives, friends, friends, prostitutes [Concubines], children, elders, basically any woman who is not listed among the outlets. What kind of abuse is this ad thinking of, then? The kind where a stranger attacks and rapes an unknown woman? Such cases form a statistically small percentage of abuse cases. You are much more likely to be abused by someone you know, a relative, friend or acquaintance. Nowhere does the ad accommodate this brutal reality.

Imagine the effect of this ad on the target population: a woman who has been abused. I can envision a woman whose husband jealously controls her phone calls, yells at her when she burns toast and hasn’t had sex with her in two years because he’s been having affairs. This woman is in an abusive situation, but it is quite possible that, thanks to this stupid and confusing ad, she might not call Kabayanihan to get the help that she desperately needs. The ad is clearly talking about men who sexually objectify women as Vaginas, but our hypothetical viewer doesn’t think that designation applies to her, first, because she’s obviously a Wife and, second, because her husband has not had sex with her in two years. Also, because the ad speaks of “men” in general as the perpetrators, when in reality the perp is usually a friend or relation [thus the violence could more properly be called “domestic”], the hypothetical viewer may feel she is excluded because the ad is talking about strangers, not family members. The viewer hurries to return home, where her husband throws an empty beer bottle, hitting her in the head, because she was five minutes late setting the table. And another misguided ad campaign fails to reach out to the very people it’s trying to help. In fact, you could even make a case for this ad being potentially alienating, rather than inclusive.

What’s really sickening about this whole business is that this is an ad for ANTI-abuse services. The help promised by this ad is supposed to empower women [I assume] to cope with the aftermath of abusive trauma and leave abusive situations if they are stuck in them. But instead it’s just a further depressing reminder of how limiting male conceptions of women can be, how invisible domestic violence is and how helpless many women [whether they are abused or not] feel in a world where the threat of male violence against them is almost constant.

Heineken Draught Keg robo-woman ad: sexist?

Heineken Draught Keg robo-woman ad: sexist? published on 1 Comment on Heineken Draught Keg robo-woman ad: sexist?

I’ve never commented on ads before, although I’ve always enjoyed Ms. magazine’s back page where the inflammatorily sexist ads are rounded up for my viewing pleasure. However, I was poking around online, reading about the controversy [as, for example, on the blog of Bob Garfield, columnist for Ad Age] over the Heineken draught keg TV spot … In this ad, the robot woman supposedly does a C section on herself and brings a draught keg out of her uterus.

For the record, I would like to say that I am truly torn about the ad.

Every time I try to watch it to see if it’s sexist, I am continually distracted by the sexy, mechanically lissome forms of the robotic women. I also like the techno music, even if it’s a ridiculous ditty about popping the flip top or whatever. Anyway, after repeated viewing [for research purposes!!], I opine that the sexism in the ad does not come from the keg=uterus equation because the location of said keg is nowhere near the robot woman’s uterus. It appears to be keg=small intestines. 

The sexism at work here is nothing new. It’s just your tired, old, run-of-the-mill objectification of women as inanimate objects [robots] whose sole purpose is to sacrifice their own desires so that they may cater to the tastes [for draught keg contents] of the implied male viewer. In fact, the image in the commercial of a woman emptying herself for a man while keeping a constant smile is actually a disturbing reification of many women’s experience. Socialized to abnegate themselves, women may try and try to please other people, draining themselves of energy, until they are as empty as used beer cans. While the images used here are distractingly sexy, the underlying message is a terrifying turn-off, yet another example of how Heineken’s execs underestimate their target audience [hey, hetero men, you don’t want female companionship, just a fembot-like servitor!], insult women and leave everyone feeling demoralized and worse for wear.

Or maybe it’s draught keg=abdominal cavity. In any case, as you can clearly see, it’s way too high up in her body to be the location of her uterus.

Will’s Commission

Will’s Commission published on No Comments on Will’s Commission

Sometimes freelancers sell out.

Darkness in the first six photos was achieved by darkening the darks, lightening the lights, burn/dodging Will’s eyes where necessary and fiddling with the contrast. I think it is amusing how easily adjusting these controls can give Will the look of a person with heavy eyeliner and dark lipstick.

Yippee, I ordered some Supernatural!

Yippee, I ordered some Supernatural! published on No Comments on Yippee, I ordered some Supernatural!

Supernatural season 2 DVDs are coming my way with expedited shipping! I ordered them this morning. I figure that, if I no longer want them when done, I can sell them on Ebay. Since I watched much of season 1 and some of season 2 on DailyMotion, I know the plot lines, but my viewing enjoyment was marred by a) dark, grainy, small pictures, b) interruptions in video streaming and c) removal of Supernatural eps for copyright violation [dammit!]. I’d like to indulge in the eps without swearing at the computer when it stops loading at a crucial moment in the action. Hopefully the DVDs will come soon.

Tool for finding negative or neutral Ebay feedback

Tool for finding negative or neutral Ebay feedback published on 1 Comment on Tool for finding negative or neutral Ebay feedback

The feedback collections on Ebay are a great record of a seller or buyer’s overall trustworthiness, but Ebay does not allow users to analyze the feedback to best effect. For example, there is no easy way to find negatives or neutrals through the Ebay site proper. But this Web site, Toolhaus, has a tool that allows you to pick out bad feedback. You type in the Ebay ID and check the results. You can find bad feedback given and bad feedback received.

StoryCorps: Amateur interviews and the stories therefrom!

StoryCorps: Amateur interviews and the stories therefrom! published on No Comments on StoryCorps: Amateur interviews and the stories therefrom!

StoryCorps is a neat project aimed at tapping the oral history of the nation. At mobile booths around the country, almost anyone can schedule time and record an interview with a friend or a family member about…almost anything. I have listened to two stories so far, and I will be checking out more. Here a man talks about saving his friend’s little brother from the train tracks. Very dramatic! Here a Vermont lesbian couple are talking about their 30-year partnership and getting civilly united. Their happiness, after all these years, is still infectious.

Bonus: Here are two women talking about being identical twins, dispelling some stupid assumptions about their relationship and being very practical about the whole thing. “Being a twin was the best thing that ever happened to me! I recommend it to everyone!”

That’s just what this television needs…

That’s just what this television needs… published on 1 Comment on That’s just what this television needs…

More angst-ridden crime-solving goody-two-shoes vampires. Welcome to CBS’ Moonlight, starting at the end of this month, treading in a well-worn path first hewn out by Forever Knight, followed by Angel. While curious, I have much better things to do with my puny mortal life than sit around and watch a new show when it first airs. I’ll wait a while to see if it’s anything of any substance that I can sink my teeth into.


Smite! published on No Comments on Smite!

As I was unpacking my dolls, I put together a showcase for my favorite outfit.

AJ head with hair added and deco’ed by me, on PB 2.0 body with hands and boots from Jun, sleeves sewn by bojangles, bodice from Swan Lake Ballerina Barbie and modded by me, skirt made from two capes from Jun, sword from Cutey Honey, choker handmade by unknown maker, metal padlock from one of the Three Zero dolls, underwear from Fujiko Mine DX, rings from various travels in my life, stand from ComiCon silver CG. It’s interesting to see how many disparate places my stuff has come from over the years.

Watch me suffer [gasp, sniff], yes, SUFFER!!

Watch me suffer [gasp, sniff], yes, SUFFER!! published on No Comments on Watch me suffer [gasp, sniff], yes, SUFFER!!

Because I’m reading My Husband Betty again, I went to Helen Boyd’s blog, thence to her personal site, where she linked to media appearances. From there I hit upon a clip from All My Children in which the transgender character goes to a transgender support group. Betty is in the clip, which is why the clip was linked from Boyd’s site.

I have mixed feelings about the clip. On one hand, I appreciated the presence of all the other support group members, who were transgender activists and authors, appearing under their own names. I think that it’s important to show all types of people in media so that all types of people can identify with the media figures. Furthermore, I also think it’s important that all types of people be shown not as sicko freaks, but as happy, well-adjusted individuals, which all of the activists appearing under their own names appeared to be.

That being said, the clip really blew my mind because there was such a difference in presentation between the AMC trans woman and the trans activists. The trans activists, if anything, underplayed their roles, with a very matter-of-fact, level tone and no histrionic affectation, which gave the support group scene a very naturalistic air, as if the viewers were eavesdropping. By contrast, the AMC trans woman was a barely coherent pile of melodramatic jelly [behaving like the subject line], in the manner of all soap operatic characters when they are on the edge of something momentous [which they always are]. The acting style of the person who played the AMC trans woman did not fit with the rest of the players in the support group scene, which distracted me to no end.

Perhaps I shouldn’t say that the AMC trans woman’s character did not fit into the support group scene. After all, the AMC trans woman’s character is a soap operatic type, and this is a soap opera. Therefore, with the insertion of an underplayed, naturalistic scene with well-adjusted individuals, the support group scene and the well-adjusted trans activists are the things that do not fit in the soap opera. Soap operas thrive on ostentatious suffering and angst, sad endings, bad turns of events.  I think the goal of trans inclusion is laudable, but it’s hard to make trans people look happy, healthy and productive when the TV universe into which they are being introduced makes EVERYONE look miserable, perverted and stunted. So is it really much of a step toward trans understanding, inclusivity and tolerance to turn them into hammily degraded victims, just like almost everyone else in soap operas?

Internet Public Library

Internet Public Library published on No Comments on Internet Public Library

At the Internet Public Library, you can do everything that you would do at your usual public library: read fiction, join a book group, find tax forms, do research. Only here, it’s all virtual. IPL organizes the many online atlases, books, reference Web sites, etc., into an easily browsable, subject-based format so that you can more easily find what you are looking for. Your local public library or university library or corporate library may have a similar site, but IPL is open to all users.


HAH! published on 1 Comment on HAH!

On podcast 45, in response to a woman who thinks that S&M represents emotional disability and mental sickness, Dan Savage points out that S&M is PLAY, and he says, “What S&M is is cops and robbers for grown-ups without your pants on.” Now I’m just imagining law enforcement professionals chasing crooks out of a bank in a completely serious context, except all parties are lacking pants. :p

It’s all the same character… Gareth –> Will

It’s all the same character… Gareth –> Will published on No Comments on It’s all the same character… Gareth –> Will

Dull comparison for no one except me. Here’s a photo of Will next to a picture of a story character that I drew about 7 years ago. The character was originally invented about 12 years ago, and I’ve been pursuing his likeness for over a decade.

Will and my music box

Will and my music box published on 4 Comments on Will and my music box

Now that I’ve moved to an apartment with more than two rooms, I have an improved set-up for photographing my dolls. My desk now sits in the living room with a filled-in fireplace to the left and two windows to the right. The wealth of natural light + white walls provides soft tones and bright colors, in contrast to my previous apartment, where yellow walls + way too much daylight produced overly warm tones and yellowy colors. These pictures were taken at about 5:15 PM.

Will is listening to my music box, which plays Fur Elise. He is wearing a hat from a My Friend Becky doll. His shirt is the I.B. Hunter default. His skirt is a peasant dress fitted for Doll More Model Dolls. His socks are Friend Gretel’s defaults. You can see how I heat-cured the fingers of his left hand into a cupping posture.

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