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Renders in 20 seconds!

Renders in 20 seconds! published on No Comments on Renders in 20 seconds!

This weekend I did an episode where Will and Velvette were at the Downtown Crossing station. I just dropped them and their shopping bags against various photos I took of the station interior. Lo and behold — how quickly did these simple pictures render, without multiple props and 3-D sets to inflate their developing times!! I’m going to have to set more eps against photoed backdrops, for my 3-D interior sets render too slowly for me [120 seconds as opposed to 20].

Materyllis hits misanthropy.

Materyllis hits misanthropy. published on

The Chocolatiers thought that it would be merciful if they killed Affie out of Materyllis’ sight, but Materyllis disagreed. She loved Affie like her own daughter, and she believed that she herself should euthanize Affie. So she did.

After Affie’s death in maybe 1960 or so, Materyllis changed her ways. She left the Chocolatiers. She moved back to her Yerxa Road house in North Cambridge. Those mortals who remembered Materyllis noticed that, when she moved back into the neighborhood, she was not as active as she had been. Materyllis used to actively make and maintain friendships with mortals when she initially lived on Yerxa Road. Now she answered requests from old-timers, but she did not seek out new mortal friends and patients. Because she was more removed from her neighborhood, her air of mystery lent itself to forbidding rumors about her being a cannibalistic, murdering witch.

Materyllis’ relationships with other vampires changed as well. After withdrawing physically from the Chocolatiers, she seemed to withdraw emotionally as well. Susie felt this most strongly, noting that Materyllis did not talk to her as much, visit her as frequently or even really confide in her. Materyllis was nothing but cordial to the Chocolatiers, and she responded when they asked her for help, but she certainly was extinguished.

Over time, Materyllis’ increasing reclusivity and remoteness converged with her reputation among mortals as a magical menace. Also new vampires appeared who had no idea of Materyllis’ past as a helpful conjure woman; without Susie and the Chocolatiers to vouch for her any more [since she was keeping so remote from them], Materyllis appeared like a crabby, probably dangerous hermit to newer generations of vampires. People did continue to make their way to her, mostly to die in peace, so her vocation became less of healing the living and more of healing those about to die. It’s like Mikael in In the Time of the Bells, where Maria Gripe writes something like, “He had few friends among the living, but, among the dead, he had many.” Painfully enough, her decision to cut herself off after Affie’s death cut herself off also from the practice of conjure healing the living [or at least the undead] which gave her the most satisfaction.

This is where we find her now. Scratch what I said earlier about her being an author of sentimental doggerel. She may indeed be related to Phillis Wheatley, but that’s not very relevant to her character. She doesn’t get out much among the other vampires, although she does visit La Biblio to get some conjure supplies for Mark. Mark?! Of course…Mark has the power of connections; he’s the ultimate middleman. The other people who actually see her in person are Susie and the Chocolatiers. Her reputation lives more actively than she does at this point. I’m sure there are a few mortals who remember being frightened by tales of the conjure witch on Yerxa Road when they were misbehaving….

Of course, this puts her in the perfect position for a super-secret plot development that will shoot the series in an exciting new direction….

Materyllis and how she got where she is

Materyllis and how she got where she is published on

The discussion amongst the Chocolatiers and Materyllis regarding Affie’s fate was a bitter one. You see, it is a general principle across all metro Boston vamp clans that the penalty for any crime that endangers vampires as a whole is death. There are several categories of activity that merit the death penalty:

1. Harming a mortal under the age of consent merits death.

2. Killing other vampires for no reason [see below for explanation] merits death.

3. Any activity that threatens the safety and security of vampires as a whole merits death. For example, if a vampire turned informant for a Harvard professor of folklore and began telling the professor about actual vamp clans and culture, the vampire would be quickly found out and put to death.

The vampire code of laws, such as they exist, also has no tolerance for second chances. A criminal offense means death. Vampires do not want to risk the chance that a criminal will live forever and commit crimes forever, so they immediately eliminate criminals. Vampire ethics arise basically from strong survival instincts.

Vampire clans mostly police themselves or their jurisdictions; they don’t encroach on each other’s territory. Clans don’t aggressively pursue vamp criminals, though, instead waiting until they make themselves known, which explains how sickos like Joe Coldstone can abide for centuries. Frankly, if someone is getting away with offensive acts, vampires are less concerned with the discreet criminal because the discreet criminal is not threatening the integrity of the community as a whole.

At the same time, it is perfectly acceptable for a victim of a discreet criminal to take matters into his or her own hands and kill the discreet criminal, as Materyllis did to Joe. Vampires view this as acceptable vigilante justice that preserves the integrity of the vampire community in general.

How does this relate to Materyllis and Affie? Well clearly Affie had broken 2 of vampire culture’s major prohibitions: she had harmed a child and endangered vampire security in general. Strictly speaking, she merited death for these facts alone. At the same time, Materyllis and the Chocolatiers agreed that Affie was not willfully malicious, but rather insane. They debated whether they should suspend punishment because of her mental state.

The Chocolatiers, seeing how much Materyllis loved Affie, argued that they could create some sort of indefinite house arrest for Affie. Materyllis was the one who pointed out that house arrest hadn’t worked. She pointed out that, beyond questions of responsibility and mental capacity, the especially horrific nature of Affie’s baby killings put the community in great jeopardy. Affie’s unintentional endangerment of the community was the biggest concern. No matter how much she herself cared for Affie, Materyllis said, she had to die.

Materyllis, cantankerous misanthrope

Materyllis, cantankerous misanthrope published on

Affie calmed down and regained some of her intelligence, enough for Materyllis to get out of her the story of how Affie was changed by Joe. Affie had called on Joe after the birth of her first child, who had come out premature and sickly. Even though Affie brought Joe in, her baby died. Joe seized the day and vamped Affie. The loss of her child and her own life formed formed a particularly strong black hole into which much of Affie’s mental stability got sucked.

With Materyllis’ help, Affie flourished. She grew back up mentally in slow but perceptible progression until she hit about 10, at which point she seemed to stop. Materyllis developed a routine that both she and Affie liked. At this point, other vamps were coming to Materyllis for check-ups or counseling, so she saw them in her house, unless she had to see a very sick person or someone who wanted last rites. [Materyllis gained a reputation among the Boston metro clans for being the person to go to if you wanted to die humanely and painlessly.] When she had to leave the house, Susie or one of her loyal customers watched Affie. Materyllis watched over Affie closely, though, entrusting her with some chores and letting her bake lots of cookies and play the piano [her two favorite things to do]. Affie occasionally had nightmares about Joe and her child dying, in which case she would attack Materyllis who was trying to calm her down, but these nightmares occurred so rarely that they were pretty easy to ignore. In Materyllis’ opinion, Affie had been broken into pieces like an old piece of pottery, but Materyllis had fixed her and refashioned her, not to be the same as before, but still good. Materyllis viewed Affie as a “slow child” that she would be responsible for for the rest of her life.

Then the [human] family next door, the Dixons, had a kid! Because Materyllis and Affie were good friends with the Dixons, they went over to see the baby. Materyllis enjoyed the busyness and elation of the newly expanded family, but Affie always grew agitated. She seemed as if she wanted to run away from the baby, but she couldn’t take her eyes off it. Sometimes the Dixon baby cried all through the night [colicky], and Materyllis found Affie pacing and howling in unison.

Regretfully Materyllis decided that she and Affie had to move away from babies and children and mortals in general. Susie enjoined them to head down to Dorchester and join the Chocolatiers. Materyllis didn’t want to, but thought it would be best for Affie.

Then…right before the move…one night everything was quiet. How come the Dixon baby wasn’t crying? Materyllis found out soon enough when she went into Affie’s room and discovered Affie rocking the baby, its throat torn out, licking blood from its wound.

Materyllis felt numb. She loved the Dixons and she loved Affie, but she couldn’t escape the screamingly obvious conclusion that Affie had killed the Dixon baby. She couldn’t very well punish Affie, who seemed to have gone unhinged again, and she couldn’t explain to her friends, “My ward killed your child, but she didn’t mean to.” She fled Yerxa Road in humiliation and despair.

Materyllis assumed that, surrounded by other vampires and no vulnerable human children, Affie would regain her composure again. All willing Chocolatiers developed a strict watch so that Affie would stay supervised, calm and non-murderous at all times.

Less than two months after moving to Dorchester, Affie kidnapped another human baby and fed from it. When Materyllis and the other Chocolatiers intervened, they had to put the baby to death before Affie turned it.

The Chocolatiers held a council about what to do about Affie.

How Materyllis got where she is

How Materyllis got where she is published on

It makes the most sense for Joe Coldstone,  Materyllis’ rapist and transmittor of vampirism, was a practitioner of hoodoo, but I’m not going to use that word because it sounds like voodoo, which has enough misconceptions around it already. So I’ll say he was a conjure man, practicing a syncretic form of healing/rootwork/matural magic that borrows from various West and Central African religious and healing traditions and throws some New Testament Christianity into the mix.

Here’s an online book, which should be good for an introduction to the subject. 

Anyway, Joe transmitted vampirism to Materyllis. He also probably tossed a gallimaufry of spells at her, love spells, obedience curses, domination hexes, etc., etc., etc. Materyllis was then forced to be his servant.

Materyllis was kept as a prisoner in Joe’s house, forced to do that very thing that she never wanted to do: housekeeping. There was also more rape involved.

Materyllis spent any spare moment monitoring Joe and learning his secrets. After 3 years of slavery, she had amassed enough of her own conjure knowledge and skills to kill Joe and free herself.

After her imprisonment, she basically came out of the darkness into a new world. Not only had she mostly missed World War II, but her family had scattered. Her father, who had never been healthy, had died of a stroke half a year after Materyllis’ illness. Both of her brothers had died in combat. Her sister had taken her example and gotten a job as part of the war effort, and now she was out in California with her husband who had come back sefely from the service. Materyllis’ mother remained in the house on Yerxa Road, increasingly frail and lonely.

Materyllis reunited with her mother and cared for her until her death in 1948. After that, she kind of took over Joe’s old position and became a conjure woman. At first, she started healing some of the damage caused by Joe’s perversions. Of course, Materyllis wasn’t the only woman that he had tried to ensorcel, sexually exploit and dominate, so Materyllis tracked down the others and tried to help them. 

For example, Susie Langdon had been a victim of his in the 1920s. Barely out of girlhood, she had been hiding ever since then, convinced she was sinful, shameful, polluted and less than human. Materyllis restored her confidence and her strength. Susie ended up going down to Mattapan and joining the Chocolatiers, where she is still doing well today. Susie gave Materyllis the name that she goes by today.

Materyllis didn’t have as much success with other women. There was one, Affie Marks, vamped by Joe in the early 1800s, who had spent all of her undead life unclanned, uninitiated and unacknowledged. The strain of death and over a century of isolation had left her mostly nuts. She seemed to have the mental capacity of a 5-year-old, and she alternated between tractability and violent damaging rages. Materyllis brought Affie to her house, hoping that, with gentle treatment and some judicious application of conjure magic, Affie would regain her sanity.

With Materyllis watching her, Affie seemed to improve, becoming more peaceful and more coherent.

Character creation for LHF, continued: Materyllis Whatley

Character creation for LHF, continued: Materyllis Whatley published on

So her name is Amaryllis Whatley, but no one calls her that. She’s so notorious that she goes by just Materyllis, mater being Latin for “mother.”

I modeled her and made her up last night, and she is one natty, smokin’ hot :p babe. I didn’t expect her to be so damn hot. I expect she died just a few years older than Will, at around 35.

Anyway, I haven’t detailed her backstory yet, but I do have a rough idea of how she became a vampire.

After she graduated from high school and from the business course at Boston University, she was living in a squalid tenement and working as a stenographer in downtown Boston. Meanwhile, her parents were bugging her to take care of them and generally be a stay-at-home nurturer instead of a working girl. For all that Materyllis didn’t want to become like her mom, working as a mom with 4 kids and worn out early in life, her parents’ insistence did carry some weight because Materyllis liked her economic independence, but hated her apartment, her bigoted landlord and her job in general. She much preferred taking care of either her plants [no room for a garden] or her cat, and she was very good at raising the kids; she just didn’t want to be a housemother. She thought about going into nursing.

Then she got sick. She got really, really sick with mono. She was behind one day in rent payment. Her landlord seized the opportunity to boot her out. Her parents believed that she had caught the kissing disease from being immodest with young men, so they strenuously disapproved of her. They did, however, let her move back into to their cramped house in Cambridge on Yerxa Road.

Materyllis pushed herself to go to work, but the longer commute wore her out. The leader of the steno pool very nicely said that she would always have a job there, but now she needed to go home and get well. Materyllis left her job and went to the bank to withdraw almost all of her savings. Her former landlord was demanding exorbitant fees for things like maid service, keys and damage that she hadn’t committed. He threatened her with court action, so she wanted to pay him off to get him to shut up. As she approached her landlord’s house, she was mugged. Her purse was stolen, along with the money for the landlord. Materyllis ended up walking home from downtown Boston to North Cambridge. Once there, she passed out, sick and tired.

Materyllis entered the lowest period of her life. She felt incompetent because she couldn’t keep her job. She felt like a pushover for paying off the landlord instead of fighting him. She felt like she was stupid and clueless because she had gotten mugged. She said to herself that she was asking for it, carrying a purse full of money to a bad part of town. She doubted her ability to be an independent, successful woman who could support herself. She considered becoming her parents’ caretaker since it was safe and easy. This thought, however, was unutterably depressing, so, compounding the weakness of mono, she lay in bed, literally paralyzed with self-doubt and indecision.

Seeing that she was not only sick in the body, but sick at heart, Materyllis’ parents quickly stopped reviling her supposed immodest conduct. Having little money for offficial medical care, they sought the services of Joe Coldstone. Now Joe Coldstone had a reputation among the blacks of North Cambridge because, as the tales went, his mother had been a healer, a “witch woman,” in Africa, and she had brought those skills across the ocean in the 1780s and taught them to her son Jacob so that he could cure the black people of maladies when the white people wouldn’t touch them. Some people thought this story was full of shit, and it wasn’t his mom, but his great-great-grandma. Others pointed out that Joe’s memory seemed to go way back into the early 1800s, so maybe he did have special healing powers that led to him being so well-preserved.

Whatever the case was, there was no debate on one fact: Joe was pathologically interested in Materyllis. When she dated [boys] in high school and occasionally in college [before giving up to concentrate on her job], she saw him occasionally at the theaters or ice cream parlor or behind her on the street, always at night, always seeming to be casual, but too close for coincidence. Materyllis clocked him with her purse once, but this only seemed to increase his stalking. 

Anyway, Joe’s sicko little mind knew a good opportunity when he saw it. And here is where I run out of details, but I will fill them in later after research. He told Materyllis’ parents that he needed to tend to her in privacy. He actually raped her in privacy and turned her into a vampire. I’m undecided whether it’s human blood, animal blood or psychic energy vampirism. It is also possible that he transmitted some sort of werebestial nature. Time for some research.

“Davy Crockett” doll

“Davy Crockett” doll published on 1 Comment on “Davy Crockett” doll

I see more of David Bowie than Fess Parker in Tonner’s upcoming Davy Crockett doll, but then, Tonner isn’t known for accurate likenesses.

While I’m commenting, the entire Agnes Dreary line makes me crack up. The costumes remind me strongly of the production and costume design for the Series of Unfortunate Events movie. I especially like Agnes’ Dreary Dinner Party Dress because I am a sucker for poofy sleeves. I also like Sister Dreary’s default outfit, a magnificently impractical hobble dress. Though Agnes Dreary is supposed to be a little Gothy girl, she and her fellow products remind me less of Gothy dudes and more of people in Victorian photographs when they had to sit very still for long periods of time to be rendered in black-and-white. It’s an attractive aesthetic.

Character creation for LHF: Here’s a new member of the cast.

Character creation for LHF: Here’s a new member of the cast. published on

So I picked up a bunch of local history books at the library recently. One is In Our Own Words: Stories of North Cambridge, Massachusetts 1900-1960. The most memorable person in the book is Ruth Jones (1895-1996), an African-American townie. She comes across as a take-no-shit person who tells you what to do because she’s experienced and smart and wise, and she knows it. She’s also incredibly smart and stubborn, in an admirable, ambitious way. In the book, she gives all these great details about cadging food from the gardens of the rich white folks and being the first black girl to graduate from Somerville High (1915) and dealing with racism when she went to Boston University in the late 1910s. In the interview, she obviously loves to tell stories and to preach.

Anyway, after I read about her and decided she was completely awesome, I wanted to work her into the story somehow. I decided I should have a vampire based on Ruth Jones in the general details of experience and character.

I haven’t worked out all the details yet [like her first name], but her last name is Whatley, and I do have a definite idea of her presence. She is single, but she is definitely a matriarch, not a mammy, but a commanding leader who treats other people like her children, not that they are stupid, but that they should do what she says because she knows best. Unlike Chow, who is an uptight parental figure as well, she’s not prim and proper and concerned with filial piety and obedience. She will curse the fuck out of you and whack you if aren’t paying attention to her. 

Also unlike Chow, she has very little self-doubt. This relates to one of her favorite stories: She says that she is descended from Phyllis Wheatley, despite all evidence that Wheatley’s line died out with her unmarried son. She thinks that her illustrious poetic lineage imparts to her great literary skills, but it doesn’t. Her poetry is actually just mediocre. She generously offers it to the Plainsfolk and the Undead Unitarian Universalists in chapbooks for fundraising purposes, and they grit their teeth and accept it because it sells great with little old ladies. She does not like Mark and thinks he’s a racist because he won’t stock her chapbooks in La Biblio.

I should also probably say that she’s not too impressed with men in general. She’s not actively venomous toward them a la Pippilotta, but she thinks women are stronger.  She is one of those people who takes the supposed feminine weaknesses and turns them into strengths. Like she thinks that the fact that women can bear children means that they are stronger, with more fortitude, and more powerful than men. Or that women are stereotyped as critical means they are more observant than men. She reframes feminine sentimentality and “hysteria” by saying that women are more sensitive to others’ emotions and more honest in their expressions, blah blah blah. She also thinks women are less squeamish with their own bodily functions and blood because they have to deal with menstruation and men don’t. Pisses off all the equality-minded liberals [the Plainsfolk, the South Enders, the UUUs, the Chocolatiers] with this view.

Also pisses off the liberals because she smokes a pipe. Has a reputation similar to that of Ethan Stuart and the Salem vampires: powerful, dangerous, magical, possibly a witch. Supposedly she kills people [that is, vampires] in the same manner that Ethan is known to execute people who don’t abide by his laws. Then she fertilizes her garden on their remains. While there is one view that says she kills people, there is another view that says that she is a healer type of witch who can cure vampiric maladies and help you with euthanasia. [And then she fertilizes her garden with your remains.] She’s one of those people who is talked about, but seldom seen.

I need to go find a cultural hook for her vampirism… I.e., what were the vampire-related beliefs of Africans who were imported here as slaves? How might some of those beliefs have been transformed to influence vampire-related beliefs in African-American slave culture?

The Far Sweet Thing by Libba Bray

The Far Sweet Thing by Libba Bray published on No Comments on The Far Sweet Thing by Libba Bray

All right, I’m late to the party here, but I would just like to say that the third in the Gemma Doyle trilogy, The Far Sweet Thing, is out! I got hooked on the first book primarily because of the sexy cover. [All three books feature young women wearing intricate Victorian corsets, photoed from the back so you can admire the lacing.] I also find the content interesting too, since the author portrays the Victorian era as uncomplicatedly evil, horrible and repressive and her heroines as anachronistically punchy, mouthy, modern and rebellious. The fact that she actually seems to know about the trappings of the time period makes her anachronisms all the more jarring. Anyway, I’ve gotta skip over to the bookstore and read me a copy.

Love Song for a Vampire by Annie Lennox

Love Song for a Vampire by Annie Lennox published on

I really like this song, but I keep forgetting that I like it, so, when I play it, it ambushes me with its emotional punch. The lyrics draw from the standard tropes about love and loss, but the way in which she knits them together makes them tender, weary and infinitely melancholy all at the same time. The dirge-like tempo underscores the sadness, while the clarity of her voice embodies the spirit of affection. Plus the title indicates that it’s about vampires, although nothing in the song specifies that. What more could I ask for?

Come into these arms again
And lay your body down
The rhythm of this trembling heart
Is beating like a drum

It beats for you – It bleeds for you
It knows not how it sounds
For it is the drum of drums
It is the song of songs…

Once I had the rarest rose
That ever deigned to bloom.
Cruel winter chilled the bud
And stole my flower too soon.

Oh loneliness – oh hopelessness
To search the ends of time
For there is in all the world
No greater love than mine.

Love, oh love, oh love…
Still falls the rain… (still falls the rain)
Love, oh love, oh, love…
Still falls the night…
Love, oh love, oh love…
Be mine forever…. (be mine forever)
Love, oh love, oh love….

Let me be the only one
To keep you from the cold
Now the floor of heaven’s lain
With stars of brightest gold

They shine for you – they shine for you
They burn for all to see
Come into these arms again
And set this spirit free

Tales of Beedle the Bard: No, you can’t read it! HAH!

Tales of Beedle the Bard: No, you can’t read it! HAH! published on 1 Comment on Tales of Beedle the Bard: No, you can’t read it! HAH!

Heard about Tales of Beedle the Bard? It’s a limited-edition, handbound, handwritten book by Rowling containing five fairy tales that fit in the Harry Potter universe. There are 7 extant, of which Amazon got one on auction for 2 million pounds [no, really]. The proceeds are going to Rowling’s pet charity, the Children’s Voice Campaign.

I am pretty ambivalent about this stunt. It earns money for a good cause, yay hooray, but it also escalates the general feeding frenzy surrounding anything related to Harry Potter. It is a physically beautiful item, bound like a grimoire with moonstone-eyed skulls, but that’s kind of irrelevant because it’s so rare that it will probably be guarded, rather than displayed for enjoyment. 

I think what I object to most of all is that Rowling is wielding her immense business savvy in service of a project that, to me at least, seems to be the diametrical opposite of what books represent philosophically. Yes, books represent a convenient storage medium for information, and, like all books, The Tales of Beedle the Bard stores information well enough. Books are also a tool to distribute information, however, which means that they are made for wide audiences. They are designed to be possessed, passed along and used. The Tales of Beedle the Bard is, by the fact of its small edition size, designed so that most people cannot afford it or keep it, which is to say that is is designed NOT to be possessed [at least by you, me or any of the other rabble]. Because the book is riding a wave of Rowling mania, it is an object created to capitalize upon said mania by encouraging people to gawk at it, rather than pass it along. Essentially, books say, “I am a book. Use me. Spread the word!” The Tales of Beedle the Bard says, “Oh, I’m technically a book, insofar as I’m constructed to look and theoretically function exactly like one. In principle, however, I’m not a book because YOU CAN’T READ ME HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!”

I am sure that the content of the stories will somehow escape their limited-edition confines and become available to the general mass of readers, but that doesn’t obviate my point. My point is that this project comes across as rather unfriendly, self-involved and, to my gut instincts, unfair because Rowling trumpets that she had written some new stories, but the audience to which she trumpets can’t read them because they’re not worth[y] enough. I’m torn now because I really want to read The Tales of Beedle the Bard because I’m always on the lookout for new fairy tales. At the same time, Rowling’s deployment of the ultra-limited edition seems less about raising money for a good cause and more about the glorification of her own product empire.

The tone of the review — which is quite possibly the most truckling, cowering, cringeing, fawning, kowtowing, toadying, sycophantic, grovelling, apple-polishing, brown-nosing, servile piece of flattering lickspittle up-suckery that I have ever read — does not increase my goodwill either. [Did you like that phrase? Over the years, I have amassed quite a collection of words related to obsequious behavior. “Lickspittle” is my favorite because it implies someone who is willing to abase him/herself so low as to slurp up the saliva of someone else off a dirty floor.]

Lifestyles of the rich and vacuous

Lifestyles of the rich and vacuous published on 3 Comments on Lifestyles of the rich and vacuous

Oh, what a dreadful dilemma the aging hipster parents, in their 40s and expecting kids for the first time, face. They have spent so much time creating exquisite, exorbitant interiors, and they now must change their plans. 

Must their curtains woven from mermaid farts and moonbeams succumb to the slovenly onslaughts of partly formed humans who cannot properly wield spoons? 

Will the throne of imported unicorn horns, garnished in a tastefully pseudo-ethnic pattern with laser-etched bees’ knees, be relegated to the garage before a tiny being with the gait of a drunken landlubber trying to set up a folding chair on the deck of a ship in a typhoon careens into its corner and bumps its head?

Who gives a shit?

The New York Times Home & Garden section, with its earnest examination of the heart-wrenching dilemmas faced by 0.0000000000000000003% of the U.S. population, cannot be taken seriously.  Most people make a compromise between their new kids and the fabulously decorated, kid-unfriendly house they lived in before kids. I’m sure there’s some wailing and gnashing of teeth as certain beloved objects are discarded or removed, but it’s not a tragic turning point of life worthy of some Catholic Sacrament of Banished Knickknacks. By characterizing this compromise as some sort of undefeatable tension in the lives of new hoity-toity parents, the New York Times makes the interviewees come off as self-absorbed idiots who not-so-secretly like their Louis Quatorze chairs more than their kids. 


Following my post about “vegangelical…”

Following my post about “vegangelical…” published on 2 Comments on Following my post about “vegangelical…”

…Here are some observations from Feministing about the objectification of women to promote meatless eating.

As Feministing points out, using objectified women to sell meat is nothing new. [Here’s one of my favorite examples, a Carl’s Jr. commercial starring Paris Hilton, a hose, a car, a bucket of suds and a hamburger.] But apparently animal-rights activists, vegetarian organizations and vegan organizations exploit the same tropes as well. For example, here’s a commercial from the super-nutball, super-sexist PETA in which Alicia Silverstone comes out of a pool, naked, in slow motion. Somehow, this sells vegetarianism. In a press release about Eva Mendes posing naked for their “Fur? I’d rather go naked!” campaign, PETA, unsurprisingly enough, calls Mendes “one of Hollywood’s sexiest leading ladies,” “a regular red-carpet knock-out” and, just for some useless “hot-blooded Hispanic” stereotyping, a “sexy Latina.” The print text makes it clear that Mendes does not appear as someone you should pay attention to because she decided to abjure fur out of compassion or humanism or rational decision-making. You should pay attention to her because she’s glamorous and attractive, and she doesn’t wear fur, and do you YOU want to be just as glamorous and attractive as she is? PETA, while supplying my two examples, ain’t the only offender of such sexist, objectifying bullshit. See the Feministing entry for details about a vegan strip club [???!!] and the group Vegan Vixens [????!!!!].

Ann Friedman, post author, sums up the screwiness: “[U]sing the “ideal” female body type — something men want and women want to be — as an incentive to go vegan…is deeply fucked up, especially because there are dozens of real, compelling reasons to switch to a vegan lifestyle — none of them based on sexist bullshit.” 

P.S.: Here’s a super special bonus article from Salon, analyzing the misogynist, objectifying tactics of the popular Skinny Bitch “secret vegan ambush” cookbook.

Today’s word: “vegangelical”

Today’s word: “vegangelical” published on 4 Comments on Today’s word: “vegangelical”

I just came across the word “vegangelical” in an New York Times article about dietary differences among couples.

Here’s the relevant quote:

Dynise Balcavage, 42, an associate creative director at an advertising agency and vegan who lives in Philadelphia, said she has been happily married to her omnivorous husband, John Gatti, 53, for seven years.

“We have this little dance we’ve choreographed in the kitchen,” she said. She prepares vegan meals and averts her eyes when he adds anchovies or cheese. And she does not show disapproval when he orders meat in a restaurant.

“I’m not a vegangelical,” she said. “He’s an adult and I respect his choices just as he respects mine.”

A “vegangelical” is a zealous vegan who wants to convert others to his or her dietary habits. It’s a clever neologism for a certain subset of those who practice veganism.

Some history books online

Some history books online published on 1 Comment on Some history books online

Questia is an online library where you can mark up books, create citations, take notes, etc. Here’s a sampling of some of the available material, centering, of course, on my own interests. The second book in the list wins the award for Best Scholarly Book Title Ever. Off to abuse a 72-hour free trial subscription now….

Schooled to Order: A Social History of Public Schooling in the United States

Sex in Middlesex: Popular Mores in a Massachusetts County, 1649-1699

Bound to Please: A History of the Victorian Corset

Back after a five-month absence!

Back after a five-month absence! published on 2 Comments on Back after a five-month absence!

I finally went to doll club today with Will and Sardonix. Will’s clothes reached a new sartorial nadir of horrible fabulousness; I never knew I could create such staggering amounts of fashion-related weirdness with a limited number of items. He also got a new wig from Volks SD Kun, a brownish, ex-blond long straight cut. For once in her life, Sardonix kept quiet and didn’t cause any trouble, probably because she was too busy stabbing things with her Vengeance Unicorn.

Sardonix says, “Don’t interrupt me while I’m stabbing a mime in the back!”

Volks Yo-SD Ann looking nauseatingly cute in a little birdy outfit. I forget who her owner is.

Will showing off his new wig and borrowed bear hat. Does it complement his leopard print?

Another classy pose in front of the paper towel dispenser. Hat from Tensiya [I think] + leopard print from Soom + lace thingy from DollMore + custom vinyl skirt by DOA artist + black-and-white stripey socks [not shown] = fashion disaster.

Bodily instability

Bodily instability published on No Comments on Bodily instability

Over the past 4 years [ack, has it been that long?], Will has been one of the most physically instable characters of mine. He started off as a default Sideshow Toy general edition Spike 12″ doll. Then I put a custom resin sculpt of James Marsters on the same body. Then I went to a Dragon body with CG ankle cups so he could wear high heels. Then I tried to make him a skinny hybrid body, and he was on a weird early Medicom body for a while. Then I got him a modern, shorter Medicom body. Plus I resculpted his hair about 4 times during that period; it went from the default greasy comb-back, to a poofy comb-back, to a meringue-like sort of mess, to a modified bowl cut. I also repainted him about 5 times, each time making his skin paler and his makeup darker.

After the 1:6 modern Medicom body broke, I put the 1:6 Will in storage. Then I got my 1:3 Will.

Then he went digital in October, 2007. Since then, he’s gone through 4 reconstructions from scratch and countless textures [or paint jobs]. I need to do a slideshow of him through time in the same way that I collected a bunch of photos of my Frank doll[s].


Rug…Tiger…Pants…What? published on 1 Comment on Rug…Tiger…Pants…What?

“It’s nice to have a girl around the house. Though she was a tiger lady, our hero didn’t have to fire a shot to floor her.

After one look at his Mr. Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over her. That noble styling sure soothes the savage heart! If you’d like your own doll-to-doll carpeting, hunt up a pair of these he-man Mr. Leggs slacks. Such as our new automatic wash/wear blend of 65% Dacron and 35% Rayon — incomparably wrinkle-resistant. About $12.95 at plush-carpeted stores.”

The depressingly literal illustration of the above 1970s ad copy is below.

Let’s see. Woman as uncivilized, incoherent, domineering animal? Check. Male/female relationships as conquest and dominance? Check. Woman as inherently submissive and masochistic in contrast to man as inherently dominant and sadistic? Check.  Woman as shallow and manipulated by physical appearance? Check. Man as superior? Check. Woman as object? Check. Implications of non-consensual sex with another person? Check. Implications of sex with animals? Check.

This whole ad makes me envision walking around on a floor paved with Barbies dressed in leopard print. It also makes me think of “These boots are made for walking…” It also makes me think of Pushing Up Daisies, in which the main character, who can resurrect dead things by touching them, had the misfortune to have a romantic tryst on a bearskin rug, which, of course, turned back into a bear and wrought havoc. [Exit, pursued by a bear…]

Seriously, though, this ad appears to me as a disturbingly convincing illustration of a woman’s nightmare: immobilized by headless corporate man, deflated and reduced of all strength, humiliated and objectified.

P.S. I am trying to discern the woman’s expression, but the photo is too small for me to tell. Any clues?

“If your husband finds out you haven’t been store-testing coffee…”

“If your husband finds out you haven’t been store-testing coffee…” published on 2 Comments on “If your husband finds out you haven’t been store-testing coffee…”

…Then kinky sex results??!?!?!?!? I swear that this picture looks like what happens after the very end of Secretary, when Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character puts a bug in James Spader’s character’s book [?] specifically for the purpose of provoking a BDSM scenario of “punishment” later. I say this because the scenario looks so obviously staged [notice how neatly the woman’s hair is styled], and she appears to be faking a look of distress while actually smiling. I found this ad on the community vintage_ads, which contains boundless beautiful examples of the art used to sell things.


She’s SMIRKING at me!

She’s SMIRKING at me! published on 3 Comments on She’s SMIRKING at me!

Ergo, I cannot resist. Tinybear over on DOA is now selling her own line of mini BJDs, the latest additions being Coco and Bon Bon. They are 6″ high with mature bodies, as opposed to the childlike bodies of most tinies. Their figures are truly Reubenesque, which is more than I can say for most scrawny or overly muscled BJDs. I have my eye set on
Bon Bon, shown at right in this photo. Coco may be more conventionally pretty, but Bon Bon has such a great rubbery little face and a Pre-Raphaelite mouth. She looks like Drew Barrymore, only better. I want one!! Watch this space because I will probably have one soon enough.

What the fzork?

What the fzork? published on No Comments on What the fzork?

Why are my comics coming out crappy when I use the [supposedly] non-crappy program? After experimenting with Comic Life, I appreciate its flexibility in panel design, but that’s about it. 

Here’s what I DON’T appreciate:

The display window doesn’t show the comic at a large enough size; you can’t change the default path where Comic Life looks for pictures; I keep dragging around the actual panels when all I want to do is move the picture inside the panel; Comic Life doesn’t remember my last font color, size and weight settings, requiring instead some pain-in-the-ass style sheets; fonts all render as if they’ve been typed by a threadbare ribbon; and the margins for balloon text overcompensate for the huge ones in Comic Book Creator by being non-existent. 

Well, okay, I eventually beat the style sheets into submission, and I’m sure I could probably lock the panels [in fact, I know I can], but I can’t customize the program’s display. I can’t customize Comic Book Creator’s display either, but the interface makes more sense to me than Comic Life’s.

I was seriously going to switch over to Comic Life, but I de-constituted the strips I had made with it and reconstituted them back over in the stupid program [Comic Book Creator]. I’m seriously annoyed and frustrated and wondering what to do….


Have an ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS day!!! published on No Comments on Have an ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS day!!!

With Technicolor sunshine and birdies on your shoulders and perfectly marcelled hair and rocket cone boobies and MORE GAIETY THAN YOU CAN STAND! How? Drink Ovaltine. I think I feel a SONG coming on… Well, something’s coming, anyway….

Caution: Ovaltine causes “sparkling morning freshness.” Use at your own risk. The manufacturers are not responsible for any Busby Berkeley-inspired set pieces that may spontaneously break out after using this product.

Did you know that “thousands” are drinking Ovaltine every night? So that’s how the queer agenda recruits….

If a skirt doesn’t cover your underwear…

If a skirt doesn’t cover your underwear… published on 3 Comments on If a skirt doesn’t cover your underwear…

Can it still be called a skirt? I dunno. Ask Will. Here he is in the Gothic Doll top mentioned earlier with a modified triple-tier skirt. I would tell him to put some pants on, but he might hit me with his coffin box. This outfit reminds me of a lot of what is available for BJDs.

Lovely digital clothes

Lovely digital clothes published on No Comments on Lovely digital clothes

For G Style, I’m especially enamored of the subtle puffs and flares on the jacket sleeves. Very smart.

For Goth Dress, I like the oversized cuffs, and I’m a sucker for short layered skirts.

I’m drawn to Gothic Velvet because of the dynamic and detailed presentation, not to mention the shoes that have straps AND buckles AND spikes AND kitten heels AND shiny shiny patent leather. Also this outfit comes with a set of pornographically gravity-defying ponytails.

For Gothic Doll, I like the more subtle work of the patterns and black and white, but what I really have a crush on is that coffin purse. Will needs it…preferably in hot pink vinyl with black trim.

For Magical Girl, I like the repeating petal motif plus bats. Bats are always in style.

“I put on my makeup, turn up the eight-track…”

“I put on my makeup, turn up the eight-track…” published on No Comments on “I put on my makeup, turn up the eight-track…”

Why yes, those are curly-toed shoes…and bellbottom pants slit halfway up the legs…and a pimp hat with feathers in it…along with a host of body straps and a pink vinyl vest…not to mention the ubiquitous corset. You can’t tell this from my dolls of Will, but Will almost always wears a corset, a fact that I finally get to represent. It’s not merely decorative; it actually squishes, but he doesn’t care because he doesn’t have to breathe. If I were more accurate, I would show him with an actual very narrow waist, much more dandy-like, but I’m too lazy right now, so look at this instead.

I finally figured out where Will’s fashion inspiration comes from. He’s a vampire, so he’s marginalized from the dominant culture and its conceptions of clothes as utlilitarian objects that should conform to certain rules. Ever since he was a dandy before his death, he has always been interested in clothes more as social currency, body language and extravagant decoration. As he mentions elsewhere, one of his idols in this regard was, of course, Oscar Wilde. Therefore, he continues in the same tradition of dandyism now, but not in a classical, fashionable, well-tailored sense. He’s playing. He should stop worrying about his writer’s block and realize that he has other forms of artistic creativity.

Oh, by the way, this is probably what his hair would look like if he would stop combing it back like some 75-year-old balding guy. I think he looks much cuter with his hair down and ragged; it softens his skeletal face and adds to his androgyny.

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