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Fritillaria gets freakier

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Cracks and shadows around nose, mouth, and inner eyes have been enhanced with #2 pencil, black Prismacolor, DecoArts black paint, Prismacolor blending stick, and spit. I also painted a line between her lips and the insides of her sockets black.  She doesn’t really look sweet anymore…Continue reading Fritillaria gets freakier

Fritillaria’s faceup in progress

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I threw some paint on Fritillaria this morning and then took some photos to see how the concept looks with the rest of her. I need to bring up the cracks around her nose more and erase some of the grey undershading around her mouth too. Other than that, though, she looks very promising. I’ve decided that she’s going to have no eyes, just empty sockets, and no wig. I like the juxtaposition of an elaborately finished outfit with a “partially cooked” doll. Looking like she’s somewhere between broken, old, and unfinished, she foregrounds the doll as an object of which the artificiality is often disguised by BJD owners who pursue some form of verisimilitude. This is a doll as a construct, not as a person.Continue reading Fritillaria’s faceup in progress

Engineering humor: accurate definitions of terms are mandatory

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Me: “So does the Engineering division have brown bag lunches regularly?”

 

Supervisor [pause, blink blink]: “I need a more precise definition of that term.”

Engineering humor: writing is a foreign concept

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Me: I really like writing and editing, and I’m really good at it…

 

Supervisor [unblinking bafflement]: So…you…actually like writing?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?

Engineering humor: the extroverted engineer

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Retiring engineer’s favorite engineer joke:

 

How can you tell the difference between an introverted and an extroverted engineer?

 

An extroverted engineer stares at your shoes while they talk.

The Master looking dramatic in Amidala gear

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The wizard in his own mind wedges himself into a Hasbro Amidala Traveling Gown outfit out of which I hacked the undersleeves. Yes I understand that it strains over his shoulders, but the overall effect surprises me with its suitability. I imagine him as preferring heavy fabrics, extra drapeyness, black, gold, sumptuous displays. Therefore he doesn’t look to me as if he’s crossdressing, but as if he’s himself, wearing what he wants. Continue reading The Master looking dramatic in Amidala gear

Shalka Dorks experiencing unexpected hotness

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So apparently the Master’s style borrows liberally from the silhouettes, colors, and layers of the characters in that dull middle Star Wars trilogy. I picked up two Hasbro Princess Amidala dolls, one of which was the Hidden Majesty version and the other of which was the Traveling Gown edition. I hacked out the red undersleeves of the Hidden Majesty robe and yoinked it onto him, then covered up any gaps with two layers of robes from the Hasbro Darth Maul. The black net sleeves are from somewhere else, as well as the black stretchy leggings, not shown. I knew that this was the sort of gear I imagined him in, and I also knew that he looked pretty good thus dressed in my head, but I did not expect the doll to look equally hot. He looks very cool, in the intensely geeky way of someone who wears big fwoopy red robes with his name all over then in mystic runes when he’s summoning Daemons. >_>

He has yet to learn that “cute” is Alison’s default adjective of gleeful approval. Continue reading Shalka Dorks experiencing unexpected hotness

Shalka Dorks showing off a broom

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I made a broom. The handle is a wooden chopstick painted red and sealed with Mod Podge. Bristles are made of string, of which I cut many individual lengths, attached with micro rubber bands and Mod Podge, then trimmed to be even. I glued some stiff folded manila folder at the core of the bristles to make them stand up. Then I wrapped some more string near the head and near the base of the broom and unleashed my creation into the wild. Pointless photostory resulted. Note: Scintilla, who’s all in blue, is the humanoid robot form of the Master’s TARDIS.

 

Continue reading Shalka Dorks showing off a broom

Body mods: making cute little Black girl dolls even cuter by adding articulation!

Body mods: making cute little Black girl dolls even cuter by adding articulation! published on No Comments on Body mods: making cute little Black girl dolls even cuter by adding articulation!

Today I increased the articulation of two of my Black girl dolls. The taller one is 8″ high. She is an MGA Moxie Kids head with repainted eyes on a very hacked-down Mattel ballerina Barbie. I removed length from the calves, thighs, waist, and wrist. I also sawed off the breasts and filled in the cavity with stuffing. Since the kid’s head, neck, and hands are all that’s showing, I painted these areas roughly to match. Hands are from a Noix de Rome Ninie body, mounted on pins. Oh yeah, and I also replaced the elbow joints with wire for better flexion. She’s held together mostly with hot glue and prayers, but she makes a decent bulky kid when fully clothed.

The shorter one is maybe 5.25″ high when hair and platform shoes are subtracted. She is a Mattel Chelsea Club kid that I found at Walmart yesterday. Despite her painted-on tank top, her excessive mascara, and her weirdly hot pink lips, I saw potential in her. I cut her limbs at the major joints, drilled them out, then hot glued wire in both ends so that she could have some basic articulation. I also wiped off the brows, mascara, and pink lips, then redid the brows. I’m pretty sure she’s Alison at age 5. 😀

The poor kids look atrocious when they’re naked, but I don’t care because they look fine with clothes on. All kids are tertiary characters in my stories, which means that they don’t sustain the levels of scrutiny that Isabel and Alison do. I am fine with jerry-rigged dolls, as long as they have decent articulation and paint jobs. And these cuties certainly qualify!

 

 

Continue reading Body mods: making cute little Black girl dolls even cuter by adding articulation!

Fritillaria is cruising toward baldness…

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When I got Never the Less, I purchased an expensive $300.00 Souldoll outfit, Eve ZF, for the resin mask of the Souldoll Evelyn vampire head. I kept the rest of the outfit in its packaging, uninterested in it. A few days ago, though, I thought I’d try it on Fritillaria, whose original concept as an escaped marionette jester of death was not piquing my interest anymore.

The outfit comes with an underdress and an overdress, so I just used the overdress. That peacock collar is supposed to stand straight up in a grandiose and imposing manner, so I’ll have to work on that. Other than that, though, I’m digging the look, though I may invest in some electrical tape pasties. I also need to exchange the owl on the choker for a skull bead.

I’m digging her new look, though I remain uncertain on how to paint her. Maybe I could do her headcap black to be like a skullcap. I think that, like Thalia, she’ll be another black and white doll, but with no magenta tongue. I also think that she’ll be another hairless doll, the better to admire the contrast between her sweet face and her melancholy outfit.Continue reading Fritillaria is cruising toward baldness…

The Modern Wizard school of set design illustrated with the Body Shop Cafe

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Tonight I set up a corner of the Body Shop, a nexus of PWS culture in Zombieville. Continue reading The Modern Wizard school of set design illustrated with the Body Shop Cafe

Shalka Dorks and modern witchcraft

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The Master got a better body in the mail today. It’s a knockoff of the Hot Toys narrow male body, with smaller and slighter proportions than their standard male body. I prefer the narrow body, as it is closer to the proportions that I see more regularly on everyday people. He reduced about the equivalent of six inches in height [!], but I’ll take the reduction because the body corresponds to the physique I imagine for him. It looks a little scrawny when naked, but it wears clothes much better than the bulkier bodies.Continue reading Shalka Dorks and modern witchcraft

Shalka Dorks encounter mini Dalek

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Redid the Master’s cat ears and tail over the weekend. I was going to show them off a bit more, but the story went on a tangent about my mini Dalek, a gift from Lyrajean. Alison doesn’t know what a Dalek is! Continue reading Shalka Dorks encounter mini Dalek

Shalka Dorks in hat competition

Shalka Dorks in hat competition published on No Comments on Shalka Dorks in hat competition

There was a point to this photostory, but I forgot it in the midst of Alison and Bill being darn cute.  Oh yeah…I found some felt witch hats as earrings. They are 1:12 scale, but they work well as “accent hats” for people like Alison, who have floofy hair!Continue reading Shalka Dorks in hat competition

The Master remastered — or, Modifying the scowl off a custom 1:6 scale resin action figure head

The Master remastered — or, Modifying the scowl off a custom 1:6 scale resin action figure head published on No Comments on The Master remastered — or, Modifying the scowl off a custom 1:6 scale resin action figure head

I love my doll of the Master, mostly because I love Roger Delgado. The likeness, however, came with a built-in scowl. I wanted a more neutral expression so I could suggest a wider variety of moods. It was time for a change! Continue reading The Master remastered — or, Modifying the scowl off a custom 1:6 scale resin action figure head

Zombieville Chapter 18.1: Kinda Creepy?

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Notes: This episode came about because I found a bunch of approximately 1:6 scale skeleton sculptures doing yoga in Michaels. They looked amazing and also absurd, and yet I knew that I’d probably never see them ever again, so I snagged one, and this episode resulted.

Continue reading Zombieville Chapter 18.1: Kinda Creepy?

Shalka Dorks showing off window seat and incidental Cheshire Cat

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I was just going to see if I could make a window seat set out of my recent bookcase efforts. I thought I’d just get some shots of Alison being cute as Alison Wonderland, but then the Cheshire Cat came in… Continue reading Shalka Dorks showing off window seat and incidental Cheshire Cat

Alice Costume: Two Shalka Dorks and a new kid

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I was just going to take some photos of the kid I recently spliced together, but then it turned into a photostory. The kid in question is an MGA Moxie Kids head on an articulated Mattel Stacy body with hacked off hands and extended neck post [with Aves Apoxie Sculpt]. Hands are from a Noix de Rome Ninie body, mounted on pins and painted to match head. Extensive outfit coverage obviates need to match more of the body for skintone. :p Alison’s in the Alice in Wonderland gear, and the Master is wearing some Sith stuff. Making him the butt of jokes will NEVER get old. NEVER.

Continue reading Alice Costume: Two Shalka Dorks and a new kid

Shalka Dorks encounter a KITTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shalka Dorks encounter a KITTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! published on No Comments on Shalka Dorks encounter a KITTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Inspired by this xkcd cartoon. The Shalka Dorks meet a cat. Hand felted by Nitwit Oddments on Etsy, this was originally a brooch, a little large for 1:6 scale, but so damn cute that I couldn’t resist. Alison [in dress] is a human. The Master [left] and the Doctor [right] are Time Lords Dorks. Continue reading Shalka Dorks encounter a KITTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Alison Wonderland — commission for Triad Alpha by Peppermint Circus

Alison Wonderland — commission for Triad Alpha by Peppermint Circus published on No Comments on Alison Wonderland — commission for Triad Alpha by Peppermint Circus

A few months ago I approached Peppermint Circus on Etsy. She has a store full of BJD dresses with puffy sleeves, aprons, and A-line skirts. I wanted an Alice in Wonderland costume for Alison, a bitchin/Eric Barclay resin head on a Triad Alpha medium bust body, and Morgana’s work looked stylistically appropriate. She was also one of the few tailors I found who worked in 1:6 scale. I asked her if she took commissions and if she would be willing to sew for the Triad Alpha; she said yes to both, though she did not have an Alpha. I sent her one for modeling purposes, and we embarked on a collaboration of several months that culminated in the outfit that you see below.Continue reading Alison Wonderland — commission for Triad Alpha by Peppermint Circus

More stuff from @natalunasans’ house: clothes, props, kids, and a freaked out Master

More stuff from @natalunasans’ house: clothes, props, kids, and a freaked out Master published on No Comments on More stuff from @natalunasans’ house: clothes, props, kids, and a freaked out Master

Some more pics of stuff that I got when I went to see @natalunasans this past weekend. Continue reading More stuff from @natalunasans’ house: clothes, props, kids, and a freaked out Master

“Me, me, and…me have been busy”: Missies give Simm Master shit

“Me, me, and…me have been busy”: Missies give Simm Master shit published on No Comments on “Me, me, and…me have been busy”: Missies give Simm Master shit

When I went to @natalunasans’ house, I brought my Missy, a Barbie Fashionistas head repainted on a Takara Cy Girl body. @natalunasans also made a Missy out of a Spice Girls head with some repainting on a Spin Master Liv body. They proceeded to harass her Simm Master, despite intervention from her Ten. Shot at @natalunasans’ house with her props. Instructional book by me. Continue reading “Me, me, and…me have been busy”: Missies give Simm Master shit

Shalkaverses collide part II: @natalunasans’ and my Alisons and their girlfriends

Shalkaverses collide part II: @natalunasans’ and my Alisons and their girlfriends published on No Comments on Shalkaverses collide part II: @natalunasans’ and my Alisons and their girlfriends

I visited @natalunasans over last weekend. After our Shalka Doctors and Masters met each other, our Shalka Alisons met and had a picnic with their girlfriends. @natalunasans’ dolls are on the left, mine on the right. @natalunasans’ Hot Toys Rocket tries to get the damn kids off his lawn. Shot at @natalunasans’ house with her props. Food made by Rose!

Continue reading Shalkaverses collide part II: @natalunasans’ and my Alisons and their girlfriends

Master meets Master: my Shalka Master and @natalunasans’ Simm Master cosplaying Razor

Master meets Master: my Shalka Master and @natalunasans’ Simm Master cosplaying Razor published on No Comments on Master meets Master: my Shalka Master and @natalunasans’ Simm Master cosplaying Razor

While I was at @natalunasans’ house over the past weekend, my Shalka Master met her Simm Master. They’ve talked before and gotten on pretty well, but this is the first time they met in…person? Since @natalunasans had just taken pictures of her Simm as Razor, I decided that, for some reason, he was cosplaying Razor. The two proceeded to give each other shit about their outfits. Ah, friendship. Continue reading Master meets Master: my Shalka Master and @natalunasans’ Simm Master cosplaying Razor

When Shalkaverses collide: mine and @natalunasans’

When Shalkaverses collide: mine and @natalunasans’ published on No Comments on When Shalkaverses collide: mine and @natalunasans’

My Shalka Doctor and Shalka Master met @natalunasans’ Shalka Doctor and Shalka Master when I went to @natalunasans’ house recently. My Doctor is a custom Richard E. Grant sculpt that I modded the eyebrows on and repainted, putting on a Triad body. My Master is a custom Roger Delgado sculpt that I painted and put on a Hot Toys body. @natalunasans’ Doctor and Master are both custom sculpts by @thegoodwhovian on Hot Toys bodies. Cape in question by me. Background by @natalunasans. Shot at @natalunasans’ house with her props.

Continue reading When Shalkaverses collide: mine and @natalunasans’

“But he’s a GOOD kitty!”: the Doctor paints a T-shirt for the Master

“But he’s a GOOD kitty!”: the Doctor paints a T-shirt for the Master published on No Comments on “But he’s a GOOD kitty!”: the Doctor paints a T-shirt for the Master

The Doctor is very proud of themselves. The Master is…less so. Alison thinks the whole thing is damn cute. Shot at @natalunasans’ house with her props. Continue reading “But he’s a GOOD kitty!”: the Doctor paints a T-shirt for the Master

The Master: a wizard in his own mind

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The Master, being a wizard in his own mind, took advantage of a visit to @natalunasans’ house to don a truly impressive pointy hat. Alison is either going, “EeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeee so cute!!!!!” or laughing at him, probably both. Shot at @natalunasans’ house with her props. Continue reading The Master: a wizard in his own mind

Small populations from @natalunasans’ house!

Small populations from @natalunasans’ house! published on No Comments on Small populations from @natalunasans’ house!

I went to @natalunasans’ house for a long weekend, coming back today. My DW dolls met her DW dolls and had several photostories. I also helped her sort some of her massive amounts of 1:6 scale stuff and chose those items that I wanted for myself. Continue reading Small populations from @natalunasans’ house!

Thee quarters of the Dork Quadrangle: Alison and her partners

Thee quarters of the Dork Quadrangle: Alison and her partners published on No Comments on Thee quarters of the Dork Quadrangle: Alison and her partners

Alison is in the center. Bill is on the left. The Master is on the right. Still having fun with body language!Continue reading Thee quarters of the Dork Quadrangle: Alison and her partners

1:6 scale version of Missy — repaint done, body and clothes added!

1:6 scale version of Missy — repaint done, body and clothes added! published on No Comments on 1:6 scale version of Missy — repaint done, body and clothes added!

My 1:6 scale version of Michelle Gomez as Missy is a partially repainted Spring Into Style Curvy Fashionista head on a Takara Cy Girl 1.0 body. Dress/coat thing is by @dollsahoy [remember that one? 😀 ]. Leggings are from a Made To Move Barbie. Top hat is from Pop Toys’ British Detective. Motorcycle boots are from Pop Toys’ Robot With Coffin outfit. I may match the bust piece with the head better or maybe not…depends on how lazy I am.

 

The Master is wearing the jacket and pants from the Robot With Coffin set. Thanks, @natalunasans! Continue reading 1:6 scale version of Missy — repaint done, body and clothes added!

1:6 scale version of Michelle Gomez as Missy in progress

1:6 scale version of Michelle Gomez as Missy in progress published on No Comments on 1:6 scale version of Michelle Gomez as Missy in progress

I started this project because @natalunasans gave me the Curvy Barbie [Spring into Style Fashionista] in question, who had the perfect cheeks and jaw for Michelle Gomez. This repaint is done with spit, Prismacolor pencils, and acrylic paint, sealed with matte varnish.

Michelle Gomez has a very distinctive face, with weaponized cheekbones and a lower lip that’s significantly more visible than her upper, so even an approximate likeness is recognizable, I think. Appropriate hair and clothes will increase the likeness. In translation, I may weather her face more, but the likeness is about 75-80% there, which is good enough for me. Continue reading 1:6 scale version of Michelle Gomez as Missy in progress

1:6 scale version of Pearl Mackie as BIll Potts really done this time — updated eyebrows!

1:6 scale version of Pearl Mackie as BIll Potts really done this time — updated eyebrows! published on No Comments on 1:6 scale version of Pearl Mackie as BIll Potts really done this time — updated eyebrows!

I had the eyebrows too thick and >:[ on my Bill doll, so I repainted them tonight thinner and more uplifted. I wanted to capture her friendly, wondering expression. She kicks ass too, but I think of her more as an open-hearted character. New version below.

Continue reading 1:6 scale version of Pearl Mackie as BIll Potts really done this time — updated eyebrows!

10″ Disney Elite Star Wars figs with Barbie heads = cosplaying kids

10″ Disney Elite Star Wars figs with Barbie heads = cosplaying kids published on No Comments on 10″ Disney Elite Star Wars figs with Barbie heads = cosplaying kids

I love the Disney Elite 10″ Jyn and Rey figs I got, but their small heads make them unusable for my larger 1:6 scale populations. I thus got the idea to make the figures into 1:6 scale kids by putting Barbie heads on them. I did this by popping off the original heads and twisting off the neck posts inside the torso. Then I sawed off a neck from a donor Barbie with a roughly matching skintone, cutting the edges so that they fit in the torso socket. After hot gluing the neck in there, I added a matching Barbie head.

My quick and dirty solution works well for a few reasons: 1) Both Jyn and Rey’s costumes disguise the area where Barbie neck and Disney Elite torso meet, permitting me to just glue the necks in without finished or matching paint, which I can’t be arsed to do. 2) Both Jyn and Rey’s costumes cover enough skin to make the difference in tone between Barbie heads and Disney Elite bodies less noticeable. 3) The heads being comparatively large works for more childlike or teen-like proportions.

While I was customizing these bodies, I also did a partial repaint of the tan Barbie head, who is from a Made To Move body. I removed original eyebrows and atrocious lipstick, as well as some eyelashes. A suggestion of eyebrows and a lip line do a good job of sketching more youthful features. Leaving as is because I don’t want to overdo it.

Continue reading 10″ Disney Elite Star Wars figs with Barbie heads = cosplaying kids

Gerry Cole, 1:6 scale porcelain kid and project long in the making

Gerry Cole, 1:6 scale porcelain kid and project long in the making published on No Comments on Gerry Cole, 1:6 scale porcelain kid and project long in the making

About four years ago, I bought a 1:6 scale kid doll from local figural sculptor Georgia Landau, along with some mohair [or maybe wool] wig fibers. She has a porcelain head/neck, lower arms/hands, and lower legs/feet, all attached to a cloth body with wire armature. Though she has limited poseability, she is extremely adorable, with a gawky, earnest, curious personality. However, she has been sitting on my shelf, garishly dressed and bald, thus unfinished, for most of her life.

Continue reading Gerry Cole, 1:6 scale porcelain kid and project long in the making

All my dolls, 08/11/2017

All my dolls, 08/11/2017 published on No Comments on All my dolls, 08/11/2017

All of them, as of 08/11/2017.

Tags denoting which universe dolls belong to are as follows:

 

  • [No tag: Not assigned to any universe.]
  • Bug[s] me: my universe.
  • LHF: Love Has Fangs.
  • M3: Me and My Muses.
  • SciAdv: Julian the Scientific Adventuress.
  • Shalkaverse: Scream of the Shalka.
  • Zville. Zombieville.

Continue reading All my dolls, 08/11/2017

Otakuthon Dollathon, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 08/04/2017-08/06/2017

Otakuthon Dollathon, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 08/04/2017-08/06/2017 published on No Comments on Otakuthon Dollathon, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 08/04/2017-08/06/2017

Lyrajean, Bittersweet Blue, and I drove up to the Palais de Congres in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, for Otakuthon, 08/04/2017-08/06/2017. Well, we mostly attended for the small amount of BJD programming, otherwise known as Dollathon.

Continue reading Otakuthon Dollathon, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 08/04/2017-08/06/2017

Fresh Dolls Mia repaint as 1:6 scale custom Bill Potts done

Fresh Dolls Mia repaint as 1:6 scale custom Bill Potts done published on No Comments on Fresh Dolls Mia repaint as 1:6 scale custom Bill Potts done

Here’s Bill! I finished the repaint this morning. She’s a Fresh Dolls Mia head on a temporary body: a tan Cy Girl 1.0. I customized her by giving her a full repaint, a haircut, and a pin-back of some of her hair. She’s wearing an action figure fem shirt, a vest by Dolls Ahoy, pants from Fashionista Ken Color Block, and shoefeet made from Hasbro Shoezies.

While only single-jointed right now, she can still cuddle with her girlfriend Alison. Awwwww, lookit the WUVS! <3 <3

Alison is a custom cast resin action figure fem by Eric Barclay on a Triad Toys “Hispanic” skintone. I customized her with a full faceup and addition of a [shittily styled] wig. I also modified all major joints for greater flexion. She wears a Triad Toys leotard, arm sleeves and skirt from Mezco Fashion Victims, and her favoritest yellow sneakers, even though they do not match. I made her choker.

For context, Alison Cheney is the companion of an alternative Ninth Doctor in a [crappily animated] web series done for the 40th anniversary of Doctor Who called Scream of the Shalka. Bill Potts was the companion of the canonical Twelfth Doctor in the latest season of Doctor Who, otherwise known as A Tragic Waste of a Wonderful, Compassionate, Curious, Level-Headed, and Overall Adorable Black British Lesbian Character Played by the Talented Pearl Mackie. I disapproved and fixed things in my head by moving Alison forward to the present day, having her rescue Bill, and then having them get together. See? They’re so happy together! And, when Bill gets a body with better articulation, they’ll really be able to snuggle!Continue reading Fresh Dolls Mia repaint as 1:6 scale custom Bill Potts done

1:6 scale Bill Potts WIP

1:6 scale Bill Potts WIP published on No Comments on 1:6 scale Bill Potts WIP

This morning I erased the Fresh Doll Mia’s eyebrows, most of eyelashes and eye makeup, and lips. Current status of repaint below. At least needs better eye bags, as well as gloss to eyes and mouth. Hanging out with Alison below.

Continue reading 1:6 scale Bill Potts WIP

1:6 scale version of Bill Potts take 2

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Well, the Integrity Toys Janay head, which I previously thought would be a good base for my 1:6 scale Bill Potts, ended up having an irredeemably sharp jaw, so I gave up on it. Thanks to @natalunasans, I am now in possession of a Fresh Doll Mia, who has a much better face shape. Below is a picture of Pearl Mackie at the DW season 10 photocall in London in April. Below that is a photo of Fresh Doll Mia after I braided some of the top left of her hair and then clipped back some of the top right. Looking good… Still needs redone eyes and lips. Also more eyeliner. Unsure about body, as this light brown/golden skintone is nowhere available in action figures.Continue reading 1:6 scale version of Bill Potts take 2

Shalka Dorks read pulp fiction

Shalka Dorks read pulp fiction published on No Comments on Shalka Dorks read pulp fiction

The Internet Archive has a beautiful trove of pulp magazines ranging from the late 1800s through the 1990s, all free, all scanned in high-quality color, available for you to read or to admire the pretty pictures.

Being a sci-fi and fantasy fan, as well as a connoisseur of the Technicolor cover art of 20th century pulps of that genre, I picked out some of most iconic and amusing covers for my own use. I modified the covers to add silly titles and author names. Then I reduced covers and backs to a size at which people could still admire the covers, but at which my 1:6 scale populations could also read them.

Here are my Shalka Dorks getting meta-fictional: sci-fi characters reading Atomic Age pulps!

Continue reading Shalka Dorks read pulp fiction

Bill Potts died for your sins, or, Even more ways in which the previous season of Doctor Who is a flaming turd

Bill Potts died for your sins, or, Even more ways in which the previous season of Doctor Who is a flaming turd published on No Comments on Bill Potts died for your sins, or, Even more ways in which the previous season of Doctor Who is a flaming turd

Now that I have had time to concentrate my rage into the long-smoldering core of righteous fury that burns within my core, fueling both activism and fixit fics, I would like to mention two more ways in which Season 10 of Doctor Who was horribly wretched.

THE ABLEISM

It’s especially shitty, particularly in in World Enough and Time and The Doctor Falls.

Think of the Cyber people as people with disabilities: difficulties in communicating, in gross motor control, in feeling/connecting with their emotions, and/or people with chronic pain. You will soon understand how disgustingly they are portrayed.

A. They look dead. They are shown at first as motionless figures in wheelchairs. Their white costumes and head masks recall either body bags or bags over people’s heads when they’re going to a firing squad; either way, they carry connotations of death.

B. Their voices are silenced and treated as irrelevant. The first Cyber person who does have a voice, saying, “Pain, pain,” with their communications device, is treated as an annoyance; the nurse deals with them brusquely. Even further, Bill turns down the device’s volume so she doesn’t have to hear the disabled person speak. Her action suggests that the disabled person’s voice as scary and objectionable.

C. They do not want to live; they all want to die. After the pain Cyber person, we hear two other Cyber voices in the hospital. One person says, “Die me.” The other says, “Kill me.” Viewers are expected to take this death wish as applicable for all Cyber people; even Bill, in The Doctor Falls, says something like “If I can’t be me, I don’t want to go on living.” In this case, “me” means the entirely organic, able-bodied person that she was before. These statements from Cyber people imply that life with a disability is so hopeless and miserable that even those with disabilities don’t want to continue living.

D. They’re treated as cannon fodder. The Cyber people look dead, have no voices [according to able-bodied people], and say that they want to die. It’s very easy to jump from these observations to the conclusion that they are not people, but mere objects. Their deaths don’t count as deaths of people because they’re subhuman and…well…they were essentially dead already, right? As a result of this dehumanization, we get torture porn of the people at the orphanage blowing up Cyber people because killing nonpersons isn’t really killing, so it’s not a real problem or anything. It’s so kind, brave, noble, compassionate, admirable, and heroic for the Doctor to indiscriminately slaughter crowds of disabled people. This show really sends the message that we should respect all people’s worth, dignity, and integrity. I love it in shows and movies and books when all the disabled people die. I find it inspirational and uplifting.

For another ableist treatment, refer to the depiction of Eyeliner Master, as played by John Simm. Last time we saw the dude in the End of Time, he was insane on account of the Drums. Yup, that counts as being disabled. When he reappears in the Season 10 finale, he acts more like Roger Delgado’s Master: mentally disturbed and disordered, but much more restrained in speech and action. He presents as being sane[r]. Notably, he makes no reference to the Drums that so deranged his earlier life and plot arcs. What’s going on here? The character gives no explanation for the change, and all supporting media portray Eyeliner Master as a return of EoT Master, which leads us to conclude that they’re the same person. So EoT Master = Eyeliner Master – disability.

What the hell, fuckos? You can’t just wave a Magical Wand of Disability Deletion! After years and years of making the Master’s Drums and consequent Insanity a key part of his character, you can’t just remove them because you feel like it. The cheating is especially transparent because there’s no in-story explanation for his reappearance, his changed behavior, or indeed what the hell he was doing circling the drain in a Mondasian colony ship in the first place. An in-story explanation could have made his personality change more plausible and acceptable. For example, maybe he’s still insane, but he has learned how, at great mental and physical cost, present as “sane.” Or maybe he adapted some Cyber technology to partially inhibit his explosive rages and so restore some measure of his beloved self-control. However, without an in-story explanation, we are left with a deus ex machina Magical Disability Deletion. The form of the character remains, but not the content. In a way, disabled EoT Master was dehumanized and discarded just like the disabled Cyber people. The character is lost, and so is his [highly problematic] representation.

BILL POTTS DIED FOR YOUR SINS

Those squealing with unalloyed joy over Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor should note that a white woman came on as the Doctor just as Pearl Mackie, a woman of color, departed.

@stardust-rain points out that the timing is no coincidence:

also everyone ignores the fact that we are getting a female doctor in the expanse of getting rid of an amazing black lesbian character. that’s right, this is the reason why Bill Potts isn’t coming back, bc having a female doctor AND a black lesbian would have given a heart attack to the bigoted fans all at once. they had to make a sacrifice and Bill was it.

When I say BILL POTTS DIED FOR YOUR SINS, this is what I mean. The show has had an overall craptacular history of representing women and/or queer people and/or Black people and/or disabled people. Attempts to make the show more accurately reflect the demographics and identities of the viewers have been piecemeal and insultingly small. Bill, as a queer Black woman, had the potential to significantly improve the show and make it more relevant, interesting, nuanced, and overall better. But she was done in by a poorly organized conception [seriously, what’s her backstory beyond chips, Moira, and a mum about which we know nothing, not even her fucking name?] and horrible, stereotypical writing.

Bill became a liability to the show, not because of her underdevelopment and shitty lines, but because she was a queer Black woman. Here’s the thought process at the BBC: “Whoa there! That’s just way too much representation; the straight cis white dudes won’t stand for it! If we stick a white female Doctor in the mix along with a queer Black female character, the straight white cis dudes will pitch shit fits. We need to think strategically and make it look like we’re actually representing our audience when we’re not. So Bill’s gotta go. There aren’t that many queer and/or Black people who watch this show, so it won’t be a big deal. We can just turn her into LITERAL SLIME and send her off with her space stalker and call it a happy ending. THEN we’ll have a female Doctor. We can’t have a queer Black female Doctor because that would be too much representation. But we can have a straight white female Doctor. Yeah, that’s just enough representation. We’ll look edgy without really making substantive change. [Plz fanboys don’t hurt us. D: ].”

Bill Potts was too real for the BBC to handle. Thus they killed her off, making her the scapegoat for their cowardice.

The Doctor Falls is a flaming turd of misogynoir, aka Bill deserved so much better, but she was never gonna get it

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Oh look spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The latest season of DW has treated Bill shittily, both as a WOC and as a lesbian, and The Doctor Falls was just the diarrhea sauce on a crap sundae of disappointment.

If you think it’s a “happy ending” that Bill, the first lesbian COC [companion of color] on Doctor Who, suffered medical violation for ten years by the Cyber conversion team and ten years of mental violation by Eyeliner Master, then ended up condemned to the equivalent of TOTAL NARRATIVE DEATH, flying off into the universe with a personalityless dead wet white chick with whom she had no substantive relationship just because the DWWC had been stalking her for a decade, go read something else.

If you feel like partaking of my rage, stay with me. Other people, I’m sure, will direct their rage, frustration, and sense of betrayal into far more eloquent and exhaustive essays than mine about how this entire season failed Bill. I’m only going to focus on two moments from the beginning of The Doctor Falls that epitomized for me just how racist, sexist, and anti-Black women the narrative has been.

Note: I’m quoting from memory here because I have better things to do than to go back and watch the show torture Bill.

Both moments of quintessential misogynoir occur early on in the episode when the Doctor is telling Bill about her Cyber conversion and its consequences.

1) The Doctor says to her something like, “You’re so strong,” then lists examples of Bill’s mental strength, including her survival of physical and mental rape for ten years. He then adds something to the effect of her having to resist her programming.

So the Doctor blows off Bill’s stated fears of both dying and of Missy [see World Enough and Time], then proceeds to get her thoroughly perforated and DEAD, tells her to wait for him, doesn’t come for her, leaves her to a decade of medical torture and mind-fucks from Eyeliner Master, then has the audacity to say that she’s so strong for having survived despite the fact that he failed her on multiple levels.

This is the equivalent of straight and/or cis and/or white and/or dude-type persons treating queer and/or Black women like subhuman objects for years and then saying that they’re so impressed by how the queer and/or Black women handle adversity. It’s the Strong Black Woman stereotype: the idea that Black women’s fortitude is an individual choice of personal responsibility, rather than a trait often developed out of the necessity of surviving in an oppressive society.

2) The Doctor also says to her in this conversation, “You’re a Cyberman now. You cannot get angry.” Of course, Bill, having been raped and tortured for a decade, then pulled out of hell too late by the Doctor, does become angry, so her blaster fires and something burns. “Because of that,” the Doctor says.

Right…so…here we have a straight cis white dude lecturing  a queer woman of color. The QWOC has just spent  a decade of her life being abused, raped, and tortured in ways that queer and/or Black women have been particularly vulnerable to now and throughout history. The QWOC is full of rage, pain, and sadness. The straight cis white dude tells her not to feel her entirely understandable emotions.

This is playing directly into the stereotype of the Angry Black Woman whose wrath scares white people [especially dudes] so shitless that they must prohibit it. This also plays directly into the tendency of straight people to do tone policing on queer people, claiming that, if queer people weren’t so loud/flamboyant/outraged/“openly gay,” they would attain their goals of equal rights more effectively.

Bill deserved so much better than all the objectification, humiliation, and cancellation she suffered, but she was doomed from the start. The story tied up her arc and identity in losing and then ultimately finding that dead wet white chick with no personality. However, there’s a stronger case to be made that Bill’s arc and identity may more accurately be linked to an anxiety about her identity, her parentage, and being seen for who she truly is. [I am indebted to irascible bogtrotter’s thoughts on the subject.]

But the narrative didn’t give a shit about that, so it deprived the character of a significant chance for true development and flourishing. Add to that all the flaming racism, sexism, and homophobia that the showrunners et al. heaped on Bill, and you can see why the way in which she was constructed as a character gave her no hope of any satisfaction or satisfactory development in-universe.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m never watching the new DW again. I’m going back to play in my Shalkaverse sandbox, where it is quite possible that Alison Cheney, the Master, and the Doctor will vworp over to an alternative timeline and extract Bill from that shitshow to help her achieve the dignity, respect, and happiness that she was never able to in her season.

To the Bat Fax: Haranguing public officials on…Net Neutrality [a-fucking-gain]

To the Bat Fax: Haranguing public officials on…Net Neutrality [a-fucking-gain] published on No Comments on To the Bat Fax: Haranguing public officials on…Net Neutrality [a-fucking-gain]

Net Neutrality is under siege again. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is making it easy for you to send your public comments to the FCC about why we need Net Neutrality. There’s a form letter, and a place for you to personalize it. All letters require name, address, and E-mail. They all become public record as part of FCC comments. Here’s what I wrote:  

Existing Net Neutrality rules based on Title II must stay in place. Freedom of information, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and freedom of action are inextricably linked. Current Net Neutrality laws support the first, and, in turn, all of the other freedoms I listed. Killing Net Neutrality would contribute to the demise of all of these freedoms.

Yeah, we should take DW seriously! aka, My fixit fics are political!

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DW creators think that it’s an inspiring show about a fixit hero who can be watched by all ages. The script has the Doctor claiming that he is motivated primarily by kindness, justice, and mercy. In the wake of the TRULY CRAPPY S10 finale, there are fans who take the viewpoint that DW is indeed an inspiring show, suitable for children, about a hero who fixes problems with kindness and mercy. Some of these fans say that others shouldn’t take the show seriously because the show doesn’t take itself seriously. I believe that we should take it seriously, and here’s why…

If you think that DW is an inspiring kids’ show and hope and kindness because that’s what the creators say and that’s what the Doctor says on occasion, that’s not really looking at the whole picture. There’s a lot more going on in that show than the authorial intent and the script. There are characters’ actions, cinematography, lighting, costuming, etc. There are also of course outside pressures, such as characters leaving, actors getting older, ROGER DELGADO DYING… D: All of these have effects on the stories. A comprehensive interpretation of the show must take authorial intent, script text, AND all those other factors into account.

A huge thing that we also have to consider that DW is part of a larger culture. Even if the creators don’t think it does, DW reproduces the racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism of the society in which it was created. It also sends that racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism to a wide audience. It affects the thoughts and feelings of a huge amount of people. In other words, DW has a serious effect on people, as does any piece of media. We absolutely should take it seriously by contextualizing it, analyzing it, and criticizing it.

In fact, that’s how I get my hope and belief. I get my hope, inspiration, and belief not from the Doctor’s speeches, but by criticizing pop culture phenomena such as DW. It’s through this contextualization, analysis, and criticism [translation: fixit fics] that I sustain my hope and belief and sense of helping people.

I deconstruct DW because I’m enraged and unhappy over its racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism. In taking the show seriously, I figure out how I wish it would have gone. I envision a world in which racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism exist, but don’t fuck people up so much. I envision a setting in which people can work against their oppressions and achieve some measure of happiness for themselves, even as they make the world a better place.

I see in my mind’s eye my version of a better world, and I share it with people. I hope that people who feel similarly might feel gratified by what I read. Maybe they’ll go away feeling less disappointed with the original. Maybe they’ll get an idea for their own fanworks. Maybe, if they’re exhausted from their own activism, my stories will cheer them up.

In other words, I take DW seriously because it’s an influential piece of culture. I also take it seriously because it fails me. When it fails me, I have the chance to imagine a better world. When I imagine a better world, I believe in it more strongly. My belief leads to passion, which leads to action. I write fixits as part of that action. I also act creatively and politically for social justice in other ways.

I derive hope and inspiration from DW, but not because I believe the show’s superficial claims that it’s about that. I derive the hope and inspiration from what I make of the show: a chance to seize something better from a disappointment, a chance to use my passion to change the world.

Delmar the dead little mermaid visits Lake Champlain waterfront

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Inspired by an upcoming visit to the Montreal Otakuthon Dollfest, I finally got my ass in gear and finished Delmar. She is the top half of a Leekeworld Little Mermaid. Her fat little butt + tail I commissioned from @pandorkful who made it out of wool. She also put an armature in it so that Delmar can either sit reasonably well or lie down. Either way, the tail provides a drastic improvement over the resin one that she came with. I only need to make one improvement. Because her tail is lightweight felt, she does not sit well against propped against something. I need to weight her tail to keep her upright better.

Continue reading Delmar the dead little mermaid visits Lake Champlain waterfront

All my dolls, 06/27/2017

All my dolls, 06/27/2017 published on 1 Comment on All my dolls, 06/27/2017

All of them, as of 06/27/2017.

Tags denoting which universe dolls belong to are as follows:

 

  • [No tag: Not assigned to any universe.]
  • Bug[s] me: my universe.
  • LHF: Love Has Fangs.
  • M3: Me and My Muses.
  • SciAdv: Julian the Scientific Adventuress.
  • Shalkaverse: Scream of the Shalka.
  • Zville. Zombieville.

Continue reading All my dolls, 06/27/2017

DW meme: @natalunasans, I did this because I love you.

DW meme: @natalunasans, I did this because I love you. published on No Comments on DW meme: @natalunasans, I did this because I love you.

Doctor you started with: Ten.

Favourite Doctor: I don’t like the Doctor.

Favourite Companion: Neck-and-neck competition between Alison Cheney and Shalka Master.

Favourite Episode: Roger Delgado. Uh, wait a minute. I mean any episode that Roger Delgado is in.

DW OTP: Shalka Doctor and Shalka Master.

Favourite line/quote: Too many amuse me, but currently at the top of my head is a line from a novel [don’t know which]: “Characteristically, the Master explained everything.”

Favourite Character that isn’t the Doctor or a companion: Roger Delgado’s MAGISTERIAL eyebrows. Queen Galleia of Atlantis [The Time Monster]. Shreela Govindia [Survival].

BrOTP: Donna/Ten [right up until nonconsensual mind-fucking].

Favorite relationship that I made up and which is neither an OTP or a BrOTP: Alison/Shalka Master.

Favourite DW fic (if you have one): Frankly, whatever I’m writing at the moment. After that, anything by @natalunasans

Favourite DW fanart/blog (if you have one): @halorvic for fanart.

If you could pick anyone to be the next Doctor, who would it be? (Why, if you feel like explaining): Any awesome actor but another straight cis white dude.

If you could pick anyone to be the next companion who would it be? (Why?): I’d like to see Pearl Mackie as Bill continue with some decent storylines that did some decent addressing of her gender, color, and sexuality. While I’m dreaming, I’d also like the current President to be impeached and forced to resign.

Favourite fan theory: The Doctor is NB. The Doctor is ND. The Doctor and/or the Master are some variety of ace. The Doctor and the Master are polar complements. [See what I did there?] Gallifreyans are so obsessed with Earth because they’re descended from Earthlings, which makes them basically humans with magnified faults. @charamei’s whole conjecture on the Gallifreyan class system.

Other fandoms: ????

Shalka dorks the Domina and the Magister in an intimate moment

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Yessssss, two of my most poseable 1:6 scale figures can actually frickin’ touch each other. I sure wish that the Triad Alpha had as much range of motion as the Pop Toys/HT/whatever body. My characters apparently need to look down a lot.

 

Continue reading Shalka dorks the Domina and the Magister in an intimate moment

Shalka dorks presenting interior decoration

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Alison and the Master talk interior design. Scintilla, the Master’s TARDIS, butts in. Set is from the Mattel She-Ra doll box. Continue reading Shalka dorks presenting interior decoration

Vermont Doll Lovers meetup, 6/17/2017

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Doll lovers from Montreal came to the BEACH PARTY themed meetup! The gang from house Rainbow Barf [Jujube, Jeff, Dorothy, and Honorine] represented my small populations. Pics on official blog.

Writing samples

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@natalunasans keeps sending me doll stuff…

@natalunasans keeps sending me doll stuff… published on No Comments on @natalunasans keeps sending me doll stuff…

Most recently I got a fabulous set of kitchen cabinets and appliances, along with two Disney Elite Star Wars 10″ figures, Jyn and Rey, as well as a 7″ Disney Star Wars Elite K2SO [not shown]. I really like the 10″ figures. Though a bit smaller than 1:6 scale, they have amazing articulation [including double-jointed limbs and ball-of-foot joints], decently tailored clothing, detailed molded plastic accessories, rooted hair that accurately replicates the styles in the movie, and headsculpts with recognizable likenesses to the actors. I weathered both Jyn and Rey’s faces and redid their eyebrows to add more character. Then I shot this pointless photostory to show off some of my @natalunasans gifts. Zombie was also from her.

 

Continue reading @natalunasans keeps sending me doll stuff…

Scream of the Shalka fanfic manifesto, or, Alison the Amazing

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If you’re going to write Scream of the Shalka fanfic, Alison Cheney is where it’s at, folks, and here’s why:

Alison is important. Though the SotS canon writes her as a walking, talking plot device for the Doctor Learning To Care Again, Alison is central to all SotS stories because SotS is her story; it’s her story about finding equals in curiosity, partners in adventure, and a life that’s finally as thrilling as she always wanted it to be. Alison must appear in all SotS stories because they’re all her story.

Nobody fucks with Alison. Sure, the canon turns her first into a Shalka loudspeaker and then a victim of a psychic vampire, but enough is enough. It’s not that nothing bad happens to Alison; it’s just that she never gets gratuitously victimized, objectified, or turned into a MacGuffin just to move the plot forward. She’s already traumatized enough from her canonical mind-fucks; she doesn’t need any more. [Special corollary: I don’t care how far the Master gets in trying to mind-fuck her in the animation; he never uses his psychic powers on her unless she knows what she’s getting into and consents.]

Alison doesn’t have to do anything alone. As a corollary to the above statement, Alison has staunch allies watching out for her who will do everything they can to ensure her happiness and safety. In my version, that’s primarily the Master and Brad, secondarily the Doctor. They can err on the side of overprotectiveness, and they’re not always right in what they think she needs help with, but they do well overall. They keep her from harm as best they can. And, when she’s in need of care, they help her and take care of her. She knows that she can count on them, and she’s happy to have them.

Alison is badass, tender, vulnerable, and flawed, all at the same time. In fact, her greatest power is something like irresistible love, acceptance, and sense of wonder. Add to that a pointed, analytical mind and a zero tolerance for bullshit, and you’ve got someone who has no problem calling out Time Dorks on their crap. At the same time, she doesn’t just go around Shouldering The Weight Of The Universe And Taking Care Of Everyone. As someone who has lived with racism and mental invasion, she struggles to embody the image of the Strong Black Woman, even as she realizes that it’s impossible. She doubts her confidence, has trouble recognizing her own power, and has a secret wish for someone to hold her fast while she cries. Fortunately her friends/partners/allies/chosen family love her and support her, whether she’s feeling capable or overwhelmed. And yes, there is always, always, always someone to hold her fast and let her cry.

Alison is a Black British woman. Why yes, the canon completely ignores this, but her race and gender affect almost all aspects of Alison’s backstory, character, personality, even the conflicts and adventures she encounters. Her race and gender do not predetermine all these things, but must be considered as part of all these things. And even though she doesn’t appear to think about or talk about her race and gender in canon, she definitely does in fanfic because, realistically, that’s what people do when they are navigating a society where they are discriminated against and/or a minority.

Alison is awesome. The canon does everything it can to objectify the shit out of her and make her a prop in The Doctor vs. the Master: Married Edition. But there’s enough there for a wonderful character foundation, including, but not limited to, the following: having dropped out of a history degree and become a barmaid, being the only woman of color in a town apparently populated by white dudes, yelling at the Doctor, “How emotionally needy are you?!”, looking the Master in the face and taking none of his blandishments, dressing in a very casual style without makeup or pierced ears, and, unfortunately, getting mind-fucked twice canonically despite proclaiming, “I’m not your zombie!” And this is why I write SotS fanfic: to give her the stories and development she deserves.

“I am tired; I am weary / I could sleep for a thousand years / A thousand dream that would awaken me / Different colors made of tears…”

“I am tired; I am weary / I could sleep for a thousand years / A thousand dream that would awaken me / Different colors made of tears…” published on No Comments on “I am tired; I am weary / I could sleep for a thousand years / A thousand dream that would awaken me / Different colors made of tears…”

Seeing how much of a wilted posture I could put the Master in. Continue reading “I am tired; I am weary / I could sleep for a thousand years / A thousand dream that would awaken me / Different colors made of tears…”

Run away, Clare! Run away! He wants to turn you into a doll!

Run away, Clare! Run away! He wants to turn you into a doll! published on No Comments on Run away, Clare! Run away! He wants to turn you into a doll!

He laughed, and, before they came to the door of the house, drew her aside and kissed her. “There’s more enchantment in these two lips of yours and in these two dear grey eyes than in all the books of Azzimari…”

“Ah, no,” she said. “There’s no enchantment in me, except what you’ve planted. Perhaps that’s it: you captured me that night and you’ve kept me in a cage ever since because you wanted someone to practise spells on. Is that it?”

“Do you mind if it is?”

“No,” she confessed, smiling up at him and speaking with a most innocent simplicity. “I like being your captive.”

They laughed silently at each other as he held her a little way off to look into her eyes.

“Who is Azzi–? The name you said just now?” she asked.

“Azzimari. That was the name of the Berber Kaid who bought my ancestor, Captain Trethewy, from the Sallee Rovers. He was a practitioner of the art of magic, which seeks to know the other side of nature. It seems their doctors had studied these matters, there in the Southern Atlas Mountains, before the Koran came among them. The captain translated some of Azzimari’s books and brought them back with him.”

“And you’ve learnt magic from them?”

He nodded solemnly. “From them and from experience.”

She bent her head and stroked his arms. “And you are Azzimari to me, and I’m a slave like the Captain. Dear Captain! I’m glad he brought Azzimari’s magic home for you. I wonder if he loved his master as I love mine?”

“Perhaps. But he fled from him at last. And you too will want to be free.”

She pressed close to him, winding his arms about her. “No, no. I am free, like this. You must be a stern master, and if I try to break the spell, you must double it and treble it, chain me down in the deepest dungeon in your castle, imprison me in the hollow of an oak in your enchanted wood. You must not let me go!”

“Ah, no,” he said with wondering tenderness. “Dungeons I have and hollow oaks, but not for you. One ancient ceremony of bondage is enough. If you want to be my slave, I’ll perform it: the same that Azzimari performed upon the Captain. Shall I?”

“Yes, yes,” she said in a scarcely audible voice, pressing her head against his coat.

He laughed. “Not now. It must be in the propitious conjunction of the planets. Time and place must adhere. I will do it when you come to see the puppets.”

This is the point in one of my favorite novellas where everything kind of goes off the rails in the best way possible.

Up until then, it’s been a cozy little story of Clare, a bored, stifled, and restless 19-year-old, on the edge of graduating from Paston Hall, a dull little residential school somewhere in England in the 1950s. Studying with the mom and son of the local gentry, she crams on the subjects she needs to learn so that she can sit for a scholarship at Oxford.

And yeah, she’s got a crush on Niall, who’s in his late twenties, and yeah, he says with an absolute deadpan that his ancestor learned magic and the secrets of making immortal bonzai, and yeah, he makes uncannily realistic likenesses of young women, some of whom have died.

But maybe the two of them are just bored out of their skulls and doing some sort of elaborate role play because it’s much more exciting than anything else going on in Paston.

But then Niall goes away for a few days, and, when he comes back, this happens. Clare says to herself that she’s in love with him, and, for the first time, they speak explicitly about their role play, the expectations, and where they want it to go. Magic, ownership, submission, imprisonment, punishment, and love, all previously subtextual or implied, become apparent and textual.

And so does the danger. The tone changes here, and they speak with serious depth. On her end, Clare abases herself before Niall with as much abjection as possible, trying to give herself entirely to him. On his end, Niall finally tells her the ominous consequences of the powers about which he has been making merry. Eventually she will tire of Niall-possession and Niall-mastery and search for self-possession and self-mastery.

Of course, at this point, I’m screaming, “Run away, Clare! Run the fuck away! He wants to turn you into a doll! Definitely in a figurative sense and possibly in a literal sense as well! Furthermore, this guy is the veritable quintessence of the Creepy Dom, and he’s telling you in his own words that you’re gonna regret it. Pay attention to all the fairy tales about deals with the Devil and bargains with the fairies and promises made to sneaky magicians, and don’t do it!”

And of course Clare’s not listening to me because story characters never do. They really should, but then there’d be no plot.

But what happens? Does Clare go through with this bullshit? [Spoiler alert: Yes.] Does she become Niall’s doll? [Yes.]

Does she save her own damn self in the most satisfyingly dramatic possible that one can break off such soul-sucking dysfunction without an impassioned monologue of self-righteous fury to the Creepy Dom in question? [Yes.]

Do you like stories of psychological depth and subtle horror that balance perfectly between realistic and supernatural explanations?

Do you just love it when the young, previously innocent, now more experienced heroine discovers inner strength, wises up, and kicks the older, psychologically manipulative, antagonistic dude’s ass?

Then read The Doll Maker by Sarban. By taking the naive Clare’s quest for self-determination absolutely seriously, the author imparts to the age-old trope a sensitivity and depth of character development rarely seen in such tales. That, plus the treatment of dolls, the kinky overtones, the possibility of either a realistic or a supernatural interpretation, and the clear, fluid prose, keeps me coming back to this sadly unknown gem.

The Bullshit Master is in the house!

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Is he casting an illusion to seduce people into thinking that the bullshit is true? Or might he be casting an enchantment to dispel the bullshit and show reality? Or maybe he’s just making a general commentary on anything that comes out of the current President’s mouth.

Continue reading The Bullshit Master is in the house!

On the negative side of things, one of my full-spectrum LED bulbs burned out.

On the negative side of things, one of my full-spectrum LED bulbs burned out. published on No Comments on On the negative side of things, one of my full-spectrum LED bulbs burned out.

On the positive side of things, someone decided to repurpose it in his world domination schemes. Oh wait…that’s probably another negative, huh? 😛

Continue reading On the negative side of things, one of my full-spectrum LED bulbs burned out.

Shalka dork photos: there’s one in every picture…

Shalka dork photos: there’s one in every picture… published on No Comments on Shalka dork photos: there’s one in every picture…

From left to right: the Doctor, the Master, Alison, Brad, the Stylist. There’s always someone a) not looking at the camera [the Doctor], b) wondering if this is beneath his dignity [the Master], c) totally chill as the center of attention [Alison], d) hamming it up [Brad], or e) not at all thrilled with any of the proceedings [the Stylist].Continue reading Shalka dork photos: there’s one in every picture…

Shalka dorks have Halorvic buttons; Farrier has identity crisis

Shalka dorks have Halorvic buttons; Farrier has identity crisis published on No Comments on Shalka dorks have Halorvic buttons; Farrier has identity crisis

@natalunasans surprised me recently by sending me some Doctor Who and Doctor Who extended universe buttons by @halorvic of Coffee and Tea Dragon fame. I got probably my five favorite DW characters in halorvic’s inimitably cute style: Alison Cheney [Shalkaverse], the Master [Shalkaverse], the Ninth Doctor [Shalkaverse], Delgado Master, and the canonical Tenth Doctor. The three main Shalka dorks posed proudly with pictures of themselves, although my iteration of the Master was confused, as he’s robotic, a la Shalkaverse Master, but Delgadesco in every other way. He decided to hold up both. For those who are interested, you can buy your own fab Halorvic stuff here.

Everything went well until a Zombieville denizen, Farrier, discovered that one of the buttons looked strangely like him. [No surprise there, as he’s a BCS Tenth Doctor.] He puzzled for some time over whether it could indeed be a cartoon of him before deciding that it couldn’t possibly because it looked way too happy.

Continue reading Shalka dorks have Halorvic buttons; Farrier has identity crisis

Shalkaverse dorks and photostory problems: when you’re hampered by lack of accessories

Shalkaverse dorks and photostory problems: when you’re hampered by lack of accessories published on No Comments on Shalkaverse dorks and photostory problems: when you’re hampered by lack of accessories

Don’t you hate in when that happens? Continue reading Shalkaverse dorks and photostory problems: when you’re hampered by lack of accessories

There’s ANOTHER version of the Something in My House music video? This changes everything!

There’s ANOTHER version of the Something in My House music video? This changes everything! published on No Comments on There’s ANOTHER version of the Something in My House music video? This changes everything!

I’ve been watching the Vevo version of Dead Or Alive’s Something in My House music vid and basing Pete Burns’ ham/cheese/bananas ability on that, but apparently there’s another version from the 1986 Rip It Up concert vid. This other version has no suggestive banana T_T, but it does have lots more live architecture; i.e., the heads on the door are actual heads, actually blinking. It also has lots more quick cuts and a better view of Pete dancing/writhing/having tantrums, so that’s always a plus. Furthermore, the plot, such as it is, becomes more apparent: it’s Pete qua werewolf/vampire/professional lurker in black pursuing Steve Coy qua hapless dude with a lantern. Unfortunately hapless dude appears to take refuge in the professional lurker’s house. At least I think that’s what’s going on. Anyway, if you like Pete Burns singing and making faces [and who doesn’t? — that man is a master face-puller], check out the other version.

Shalkaverse Shenanigans: Climbing the Lilac Tree

Shalkaverse Shenanigans: Climbing the Lilac Tree published on No Comments on Shalkaverse Shenanigans: Climbing the Lilac Tree

Alison and the aliens went out in the front lawn and climbed a lilac bush tree. [Just pretend that the Master found a way out of the TARDIS, okay?] Alison literally hung around, which made the Master nervous. Then the Doctor sang a lot and nearly flattened the Master, which made him annoyed. Alison, very worried, wanted to know if the Master was okay, an inquiry which he found rather confusing. They all went home because he needed some fixing up. Alison insisted on accompanying the Master during his surgery, which caused him yet another moment of confusion. After that, Alison hugged him, which was also very puzzling. In short, it was a very confusing day — well, for the evil alien super-powered robot at least. 😛

Continue reading Shalkaverse Shenanigans: Climbing the Lilac Tree

All this stuff is the absolute shit, and Jareth would wear most of it.

All this stuff is the absolute shit, and Jareth would wear most of it. published on No Comments on All this stuff is the absolute shit, and Jareth would wear most of it.

Nicolas Jebran’s fall 2017 collection features strategic use of multicolored embroidery, holes, partial transparency, high necklines/short skirts, and voluminous tails of fabric to create an elegant, opulent look that seems to cover most of the body while also revealing it. O_O

Ziggy Marshall, magician!

Ziggy Marshall, magician! published on No Comments on Ziggy Marshall, magician!

I had a Mattel Fashionista Zigzag Curvy hanging around, the cool WOC with half cornrows and half rooted blond curls. I also recently acquired a Wolf King Female Joker, mostly for her cool clothes, a reinterpretation of the Joker’s from Batman Begins. The two-tone hair on the accompanying sculpt put me in mind of Zigzag, whose head I liked more. I decided to make a person cosplaying the Joker.

Of course, that’s where my idea started, but Ziggy took it in her own direction. At first I thought I could pop her head on the Wolf King body and just paint the neck to match, then hide the rest with clothes. Well, it turns out that paint don’t stick to those #%&%@$ squishy bust bodies, so I hacked off the Curvy’s bust. I removed the arms and reamed out the inside of the bust with my Dremel, then glued it over the Wolf King framework. Then I had only to cover everything else up with clothes, which I did. Ziggy’s pink socks prompted me to keep her BRIGHT PINK lips and then add some more pink in the form of the hair covering her original rooting area.

Anyway, folks, here’s Ziggy Marshall, the Maestra of Mystery, the Magical Master…Maestro of Mistress… Fuck it. The title is still a work in progress, apparently. Anyway, she’s a stage magician. She can juggle pretty well, but her specialty is scrying, which is cold reading with an acrylic juggling ball as a prop.

Continue reading Ziggy Marshall, magician!

Shalkaverse Shenanigans: Get Me to the Doctor!

Shalkaverse Shenanigans: Get Me to the Doctor! published on No Comments on Shalkaverse Shenanigans: Get Me to the Doctor!

The Master is prevailed upon to compromise his dignity [?], which appears to be a regular occurrence. Continue reading Shalkaverse Shenanigans: Get Me to the Doctor!

“Welcome to the cabaret!”: Here’s the Shalka Doctor!

“Welcome to the cabaret!”: Here’s the Shalka Doctor! published on No Comments on “Welcome to the cabaret!”: Here’s the Shalka Doctor!

The final Shalkaverse cast member is done. Here’s the Doctor! Headsculpt is a custom sculpt of Richard E. Grant as Withnail, which works surprisingly well as a base for the Doctor. I modded it by removing the original eyebrows and sculpting them higher on the forehead. I painted the head and stuck it on a Triad Omega body. Hands are from an unknown figure. Vest, pants, shoes, and coat are from Pop Toys’ British Detective figure. Cape is by dollsahoy. Shirt is from unknown figure.

Despite being conceived of as “aristocratic and aloof” by screenwriter Paul Cornell, my Shalka Doctor wouldn’t know “aristocratic and aloof” if it smacked them upside the head. They’re rather a mess, which is why their shirt is untucked and vest unbuttoned. They’re an extremely enthusiastic and hammy person, any aloofness being a misinterpretation of the fact that they often get distracted in their attempt to experience all of life in all its wonder all at once. While they certainly have various wells of guilt, melancholy, and sadness inside them, I wanted to emphasize their scenery-chewing aspects — hence the boingy eyebrows and blue eye makeup. Hey…it works!

 

Continue reading “Welcome to the cabaret!”: Here’s the Shalka Doctor!

Body language!

Body language! published on No Comments on Body language!

Articulation and I have a vexed relationship in 1:6 scale. I have long been interested in body mods at the expense of articulation, which leaves me with an awesome diversity of body types, but with compromised articulation. With my Shalkaverse people, though, I decided to maximize likenesses and articulation. Thus, while I can’t have the dolls do everything that the characters do in my head, I can get ’em pretty damn close, as shown below.

I’m still impressed by the effectiveness of the advanced articulation here in transmitting the emotions. The illusion of eye contact also helps. I guess it was a really good idea to paint all the eyes looking slightly up…

NB: Yes, she trusts him. No, they’re not in a romantic relationship with each other. Gag me. No, there’s no mind-fucking involved either.

Continue reading Body language!

Alison and Brad

Alison and Brad published on No Comments on Alison and Brad

Hey everyone! It’s Alison from the Shalkaverse and Brad, her partner that I made up. Alison is a custom cast resin head from Eric Barclay/bitchin on Men With Dolls, painted by me, on a Triad Alpha body in Hispanic skintone. Brad is some Volks Neo Goh [?] dude head painted by Jon/pickles/etc. on an Obitsu slender male body. Alison is a woman who uses feminine pronouns. When she first meets Brad, Brad is an NB person who uses feminine pronouns, but they soon switch to third-person plural. Continue reading Alison and Brad

All my dolls, 05/17/2017

All my dolls, 05/17/2017 published on No Comments on All my dolls, 05/17/2017

All of them, as of 05/17/2017.

Tags denoting which universe dolls belong to are as follows:

 

  • [No tag: Not assigned to any universe.]
  • Bug[s] me: my universe.
  • LHF: Love Has Fangs.
  • M3: Me and My Muses.
  • SciAdv: Julian the Scientific Adventuress.
  • Shalkaverse: Scream of the Shalka.
  • Zville: Zombieville.

 

Continue reading All my dolls, 05/17/2017

At long last, Alison Cheney!

At long last, Alison Cheney! published on No Comments on At long last, Alison Cheney!

Finally I have finished a doll that I have been working on for about three months. It’s my version of Alison Cheney, protagonist of alternative Doctor Who adventure Scream of the Shalka, for which I’ve been writing entirely too much fanfic. This is the version from the Alison Wonderland ‘verse, which means that she and everyone else are significantly happier than they were in the Reverberations of the Shalka ‘verse. In my ‘verses, she ends up much closer friends with the Master [the Magister to her because it means teacher in Latin, and don’t tell her any different :p ] than the Doctor, which is why she’s hanging around with him in these pictures. Once I finish the Doctor, I’ll have all four major characters of the Alison Wonderland series. [The other is Brad, Alison’s significant other. Hmmmm, I should take pics of the two of them, though Brad has not officially entered the storyline yet…]Continue reading At long last, Alison Cheney!

To the Bat Fax! Haranguing public officials on…Net Neutrality

To the Bat Fax! Haranguing public officials on…Net Neutrality published on No Comments on To the Bat Fax! Haranguing public officials on…Net Neutrality

Support Net Neutrality by leaving public comment on the FCC’s 17-108 filing, Restoring Internet Freedom, which is a lying misnomer. If enacted, this piece of bullshit would take Title 2 oversight off Internet service providers, allowing them to discriminate in the way that they transmit information to customers. Instead of all information being treated equally and broadcast equally, it would be treated preferentially based on who was bankrolling it. In other words, the Internet would become more overtly controlled by the rich.

Log opposition here. Click the “+ Express” link to fill out contact information and add brief, personalized comments about why this is a shitty idea. Public comments close today, so do it before 5 PM EST! This is what I said:

 

 

I urge you not to repeal Net Neutrality regulations and to maintain Title 2 oversight on ISPs. With the Internet essentially a necessity these days, it is absolutely vital that all information online be treated equally and transmitted equally, without bias. The Internet has been my lifeline for information and community about being queer, being kinky, and being nonbinary. If Title 2 oversight on ISPs is lifted, unscrupulous businesses could suppress potentially controversial information such as that which I used, thus cutting off many people from much-needed information, community, and support. Net Neutrality is necessary to a functioning democracy, and it must be maintained.

It’s quiet in the Master’s library… TOO quiet…

It’s quiet in the Master’s library… TOO quiet… published on No Comments on It’s quiet in the Master’s library… TOO quiet…

I’ve spent the last few weeks making miniature books, both openable and dummy. The openable ones have page blocks made from a notepad that I cut down with a paper cutter, gluing pages with hot glue. Some of the covers are patterned notecards, while most are made of origami paper. Dummy books are made of craft foam for page blocks, more origami paper for covers. I love making books of different sizes, thicknesses, and covers, then arranging them messily on the shelves. 😀

 

Continue reading It’s quiet in the Master’s library… TOO quiet…

Zombieville Chapter 16.4: Isabel and Carter’s Weird Friends

Zombieville Chapter 16.4: Isabel and Carter’s Weird Friends published on No Comments on Zombieville Chapter 16.4: Isabel and Carter’s Weird Friends

Exit vampire. Enter more weirdos. End season. Continue reading Zombieville Chapter 16.4: Isabel and Carter’s Weird Friends

To the Bat Fax! Haranguing public officials on…the proposed Racial Justice Oversight Board

To the Bat Fax! Haranguing public officials on…the proposed Racial Justice Oversight Board published on No Comments on To the Bat Fax! Haranguing public officials on…the proposed Racial Justice Oversight Board

A bill to create a state-level Racial Justice Oversight Board is stuck in committee in the Vermont House of Representatives. This state, which touts itself as liberal and accepting, but yet is full of passively racist white people, really needs such a board at the state level to analyze the intersection of race and justice. Two weeks ago I wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the topic, and today I just E-mailed the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee, where the bill is apparently stuck in committee. I said:

Hi all. I’m writing as a white Vermonter and advocate for social justice in the hopes that you will support H.492, the act relating to the Racial Justice Oversight Board. With this bill passed, the state can institutionalize an analysis of race’s intersection with justice. Our government can promote anti-racist application of law enforcement to people regardless of race. Please support this bill and Vermont’s reputation as a leader in equal rights.

 

Remember, people — think globally, but act locally! Harangue your local officials!

The Master and the Stylist in “Handcuffs vs. Hoodies”

The Master and the Stylist in “Handcuffs vs. Hoodies” published on No Comments on The Master and the Stylist in “Handcuffs vs. Hoodies”

So @halorvic drew one of their super cool cartoons of the Third Doctor swapping clothes with Ten, as well as Delgado Master swapping with Simm Master. @natalunasans and I were recently cracking up over Delgado Master’s “NO.” Recently I discovered why he’s objecting so hard. See photostory. Handcuffs are standing in for a 1:6 scale straitjacket and collar, which I [surprisingly] do not have.
Continue reading The Master and the Stylist in “Handcuffs vs. Hoodies”

Jennifer’s Soliloquy: because imaginary characters yelling at inanimate objects will never NOT be funny

Jennifer’s Soliloquy: because imaginary characters yelling at inanimate objects will never NOT be funny published on No Comments on Jennifer’s Soliloquy: because imaginary characters yelling at inanimate objects will never NOT be funny

My sentiments exactly, Jennifer. My sentiments exactly, although I’ve been expressing them with more swears. Continue reading Jennifer’s Soliloquy: because imaginary characters yelling at inanimate objects will never NOT be funny

I think this ensemble should be called “Yes, Milord!”

I think this ensemble should be called “Yes, Milord!” published on No Comments on I think this ensemble should be called “Yes, Milord!”

Remember this individual? Maybe. Missed him, didn’t ya? Debatable. Need more pictures? Nah. Too bad! I’ve got pictures, and you will enjoy them.

 

Two frames from a digital photostory, soon to be posted, showing what happens when Jareth gets really bored. Style happens — that’s what!! *jazz hands* Continue reading I think this ensemble should be called “Yes, Milord!”

The Master and the Stylist’s snark-off continues.

The Master and the Stylist’s snark-off continues. published on No Comments on The Master and the Stylist’s snark-off continues.

The Master got some new shoes yesterday, DAM Gangster Kingdom Marshall’s shoefeet, and holy flaming shitballs — they are the bomb diggety! Well, I think so, and so does he. The Stylist, however, begs to differ. Also starring the nifty molded plastic chair that came along with my Pop Toys British Detective dude, as well as one of the many blank books I’ve been working on.Continue reading The Master and the Stylist’s snark-off continues.

The Stylist gets into the Master’s kitchen: a.k.a., True Friends Poison Each Other

The Stylist gets into the Master’s kitchen: a.k.a., True Friends Poison Each Other published on No Comments on The Stylist gets into the Master’s kitchen: a.k.a., True Friends Poison Each Other

@natalunasans sent me several sets of 1:6 scale accessories made by Battat for their 8″ Lori dolls. As you can see, they all work great for 1:6 scale people. While not on the level of Rement, all pieces show very good molding, sparing but realistic paint apps, realistic color schemes, and overall charming design. Better than Mattel playline.

Also starring a plastic overstuffed chair that came along with my Pop Toys British Detective [unlicensed Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock from the Abandoned Bride ep of the eponymous show set in 1895 or something]. And finally you can get a good look at the Stylist, who is a 2016 AA Holiday Barbie headsculpt on a Made To Move Body. I removed her eye makeup, brows, and lips, adding new brows, new mouth, and, of course, shading around eyes and nose. I also added a scar on her forehead because she was going to be Alison, but she doesn’t look like her.

 

 

Anyway, here’s the Stylist plowing her way through a selection, with eventual interception from the Master, whose pantry all that stuff was in. :p

No, apparently my Time Lords don’t have adventures; they just hang around and annoy the shit out of each other. 😛 Continue reading The Stylist gets into the Master’s kitchen: a.k.a., True Friends Poison Each Other

I made Barrett’s cape! Then the wizard in his own mind stole it…

I made Barrett’s cape! Then the wizard in his own mind stole it… published on No Comments on I made Barrett’s cape! Then the wizard in his own mind stole it…

Over the past two days, I successfully sewed a 1:6 scale semi-circular cape, lined and hooded, without a pattern. Black velvet forms the outer layer and the long, dangling, tapering hood, while small white skulls on black field form the lining. There’s a hook and eye for front clasp. I’m surprised at how well it came out! I originally made it for Barrett, a Zombieville denizen, but the Master got to it first. Here he is talking about it with the Stylist:

 

Continue reading I made Barrett’s cape! Then the wizard in his own mind stole it…

Day 26: “No Goblin King yet.” Modern Wizard in the Labyrinth

Day 26: “No Goblin King yet.” Modern Wizard in the Labyrinth published on No Comments on Day 26: “No Goblin King yet.” Modern Wizard in the Labyrinth

My current temp assignment places me in the state’s largest office complex, as measured by square footage. Like the hospital where I once worked, the complex started as separate buildings, together forming an integrated plant for the manufacture of computer chips. Over the course of expansion, separate pieces of architecture merged into one convoluted maze. The company that originally filled these buildings now retains only a ghost of a presence; current primary tenants are another chip manufacturer that bought out the local division of the first and a division of the state’s Health Access Department, where I work.

I’m ostensibly here to do UAT testing, which in itself is its own recursion of absurdity, but, after several weeks, I’m now 86.2% certain that I’m in the Labyrinth. Here’s the evidence:

Everything looks the same. The sadistic genius who constructed this place started off with that thoroughly dank industrial style common to so many 1960s and 1970s office buildings: unadorned square forms the color of wet mud, cement walls, long rectangular windows impossible to open, raw metal pillars, endless corridors – all topped off with liberal use of jaundiced fluorescent lighting. After duplicating this style in several cubes, they then linked the cubes together with identical glass catwalks. I have walked around for fifteen minutes, expecting myself to be in one building, only to realize I’ve gone through three replications instead.

The landmarks aren’t landmarks. When I discovered that one of the glass catwalks had bird decals along its sides, I rejoiced, thinking I had found a way to differentiate it from all the other catwalks. But no. All the other catwalks have the exact same decals, in the exact same pattern, at the exact same positions. It’s like the place is working against me.

The arrows point the wrong way. There are signs pointing to two key locations, the cafeteria and the state offices. 95% of them actually show you which way to go, but 5% of them point you in precisely the opposite direction, just for shits and giggles. Of course I followed the 5%.

The maps show you where you aren’t. I came across a route for indoor walking that described a loop through several buildings. It showed a location where the route started, but there was no indication of where I was in relation to that starting point. What is the point of a map if there’s no basis for comparison?

The denizens have a sarcastic and scatological sense of humor. I saw a sign on a door that said, “We provide fast service…no matter how long it takes!” Also someone scribbled out the first word on the “Records Retention Room” label and wrote “Poop” instead.

Time runs differently here. You may have no idea where you are around here, but you’ll always know what time it is. Well, scratch that. You’ll always see a clock, as they hang throughout the halls at junctions both major and minor. You’ll probably never know what time it is, as each clock seems to preside over its own local time zone that varies from all contiguous ones anywhere between zero and ten minutes.

There are dangers untold and hardships unnumbered. To get to my office, for example, I must traverse the Fiery Corridor of Death, a catwalk in which the overcranked HVAC combines with exposure to natural sunlight to yield about 50 feet of heady, smothering heat. Then, of course, there are the Exits of Mockery, which means that the door most convenient to my car would sound a fire alarm if I opened it, so I have to circumvent it with a 10-minute walk in the opposite direction. And then there’s a Failure Analysis Lab, where, I assume, you are taunted with explicit details of all your past mistakes until you cry. Chilling.

I suppose that, if I solve the maze, I will escape and win a permanent job with decent pay and benefits. But what constitutes a solution? Should I be heading for the center? As far as I can tell, this place has no center. Should I be heading for an exit?

And who’s in charge of this thing? The Goblin King appears to be conspicuously absent, which I suppose is good because he’s an immature, petulant little shit. So should I be looking for Daedalus or perhaps Ariadne? Should I be on my guard for a Minotaur? Now that I think about it, I do hear a dull roar, but that could just be the air conditioning….

Body upgrade and clothing frustration for the Master

Body upgrade and clothing frustration for the Master published on No Comments on Body upgrade and clothing frustration for the Master

So I got my first Hot Toys body today for the Master. Aside from some squeakily tight joints, it far surpasses all other male action figure bodies that I have ever encountered. It can even do a decent fetal position!

I also got my second “Chinese suit,” as the first one’s plastic snaps broke off. I replaced the snaps on the first with some metal snaps, only to discover that the snap position interfered with all that cool HT neck range of motion. Ugh. Fine. I guess he’ll be wearing something less restrictive. Hey, at least the pants are nice. Continue reading Body upgrade and clothing frustration for the Master

In which the English major rants about the Master letters

In which the English major rants about the Master letters published on No Comments on In which the English major rants about the Master letters

“Hey, so I finally finished my book!”

“Congrats! What’s it about?”

“Emily Dickinson’s letters.”

“Like the relationship between her letters and her poems? Or the letters she wrote to her sister-in-law? Or the letters she wrote to people asking weird questions like ‘Do you think my Verses are alive?’”

“Well, yeah, no. Actually about the Master letters.”

“Aw, neat – one of the great literary mysteries! So…any new background – theories – discoveries – secret insights?”

“Actually, that’s not really what the book is about.”

“How can you write a book about three incredibly intense and fragmentary literary texts and not go into any of that?”

“Okay, well, actually, I didn’t really write the book so much as I transcribed it.”

“Are you telling me that you transcribed the Master letters and tried to turn that text alone into a book under your very own name without including any sort of critical apparatus?”

“There is so some critical apparatus! I put in facsimiles as well as transcriptions that show the stages each letter went through.”

“So…then…what you’re saying is that I have to get your book to actually read the letters, but then, if I want any clue at all about their context or significance or, you know, anything else, I have to hit the library again? Dude – seriously – you can’t say you’ve written a book about something if all you did is reproduce the text. That’s like me claiming that I wrote a whole book about Shakespeare when all I did was transcribe a bad quarto. Cheater.”

The time has come to figure out what the hell Emily Dickinson was doing.

The time has come to figure out what the hell Emily Dickinson was doing. published on No Comments on The time has come to figure out what the hell Emily Dickinson was doing.

Because I can’t get it all from staring at her collected poems and trying to write my own [crappily] in the same form, I really need to look at her letters because they are extraordinary – just as intense, condensed, experimental, elliptical, and fascinating as her poems.

Okay then…so I need a general bio for context, after which I’m planning to focus on two of her most ambiguous, interesting, and charged correspondences. The first are to her sister-in-law, Susan Huntington Dickinson. The first are interesting because there’s an open question about what sort of relationship the two had. They were both writers, and Susan knew more than anyone about Dickinson’s poetry, having received 250+ poems over their 30+-year correspondence. For Dickinson, the relationship was at once intimate, cherished, world-opening, and contentious.

The second are three fragmentary texts known as the Master letters – i.e., after the addressee. They are very…charged. What the hell are those things – diary entries, poetry, draft letters, fair copies of sent letters, literary experiments? And the addressee – a real person, different real people, an imaginary person, different imaginary people, a personification, a deity, an abstraction, and/or several of the above? Here’s an overview of the Master letters, which, of course, assumes that they are all about SEX!!!! D: D: D:

I’m going to go with my favorite answer to questions like, “Are you x, y, or z?”:

“Yes.”

Pro tip: Depending on how sarcastic and/or generally devious the people in your head are, do not use this formulation when asking them questions because you’ll only get one answer instead of the three you expected. And, even if that single answer is the most accurate, it’s neither explicit, nor elaborate, nor ultimately satisfying.

“Right then. So is there any way at all of you answering my questions in a more useful fashion?”

“My answers are plenty useful. It’s just your perspective that’s unhelpful.”

“You’re unhelpful.”

“I’m very helpful. It ain’t my fault if you’re not ready to consider the truth of what I say.”

“So, in other words, you’re quoting the Gospel according to Mick: ‘Thou canst not always get what thou wantest, but, if thou tryest sometimes, thou just might find, thou gettest what thou needest?’“

“Well, the archaic conjugation kinda kills the meter, but the sentiment’s correct.”

I finally really read The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe.

I finally really read The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe. published on No Comments on I finally really read The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe.

Here. Typical Poe. Everything starts out seemingly normal, yet still uncomfortably…cockeyed, and then it quickly progresses into an exquisitely torturous phantasmagoria in which the elements that you would least suspect to betray you do just that, turning the world into a pathetic fallacy of misery.

I think of the I felt a Funeral, in my Brain poem by Emily Dickinson, which is also about sound overwhelming sense. I also think of her poem He fumbles at your Soul, though that could be more of a description of Poe’s authorial technique.

If Emily Dickinson had a motto, it would be Death, God, and Bees — Lots and Lots of — Bees.

For example:

Some things that fly there be —
Birds — Hours — the Bumblebee —
Of these no Elegy.

Some things that stay there be —
Grief — Hills — Eternity —
Nor this behooveth me.

There are that resting, rise.
Can I expound the skies?
How still the Riddle lies!

How does she do that? How???

The Master, the Stylist, some Fiendish Devices, and some books

The Master, the Stylist, some Fiendish Devices, and some books published on No Comments on The Master, the Stylist, some Fiendish Devices, and some books

My first iteration of the Master is finished! Custom sculpted Roger Delgado head painted by meeeeeeee [note to self: skin color is a mixture of Plaid/Apple Barrel Colors/20556 “Medium Flesh” and Anita’s All Purpose Acrylic Craft Paint 11007 “Chocolate Brown”], Dragon action figure body, “Chinese suit” for clothing, gloves from some other action figure, shoes from Character Options Dalek Sec [the only ones that fit]. The Stylist, a fellow Time Dork, is a 2016 Holiday Barbie repainted by meeeeeeeee, Made to Move Barbie body, most of the MTM yoga outfit, and MC2 shoefeet. Bookcases are from @natalunasans. I made the books a few weekends ago with a perfect bound notepad for signatures and note cards or origami paper for covers.

Now that I have him all together, the Master definitely needs some improvement. 1) A better body with more poseability. 2) Gloved hands in molded plastic. These bendy ones are shit. 3) Decent shoes. 4) A decent suit. 5) Most importantly, his Domina carissima, Alison!

P.S. Hey, Master, you do know that’s Julian’s Device, right?

Continue reading The Master, the Stylist, some Fiendish Devices, and some books

Another Fiendish Device or several

Another Fiendish Device or several published on No Comments on Another Fiendish Device or several

Behold my latest magnificent creation, which I have designed especially to achieve my devious plans. It may appear to be the underside of a record player turntable, but the ignorant masses clearly know nothing of such cutting-edge technology as mine. This is an audiovibratory physiomolecular transport device!

“You mean…he’s gonna send us to another planet?!”

“Planet schmanet, Janet!”

Continue reading Another Fiendish Device or several

The adjectival form is Delgadesco — thank you very much.

The adjectival form is Delgadesco — thank you very much. published on No Comments on The adjectival form is Delgadesco — thank you very much.

The adjectival form is Delgadesco – thank you very much. [Thank you @natalunasans for this tidbit – I was using Delgadovian, and it wasn’t working at all.] Now you have the perfect descriptor for [arguably] the most magnificent set of eyebrows ever to grace the screen.

This post brought to you by Amateur Etymologists for Roger Delgado.
Continue reading The adjectival form is Delgadesco — thank you very much.

The escaped puppet jester of death has eyes!

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Fritillaria has eyes! I made these with do-it-yourself 16mm acrylic BJD eye supplies [backs and lenses] from Megannart on Etsy. I measured the iris well diameter and created black circles to size in Photoshop Elements, adding white royalty-free Grim Reaper images on top. I then printed them out, cut them out, placed them in the iris wells, then snapped the lens caps on. Then, since Fritillaria is a marionette who damaged herself when she jumped her strings, I went outside and smashed one of her eyes with a hammer. Continue reading The escaped puppet jester of death has eyes!

Julian’s primary and auxiliary Fiendish Devices

Julian’s primary and auxiliary Fiendish Devices published on No Comments on Julian’s primary and auxiliary Fiendish Devices

Julian and Cara showing off their Fiendish Devices. The larger one I previously detailed. The smaller one is another circuit board from the same stereo, housed in an iPhone 5 box, with indicators made of findings with pins inside. Continue reading Julian’s primary and auxiliary Fiendish Devices

Angel of Death Victorious

Angel of Death Victorious published on No Comments on Angel of Death Victorious

Appearing on the Haserot family tombstone in Cleveland, Ohio, the Angel of Death Victorious is a fitting companion for the Angel of Grief. The verdigris tears of black make the figure all the more striking. Atlas Obscura has clear photos. Forgotten Ohio has creepier, more atmospheric photos.

I want one! No, seriously, I want one of these in 1:6 scale…

In times of great crisis, the angel will walk. It moves with a slow, sort of grating, slightly molten, titanic motion. It will arise and make its heavy, earthen way to the scene of the calamity. Its tread sounds like the bones of the earth resettling.

And it will stand, its torch burning with an eldritch fire, its eyes seeing everything and nothing. And it bears speechless witness, offering both illumination and darkness.

The people in its presence react variously. There’s the usual fainting, shitting of pants, screaming and fleeing, that sort of thing.

Some who see the angel feel peace, a peace as cold as iron, as heavy as the mountains, as deep as the crust of the earth. This weight, this solidity, this strength, and this groundedness unjellify their shaken limbs and steady their qualming hearts.

Now, having seen the angel, they know their own strength. The angel’s cold slow burn of indomitability becomes theirs as well. And they become the activists who are in it for the long haul. They will labor on the side of good and fairness and liberty and justice in whatever way they can for the rest of their days. They will do so persistently, unstintingly, tenaciously, for the angels of the earth are behind them.

And then there are those people who look into the angel’s eyes. We don’t really know what happens to them.

But there are always a few who are drawn inexorably to face that abyssal gazeless gaze. Whoever said that thing about being careful if you look into the abyss because then it might look into you was probably onto something… because the people who try to find the angel’s eyes end up losing themselves.

Their eyes become orbs of light, and they weep in endless illumination. We don’t know what they see [if they see anything] or why they weep because they won’t answer us. They no longer speak; they only sit in reverie.

And then, inevitably, one day, they take their torches, rise, and begin to walk.

Julian’s Fiendish Device 2.0 in progress

Julian’s Fiendish Device 2.0 in progress published on No Comments on Julian’s Fiendish Device 2.0 in progress

I worked a little on Julian’s Fiendish Device 2.0 today. I made a case for it out of a wall-mounted curio shelf. I had been keeping the shelf around for a 1:6 scale bookcase, but I never did anything with it, so today I took out the interior shelves. I then mounted my largest circuit board inside the frame. It just fit, so I hot glued it in there. Then I bent some of the loose wires around the back and in various configurations, gluing them there, so they appear to be plugged in. I added some unusual plastic capsule things [they kind of look like ornate vacuum tubes] at the top of the circuit board and the shelf decoration. That grille-like thing in the back is the base of my HT Princess Leia stand. More to come.

Please note that Julian now has glasses on her face and TWO pairs of goggles on her head. She figures that it’s a logical place to store them until she needs them. 😀
 

Continue reading Julian’s Fiendish Device 2.0 in progress

Araminthe’s crude handmade camisole

Araminthe’s crude handmade camisole published on No Comments on Araminthe’s crude handmade camisole

Araminthe currently wears a dress made by @dollsahoy that I got about 10 or 11 years ago, around the time when I got my first 1:3 scale BJD. Because this dress not only encompasses my love for bright colors, obnoxious patterns, and short skirts, I have wedged a succession of my BJDs of various sizes into it, all with amazing results.

Unfortunately, however, the dress is sagging around the shoulders, making it real easy to take a look at Araminthe’s pointy grey cleavage. To obviate this, I constructed a crude camisole out of a stretchy wristlet from @natalunasans, with straps of ribbon in my favorite colors: magenta, slightly darker magenta, and more magenta. I then pinned Araminthe’s dress to the back straps of the cami.

I have now achieved a twofold result. 1) No more sagging dress. 2) Araminthe’s outfit is now even MORE meretricious!!

Continue reading Araminthe’s crude handmade camisole

Leia has pants!

Leia has pants! published on No Comments on Leia has pants!

I made palazzo pants for my HT Princess Leia, following Nadira037’s guidelines. Of course, since Nadira037 is very polished and glamorous and I am not, the pants came out looking mediocre. However, I am proud to have successfully sewn my first pair of pants, thus proving that I can make bottoms as well as tops. Other wardrobe elements include default boots, tank top from unknown commercial source, and hoodie by Glissando on Etsy.Continue reading Leia has pants!

To the Bat Fax VI: haranguing government officials on…opposition to HR 7

To the Bat Fax VI: haranguing government officials on…opposition to HR 7 published on No Comments on To the Bat Fax VI: haranguing government officials on…opposition to HR 7

HR7, passed by the House earlier this week, codifies the evil Hyde Amendment and further restricts access to abortion by prohibiting abortion coverage through multistate insurance plans. Millions of people could lose coverage for abortion. Obviously this is an incursion on human rights and bodily autonomy that could, if passed, could jeopardize people’s bodies, health, and lives. Anyway, I called Senator Peter Welch and Senator Bernie Sanders at their district offices to tell them this and to ask them not to let it get through the Senate.

Note: This was my first set of live calls, so I was very nervous. Therefore I made a quick script with the key points I wanted to make: my name and address, the fact that I objected to HR7, my biggest problem with it [restriction of abortion access and thus threat to constituents’ bodies, health, and lives], and what I wanted the Senator to do about it [filibuster it and keep it from passing the Senate]. I stuck to the script and made the calls very quickly, in like under 2 minutes each.

In both cases, I expected to just deliver my speech and walk away, but it didn’t happen. Anyone who calls a Congressperson’s office and gets a live response should be prepared for a little bit of conversation. Here are some aspects to a live call that you might not have considered:

  1. They might ask who you are and where you live again, even if you state that in your intro. The staffers specifically asked for my name and town again, which I gave. [I think they were making a record of that.]
  2. They might ask for your contact info [mailing address, phone number, and/or E-mail]. Leahy’s staffer asked if I had called the office before; I said no; he asked my contact info, which I gave because I am okay with being on a mailing list.
  3. They might ask for clarification. Leahy’s staffer was unfamiliar with HR7, so I added that it passed the House earlier this week and codified the Hyde amendment with even more restrictions on abortion.
  4. They might put you on hold. Sanders’ staffer said in the middle of my spiel that she had another call and had to put me on hold. She came back shortly after, and I finished my speech.
  5. Remember to be polite to the staffer and thank them!

When You’re Evil by Voltaire

When You’re Evil by Voltaire published on No Comments on When You’re Evil by Voltaire

I am so late to the party on this, but I love this song. I’m always interested in villains’ songs; this sounds kinda like the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and @natalunasans introduced it to me with accompanying images of Roger Delgado playing the Master in Doctor Who, and Roger Delgado is nearly up there with Pete Burns in terms of scenery chewing and fun having, only with more eyebrows.

To the Bat Fax V: posting about The 65

To the Bat Fax V: posting about The 65 published on No Comments on To the Bat Fax V: posting about The 65

Posted on Facebook and Tumblr about The 65.

 

The 65, taking its name from the at least 65 million US voters who rejected the current President, offers one way to act for liberty and justice for all.

With its tagline, “Making Congress Work for Us,” the 65 posts Weekly Calls to Action, topics on which people can call their Congresspeople. Suggested scripts are included, as is contact info for your local leaders.

Check ‘em out!

The Vainglorious Man Who Wanted to Rule: a tale of reality distortion and resistance

The Vainglorious Man Who Wanted to Rule: a tale of reality distortion and resistance published on No Comments on The Vainglorious Man Who Wanted to Rule: a tale of reality distortion and resistance

Once there was a vainglorious and mediocre man who wanted to rule the land. So he used his talents for trickery and promised the people that he would make their country great and powerful, if only they would let him lead. He’d defend the land from foreigners without and suppress the influence of evil woman within. He scared people enough that they chose him as their leader.
The vainglorious man set himself up in the capital city. He made his home in a opulent mansion with servants at his beck and call. He postured and blustered at them, and they scurried to obey his whims. His lackeys could not recognize the man’s insecure bullying for what it was, for he had the power of appearing strong.
Realizing that he couldn’t fool everyone by intimidation alone, the vainglorious man used different tactics on the capital city’s inhabitants. He developed reality distortion fields and forced everyone to use them. Through these devices, the capital denizens perceived the world as rich, prosperous, safe, and successful — all thanks to the vainglorious man. He had surrounded himself with unquestioning adulation, and life was good.
Then he began to hear reports of the girl. They started as whispers, but soon gained momentum; soon news of her exploits was on everyone’s tongue. Even among his most fervent admirers, gossip surfaced about the young woman and her agenda of democracy, transparency, and honesty in government. She was on the road straight to the capital city and the vainglorious man’s door.
No one really knew where the kid had come from. The first news of her appeared in a remote rural district that had, until lately, been under the authoritarian rule of one of those nasty women that the vainglorious man so despised. Citizens of that district claimed that the girl had pulled a deus ex machina and neutralized the dictator, but the vainglorious man couldn’t believe the word of such credulous people. The girl was probably the mascot of an underground terrorist cell that had chosen that particular moment to demonstrate its might. The formerly oppressed citizens mistook her for an assassin just because she happened to be nearby. Surely she could have done nothing.
But other incredible stories joined that one, and a picture soon emerged. Despite [or perhaps because of] the calamity that had left with pretty much nothing left to lose, the girl was fearless. Nothing stopped her. A lion menaced her pet, so she yelled at it and punched it in the nose. She entered an opium den, the ambient drugs of which felled even the fiercest of beasts, but somehow she, a mere kid, emerged unscathed. The vainglorious man was forced to revise his opinion. She was no mere figurehead, but a frighteningly competent agent, perhaps even the leader of the resistance herself.
Later stories confirmed the young woman’s disturbing militancy. In yet another district, yet another nasty woman had brutalized her way into command and compelled the once-free inhabitants to serve her. This second autocrat kidnapped the young woman in an effort to gain the terrorist’s strength for herself. I mean, who wouldn’t? the vainglorious man thought. The kid clearly had an almost magical invulnerability.
But then, something happened; the vainglorious man was not sure what, as intelligence was unclear on this point. In any event, the young woman spoke truth to power, and the second autocrat essentially shriveled up and melted away. No longer under her tyranny, the citizens of the second autocrat’s district enthusiastically supported the girl. They sponsored a flight for her and her friends that brought them even closer to their target: the capital city.
There was the real problem with the kid, the vainglorious man mused. –Her friends. With a combination of charisma, kindness, and straightforward friendliness, this death-dealing terrorist charmed suckers effortlessly. He could sort of understand how all those bumpkins, sick of being under the thumb of their respective nasty women, easily transferred their affections over to their savior. Less comprehensible was the rumor that non-human animals [besides the dog] now followed her, and even inanimate objects [?!] supported her grassroots democratic movement.
Now the vainglorious man had grown up in Tornado Alley, and he knew well those whirling storms for which his region was named. Intense in their focus, relentless in their pursuit, they swept up everything with irresistible force and destroyed all obstacles in their path.
In a skin-tightening clutch of terror, the vainglorious man knew then that there was a tornado bearing down upon him now. It would shatter his sphere of fawning flatterers, lay waste to his reality distortion devices, and destroy his illusions. In short, it would reveal him for the trumped-up humbug that he was.
And the Wizard of Oz feared that tornado, for her name was Dorothy Gale, and she had the power of truth.

To the Bat Fax IV: posting about Black Lives Matter VT

To the Bat Fax IV: posting about Black Lives Matter VT published on No Comments on To the Bat Fax IV: posting about Black Lives Matter VT

Posted on Facebook and Tumblr about Black Lives Matter Vermont and tagged some locals on Facebook.

 

The fledgling Black Lives Matter Vermont group http://blacklivesmattervermont.com has hit an obstacle. They have spent recent months renovating their space, coordinating actions, recruiting and training volunteers, obtaining merchandise, etc., and now they have unfortunately reached the extent of their resources.
BLMVT needs our support more than ever now. Vermont is one of the whitest states in the nation, so BLMVT might seem irrelevant to some folks, but that’s not true. We absolutely need a diversity of social justice groups like BLMVT if we are going to make this state respectful of human rights and dignity for ALL people.
You can empower BLMVT to continue the important work for which they have built a foundation. The best way is to head on over to BLMVT’s Web site and become a sustaining member for $23.00 a month: http://blacklivesmattervermont.com/sustaining-membership/ That way, we can guarantee the financial stability that BLMVT needs to flourish.
If you cannot give monthly, you can make one-off donations here: http://blacklivesmattervermont.com/membership/ Every little bit helps!
There are other ways to get involved as well. Check out BLMVT’s Volunteer page: http://blacklivesmattervermont.com/volunteer/
Here’s the Events calendar: http://blacklivesmattervermont.com/events/
And here’s the store: https://squareup.com/store/black-lives-matter-vermont

Thanks in advance!

To the Bat Fax VIII: haranguing government officials on…respecting NODAPL water protectors

To the Bat Fax VIII: haranguing government officials on…respecting NODAPL water protectors published on No Comments on To the Bat Fax VIII: haranguing government officials on…respecting NODAPL water protectors

Sent letters to Morton County [ND] Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier and ND Governor Jack Dalrymple, calling for humane treatment of NODAPL water protectors. Mailing addresses from YES magazine. Letter based on Amnesty International template.

I write urging you to respect the human rights of all water protectors gathered at Standing Rock in opposition to DAPL.

US citizens, including American Indians, have the right to express their opinions. Don’t demonize peaceful public assembly.

–Impress upon law enforcement that they should facilitate, rather than restrict, assembly.

–Don’t use riot gear unless absolutely necessary.

–Disperse assemblies only when there is no other way to avoid violence.

–Don’t use chemical irritants to prevent peaceful assembly.

Again, respect the human rights of ALL people in your jurisdiction.

Fritillaria’s rainbow patchwork hair

Fritillaria’s rainbow patchwork hair published on No Comments on Fritillaria’s rainbow patchwork hair

It took me all afternoon, but I successfully altered a size 6-7 fur wig to be a size 7-8 for Fritillaria, whose concept is vacillating somewhere between clown of death, doll, jester of death, and escaped marionette [of death, natch]. The wig was originally orange, yellow, green, and blue. I added red, magenta, and royal purple. Results look promising! Continue reading Fritillaria’s rainbow patchwork hair

All my dolls, 01/15/2017

All my dolls, 01/15/2017 published on No Comments on All my dolls, 01/15/2017

All my dolls as of 01/15/2017.

Tags denoting which universe dolls belong to are as follows:

 

  • [No tag: Not assigned to any universe.]
  • Bug[s] me: my universe.
  • LHF: Love Has Fangs.
  • M3: Me and My Muses.
  • SciAdv: Julian the Scientific Adventuress.
  • Zville: Zombieville.

 

Continue reading All my dolls, 01/15/2017

Glasses from Eye Doctor Barbie fit Julian!

Glasses from Eye Doctor Barbie fit Julian! published on No Comments on Glasses from Eye Doctor Barbie fit Julian!

Specifically, the glasses included for the Kelly doll fit Julian, which just goes to show you how comparatively small and narrow the She-Ra head is to an average Barbie head. P.S. I love you, @natalunasans!
Continue reading Glasses from Eye Doctor Barbie fit Julian!

Barrett, the heavily modded FR guy: a custom 3.5 years in the making

Barrett, the heavily modded FR guy: a custom 3.5 years in the making published on No Comments on Barrett, the heavily modded FR guy: a custom 3.5 years in the making

I purchased Barrett back in the summer of 2013, well before Zombieville started, because I thought that Isabel might fit into FR dude clothes. Also the secondhand price of something like $75.00 MIB for a London Calling Kyu was a great bargain.
Continue reading Barrett, the heavily modded FR guy: a custom 3.5 years in the making

I broke Julian’s chair.

I broke Julian’s chair. published on No Comments on I broke Julian’s chair.

I suppose it’s a testament to the detail and realism pursued by Hot Toys that I thought that the Sweeney Todd barber chair really did function, with movable footrests, armrests, and back, only to find out that NO, it doesn’t. Everything that looked articulated was, in fact, cleverly molded and perfectly stationary plastic. So I broke it. Stay tuned for modifications so that footrests swing in and out and the back goes up and down, as they both should have in the first place…

Incidentally, I don’t understand why HT would go to all the trouble of modeling all the individual pieces and pistons and gear teeth, only to make them stationary. It seems like it would be an easy enough modification to go just a bit further for real swinging action. >:

Continue reading I broke Julian’s chair.

Julian the scientific adventuress and her carebot Cara in progress

Julian the scientific adventuress and her carebot Cara in progress published on No Comments on Julian the scientific adventuress and her carebot Cara in progress

Behold Julian and Cara as they currently stand! For those of you that haven’t been following, Julian is the center of my latest 1:6 scale universe. Wry, Gothy, and lonely, she’s a brilliant inventor with an affinity for steampunk. She became rich when she developed a personal carebot for people with mobility impairments, of which her clockwork friend Cara is the more sophisticated and independent prototype. With the luxury of economic stability, she devotes her time to the invention of steampunk devices to make the lives of other disabled people not only easier, but also infinitely cooler.

Because she has spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy, Julian can move only her head, neck, and right arm [and her right leg if she gets really angry and has to kick someone]. Thus she uses a power wheelchair, which she, of course, has steampunked out, for mobility. She is nonverbal, so she communicates with a tablet computer for text-to-speech.  

Julian is a Mattel She-Ra heavily modified to reduce height and increase poseability. Repaint and wig by me. The base of her power chair is a Hot Toys Sweeney Todd barber chair. Cara is a Character Options Clockwork Droid, currently default, except she doesn’t have a face mask. The Fiendish Device 2.0 with which they are messing around is part of the innards of a record player/stereo/tape deck combo that I salvaged.

Continue reading Julian the scientific adventuress and her carebot Cara in progress

Jareth and Jennifer in an object lesson in not judging the weather by the window

Jareth and Jennifer in an object lesson in not judging the weather by the window published on No Comments on Jareth and Jennifer in an object lesson in not judging the weather by the window

Jareth thinks it’s nice outside. The weather begs to differ. This story is inspired by earlier this week, when the temperatures had warmed up by morning enough to melt much of the ice, but not all of it. Thus invisible ice lurked beneath the puddles, making my walk from the bus stop to the office extra slidy. Continue reading Jareth and Jennifer in an object lesson in not judging the weather by the window

Side eye to the YAY INTROVERTS trend

Side eye to the YAY INTROVERTS trend published on No Comments on Side eye to the YAY INTROVERTS trend

I harbor deep suspicion about the YAY INTROVERTS trend that has gained some traction in recent years in mainstream US culture. For the purposes of this mini rant, an introvert is a person who derives physical, mental, and emotional nourishment primarily through time spent in solitude, and an extrovert is someone who derives it through socializing with others.

General US culture values many traits of social extroversion and pathologizes many traits of social introversion. Indeed, it’s really not much of a stretch to claim that we culturally maintain the belief that  introversion is a disability.

Because introversion is treated as a disability, depictions of introverts in popular media tend to have the same objectification and paternalistic curiosity as depictions of people with disabilities. And my suspicion of the YAY INTROVERTS trend derives from seeing the same condescension and objectification in the movement that the movement is ostensibly trying to overcome from the mainstream culture.

Women’s March on Washington DC ignites “contentious dialogue” — a.k.a. “white people whining”

Women’s March on Washington DC ignites “contentious dialogue” — a.k.a. “white people whining” published on No Comments on Women’s March on Washington DC ignites “contentious dialogue” — a.k.a. “white people whining”

The New York Times misses the story yet again. In a piece about the Women’s March on Washington movement, Farah Stockman focuses on white women whining about having to deal with the intersectional feminism propounded by women of other races. The white women become upset when the women of other races tell them that their racial privilege inures them to trials that women of other races face, so they take their toys and go home. God forbid they take the opportunity to learn anything about their privilege, how to acknowledge it, how to speak and think about it, and how to use their unearned powers for good. No, their individual hurt feelings matter more than the systemic, programmatic, societal, wholesale oppression of entire colors of people.

I don’t care about the whiny white women. I want to hear the story of this event developing from a narrowly focused, exclusive event, to a more intersectional one, with a broader base. The white feminists should not be the focus of coverage. The women of other races should.

On a personal level, I’m not sure how I feel about this event. Participation on some level would certainly bring me together with other people who feel similarly impassioned and wish to change the world, as I do. But it’s still a Women’s March, and I don’t care how inclusive their principles say they are, because it still looks to me that it privileges people who are white, and/or non-disabled, and and/or women over people who aren’t one or several of these things.

New sock sweater design, modeled by Julian

New sock sweater design, modeled by Julian published on No Comments on New sock sweater design, modeled by Julian

I’m testing out a new sock sweater design. Mainly the front comes from the sock, while the grey parts are T-shirt material. This design makes the front graphic stand out more boldly. The result also looks more like an actual real live shirt [that I cut up and crudely sewed together], as opposed to a sock that I cut up and crudely sewed together. Continue reading New sock sweater design, modeled by Julian

To the Bat Fax VII: haranguing government officials on…recent activism and Senate confirmation hearings

To the Bat Fax VII: haranguing government officials on…recent activism and Senate confirmation hearings published on No Comments on To the Bat Fax VII: haranguing government officials on…recent activism and Senate confirmation hearings

With information handily provided on Kara’s “We’re His Problem Now” calling sheet, I left a message for Senator Bernie Sanders thanking him for speaking out against Bannon and other Prez-Elect-appointed appointed bigots. Reminded him to oppose the following at Senate confirmation hearings this week: Jeff Sessions as Attorney General because he’s a racist and bigot, Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State because of his COIs with Exxon, and Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education because of her lack of experience.

Left a message for Representative Peter Welch thanking him for speaking out against Bannon and other Prez-Elect-appointed bigots.

To the Bat Fax VI: haranguing government officials on…supporting Elizabeth Warren’s call to investigate Presidential transition team COIs

To the Bat Fax VI: haranguing government officials on…supporting Elizabeth Warren’s call to investigate Presidential transition team COIs published on No Comments on To the Bat Fax VI: haranguing government officials on…supporting Elizabeth Warren’s call to investigate Presidential transition team COIs

From Fight for America, here’s a quick E-mail [modified from template] that I sent to the GAO to support Senator Elizabeth Warren’s call to investigate potential COIs in the Presidential transition team:

Hello. I’m writing because I support Senator Elizabeth Warren’s request for a GAO review of the President-Elect’s transition activities. Several possible COIs have already been reported, including those among his business holdings, his dealings with foreign leaders, and lack of transparency.

Since the transition only lasts officially till January 20th, I support the Senator in asking your agency to please investigate the topics above and other potential COIs as soon as possible.

Inspiration for Julian’s steampunk power chair: 1883 von Sauerbronn-Davis steam velocipede

Inspiration for Julian’s steampunk power chair: 1883 von Sauerbronn-Davis steam velocipede published on No Comments on Inspiration for Julian’s steampunk power chair: 1883 von Sauerbronn-Davis steam velocipede

I was looking for evocative diagrams of steam-powered things to decorate Julian’s walls, and I came across the von Sauerbronn-Davis steam velocipede of 1883. [Not sure why it’s termed a velocipede, incidentally, as a velocipede, by definition, runs on human power created by pedal pushing. There are no pedals on that thing.]

The von Sauerbronn-Davis machine looks like a bad idea on wheels, especially with the user’s seat directly over the freakin’ boiler! Nevertheless, the design, with two large wheels in front and the smaller swiveling wheel in the back, appeals to me. Therefore I will be constructing Julian’s steampunk power chair in the same style, but with much smaller tires and a much cushier seat. Continue reading Inspiration for Julian’s steampunk power chair: 1883 von Sauerbronn-Davis steam velocipede

Base of Julian’s steampunk power wheelchair: Hot Toys Sweeney Todd barber chair

Base of Julian’s steampunk power wheelchair: Hot Toys Sweeney Todd barber chair published on No Comments on Base of Julian’s steampunk power wheelchair: Hot Toys Sweeney Todd barber chair

I have discovered the perfect base for Julian’s steampunk power wheelchair: the barber chair from the Hot Toys Sweeney Todd figure a few years back!!! Like a real power wheelchair, the barber chair has adjustable footrests, adjustable armrests, and a reclining back. It also has Victorian connotations with its worn leather upholstery and embossed lion decoration. It is pretty damn cool and worth every penny of the $65.00 I paid [which is more than I paid for Julian…]. I think that, once I finish this steampunk chair, Julian will share it with Polly, who, while not part of the same universe, was also originally conceived as a steampunk power chair user.Continue reading Base of Julian’s steampunk power wheelchair: Hot Toys Sweeney Todd barber chair

Increasing She Ra’s poseability

Increasing She Ra’s poseability published on No Comments on Increasing She Ra’s poseability

Mattel She Ra doesn’t have a very articulated torso. There’s a ball joint under the bust, but she arches her back much better than she hunches. In fact, you can’t get much more than 90 degrees of forward bend. Continue reading Increasing She Ra’s poseability

Testing alternative bodies for Mattel She Ra head

Testing alternative bodies for Mattel She Ra head published on No Comments on Testing alternative bodies for Mattel She Ra head

I tested some alternative bodies in my stash for my Mattel She Ra head. I’m using the head for Julian, my steampunk inventor. Julian has a slender, frail, delicately built body with little muscle mass, especially in her lower body. As I put her head on various bodies, I was looking for, in order of importance, a) proportionality, b) articulation, c) nearness to Julian’s physical build, and d) color match. Results below.

 

Continue reading Testing alternative bodies for Mattel She Ra head

To the Bat Fax V: donating to Committee on Temporary Shelter

To the Bat Fax V: donating to Committee on Temporary Shelter published on No Comments on To the Bat Fax V: donating to Committee on Temporary Shelter

Donated 7 pairs of new wool socks to Committee on Temporary Shelter.

 

Also found a handy Tumblr post for a comprehensive overview of current and future haranguing opportunities.

Miscellaneous: new camera, sweater fronts, and Fiendish Device 2.0 pieces

Miscellaneous: new camera, sweater fronts, and Fiendish Device 2.0 pieces published on No Comments on Miscellaneous: new camera, sweater fronts, and Fiendish Device 2.0 pieces

I picked up a Canon PowerShot SX1001IS digicam yesterday so that I can take quick photos of my projects without having to set up my umbrella lights, tripod, white backdrop, and all my photostory shooting supplies. Apparently this camera was pretty sweet about a decade ago, and it works perfectly well for my purposes a decade later. Pictures below were taken with this new device, which I acquired off Craigslist for $10.00.Continue reading Miscellaneous: new camera, sweater fronts, and Fiendish Device 2.0 pieces

Clementine and Fuchsia’s bike!

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Yesterday I developed the idea for two characters in Julian’s universe, Clementine and Fuchsia. They are dicephalus parapagus conjoined twins, and they ride a motorcycle. Of course this means that they have to have a motorcycle and the appropriate gear, particularly helmets. This is a bit daunting, as finding realistic helmets for sixth scale dolls is right up there with finding realistic power wheelchairs in terms of difficulty.

Some 2017 goals in no particular order

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I think of New Year’s resolutions as recipes for failure and disappointment. I do, however, like to use the occasion of a new calendar year to establish a list of things I want to accomplish in the next 12 months.

Goals for this year include the following, in no particular order:

  • Obtain satisfying job that pays what I’m worth, provides diversity of tasks and intellectual engagement, offers career development and opportunities to work with respectful, friendly people, does good in the world, and is less than 45 minutes away one way.
  • Move out of parents’ house and in with sister.
  • Promote social justice. Donate monthly to nonprofits promoting civil rights. Volunteer in person monthly for a nonprofit promoting civil rights. Harangue goverment officials and other public entities weekly. Blog about actions.
  • Sew. Make as many sweaters as possible out of current hoard of novelty socks. Use sewing machine wherever I can. Make at least 5 collared shirts out of the fabrics I bought about two years ago. Also make leggings.
  • Finish BJDs in progress, Delmar and Fritillaria, or sell them. Faceups and wigs are first priority. Outfits are lower priority.
  • Do Zombieville regularly. Keep main plotline and Meanwhile going. Repaint Isabel.
  • Get Julian and her lab up and running. Complete Julian. Complete Julian’s steampunk wheelchair. Complete Fiendish Device. Post stories about Julian.
  • Play with other doll lovers. Run VTDL, publicizing, recruiting, and inventing themes for meetups. Attend 2016 NERDS doll show in Lowell, MA in March.
  • Improve digital skills. Catalogue all 2016 acquisitions. Avoid discount club memberships and spending orgies as in 2016. Find better way to organize content. Work more with Carrara. Model a simple thing in Carrara. Learn how to render Carrara scenes quickly and efficiently. Do a mini universe photostory using Carrara digital assets for the set.

Julian’s steampunk stuff

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Ever since I got the idea for a doll version of my steampunk inventor Julia/Julian, I’ve been brainstorming scientificish stuff and characters for her and her lab.

For characters, there’s the Clockwork Droid, who helps her with personal care. There’s also Viktor, who is more of her friend.

There’s Julian’s wheelchair, which is going to be an overstuffed wingback chair, a hearing aid case for the main electronics, some wheels, and various steampunk scrapbook supplies.

There’s Julian’s tablet, which does text to speech and also functions as a universal remote. :p

There’s the Fiendish Device, made primarily of record player innards.

And, in my latest brilliant idea, there’s a bunch of Julian’s smaller machines made from diecast pencil sharpeners. Metal knockoffs of the original Spanish Play Me brand can be had for relatively cheap. I’ve identified the following as useful steampunk elements: coffee grinder, Roman numeral clock, sewing machine, table fan, phonograph, box camera, balance with weight, blowtorch, pot belly stove, kerosene stove, candlestick phone, French phone, cash register, floor safe, slot machine, bingo cage.

While I’m thinking of it, other things that look scientificish include music box innards, calculators/innards, circuit boards, vacuum tubes, radios/innards.

Improving the dead version of Isabel

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@natalunasans passed along one of her early Coo Model skeletons, the type with plastic joints, not metal [as used currently], so I upgraded the dead version of Isabel’s body. Unfortunately, I broke both Coo hip joints, so I decided to swap out the Coo pelvis and thighs for a set from a Sideshow male body that I had hanging around. Since this area will be covered by the dead version of Isabel’s clothes, I don’t really care what it looks like.

I used my new friend Instamorph plastic to hold the Coo spine in the Sideshow pelvic girdle. Instamorph also holds the knee sockets onto the bottoms of the thighs and fills in the thighs to make sockets for the Coo knees and calves. She still needs her head and the rest of her clothes.

 

Continue reading Improving the dead version of Isabel

Jessyann’s got knee joints!

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I made some quick and dirty knee joints for one of my Curvy Barbies today, just as a proof of concept. [I previously modded Jessyann by removing her feet and articulating her arms. For the latter, I thought about adding elbow joints by using extra ball-jointed wrist pegs, but then I found some Obitsu 27cm lower arms with Obitsu slender male hands in my raw dolls bin. Since the skin tone was an approximate match, I hacked off Curvy’s arms above the elbow and drilled out her upper arms to make sockets for the pegs of the Obitsu lower arms. I put some Aves Apoxie Sculpt in the sockets so that the Obitsu arm pegs fit by friction alone.]

To give Jessyann articulated knees, I started by cutting her legs apart. I angled the cuts so that I preserved the kneecaps in front. I started off using a hand saw, but then discovered that I could get much easier and smoother cuts by softening up the plastic in boiling water, then using a craft knife. After removing rough plastic from the cuts with some sandpaper, I made angled cuts out of the top of the calves to accommodate 90 degrees of bend. Again I cleaned the edges of the cuts.

For knee joints, I used some spare Classic GI Joe hands. I cut the hands off just above the base of the palm, then stuck the stumps into the Curvy calves. I used Instamorph plastic to fill the space and secure the stumps in their sockets. [Side note: Instamorph is a plastic with a low melting point that turns clear and pliable if stuck in boiling water for a minute. It may then be molded for projects such as this, then cooled in place till it turns opaque for a good, tight fit. It can be removed, remolded, etc., if it’s heated to clear again. It’s like a combination of quick-dry epoxy putty and hot glue, and it’s so cool!]. I also used more Instamorph plastic to fill the bottoms of the thighs and make sockets for the GI Joe wrist pegs. These allow swivel motion of the calves as well.

Proof of concept works, demonstrating that Jessyann and any other Curvies can bend their legs if you have the time and inclination to hack them up. Like most of my mods, the joints don’t look great, but they function as intended. Jessyann’s a little wobbly, but that might be because I just hacked off her ridiculously small feet and wedged her ankle stumps into shoes. Something to think about for further attempts at this body mod…

Continue reading Jessyann’s got knee joints!

Lakaysha: body modding on a Hasbro Classic GI Joe

Lakaysha: body modding on a Hasbro Classic GI Joe published on No Comments on Lakaysha: body modding on a Hasbro Classic GI Joe

For this project, I started off with a Hasbro Classic GI Joe [$2.00 from Goodwill] and a Storm Collectibles Dennis Rodman head [$7.99 from Good Stuff to Go]. I planned an experiment in extreeeeeeeeeme body modding, which, if all went well, would yield a more realistically proportioned body with narrower shoulders and shorter limbs. If nothing worked, well, then I was only out $2.00, and I could always find another body for the Rodman head.

After much modification, behold Lakaysha. She’s about 10.5″ tall, down from 12″ originally. Since the Rodman head didn’t have much neck attached, I carved down the default GI Joe head and mounted the Rodman head on the remaining base. Hot glue kept it in place. I cut the sides of the chest off, scraped down the raw edges, then reattached the arms, sealing raw areas with hot glue and Instamorph low melt plastic pellets, which are like moldable hot glue and the coolest shit ever! [Thank you, @natalunasans!] There was no substantial reduction in width, maybe 1-2mm, but the torso’s proportions improved instantly.

I hacked out sections of both thighs and calves, redrilling holes for ankle pegs and smoothing raw areas on reattached thighs with more Instamorph plastic. Knee swivel motion was lost, but I don’t care.

I hacked off a section of the wrists, thinking that the arms needed to be shortened. However, they did not, so I removed the hands, which I had to do anyway, and reglued the cut-offs back on. I spent most of my time carving out the upper arms to get more than 90 degrees out of the single-jointed elbows.

Why yes, it looks like one of my usual rushed hatchet jobs, but you know what? None of it shows when she has clothes on! Stay tuned for pictures, once I hem her pants, find her some hands, add hair, and touch up her goatee.

 

 

Continue reading Lakaysha: body modding on a Hasbro Classic GI Joe

Farrier Frederick Giroux, looking suspiciously like David Tennant

Farrier Frederick Giroux, looking suspiciously like David Tennant published on No Comments on Farrier Frederick Giroux, looking suspiciously like David Tennant

@natalunasans shipped me 10 lbs. [?!?!?!?!?!] of 1:6 scale stuff the other day, including a Big Chief Studios headsculpt of David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor mounted on an early BCS body. Since I have a crush on David Tennant as that character, I was very happy…at first.

Then I tried to find him some pants. The BCS body, being a slender sculpt, did not fit any of the standard male pants I tried on. Just for the hell of it, I tried a pair of sparkly Barbie leggings that Nata had included, and he managed to slither into them! Of course, he can’t sit down, as his pants will fall down, but sitting’s overrated when you have stuff to strut.

While I originally planned for this doll to be a jerk anti-PWS politician in Zville, he and his pants apparently did not want to be a jerk politician. He would rather be a fuckin’ fabulous guy. Okay then. I couldn’t think of a name for him, so he went by FFG for about 24 hours until I used those initials as a starting point and came up with Farrier Frederick Giroux.

Farrier’s in his 30s, ABD in something mathematical. He spent an inordinately long time on his thesis, only to have a recent crisis in the realization that he has pretty much limited his career prospects to academia, and yet he hates academia. Still reeling from the feeling that he’s wasted most of his life, he’s working as a cashier in an upscale grocery store and trying desperately to figure out what his next move is.

Farrier both runs on anxiety and doesn’t give a fuck. He tried to blend in when he was younger; he was beaten and sexually assaulted in the boys’ locker room in high school on account of being a “fag.” In college, he changed his style to more of the one that he wanted. The first night he dressed the way he wanted, he was mocked and sexually assaulted by a bunch of sorority members. He then decided that he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t, so he might as well be himself as long as he could before the next time he was attacked. So that’s how he dresses, and that’s why he has a gun in his purse [and under his pillow], and that’s why no one ever touches him unless he lets them. [Plus he has Reynaud’s syndrome, and his hands are always cold, and he’s excruciatingly self-conscious about that.]

Regularly assumed to be gay and/or a drag queen and/or flamboyantly sassy, Farrier is actually none of these. He swallows his annoyance everytime someone makes one of these assumptions, but he feels like he’s been eating bombs. One of these days, he thinks, he’s not going to be able to be polite anymore, and he’s going to explode.

EDIT: Farrier’s head, body, pants, and magenta sweater details come from @natalunasans. The sweater is, of course, one of my notorious novelty sock sweaters, modded to be a crop top turtleneck [to hide the Long BCS Neck of Doom]. I’m pretty sure that the BCS Facebook group would really love these pictures. >:}

Continue reading Farrier Frederick Giroux, looking suspiciously like David Tennant

1:6 scale drug packages

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Lumberjack shows scale on some 1:6 scale drug packages I made. The bottles are white electrical tape, wrapped around cores made of glue sticks. I just wrapped the tape thicker for the tops. I put a few layers of tape on the top and bottom to cover up the core. Then I downloaded labels from online, deliberately going for pharmacist bottles, as opposed to prescription bottles. I scaled down the labels, printed them out, then taped them onto the bottles. The bottles are probably oversize, but check it out — you can read the labels, at least enough to see what drugs they are!

As for the Fentanyl patches, those were easy. I just found a picture of a package online. Since it showed both front and back, I found out the actual size of a 50 mcg patch and scaled the patches to approximate size. I printed them, cut them out, folded them in half like greeting cards, then laminated them with tape.

Continue reading 1:6 scale drug packages

Touralyn’s back!

Touralyn’s back! published on No Comments on Touralyn’s back!

Touralyn, a ball-jointed doll in 1:6 scale scratch-built by DragonGems [a member of Vermont Doll Lovers], has finally returned. When I first received her about a year ago, her torso cracked, so DragonGems took her back with the promise to make her a new, improved body. Away at school for most of the year, she didn’t have time to do as much as she wanted to Touralyn, but she finally returned her in better condition than when I last saw her.

Here she is, with naked shots to show her peculiar proportions. She was the second in this size that DragonGems made, so she demonstrates the gangly proportions of a learner’s effort. I mainly got her, though, for her head, hands, and feet. As I’ve stated before, what she lacks in engineering finesse she makes up for in distinct personality, as you can see below. 😀

Continue reading Touralyn’s back!

The Fiendish Device: a 1:6 scale piece that I wish I still had

The Fiendish Device: a 1:6 scale piece that I wish I still had published on No Comments on The Fiendish Device: a 1:6 scale piece that I wish I still had

Back about a decade or so ago, I lived in an apartment on the third floor of a house. The landlord collected stuff. I got the innards of an old record player, as well as some vacuum tubes, from him. These, along with a circuit board from a calculator, as well as the halves of some plastic Easter eggs, some ball-headed pins, and some pipe cleaners, became a 1:6 scale Fiendish Device.

I originally thought I’d use it as a piece of equipment for my Frankenstein-like scientist Janet. However, the Device took up too much desk space to be a truly usable background element. Also it was really heavy, so I eventually ditched it before moving.

I’ve always missed the Fiendish Device. Sadly, though, the only record I have of it survives in this small photo of crappy quality in which Will, dressed up as Frank in prep for a midnight showing of RHPS, pretends it’s a sonic transducer.

I should remake it. It was the best vaguely ominous, sort of scientific-looking thing ever. Continue reading The Fiendish Device: a 1:6 scale piece that I wish I still had

Short skirts now and then: Jareth as Rolling Diner Waitress

Short skirts now and then: Jareth as Rolling Diner Waitress published on No Comments on Short skirts now and then: Jareth as Rolling Diner Waitress

After our discussion yesterday, during which Jareth let me know how vital this outfit was to his continued existence, I bought it for him as an early Christmas present. Here’s a crappy render of him in the decidedly non-crappy outfit. Continue reading Short skirts now and then: Jareth as Rolling Diner Waitress

Storm Collectibles Dennis Rodman: one weird [but also fabulous] sculpt

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Storm Collectibles came out with a 1:6 scale Dennis Rodman a while back. To better approximate the basketball player’s various styles, it included 10 snap-on hairpieces and at least 2 headsculpts, one neutral, one with sort of a sneer. There was a 3rd preorder exclusive with heavy purple makeup, just to make things interesting. I have no interest in Dennis Rodman and every interest in beautiful headsculpts, so, when I saw the purple head parted out at Monkey Depot for $7.99, I decided that I needed to make it into a character. Continue reading Storm Collectibles Dennis Rodman: one weird [but also fabulous] sculpt

Rolling Diner Waitress Outfit for Genesis 3 Females: a conversation with Jareth

Rolling Diner Waitress Outfit for Genesis 3 Females: a conversation with Jareth published on No Comments on Rolling Diner Waitress Outfit for Genesis 3 Females: a conversation with Jareth

Jareth: “I neeeeeeed this.”

 

Me: “Why?”

Jareth: “Two words: short skirt.”

Me: “I thought I just got you the shortest skirt on record — that Oculic thing.”

 

Jareth: “You don’t think I could do with just one short skirt, do you?”

Me: “You have more than one. In fact, I’ve lost count of how many pieces of skimpwear I’ve purchased for you. I think skimpy stuff for you forms the largest part of my runtime.”

 

Jareth: “I think you’re right. I also think you should add this to it.”

 

Me: “You have yet to provide justification. Furthermore, may I point out that you already have this Carhop for Genesis Female outfit, which is the same damn thing?”

 

Jareth: “No it ain’t. The Rolling Diner Waitress has a lower neckline and a shorter skirt with more flare. Also the cap has a brim.”

Me: “Hmmm…true.”

 

Jareth: “Plus the new one has a sit morph in the skirt and better posing controls than the earlier one.”

Me: “Well, that would definitely make it easier to use than the Genesis outfit.”

 

Jareth: “Also comes with four textures.”

 

Me: “Okay, okay!”

 

Jareth: “Besides, it’s like $8.52 with your extra 30% off discount.”

 

Me: “Okay! Jeez! I’m getting it!”

 

Jareth: “Thanks! You should get Jennifer something too.”

 

Me: “Good Lord! Like what?”

 

Jareth: “The wood-paneled station wagon is on sale. I think she needs one.”

Me: “Yeah, but I can’t tell if the doors open. If the doors don’t open, I don’t want it.”

Jareth: “Okay, well, I found one with working doors and trunk on Renderosity.”

Me: “No wood paneling, though.”

Jareth: “You could add some.”

Me: “No, I know! I’ll get her a camper.”

Jareth: “She already has the Airstream.”

Me: “This one’s a teardrop.”

Jareth: “Eeeeeeee, so cuuuuuuuuuuuute! Is it gonna be pink?”

Me: “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Jennifer’s interests lean much more toward the blue and grey side of things than the pink.”

Jareth: “How ’bout periwinkle with magenta trim?”

Me: “Do those even go together?”

Jareth: “They do if you put them together!”

Me: “I’ll consider it.”

Julia Phelps, the steampunker of mobility aids

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I have a character in the mini universe, Julian, an inventor and tinkerer who steampunks out mobility aids. She has spastic hemiplegia, so she uses a power wheelchair. She can make sounds, but is mostly non-verbal, so she communicates largely by her tablet, where she types phrases, which are then translated with text to speech. Because she moves mostly only her right hand and her head, she plans steampunk mods and then enlists help in the construction. She has been working most recently with her sister Heidi, but Heidi talks over her so frequently that Julian has Yakkety yak, don’t talk back! on speed dial so she can interrupt her, so they don’t get along well.

Anyway, Julian is obviously really cool, and I’ve long wanted to make a 1:6 scale steampunk power chair. Furthermore, this weekend I was talking Zombieville, zombies, and neurodiverse and disabled characters with Nataluna. We got onto Monster High and agreed that our favorite character is Ghoulia Yelps, the deeply nerdy, intelligent, awkward, canon autistic zombie. I regretted not getting a first edition of her when she was initially released, but I’ve always held off on Monster Highs because the big-headed aesthetic doesn’t work for me.

All the aforementioned elements came together, and I decided to do a realistic doll version of Ghoulia for Zombieville…or wherever the hell she wants to be. Named Julia Phelps, she would have as much of Ghoulia’s style as I could realistically replicate on a person who obviously needs help dressing and adorning herself, plus Julian’s personality, steampunkery, and spastic hemiplegia.

So far I have…the head. Mattel’s 11″ She-Ra figure has the perfect pointy features, so I got one, despite limited edition prices. She’ll need a repaint, especially of the eyebrows, since I love Ghoulia’s quizzical ones. She’ll also need some blue hair, which I can easily produce with a faux fur wig.

I’m wondering what to use for the body, as I have a very specific body type in mind for her. I want her to be frail, spindly and underweight, with narrow limbs. Her head should seem slightly large for her neck. I also have a very specific vision of her posture in her chair — head tilted to the right, left arm bent up to her chest with her wrist cocked and hand clenched, torso slanting to the right, knees bend and also pointing to the right — so I want a body that can fold and hunch into this position.

Oh yeah…also of relevance to the custom is that she drools, so I think I will put some glossy varnish coming out one side of her mouth. She will also have a wrist band to wipe away saliva.

Original edition of Ghoulia being incredibly cute below. Continue reading Julia Phelps, the steampunker of mobility aids

Adding arm articulation to two 1:6 scale figs

Adding arm articulation to two 1:6 scale figs published on No Comments on Adding arm articulation to two 1:6 scale figs

Today I increased arm articulation on two of my 1:6ers. One of them, Marabou, is a 12″ Playmates Uhura figure. She is a scaled up version of a 3 3/4″ mini action figure by the same company, with all the odd proportions, solid limbs, and simple joints that this entails. Her solid, chunky construction works to my benefit, however, since she has no delicate fiddly little parts to break during my modifications.

Anyway, Marabou has gone through a few mods since I acquired her. I removed her original hands, which had only wrist swivel articulation, and swapped them for hands with hinge/swivel ball joints. Last year, I added upper arm and upper thigh swivels and also took a good chunk of height from her thighs. For the modicum of articulation she had at that point, she actually assumed some realistic postures. Continue reading Adding arm articulation to two 1:6 scale figs

Hilarious review excoriating mediocre food and ambiance at Trump Grill[e]

Hilarious review excoriating mediocre food and ambiance at Trump Grill[e] published on No Comments on Hilarious review excoriating mediocre food and ambiance at Trump Grill[e]

Tina Nguyen sets a new bar for critical reviews with her sharply written article on eating at Trump Grill[e], which is a restaurant somewhere in New York City. It’s full of amazing phrases like “a campy version of Jingle Bells [jackhammering] in the background,” a bathroom that encapsulates “the experience of desperately searching for toilet paper at a Venezuelan grocery store,” a steak “slumped over to the side of the potatoes like a dead body inside a T-boned minivan,” a burger and fries described as “a sad little meat thing” and “overcooked woody batons,” and “free cake, still frozen in the center, that tastes like Tums.” It’s a perfect example of demonstrating kitschiness and vulgarity through well-chosen details, rather than blatantly stating, I found this place offensive on  gastronomical, aesthetic, and philosophical grounds.

More sweaters, no fashion sense, and a repaint

More sweaters, no fashion sense, and a repaint published on No Comments on More sweaters, no fashion sense, and a repaint

My dolls follow mainstream fashion insofar as the clothes they wear are recognizable as modern, culturally acceptable wardrobe elements such as shirts, pants, and shoes. Beyond that, though, they merrily deviate from the norm with their own definitions of what’s cool. Latest crop of sweaters made from novelty socks illustrates this well. Pictures below. Continue reading More sweaters, no fashion sense, and a repaint

To the Bat Fax IV: Haranguing Big Chief Studios on racist name and logo

To the Bat Fax IV: Haranguing Big Chief Studios on racist name and logo published on No Comments on To the Bat Fax IV: Haranguing Big Chief Studios on racist name and logo

As I noted about 4 years ago, Big Chief Studios makes some really cool 1:6 scale Dr. Who action figures, but their name and logo are a racist pile of crap, which is why I’ll never buy anything from them. I was discussing this sorry state of affairs with Nataluna, a dedicated Whovian with many BCS figs. She eventually got so disturbed by BCS’ stereotypes that she wrote to them on the subject. She mentioned that she knew people [i.e., me, I suppose] who wouldn’t buy from them on account of their imagery, so I decided that my first-person testimony might be slightly helpful. That way they’ll have at least two people to ignore instead of one.

This is what I wrote:

 

Dear BCS,

I’ve been following your work since your first acquisition of the Dr. Who licenses. I love your sculpts. As much as I love your stuff, though, I’m sadly unable to buy any of it because I have a problem with your company name and logo.

The name Big Chief Studios rubs me the wrong way. The logo’s red dot, which I presume is supposed to be an Indian’s head, is a literal depiction of the term “redskin,” which has been a derogatory insult to American Indians for centuries. While you may not have intended it this way, your logo contributes to a long history of objectifying Indians.

I understand that, for you, BCS is just a name and a graphic, but please consider that there are at least 3 million people in the United States who are American Indian. They struggle for civil rights and self-determination every day. A company name and a logo that turn them into stereotypical symbols, rather than real human beings, worthy of respect, just make it that much harder for them to be seen as people.

Please consider changing at least your logo to something that doesn’t dehumanize a whole group of living, breathing people.

Chirrut Imwe “[u]sed his spirituality to overcome his blindness” GRAAAAAAAAARGH

Chirrut Imwe “[u]sed his spirituality to overcome his blindness” GRAAAAAAAAARGH published on No Comments on Chirrut Imwe “[u]sed his spirituality to overcome his blindness” GRAAAAAAAAARGH

With all the laudatory reviews surrounding the recent release of Star Wars Part 4 Million and 2 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, I notice a distinct lack of discussion [at least in published reviews] about Chirrut Imwe [Donnie Yen], one of the dudes who joins protagonist Jyn Erso [Felicity Jones] in her attempt to steal plans for the Death Star. Namely, Chirrut is a horrible mishmash of stereotypes.

Chirrut Imwe, according to Lucasfilm President and Rogue One producer Kathleen Kennedy, is a classic “warrior monk.” This in itself is a trite beginning, but it worsens because Chirrut’s not just any warrior monk. He’s a blind warrior monk. The fact that he has no functional vision apparently forms an integral part of his character, as Entertainment Weekly summarizes him as someone who “has used his spirituality to overcome his blindness and become a formidable warrior.” We’ll return to that nasty term overcome later…

I don’t need to see the movie to know that Chirrut Imwe embodies a crapload of romanticized bullshit tropes associated with so many fictional depictions of blind/visually impaired people. Let’s count them, shall we?

1. Visually impaired people can’t see at all. Statistically speaking, this is not true. People who are visually impaired have wide ranges of vision capability and loss; in fact, a WHO stat sheet estimates that 285 million people worldwide have visual impairments, with about 14% of them being blind, or completely without vision. Thus the vast majority of visually impaired people can see to some extent. Vision isn’t a binary trait, though popular culture portrays it as such, and visually impaired people don’t just have their eyeballs switched to OFF.

2. Blind and visually impaired people look weird. Though played by a Hong Kong Chinese person, member of a group in which blue eyes are very uncommon, Chirrut has blue eyes. His blindness is literally written in his eyes, but this is actually not the case for all blind or visually impaired people. Surprisingly, you can’t always tell by looking at someone if they are blind or visually impaired! It’s also noteworthy that Chirrut apparently has no pupils. With lack of pupils commonly used in pop visual media as a visual shorthand for Something is really wrong with this character!, Chirrut’s pupillessness thus makes him seem strange and inhuman.

3. Blind and visually impaired people are, like, so deep, man. The trope of visually impaired person with great spirituality goes back at least as far as Ancient Greece, in which Tiresias, prophet of Apollo, was blinded by Hera when he said that women enjoyed sex more than men. He’s a seer, but he had too much insight, so she took away his vision — get it? People have a longstanding tendency to turn people with visual impairments into figures of speech. Sight is equated with intelligence and competence, while visual impairment and blindness are equated with ignorance and poor judgment. And yet a character’s lack of physical vision is almost always an opportunity to develop some metaphorical [religious, spiritual, prophetic] vision. This trope turns characters with blindness or visual impairments into Important Thematic Symbols, depriving them of opportunities for robust representation.

4. Blind and visually impaired people need to get over their disabilities. Entertainment Weekly, clearly picking up on the messages in the promo materials, describes Chirrut as “us[ing] his spirituality to overcome his blindness,” whatever that means. His disability is shown as a problem, but fortunately he has “spirituality” to cancel out this little obstacle. The world doesn’t work like that, though. People have disabilities and live with disabilities. They don’t do things despite their disabilities; they do things while being disabled. Their disabilities affect their lives, and a blind character who cancels out his disability with his “spirituality” isn’t really a character with a disability at all. He’s a stereotypical superhero whose romanticized depiction of blindness does a dehumanizing disservice to actual blind and visually impaired people.

Carter, Novella, and Barrett show this week’s sweaters

Carter, Novella, and Barrett show this week’s sweaters published on No Comments on Carter, Novella, and Barrett show this week’s sweaters

I made four more doll sweaters this week. The one with hamburgers and fries on it does not, sadly, appear in this photo because I somehow fucked up the armscyes. Anyway, from left to right, here’s Carter [in snowflakes on black field], Novella [in forest critters on blue field], and Barrett [in vampire fangs on black field]. Barrett is not particularly subtle, but, then again, no one in Zville is. :p Carter is an Elfdoll Doona Ryung head on a 5StarDoll toddler body — basically the same as Isabel, though she has longer arms. Novella is a Soom Mini Gem Uyoo, so she basically has fashion doll proportions. Barrett is an Integrity Fashion Royalty Homme that I hacked at least 1″ out of height wise.

 

Continue reading Carter, Novella, and Barrett show this week’s sweaters

The sort of film criticism I can get behind

The sort of film criticism I can get behind published on No Comments on The sort of film criticism I can get behind

After recently taking a swipe at straight white cis bourgeois dude off-gassing disguised as movie reviews, I’m happy to report that I’ve found someone whose film crit I can indeed endorse: Kaye Toal. Specifically, Toal’s commentary on toxic masculinity in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Harry Potter, the Prequel, Part 1 of N, Where N is an Exhaustingly Large Number cheers me up with its down-to-earth tone, intersectional considerations of masculinity, misogyny, and race, and its overall good writing.

Oh, who am I kidding? I was prompted to write this entry because the author describes the antagonist Grindewald as “played by longtime alleged domestic abuser Johnny Depp in styling and makeup that looks like somebody’s high school OC from a bad Harry Potter Livejournal roleplaying community.” That’s the most perfect burn on an overacted, self-consciously theatrical weirdo that I’m still chuckling. Since there was another movie review, which I can’t find a link to, sadly, that compared Depp’s portrayal to David Bowie for some reason, I assume there’s heavy face painting, dramatic intonation, and general scenery chewing involved. Too bad I can’t stand Rowling, Depp, and the entire Harry Potter media juggernaut, or else I might actually watch the movie for said scenery chewing.

EDIT: Ah, here we go. Jeffrey Bloomer, in an article about gay not-so-subtexts in the movie, writes [emphasis added], “Alas, the end of Fantastic Beasts will not put an end to the speculation about Grindelwald’s sexuality. When the real man is finally revealed, he’s played by a snarling Johnny Depp, his hair dyed platinum and his manner suggesting a deeply alarming cross of David Bowie and Milo Yiannopoulos. We get only a few moments of his giddy Aryan flamboyance, but the performance so far certainly seems … suggestive.”

Okay, never mind. Given that Milo Yiannopoulos’ insufferable smugness provokes violent rage inside me, I think I’ll pass on investigating the scenery chewing further.

Back, forth, and sideways in Carrara

Back, forth, and sideways in Carrara published on No Comments on Back, forth, and sideways in Carrara

I dropped the idea of V4 bodies with G2F prop heads because I couldn’t figure out how to apply materials. Plus they looked like crap.

So I took a different tack. My main complaint is that Daz Studio native files take 500 million billion gazillion years to load and save, particularly G2F. The greater the number of morphs in a file, the longer Carrara takes to import the file.

I stripped down my files in the following way. First I created a lightweight version of G2F base by removing hundreds of morphs/pose controls unrelated to me, Jareth, Jennifer, and the faces I want us to make. Then I simplified the hair figures by turning them into character-specific props, thus dispensing with all the extraneous rigging and morphs. Finally I returned to those second-skin outfits that I spent so long on, using them instead of more Daz native clothing mesh files. In fact, the only Daz native clothing items I’m using are shoes. I’ve tested the results on me and Jareth, and the likenesses definitely save and load much more quickly than regular G2F + Daz native hair + Daz native clothing.

Tonight I need to whip up a second skin outfit for Jennifer. I’m thinking a dark blue T-shirt, arm warmers with black and white checks, and white and blue pinstripe pants. Need to add rear pockets and some sort of fly on the pants.

Hitting a wall in Carrara

Hitting a wall in Carrara published on No Comments on Hitting a wall in Carrara

As posted to Carrara board:

Last night I set up a V4-based character in Daz Studio. I dialed in the shape, added materials, then also hid the model’s head, substituting a prop head, which I parented to V4’s invisible head. I saved as a duf. Everything was behaving nicely in Daz Studio.

Then I opened the duf in C8.5. V4 + prop head loaded, but with some problems. The FBM that looked fine in Daz Studio came through, but seemed to distort and break the mesh in C8.5. Also the prop head moved from the precise location where I had parented it so there was a noticeable gap between neck and head. [AND none of the materials came through on the prop head, but that’s easy enough to fix.]

Does anyone have any ideas on what’s happening? I thought for sure that V4-based figures would load faster and work better in C8.5, so this obstacle is very disappointing.

On the plus side, I used default lighting and cameras to render a beautiful shot, just like the main promo, of HowieFarkes’ World Gardens Maze, which reminded me why I’m trying so doggedly to learn this software in the first place. ^_^

Someone told me that I had to remove all the magnets from V4, so I’ll try that this evening.

Very disappointing is an understatement. I’m really pissed off by the amount of time this back-end prep is taking. First there was the likeness problem, which required down-porting morphs, adjusting rigging, and making the G2F bases look as much like the G3Fs as possible. Then there was the texture problem — making sure that the G2F textures roughly matched the G3F ones in tone. Then there was the pokethrough problem, which required a dead-end detour into second skin clothing and was eventually solved with fitting clothes to a bodysuit. Then there was the excursus into texturing a standard outfit for everyone. Then there was the business of consolidating duplicate shaders, followed by getting fed up with how long it takes Carrara to save any changes to a G2F-based character. This was followed by an attempt to do V4-based bodies and prop heads, which required creating a G2F prop head with all requisite morphs, approximating characters’ body shapes with V4 morphs, making morphs for upper arm fat and for bulge in pants, converting characters’ G2F materials to V4 UVs, then adding custom character shapes to clothing with the help of Wardrobe Wizard. Just when I thought I had finally found a way to load my people easily and quickly into Carrara, this goddamn mesh distortion happens. ARGH, ALL I WANT TO DO IS PLAY WITH DIGITAL MODELS!!!!!!!!!
I feel like I’m never going to have my characters satisfactorily up and running in Carrara at this rate. -_-

To the Bat Fax III: Haranguing Government Officials on…murder of people with albinism and damming the Peace River Valley

To the Bat Fax III: Haranguing Government Officials on…murder of people with albinism and damming the Peace River Valley published on No Comments on To the Bat Fax III: Haranguing Government Officials on…murder of people with albinism and damming the Peace River Valley

I participated in an Amnesty International Write for Rights event this weekend. I sent a letter to the president of Malawi, telling him to take a stand against the murder and dismemberment of people with albinism for medicinal/charm purposes. I also send a letter to the prime minister of Canada, telling him to oppose a dam that would flood First Nations hunting/fishing areas, cemeteries, and sacred sites in Peace River Valley, BC.

Trying to figure out how to best support the water protectors at Standing Rock, ND. While the Army Corps of Engineers has denied the construction company a building permit, the fuel company has no plans to reroute or ultimately halt the pipeline. Thus the situation remains precarious and this victory partial.

This weekend’s back-end Carrara work: splicing figures

This weekend’s back-end Carrara work: splicing figures published on No Comments on This weekend’s back-end Carrara work: splicing figures

I successfully got my G2F digime and materials into Carrara, but G2F takes an incredibly long time to save — time that I could be playing with models, but in which I have to wait for the program to quit thinking. This is very annoying.

The Carraravangelists on the Daz boards say that duf-based figures like G2F take much longer to load than cr2-based figures like V4. Thus I got the idea this weekend to hybridize figures with V4 bodies and G2F heads.

Actually, it’s a modified hybridization because I’m not loading a G2F and a V4 into the same scene. Instead I made a prop out of the G2F head and added to it all the necessary expression morphs, as well as morphs for me, Jareth, and Jennifer. Then I morphed a V4 to approximate each of my character’s body shapes, hid its head, and parented my G2F head prop, appropriately morphed, into place. Look — all of the expression and accuracy of G2F combined with all of the quick loading of V4!

I would like to take this opportunity to state how much I hate V4. There seems to be no realistic way to smoothly distribute fats across the model. There always seem to be noticeable lumps with borders corresponding to the borders between body parts. Major morph packages also neglect key areas of fat, such as upper rib cage [between sides of breasts and armpits], elbows, wrists, ankles, and feet. There’s also something very, very wrong with the shape of her weirdly conical front upper thighs, which prevents the formation of a broad, columnar thigh with consistent girth. It’s just ugly and hard to work with.

On the plus side, though, I have scads of V4 textures, clothing, and poses, as well as utilities to make clothing fit my custom body morphs, so I don’t have to buy anything more. V4 also has two advantages over later figures: 1) Clothing hangs much more realistically around, between, and below breasts. 2) Fetish wear! Most of the fetishy digital assets I have are for V4, and they require lengthy, tedious conversion up the generations. Even then, the extreme shapes of some items don’t convert really well. [Ballet heels? AH HAH HAH HAH HAH!] But now I can use this stuff on the figure it was made for — a novel concept.

I should note that I have not yet tested my V4-based figures in Carrara yet. I should probably do that, huh? They should work fine, the only problem being the gap between G2F prop head and V4 neck.

1:6 scale sock sweaters!

1:6 scale sock sweaters! published on No Comments on 1:6 scale sock sweaters!

I have been on a sewing kick recently, ever since I started working with DollsAhoy’s raglan sleeve sweatshirt pattern last weekend. I have made 4 sweaters so far. My small populations show them off below in chronological order from left to right. Continue reading 1:6 scale sock sweaters!

Dia de los Muertos mermaid or what?

Dia de los Muertos mermaid or what? published on No Comments on Dia de los Muertos mermaid or what?

I have come across an utterly cool embroidered patch of a purple-grey skeletal mermaid writhing around an anchor. I really really really want one, but all the marketing I have found for this patch associates it with Dia de los Muertos. Despite the recent fashion trend for appropriating sugar skulls and other trappings of the Dia, I refuse to co-opt the holiday’s imagery for my own use.

However, I remain uncertain about this mermaid. Does she represent actual Dia tradition? Or are all the advertisers of her jumping on the sugar skull trend and using keyword spam? More research is needed. Either way, I really wish this trend would fuck off so I can find colorful, skull-embellished things without the risk of committing cultural appropriation.

Jareth fell on his can, and Caddie seized the opportunity.

Jareth fell on his can, and Caddie seized the opportunity. published on No Comments on Jareth fell on his can, and Caddie seized the opportunity.

Recent events in the mini universe demonstrate that Caddie the reanimated cat is, of course, as infuriatingly adorable as ever.

Sam, the large rat, has her origins in the magical labyrinth in the cellar of the pied a terre. She has apparently adopted Jennifer, who has accepted her company because she’s full of good advice. :p

I’m pretty sure that Jareth conflates Halloween and Christmas into a two-month excuse for ghoulish Yuletide imagery. [Jareth: “That’s the only way it’s bearable!”]

 

Continue reading Jareth fell on his can, and Caddie seized the opportunity.

Isabel’s shitty sock sweater and in-progress office

Isabel’s shitty sock sweater and in-progress office published on No Comments on Isabel’s shitty sock sweater and in-progress office

I’ve been focusing on digital for so long that I don’t even recall the last time I posted about doll-related creative projects! I’m shifting, though, away from an all-consuming obsession with digital to my first love, actual dolls. Right now I’m working on Zombieville stuff, but [eventually!] I’ll get to those BJDs who have languished, unfinished, for a year or more. [I’m sorry, Delmar and Fritillaria!] In the meantime, see below for details on Isabel’s wardrobe and workplace. Continue reading Isabel’s shitty sock sweater and in-progress office

Slant strikes again with gratuitous obfuscatory bloviation.

Slant strikes again with gratuitous obfuscatory bloviation. published on No Comments on Slant strikes again with gratuitous obfuscatory bloviation.

Anyone who knows me knows that I like reading books or articles of the so-bad-it’s-good type. As I have previously noted, Slant, a site dedicated to the fevered mental off-gassing of a bunch of straight white cis dudes who think they’re movie critics, provides copious entertainment. For today’s jollies, we turn to Chuck Bowen’s review of Anna Biller’s Love Witch.

Well, perhaps review is too generous a term. That implies a result both descriptive and analytical. Yes, there is [exhaustive] description in Bowen’s lucubrations and some ostensibly evaluative discussions. Mostly, though, it’s an incredibly intense experience orchestrated by an author that either a) won six consecutive Most Overheated trophies in the Annual Euphuistic Society’s Awards for Godawfullest Prose, b) needs an editor with a better bullshit detector to put a damper on that, c) gets hopped up on hella cough syrup before sitting down to the computer, or d) several of the above.

Basically, Bowen argues that, in the case of The Love Witch, form follows function. The use of bright, sensual Technicolor and other objectifying techniques from classic 1940s and 1950s films evokes the sensual pleasures of objectifying the performers. At the same time, the constant insertions of modern details remind the viewer of the messy, dehumanizing results that come from uniting objectification and desire. He could have just said that, of course, but did he? Nooooooooo.

Instead we have to slosh through a bunch of fucking metaphors [literally]. Bowen demonstrates his “cleverness” with statements like “Desserts are emphasized by Biller with a carnality that also rivals Elaine’s allure, as she rhymes sex and violence with immaculate pastries and sauces.” He caps his pièce de résistance with the claim that “The Love Witch is an earnest and haunting dramatization of this war [viz., between self-loathing because of one’s desires and the joy in gratifying one’s desires]. Appropriately, it’s both a pastry and a dildo—dipped in acid.” What the hell are we talking about here — a condom-wearing eclair that’s taken a bleach bath? How would the puff pastry shell maintain its structural integrity if it were soggy with hydrogen peroxide solution? Why is no one asking these important questions???

This review is the textual equivalent of Paul Jenkins’ infamous Lamborghini Gallardo stuffed with pudding and flying off the edge of a cliff. It’s ludicrous wankery created by a smug criticaster who thinks that overdoing it = cleverness.

It can only get better from here: pathetic first Carrara renders

It can only get better from here: pathetic first Carrara renders published on No Comments on It can only get better from here: pathetic first Carrara renders

Yay! I finally got something out of Carrara. I can only improve from here. Continue reading It can only get better from here: pathetic first Carrara renders

Dolls survey 1:3 scale food in prep for next month’s feast.

Dolls survey 1:3 scale food in prep for next month’s feast. published on No Comments on Dolls survey 1:3 scale food in prep for next month’s feast.

Yamarrah and Never the Less discuss menu options, with special appearances from Submit and Araminthe. Continue reading Dolls survey 1:3 scale food in prep for next month’s feast.

To the Bat Fax II: Haranguing Government Officials on…ACA repeal and Steve Bannon [again]

To the Bat Fax II: Haranguing Government Officials on…ACA repeal and Steve Bannon [again] published on No Comments on To the Bat Fax II: Haranguing Government Officials on…ACA repeal and Steve Bannon [again]

So apparently there’s a hierarchy of effectiveness in ways of communicating with one’s Congresspersons.

Some of the least effective ways include Twitter, Facebook, ranting blog posts, and other public, untargeted means of communication. E-mail is okay, but, like postal mail to a Congressperson’s Washington D.C. office, it doesn’t have the same immediacy and force as other methods. Writing their regional office is a recommended means, but calling the regional office highly increases one’s chance of a) actually talking to a staffer and b) having some attention paid. I suppose that the ultimately effective tactic is to buttonhole one’s Congressperson in the flesh, but that’s a rare opportunity for people on the national level. I’m not a fan of phone calls, but they look like the best way to reach the national Congresspeople, with letters to regional offices being a somewhat distant second.

Be that as it may, Paul Ryan [Speaker of the House] is getting a postal mail letter to his district office. I called his Washington D.C. office on Friday and filled out a phone survey in favor of the Affordable Care Act [and thus in opposition to Ryan’s attempts to gut it]. I also wanted to leave a message, but his voice mail was full and not accepting messages. Hah! That’s why I’m sending him a letter.

At some point in the future, I will probably run out of restraint, decency, and eloquence. I’ll just bombard my government officials with barely coherent outrage made up mostly of swears, but right now I’m still forming complete sentences, as seen below. [Obviously I retooled my anti-Bannon letter from last week.] Continue reading To the Bat Fax II: Haranguing Government Officials on…ACA repeal and Steve Bannon [again]

“Thank you for not being racist” and the distressing anomaly of decency

“Thank you for not being racist” and the distressing anomaly of decency published on No Comments on “Thank you for not being racist” and the distressing anomaly of decency

Marketing for digital models at Daz, Renderosity, Renderotica, and the ilk trades heavily in stereotypes. For example, there are the stereotypes of empty, objectified, conventional white cis femininity. There’s also the perennial portrayal of WOC as primitive and bestial, as well as the broken English that appears along with ads for Asian characters. And there’s the sexism, racism, ableism, and transphobia built into the programs we use to make our art. In conclusion, it’s pretty racist out there.

That’s why FeralFey’s products attract my attention. This vendor specializes in realistic poses for figures and regularly does packages associated with particular cultures/ethnicities. To see what’s so refreshing and respectful about FeralFey’s stuff, check out their V4 and V5 Voodoo Magic Poses; compare and contrast this package with Capsces Digital Ink’s  Madame Mojo Poses for Monique 6. Both sets are linked to WOC characters, V4 Mama Brijit for the Voodoo Magic, G2F Monique 6 for the Madame Mojo, but they each treat their subjects differently.

  • FeralFey’s promo shots depict a WOC as active, confident, and powerful, while Capsces’ promo shots depict a WOC as dehumanized, lacking in power, and pointlessly sexualized. FeralFey’s product promos have Maman Brijit dancing, invoking, drawing, and tipping her top hat in dramatic, full-body poses reminiscent of dancing. Her intense gaze and the strong angles of her posture demonstrate strength; even in poses named Entranced and Enthralled, her stances remain solid, balanced, and compelling. By contrast, Capsces’ promo shots show Monique pretty much naked, with goofy body paint. The near nudity combines with the character’s arched back and high-heel foot poses to place her in the pinup category. More subtly, Capsces’ decision to roll Monique’s eyes back in her head and open her mouth for many of these poses connotes an altered state of consciousness that may or may not be orgasmic. Plus there’s a snake or two in there for some reason. In other words, with unintentional double entendres like “parent snake[s] to Monique’s hip before applying pose,” Capsces’ promos show the tired old conjunction between a WOC and a transgressive, excessive, bestial sexuality.
  • FeralFey’s product shows the results of accurate research, while Capsces’ does not. FeralFey’s promo text uses the correct vocabulary of Voodoo, and the product even includes accurate veves [diagrams] used to summon various loas [interceding spirits between people and deities]. Meanwhile, Capsces’ product bills itself as “voodoo and witch doctor inspired,” which is code for “based on imaginary stereotypes.”
  • Finally, FeralFey’s promo text describes Voodoo differently than Capsces’. Capsces’ text settles for evocation of a stereotype, with “Monique…cast[ing] some dark mojo,” blah blah blah “voodoo,” blah blah blah “witch doctor inspired,” blah blah blah. Note the equation of Voodoo with “dark mojo,” which most consumers will probably translate as “incomprehensible black magic,” and “witch doctors,” most readily translatable as “evil wizards.” Basically Capsces says that Voodoo = evil magic. By contrast, FeralFey says only that “…the magic of voodoo enthralls the curious and ensnares the imagination.” There’s a distinction made between Voodoo itself and how outsiders perceive it. It might seem like puzzling sorcery to the clueless, but the information in FeralFey’s promo text reveals that Voodoo contains, in part, rituals to call on intercessors and/or deities so that people can gain advice and help. In other words, practitioners of Voodoo do what many other people in many other religions do. In implicit rebuke to Capsces’ exoticizing portrayal, FeralFey’s text insists that Voodoo is a religion like any other. Sure, it’s not perfect; FeralFey does use the adjective “visceral” in the description, which is code for “primitive,” but, overall, FeralFey’s Voodoo Magic Poses demonstrate respect and realism in opposition to Capsces’ stereotyped, demeaning cliches.

 
I was so overjoyed when I noticed the distinction between FeralFey’s stuff and everyone else’s that I sent a thank you note to them, saying much of what I noted above. In a sea of lazy, sloppy, unresearched, and racist characterizations, their [much more] respectful illustrations stand out as an example of what people should be doing. I get so sick of calling out racist bullshit that I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to congratulate someone for respect and inclusivity. I can tell that FeralFey works meticulously on all aspects of their creations, carefully crafting them for realism and respectful portrayal. I wanted to let them know that I recognized and encouraged their efforts. They wrote back and thanked me, which made me happy.

At the same time, I have the same sort of meta-reaction toward FeralFey’s poses as I do toward Dead or Alive’s gender-unmarked love songs or Queen’s respect for women. In all of these cases, the respect and decency of the artists toward their characters is really rather basic. And yet, because we live in a societal cesspit of racism, heteronormativity, and misogyny in which people are denied basic humanity because of their race, sexuality, and/or femininity, a modicum of authorial respect is mind-blowing. I don’t want to be surprised by Dead or Alive’s gender-free love songs. I don’t want to go into raptures over the love and equality in Killer Queen. I don’t want to write a thank you note to a digital artist for treating WOC like people. I want gender neutrality and equality of the sexes and respect between the races to be the standard, not the exception. And yet they aren’t, so my momentary happiness is outweighed by a greater structural disappointment.

“Quick! To the Bat Fax!” or, Haranguing Government Officials on…Steve Bannon

“Quick! To the Bat Fax!” or, Haranguing Government Officials on…Steve Bannon published on No Comments on “Quick! To the Bat Fax!” or, Haranguing Government Officials on…Steve Bannon

Like many things in life, my perspective on letter writing as a form of activism has been deeply informed by Calvin & Hobbes, the seminal comic strip of my childhood, by Bill Watterson — namely, the particular strip from which the title of this entry is pulled. However, I have decided to employ this tactic regularly, given the cesspool of which the incoming President seems determined to make of the national government. This week’s Bat Fax, addressed to Representative Pat Leahy [D-VT], Senator Bernie Sanders [I-VT], and Representative Peter Welch [R-VT], concerns the future President’s appointment of Steve Bannon to position of White House Racist in Chief. Text below.Continue reading “Quick! To the Bat Fax!” or, Haranguing Government Officials on…Steve Bannon

Oh great — NOW I find out about an anti-pokethrough product.

Oh great — NOW I find out about an anti-pokethrough product. published on No Comments on Oh great — NOW I find out about an anti-pokethrough product.

After toiling away for hours on second skin outfits and thus postponing my escapist adventures into the bucolic Carrara scenes I have waiting for me, today I discovered a product that should obviate almost all pokethrough: the3dwizard’s G2F Ultra Bodysuit. It’s a full-body leotard with lots of morphs and material zones to make it look like everything from armor to underwear to casual clothes. Thus I could use it as an easy source of clothing.

But the most helpful trait of this bodysuit is the sheer volume of adjustment morphs it contains. I can fit the suit to my G2F-based characters, then make it invisible, then fit all other clothing directly to the bodysuit. After that, I can use the suit’s adjustment morphs to selectively move the clothing mesh so that it doesn’t intersect with the characters’ mesh. This process seems like it will address Carrara’s woeful lack of smoothing modifiers.

I’m very annoyed that I spent hours on second skin manufacturing, when I could have been playing in Carrara now, if I had just employed the Ultra Bodysuit instead. However, during the course of my second skin project, I did learn a lot about constructing textures. The information will serve me well in the future, and I actually quite like texturing, which I suppose I should have gathered from my enjoyment in creating shaders of loud, tacky patterns.

Well, now that my urgent drive to get my characters Carrara-ready has died down, I can relax and focus on other creative projects, like preparing for next month’s VTDL feast-themed meetup, working more on Delmar and Fritillaria, playing around with some of the hordes of new digital assets I picked up in the recent sales, reading books, etc.

Second skin outfits in progress

Second skin outfits in progress published on No Comments on Second skin outfits in progress

I can’t wait to use Carrara, but even the luscious digital scenes of HowieFarkes cannot tempt me to go into the program without properly prepared digital people to inhabit the imaginary landscapes. Thus I have, indeed, been forced to wait, as I go through the laborious process of preparing digital me, digital Jareth, and digital Jennifer.

As I previously mentioned, my prep has taken a sharp detour into second skin clothing as a means of avoiding pokethrough. Second skin refers to clothing textures applied directly on the figure’s body that, with clever use of bump, displacement, and normal maps, as well as some morphs, can pass as semi-realistic outfits.

With no free or commercially available second skins out there for the V5 UVs, I started my own from scratch. Scanning my jeans and reconstructing them on the V5 UV seam guidelines bored the hell out of me, though, so I switched to working on the shirts. Once I found that approximating clothing is much more fun than faithfully reproducing, I abandoned my real-life jeans and headed into more improvisational realms.

I worked on Jareth’s outfit first. I began by matching as many clothing seams as possible to actual UV seams on the V5 textures. For example, the collar of his shirt matches the UV seam line between neck and shoulders, while the cuffs of his shorts match the UV seam line between thighs and legs. However, since the waist/hips UV seam is rather high on V5, I purposely dropped the waistline of the shirt. Displacement makes all these hems have depth in renders.

While I worked with some seams, I avoided, camouflaged, and/or omitted others. I didn’t add seams along the undersides of the sleeves and the inner and outer edges of the pants, as those digital seams would have crossed actual seam lines in the V5 UVs. While programs do exist that allow easy texturing across UV seams, I don’t have one, and I sure don’t want to make designs match across UV seams manually. Thus I decided to suggest clothing, rather than accurately replicate it.

Progress shots of Jareth’s and my second skin clothes are below. Continue reading Second skin outfits in progress

Digital vacuity and other promo pet peeves

Digital vacuity and other promo pet peeves published on No Comments on Digital vacuity and other promo pet peeves

hameleon’s promo shots for Soft Expressions for G3F exemplify that fallacious belief that a limp face, half-lidded eyes, and jaw floating slightly southward denote allure. The ad claims that the expressions are made from real women [in the same way that Soylent Green is people, I assume =P ], but that’s clearly not the case, as every real person I’ve ever encountered, even those with limited control over their facial muscles, has much more expressive features. Hell, I’ve seen mannequins with more character. The aesthetic of vacuity deeply disturbs me, as it is predicated on the belief that a woman is attractive only as a dehumanized, objectified thing, evacuated of personhood and individuality.

The only thing we have to fear…

The only thing we have to fear… published on No Comments on The only thing we have to fear…

Another 103% true story of life in the gender blender. Scripted before November 8th, but actually serves well as my response to the whole election debacle. Continue reading The only thing we have to fear…

Scanning my pants and other back-end Carrara prep

Scanning my pants and other back-end Carrara prep published on No Comments on Scanning my pants and other back-end Carrara prep

Posted to the Carrara forum on the Daz boards, though I doubt anyone finds the vicissitudes of my creative process that riveting:
After initial excitement and installation of Carrara 8.5, I hit a wall last month when it seemed like someone’s materials weren’t applying correctly. Well, the materials were actually fine, though there were duplicate shaders. I was just looking at the scene in a view that was NOT texture shaded. Once I figured that out, everything looked much better!

I haven’t been in Carrara much these days because I’ve been doing lots of back-end preparations.

1) I reduced the size of the G2F file by removing unused morphs. It definitely loads faster now.

2) I’m in the midst of modifying textures for my G2F versions of my characters so that they match the G3F base textures in tone and detail.

3) I made some custom textures for Ravenhair’s G2F Casual Jeans and T-Shirt for everyone to wear.

4) I encountered poke-through and Carrara’s lack of smoothing modifiers.

5) I added the ExpandAll morph to Casual Jeans and T-Shirts to override pokethrough.

6) I decided to forego morph-based or plugin-based solutions to pokethrough in favor of a 100% reliable solution: second skin clothing. That’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while anyway.

7) I discovered all of zero paid or freebie options for second skin clothing based on the V5 UVs [which all my characters are using], so, after a frustration digression with my V3[!]-based Clother by Zew, Texture Converter 2 by 3DUniverse, and Daz Studio’s Map Transfer function, I realized that I wouldn’t get satisfactory results from either V3- or V4-based second skins. I had to make my own.

8) I scanned my jeans, as well as my shirt, last night, downloaded SnowSultan’s V5 seam guides, and began filling in the maps with cut and pasted elements from the scans. I now have a waistline, fly, front and back pockets, and belt loops for the jeans, as well as a hemline for the shirt. The neckline is in progress.

“We would like to propose a summit in re: Nice Things and our apparent inability, as a family, to have them.”

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Sean Williams, author of the brilliant But I Want It column in Slate in which a parent disputes with a child, strikes again with Nice Things and Why We Can’t Have Them. In this column, the kids call their parents to an eminently reasonable discussion about the aforementioned topic, making such indisputable points as, “Then you said we could watch videos [on the computer] alone, but not while eating—which, we’d like to point out again, did not preclude drinking.” Genius.

Forced whimsy of Paul Jenkins’ Curioddity

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Curioddity by Paul Jenkins is about a P.I., Wil, who killed his imagination long ago when his kooky scientist mom died. He lives his days in miserable routine until he is hired to recover a box of levity missing from the Museum of Curioddity. Standard Issue Modern Fantasy Plot 11-J-X5 ensues, in which blah blah blah his eyes are opened blah blah blah to a second world of wonder blah blah blah that only a gifted few can see blah blah blah and he embraces the world of imagination blah blah blah and brings back joy and adventure to his days blah blah blah and his mom’s not dead after all blah blah blah. Well, okay, I’m only on page 64, so I haven’t confirmed the last supposition, but I betcha anything it’s the case.

I’m down with Standard Issue Modern Fantasy Plot 11-J-X5 if it’s done with verve, originality, a sense of humor, writing skills, talent, and/or some combination of the foregoing. Shame that Curioddity doesn’t just lack these qualities, but contains their antitheses in such quantity that it’s an actively sucking vortex of badness. Reading this book is the literary equivalent of watching someone, convinced that he’s an expert with guns, repeatedly blow bullet holes in his feet. Though Jenkins believes himself a talented writer, he’s actually not, although I suppose the argument could be made that his delivery of consistently excruciating prose could be some kind of anti-talent.

There’s something wrong on nearly every page. Here’s a sampling:

P. 4: “Wil settled into a medium-paced trudge, which soon took him across an old stone bridge in the center of town. … Each passing vehicle rattled the bridge in such a way that Wil was reintroduced to every single one of his silver filings as he crossed. Up ahead, an old brown edifice loomed on the skyline like a fungal growth of brick and mortar: the Castle Towers. Wil’s office on the nineteenth floor was the only place in town where he could afford the rent, and from which he was under constant threat of eviction. He glowered at the Towers, and they glowered back at him. It was Wil who blinked first. He sighed, feeling inadequate. If his life had a soundtrack, he imagined, it probably sounded something like this: Trudge, trudge, trudge…KLONNG.”

Jenkins often tries to be witty with his descriptions, but they end up as abstract vacuities. Case in point: Castle Towers. First described as drab and hulking, it then takes on characteristics of Wil’s melancholic worldview and becomes a “fungal growth.” Okay, fine. But then he has a staring contest with the building, and it wins. This might make sense if Jenkins personified the building, establishing that Wil perceived it as an enemy with personality, before it glared at him. But all we have to go on is a prior comparison to fungus, and fungi are not people. Fungi have many traits to use in metaphors — their quick growth, their sudden appearance, their proliferation during damp, the close resemblance of edibles with poisons, their smoke-like spores — but they have neither eyes nor temperaments. I’m left puzzling over contrafactual mushrooms with eyes, which do not exist and, as such, provide no interesting or useful metaphoric information about Castle Towers.

And then there’s that bit about Wil’s life’s putative soundtrack. I can understand the source of trudge trudge trudge, since Jenkins uses the verb in relation to Wil a godawful number of times in the first few pages alone. However, while the word does have a heavy, dull sound, it’s not really onomatopoetic. Thus it doesn’t work as a soundtrack element. By contrast, a verb like galumph, being imitative, would fit as an element in the music of someone’s life.

While I see where the trudge comes from, I have no idea about the KLONNG. Obviously, this particular word is onomatopoetic, but what is it referring to? It sounds like a ringing noise, but there are no clocks, bells, or any metal-on-metal impacts in the preceding paragraph to which it might conceivably be associated. And it’s certainly not the cars on the bridges or Wil’s filings in his teeth making that sound. These are portrayed as rattling, not issuing a sonorous single tone. At first, I thought that Wil had walked into one of the bridge pylons and conked his head, but nope. I suspect Jenkins might be trying for an Existential Knell of Doom, but there’s not enough textual information to support this interpretation.

Pp. 5-7: Wil visits Mug o’ Joe’s, “an isolated pool of happiness in his world” [p. 5]. Jenkins notes that Wil resented the cafe’s temporary name change to Ye Olde Towne Cafe so much that he boycotted the cafe till it changed its name to Koffee Korner. Wil orders coffee, rejecting the cafe’s lingo [Hefty] and insisting on a “large” [p. 6]. “I’m not using your terminology because it doesn’t make any sense. … Just because someone in marketing happens to own a thesaurus, and just because your shareholders insist all of your drink sizes must appear bigger than they are, and just because you are between liberal arts colleges … , it doesn’t mean I have to join in[,]” he says. Less than a minute later, he’s “glowering in the general direction of the Castle Towers,” reflecting that the “daily dose of caffeine confrontation … was beginning to grate” [p. 7].

What we have here, folks, is a paragon of self-serving entitlement whose unhappiness stems from the fact that the world nastily refuses to cater to his whims. Plenty of people roll their eyes and/or make jokes about the size of fast-food drink containers and their names. However, only a very few take these corporate decisions as a personal affront and upbraid the counter staff. And you know why only a few people deliver venomous rants to clerks who are doing a demanding, thankless job, earning minimal pay, and exerting no control whatsoever over their business’ beverage names? Because most people have a modicum of politeness, decency, and care for their fellow human beings that prevents them from spewing bile on others. Also most people understand that the fast-food restaurant that they choose to patronize does not have a personal vendetta against them, as expressed through product names that people might find absurd. That’s because most people have some small understanding of the relative priorities of the world, which, amazingly enough, does not revolve around them. Wil’s pointless boycott of Ye Olde Towne Cafe is accompanied by the sententious observation that “one had to make a stand somewhere” [p. 6], so Jenkins is trying to make Wil an acerbically witty, admirable teller of those little truths that are universally acknowledged, but never spoken. Nope, sorry, Jenkins — your protagonist is just an asshole who flies off the handle at innocent college students trying to do their jobs.

P. 20: The source of the KLONGG finally appears: an off-kilter clock tower that raises a cacophony and doesn’t keep proper time. “Wil hated this monstrosity more than he had ever hated anything in the known universe, not to mention a substantial portion of the undiscovered bit.” I dunno — he seems to hate the old stone bridge, Castle Towers, Mug o’ Joe’s, baristas, coffee, and all that is virtuous, shining, good, and happy a whole hell of a lot! Also the clause about the undiscovered bit doesn’t help. I’m sure it’s supposed to be a witty authorial flourish, but it just brings me out of the story and onto a tangent about the concept of the known universe — which, now that you mention it, is a lot more interesting than this book.

P. 34: Mr. Dinsdale, curator of the Museum of Curioddity, introduces himself. I’m beginning to think that Jenkins had one good idea — the portmanteau word of the title — and decided that was evocative enough to build an entire book around. Sure, it’s a great foundation…but only if you have more than a single good idea.

P. 42: Wil finally encounters the Museum itself: “ornate Ionic pillars … wide marble steps … massive lead-lined windows [suggesting] an expanse of space within. The building screamed ‘museum’ in much the same way a stadium with a diamond-shaped playing field might scream ‘baseball.'” You’d think Jenkins was being paid per word or something, as the whole last sentence could be replaced with It looked like a quintessential museum. Nothing would be lost, except for Jenkins’ odd preoccupation with failed personifications.

P. 47: Inside the museum, Wil feels intimidated by the sexy, but blase, desk clerk: “He’d never been very good at talking to members of the opposite sex, and whenever he attempted a genuine compliment it usual led either to a slap across the face or worse, an angry and enormous boyfriend approaching from the opposite direction.” Socialized masculine entitlement rears its head. He wasn’t hitting on them, honest! He was just “genuinely” telling them how nice they looked, and then they slapped him for no reason he could figure out. They just can’t take a compliment — too uppity. Or they sicced their hulking boyfriends on him. Women are so mean. How’s a Nice Guy like Wil supposed to get any action? This insufferably arrogant whingeing reads like the author’s self-insertion.

P. 49: Mary, the cruel desk clerk, strikes again: “His lifetime of reading women’s disdainful body language told him that Mary Gold’s ‘uh-huh’ could roughly be translated as, ‘You’re off the hook for now but one false move and I’ll call the nearest security guard employment agency and hire one just so that I can have you thrown out on your ear.’ Quite a mouthful, Wil thought, considering so little had actually been said.” Apparently it’s not enough for Jenkins to mention Mary’s loud, obnoxious gum chewing, her “disdainful” stare [p. 48], and purposely limp handshake [p. 49]. No, he has to go further and explain in painfully minute detail just how hostile Wil perceives her to be. Lacking confidence in the reader’s ability to draw conclusions from the information provided, Jenkins explicitly informs them exactly what conclusions they should make. Translation: he thinks the reader is a dolt. Strangely enough, I don’t particularly like it when my fiction insults me.

P. 65: “To Wil, events were now flashing by like a pudding-filled Lamborghini Gallardo that had been driving off the edge of a cliff. The whole thing was moving too fast, and while everything appeared to be headed directly toward a very damaging conclusion, he reasoned that the experience might at least be fun in the few moments it would take to arrive.” This simile makes no sense, and it’s not even interesting or entertaining nonsense. It’s just inane. I assume that pudding is supposed to connote fun here, but the author seems to have overlooked an obvious result of his hypothetical wacky scenario. Namely, it’s impossible to have fun in an out-of-control car, even if it is filled with dessert, for the simple reason that the car is out of control and will soon become a fiery explosion of death and dismemberment. I don’t know about you, but, if I were in this situation, I would be too busy screaming and flailing to enjoy any of the mousse slopping all over the passenger’s seat. In other words, a pudding-filled sports car en route to the bottom of a gorge is a mess, a terrifying mess…you know, kinda like this book.

What the fuck topped with fuck with a side of fuck?!?

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I bought the latest lite version [Manga Studio 5] of what was formerly Manga Studio, and the creators REMOVED the word wrap feature within text balloons that was available in Manga Studio EX4. I don’t care if Manga Studio 5 can import 3D models and allow people to poses proprietary puppet-like figures in the panels; it’s a useless piece of shit if it doesn’t have such a basic feature as word wrap, which is STANDARD on all other comic software I’ve run across. I am extremely frustrated.

Pete Burns’ lips, Angelina Jolie’s breasts, my hair, and the gender police

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Now that Pete has died, the usual commentary about his appearance has renewed with a vengeance. Pete had a long, long history of cosmetic surgery. He started off with a rhinoplasty around the time that You Spin Me Right Round peaked and continued with more facial mods. He suffered complications from his rhinoplasties, as well as extensive infection, hospitalization, bankruptcy, and depression following a thoroughly fucked-up lip job. [He appeared on UK TV’s Channel 5 Celebrity Botched Up Bodies with some truly disgusting details of how his body started disintegrating after surgery of dubious quality.] He also had countless reconstructive operations, and pretty much everyone on the Internet thinks that he looked much sexier before said surgeries, and they’re not afraid to trumpet this belief in offensive terms.

Anyway, a certain segment of the post-Pete mourning appears to be nothing more than the usual “He was so ugly when he died!” whingeing. The Mirror [UK] provides some representative samples. “Pete Burns was so handsome before surgery!”: fans shocked by his appearance as a young man, for example, contains quotes from irrelevant people saying things like, “Such a good looking chap back then. What possessed him?” Another Mirror article, One of the last pictures of Pete Burns shows shocking changes that left him like “Frankenstein” before his death takes the judgmental tone, with the author describing his recent fame for his “shocking” appearance as “sadly for the wrong reasons.” Thank you, Mirror — I was waiting with bated breath for your magisterial pronouncements on the moral acceptability of Pete’s more recent notoriety.

Those who condemn Pete’s latter-day appearance do not care about his bodily autonomy, bodily integrity, or his self-directed, informed choices. He explicitly stated on Celebrity Botched Up Bodies, “I realized that I was a visual entity and that I had to look good.” For him, the pursuit of this goal entailed surgical body modification. He seems to have been motivated in part by anxiety about his formerly broken nose [which left him “self-conscious” in front of photographers], the aforementioned belief that he “had to look good,” and the desire to keep his face from falling off after the bad lip jobs. Though his self-modification seems to have had its origins in deep dissatisfaction, Pete said, “I’m Frankenstein [sic!]. I’m feeling wonderful. … People might think I’m the ugliest son of a bitch alive, but I want to maintain this appearance.” In other words, he emphasized his conscious choice and embrace of his body.

This proprietary bloviation about Pete’s body pisses me off because, at base, it’s a form of gender policing. He was publicly acceptable “back then,” i.e., in the mid-1980s, because he was performing masculinity in a culturally acceptable way. Though his long curly hair and pouty lips were often read as transgressively feminine, his deep voice, dick-accentuating tight pants, and mediocre hit of heteronormative desire You Spin Me coded him definitively in the masculine category. His style in later years disrupted this coding. With his extensive plastic surgeries, he participated in an activity designated as feminine. Furthermore, the results — cheek and lip implants — altered his face in ways that were considered feminizing. His interests in wigs and heavy makeup were also seen as feminine. Thus, as he abandoned symbols of culturally acceptable masculinity and began performing in ways associated with culturally acceptable femininity, he messed up people’s nice, neat binaries. They felt uncomfortable and projected their discomfort onto him by calling him ugly for transgressing unspoken strictures on gender roles. Hey, look, folks — that’s some industrial-grade transmisogyny right there!

Gender policing like this happens pretty much everywhere. For example, when Angelina Jolie had an elective prophylactic double mastectomy in 2013, some people mourned the death of her boobs as if they themselves were personally entitled to them. In my own experience, when I first began to cut my hair shorter and shorter, some people reacted with sadness, insinuating that I was “prettier” with longer hair. Well, I was “prettier” insofar as “prettier,” a comparative of an adjective that is gendered feminine, connotes feimininity. I offer no coherent conclusion beyond frustration.

Pete Burns est mort.

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57. Cardiac arrest. My heart goes crack crack crack crack…

The Guardian’s obit says the following:

 

Burns became famous for his androgynous style and his progressive approach to gender. He often wore women’s clothes and, speaking to the Guardian in 2007, said: “Everyone’s in drag of some sorts, I don’t give a fuck about gender and drag. I’m not trying to be a girl by putting on a dress – gender is separated by fabric. I was brought up with an incredible amount of freedom and creativity. Society has put certain constraints on things.”

I find this quote curious because it’s not quite true. He evidently gave a whole bunch of fucks about gender…or at least his, since he defined his own and performed it with great joy, consistency, and relish until the day he died. More precisely, I think he didn’t care for the inevitable labels [crossdresser, drag queen, transsexual, f****t, etc.] that I’m sure accompanied public notice of his gender. I think this quote is more about him saying, “Y’all are so hung up on what I am or am not. You think I’m some weird deviant pervert. Well, I’m me, and you’re the weird deviant perverts for being so obsessed about it.”

Also The Guardian’s comment that he “often wore women’s clothes” doesn’t make any sense either. Reminds me of the Gender Aptitude Test in Kate Bornstein’s Gender Workbook. One of the questions was as follows:

Have you ever worn the clothes of “the opposite sex?”
a. Hey, give me a break. No way!
b. Yes, but when I wear them, they’re for the right sex.
c. What sex in the world would by opposite of me?
d. Several of the above.

I think D would apply to Pete here.

P.S. The Gender Aptitude Test has lots of entertaining answer choices, but I especially like this one:
Which of the following statements most nearly describes your feelings about gender?
a. My what about gender?
b. I guess my feelings range anywhere from anger and frustration to happiness and exhilaration.
c. Gender confuses me. I don’t know why it is the way it is.
d. I feel… I feel… I feel a song coming on!

“You reanimated my dissection cat?! Nice going, Dr. Frank N. Furter.”

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This mini universe digital photostory first came to me when I heard that Hivewire 3D was developing a new house cat model. Cat-loving digital artists rejoiced, as the models that we have been using, the Poser 4 Cat and/or Daz’ Millennium Cat, are woefully inadequate for today’s current standards of articulation, texture detail, and sculpting.

Anyway, the idea further began to cohere when I decided that Jennifer had a lab where she practices her questionably scientific experiments. Though Jennifer’s primary interest lies in chemistry, rather than biology, I figured that her curiosity could impel her to dissect one of the animals commonly used for dissection, i.e., a cat.

The idea really got rolling when I thought of Jareth poking in Jennifer’s lab and seeing a cat in mid-dissection. Being exactly who he is, he would do exactly what he has done below. In other words, The Cat Came Back was inevitable! ^_^

Continue reading “You reanimated my dissection cat?! Nice going, Dr. Frank N. Furter.”

Missed opportunities in Adam Cohen’s Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck

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This year, Adam Cohen came out with Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck. Buck, a white, working-class Virginian, was raped by the nephew of the Dobbses, the bourgeois couple in whose house she was working. The Dobbses thus had her categorized as “feebleminded” and institutionalized in the Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded. There she attracted the attention of various assholes [Albert Priddy, director of the Colony, Aubrey Strode, the lawyer who drafted the Virginia law, and Harry Laughlin, veritable Nazi who served as expert witness for the prosecution] who wanted to use her as a test case to secure the constitutionality of Virginia’s recently passed eugenics law.

Like many other states at the time, Virginia was caught up in the burgeoning enthusiasm over eugenics. Ostensibly about improving the human race through selective breeding, eugenics was actually about breeding more straight, white, cis, able-bodied, rich, smart virtuous WASPs like us and keeping those defective, vicious, disabled, vacuous, non-white people out. Anyway, Virginia’s law allowed state-sponsored sterilization of people with various “mental defects.” Despite the evidence being made up entirely of unscientific, sexist, racist, ableist, classist lies, the Amherst County Supreme Court upheld it.

The assholes, however, wanted their law to be ratified by even higher authorities. Buck’s “defense” lawyer, who was so in cahoots with the opposing counsel that his picture appears in the dictionary under the definition of moral bankruptcy, appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. The higher court upheld the appeal in 1925, and still the assholes carried bravely on. In 1927, Buck v. Bell went before the United States Supreme Court. The highest court in the land ruled in favor of state-sponsored rape, with a ringing endorsement coming from Chief Justice Asshole Oliver Wendell Holmes: “Three generations of imbeciles [Buck’s mother, also institutionalized at the same colony, and Buck’s daughter included, though no one had really tested Buck’s daughter’s mental abilities] are enough!”

Buck was re-institutionalized, given a nonconsensual salpingectomy, and not at all informed about the consequences of the operation. She was also deprived of the chance to form a relationship with her kid, who, for some reason, was being raised by the Dobbses, who institutionalized Buck in the first place. She was eventually released from the institution; she then worked intermittently as a household cleaner and seasonal orchard picker, married twice, apparently loved her husbands, and, when she heard about what the salpingectomy had done to her, always grieved her inability to have kids.

Laws such as the one tested in Buck v. Bell gained popularity, peaking in the late 1920s. The stock market crash of 1929 drew attention away from “mental defectives” and toward a horrendously tanking economy. It also didn’t help that the guy who served as eugenics expert witness in Buck v. Bell, Harry Laughlin, enthusiastically sucked up to the rising Nazi regime. Despite these factors and the expose of eugenics as junk science, legal eugenic sterilization persisted in the United States till at least 1983, when Oregon finally dissolved its Board of Institutionalized Bigotry Social Protection. In fact, Buck v. Bell remains “good law,” according to Cohen, and courts continue to cite it, even in this millennium, as justification for sterilization of disabled people. Indeed, the current fetishization of the genome and the rising popularity of genetic testing for disease markers both raise the unsettling possibility that the eugenics movement will pop up again.

Anyway, not only is reproductive rights a timely topic, but Buck’s story is a dramatic one, so Cohen has potent, pertinent material here. In measured, well-documented prose, he tells the story of Buck v. Bell with two chapters each on Priddy, Laughlin, Strode, and Holmes, bookended on either side by a chapter on Buck. He applies keen analysis to some aspects of the story, but totally misses other significant opportunities. Thus it’s an uneven book.

Cohen excels at his treatment of socioeconomic class, his analysis of Strode, and his takedown of Holmes. In terms of class, he is always attentive to the ways in which class pressures and expectations shape the players’ lives. He observes that the Dobbses’ push for middle-class respectability required the disposal of their working-class servant in a “colony” for the “feebleminded” when she had the audacity to be raped by the Dobbses’ nephew. He also demonstrates the influence of class in Holmes’ life; born among the socially conservative, neo-Puritan snobs of the Boston Brahmin class, he owed every single advancement in his life to the behind-the-scenes connections fostered by this good ol’ boys’ club. With details like these, Cohen ably proves that Buck v. Bell exemplified contemporary concerns about social class — in particular, the nasty poor people, with all their vices and feeble minds, becoming too numerous and steamrolling the awesome rich people, who were naturally smart and good.

Also particularly strong is Cohen’s portrayal of Strode, the lawyer who drafted the original Virginia bill and followed it all the way up to the Supreme Court. Scion of one of Virginia’s elite families and avowed Confederate sympathizer, Strode might at first glance seem to be a garden variety Southern bigot, especially with his hand in having nonconsensual sterilization enshrined as the law of the land. However, Cohen shows Strode as a complex figure, progressive in the areas of women’s rights and higher education, who probably didn’t even support eugenics at all. He purposely drafted the initial law to be as narrow and restrictive as possible, and, unlike Holmes, who wouldn’t shut up about his magnificent majority opinion, barely mentioned the whole subject of eugenics in his life afterward. Cohen makes these points not to garner sympathy for Strode, since Strode clearly chose to draft the bill and serve as prosecutor for the case, all the way up to the Supreme Court. Instead, Cohen’s portrayal of Strode’s ambivalence neatly encapsulates the country’s own ambivalence on the subject of eugenics.

Finally, Cohen does a masterful job of replacing the saintly ideal of Holmes with a more accurate picture of the man’s full character and motivations. While Holmes may be remembered for his aphorisms on free speech, Cohen argues that his upbringing as a member of the hierarchical, ancestry-obsessed, self-important Boston Brahmins largely shaped his political views. He was actually more of a pro-business, anti-civil rights conservative who regularly struck down or dissented on cases of reducing work hours for laborers or improving working conditions. He had an essentially passive, reactive view of the law, which was basically that it shouldn’t be socially activist in a way that changed policy, but that it should just execute whatever was passed until someone stepped forward to challenge it. This passive, socially disengaged perspective extended throughout his life; for example, he bragged about never reading newspapers and seemed to make a virtue of being clueless to events and trends occurring beyond the tip of his nose [except for eugenics]. Enamored with his self-concept as a brilliant, eloquent, accomplished genius, he chose to ignore the fact that his brilliance was completely untempered by compassion and social consciousness, his eloquence called into service for arrogant, venomous, mean-spirited opinions attacks, and his accomplishments largely the result of the socioeconomic class in which he was born. Cohen uses both close analysis of Holmes’ opinions and a close reading of Holmes’ private letters to effectively puncture the myth of Holmes as practically perfect. It’s very satisfying.

All this said, Cohen only tells part of the story. He fails to include material that would make his book even stronger and more convincing. His treatment of Buck, disability, and race are ultimately unsatisfying. In terms of Buck, though she has two chapters, just like all other major players, they are ultimately scant. For example, though Cohen refers to Buck’s elementary school report cards as evidence of her average mental capacity, he quotes them only once. Even more egregiously, when he has the chance to use Buck’s own words, he doesn’t take it. He uses the most direct quotes in the final chapter, describing Buck’s later years, including her efforts to have her mom de-institutionalized. Yet he also refers to Buck’s letters in general, commenting on the neat penmanship and only sporadic grammar mistakes. This leaves the impression that Buck produced a lot of firsthand documentation of her post-trial years that Cohen omitted, except for a superficial comment on Buck’s ability to hold a pen. For someone so insistent that Buck’s voice was never heard at all in these cases [beyond her statement at the initial trial “that her people” would “take care” of her, which suggests that she had no clue what was going on], Cohen certainly devalues Buck and her experiences.

My close reading of Cohen himself reveals telling details about why he silences Buck. He wants to depict her as a pathetic, innocent victim who did nothing wrong whatsoever and was totally betrayed by mean, rich men. To this end, he is obsessed with the adjective “helpless,” one of his most-used descriptors for Buck. Indeed, Buck was helpless before the straight, white, rich, cis, WASPy men who used their privilege to rape her, but she also had agency in other areas of her life. I understand that this book focuses more narrowly on the Buck v. Bell case, but Cohen’s exaggeration of Buck’s supposed helplessness turns her into a bit player in her own life.

Cohen not only fails Buck personally, but he also fails in his portrayal of eugenics in general by inadequately addressing the ableism and racism at work in its rise. Yes, I am aware that Cohen is telling the story of a white woman, Buck, who has no intellectual or physical disabilities. That doesn’t excuse, however, his omission of the ableist and racist implications of eugenics, as well as the ableist and racist purposes to which the United States put eugenics laws.

Beyond being a way for rich people to try to literally cut poor people out of existence, sterilization — and indeed the whole eugenics movement — was also against people with mental and physical disabilities. Cohen gestures toward this when he follows the history of sterilization laws, in which blind, deaf, and or “crippled” people were sometimes included as eligible populations. For the most part, though, he strenuously avoids a disability rights analysis. For example, his preoccupation with arguing that Buck wasn’t “feebleminded” seems particularly wrong-headed. Her mental capacity is important insofar as all the pro-eugenics people flat out lied in their claims that she, her mom, and her daughter had intellectual disabilities. But even if Buck and her family members were intellectually disabled, re-raping her via salpingectomy would be morally repugnant as a breach of her right to bodily integrity. Again, Cohen alludes to such ableist violations when quoting some anti-eugenics rulings, but he doesn’t face the infantilization and objectification of disabled people head-on. He seems more interested in stoking reader outrage by harping on Buck’s average intelligence, the implication being that institutionalization and forced sterilization of a person without disabilities is worse than the same fate for a disabled person. I smell ableism — and not just in the historical record, but in the historiography itself.

Finally, the whole concept of eugenics is a racist fallacy, pitting white/Anglo-Saxon/Aryan proponents against people of other colors with other racial identities. Cohen illustrates this well in his discussion of Laughlin’s sucking up to the Nazis, who, inspired by eugenics work in the United States, expanded the racism to genocidal proportions. Strangely enough, however, Cohen leaves out the racist practices fostered by Buck v. Bell that occurred in the U.S. As Nancy Gallagher capably shows in Breeding Better Vermonters: The Eugenics Project in the Green Mountain State, eugenics/sterilization laws disproportionately burdened not just poor people and/or people with [real or imagined] disabilities, but also people who weren’t white. In Vermont, the Abenaki Indians were seen as the racial undesireables and so particularly pursued for sterilization, but, in other states, other populations were victimized. Lack of attention to the racial minorities in the U.S. who were persecuted gives the unfounded impression that eugenic racism only happened over there in Germany, with those evil Nazis. No, it happened here too, and it’s vital to emphasize that it happened in the U.S. — indeed, pretty much started in the U.S. — because part of Cohen’s conclusion warns that the currents of eugenics may be at an ebb right now, but could easily swell again.

P.S. Cohen’s title, Imbeciles, also really rankled me. As I mentioned earlier, Buck was never categorized as an “imbecile,” but as a “moron,” both of which were official categories back then referring to putative mental age and ability. I assume that Cohen’s title derives from Holmes’ “three generations of imbeciles” bullshit and also the fact that “morons” just doesn’t flow off the tongue like the slightly longer “imbeciles.” Still, it’s a rhetorical flourish that’s factually incorrect. Furthermore, the placement of “the Supreme Court,” a group of individuals, right after the colon transfers connotations of “imbecility,” along with contempt and negative judgment, to the justices. Thus Cohen uses the tired ableist tactic of turning a term of intellectual disability, albeit outmoded, into an insult. In conjunction with Cohen’s problematic treatment of Buck’s intelligence and his general omission of eugenics’ ableist consequences, the title exemplifies Cohen’s own problematic perspective on disability.

Back to Manga Studio?

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Getting tired of the limited options available in Adobe PhotoShop Elements, mostly the lack of tails on speech bubbles. I’m thinking that it might be time to return to Manga Studio. It’s up to version 5, and it has apparently much improved since the previous version, with its obtuse GUI and complete lack of helpful documentation. There are also English-language reference books [something I didn’t encounter for version 4], such as Manga Studio 5 Beginner’s Guide and Manga Studio for Dummies. Hmmmm…Given that I do lots more photostories, doll and digital, than I used to, this may be a sensible investment.

EDIT: Okay, I’m convinced. There were very few tutorials online for Manga Studio 4, but a search quickly turned up hoards for version 5. For example, this tutorial in template creation is not only easy to follow, but it’s also by a fellow online comics artist who was previously using an Adobe product before switching to Manga Studio 5.

Makeup = paint!

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No one ever taught me how to use makeup. I therefore have always approached it as FACE PAINT. I don’t believe in makeup that idealizes one’s features subtly and does not advertise its presence. I believe in makeup that screams, “Look at me — I’m paint for your skin! Look at my nifty colors and specularities and textures and special effects! Aren’t I awesome?!” I also believe that, as long as you’re painting your face, you should put paint all over it. None of this dusting of eyeshadow and slash of lipstick business; I want layers. I want lipstick and lip liner and lip gloss and lip sealant [which, if it doesn’t exist, should] AND foundation and blush for the highlights and blush for the lowlights AND mascara and eyeliner and eyeshadow AND eyebrow pencil. Show off the PAINT!

NB: I also don’t use makeup on myself. I seem to really like designing it for my characters, however.

The “Gene Hackman in bad drag” song

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I have had a deep and unrestrained loathing for the song Celebration by Kool and the Gang, ever since I saw it in the 1996 English remake of The Birdcage, for which I also have a deep and unrestrained loathing. The song is now indelibly associated in my mind with the climax of the movie, in which the conservatives disguise themselves to escape paparazzi staking out the gay bar — hence the Gene Hackman in bad drag. I must say that he did very good bad drag, along with truly memorable Oh, sweet Jesus, what am I doing here?! body language, but I still hate the song…and the movie, the plot of which is predicated on a venomous level of internalized homophobia. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack.

Taking the Carrara plunge

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Excerpted from an intro post on the Carrara section of the Daz boards:

I’m a longtime Daz Studio user who just took the Carrara plunge last night. PC+ brought 8.5 Pro < $30.00, and the PA sale send-off allowed me to get Maple Meadows and World Gardens Maze very affordably. With all the included content in 8.5, plus its varied capabilities, I figured that was a deal too good to pass up.

I blame Howie Farkes for bringing me to Carrara. :p Maple Meadows, for example, is the only digital set I’ve ever seen that accurately replicates the area where I live [the Champlain Valley of Vermont], with its gentle, rolling, rounded hills. I am also a huge labyrinth [and Labyrinth] fan, so I just had to get World Gardens Maze. I haven’t seen any landscapes like these two matched anywhere else by any other software, so you might ultimately say that it was Maple Meadows that did me in. 😀

After using Daz Studio for several years, I have great familiarity with it. I basically use it as a way to play with digital dolls that I dress up to my liking, then place in various settings to act out multi-panel sequential stories [oh okay, comics!]. I’d love to use my Daz [and Poser] content in Carrara for the same effects. And here I come to my questions…

I read the Carrara 7 manual [except for the parts about animation, which does not interest me], but note that it does not cover using Gen1 and G2F content in Carrara. Are there tutorials specifically about using these new figures in Carrara? Do duf files even work in Carrara, or would I have to set up my characters from scratch in Carrara? Are there Gen1 and G2F things that DON’T work in Carrara?

I have to say that I’m really excited about using Carrara. After reading the manual, I think that the program seems clear and logical and maybe even intuitive in a way that Daz Studio isn’t. Daz Studio does so much, but its lack of documentation makes getting beyond a beginner level challenging. It also hides things in illogical places. Carrara’s rooms, plus its wizards to help you make terrains, for example, just make the software more approachable. Of course, a manual helps too, even if it is for 7. After reading that thing, I want to run my characters through World Gardens Maze and design some fantastical trees with heart-shaped leaves and do some spline modeling of jewelry and make some snowy terrain and import 3ds files… You get the idea. 😀

Fictional firms and other entertainments

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I amuse myself sometimes by making up fictional companies, usually of three surnames, the names of which throw entertaining connotations.

For example, in LHF, Anneka worked as an admin/copyeditor for a marketing firm called Popinjay, Curry, & Fawn. Curry and Fawn are, of course, legitimate surnames, but Popinjay is an obsolete term for a conceited airhead. Thus the company name suggests a ridiculous level of groveling and sucking up.

I thought up another one recently: Steele, Irons, & Paine. This is either an engineering firm doing sinister things in their basement or an aggressive, mercenary team of lawyers.

Gray and other color names

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I recently encountered a person with the first name Gray. English language mostly reserves color-based names for feminine first names [Rose, Violet, Pearl, and other floral or jewel names] or surnames [Black, Brown, Gold, Gray, Green, etc.], so I wondered the story behind their name. The answer was that their birth name was some “hippie” moniker that did not represent them, so they made a new name of their parents’ surnames. In this case, Gray was a surname transposed to first-name status.

This immediately made me think of a character who started off with a very unusual name like Rainbow Sunflower and then, as soon as legally possible, traded it out for Grey in an attempt to reduce noticeability. However, since the name Grey is unusual, just in a different way, the character would still gain attention for their name.

Recent digital acquisitions

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Daz recently had its annual Orgy of Consumption Premier Artists’ Festival, during which new products and related old ones hit the stands with a variety of deep discounts. I got quite a few things that I’ve been desiring, the following of which are my favorites:

  • DG Toon Style Hair Shaders. Combining ease of use with flamboyant color combinations, this product allows me to indulge my love of meretricious hair shades on pretty much any hairstyle in my runtime.
  • Any G3F pose collection by ironman13. I picked up Road Trip, Chat Collection, Steakhouse, Implications, Ornate Bathroom [with poses], On the Rails, and Emotions Running Wild. Though I dislike the feet on tiptoe and the arched back endemic to nearly all G3F poses, this diversity of poses makes translation of images from mind to screen much easier. G3F has way more bones than older Daz figures, so pose conversion utilities only get me part of the way there. I have found it much more expedient to stock up on poses designed for the G3F [or G3M] base.
  • DesignAnvil’s DA Let It Snow Shader. Haven’t used it yet, but it looks like a great way to easily add snow to existing scenes without a lot of tedious retexturing.
  • Oskarsson’s G3F/G3M Autumn Jackets. Finally, some realistic winter clothing for the digital Vermont winters that my people can wear when the Let It Snow shader attacks.
  • Faveral’s Medieval Market. I’m not really interested in the medieval part, so much as I am in the baskets of produce, with which I could conceivably make a convincing produce section, as part of my ongoing quest to replicate a realistic grocery store in digital.
  • Luthbellina’s G3F Broken Doll. A little bit frilly, a little bit silly, a little bit militaristic, and a little bit mecha, this outfit — with bonus robo arm! — is a whole lot of cool.
  • Valea’s Gen1 Pretty Basics Ballerina Flats. Simple, easy, widely applicable.
  • Arki’s G3F/G3M Eagle Guard Armor and G3F Rune Outfit. I normally don’t go for armor, but the Eagle Guard claws and shoulder pads, as well as the Rune cape, made me spring for these. Both sets in combination look like something from the Goblin King’s closet, if he were a little pointier and more vicious. ^_^
  • ImagineX’s Cozy Breakfast Nook. When I first saw this, I immediately knew that, with a different backdrop, this glassed-in booth formed part of Jareth and Jennifer’s pied a terre.
  • Blondie9999’s Gen1 Sports Clogs. I might as well have a pair of the kind I wear as house shoes all the time.
  • Stonemason’s Streets of Old London. In my ongoing quest to approximate downtown Burlington in digital, I have called into service the 19th-century brick buildings in this set, modeled by the master of built environments. Consumption Orgy discounts brought down the price from $42.95 to ~$18.00, making it much more attractive.
  • RawArt’s G3F Silent Sally. Totally tentacular and eeriely faceless, this character is a beautiful exemplar of sculpture, texturing, and poseability. Long segmented things don’t have a great track record of being easy to manipulate digitally, despite the so-called E-Z Pose technology that allows for mass rotation of segments. However, Silent Sally’s tentacular arms are relatively easy to position in realistic ways. I’m currently working on some hierarchical poses for her and her tentacles, and she’s just so much fun to play with!

Passive-aggressive note found in the wild: a job description for PERSON USING KITCHEN

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I found this gem of passive aggression on the shared drive at my current workplace. Apparently the former receptionist disliked the messes people were leaving in the kitchen, so created a job description for PERSON USING KITCHEN, printed it out, and left it on the kitchen counter.

I have copied and pasted the job description barely disguised rant below, changing only the identifying details of the company. Punctuation, boldface, and formatting come straight from the original.

 

 

Job Description: PERSON USING KITCHEN

 

The person using the kitchen has primary responsibility for the day-to-day clean-up of the Acme Corporation’s Building A kitchen, with the goal of increasing both the cleanliness and the general appearance thereof.  The kitchen user also works closely with fellow staff to manage all aspects of the kitchen program, including the sink, surfaces, fridge and floors. The kitchen user reports to everyone else in Building A at the Acme Corporation.

 

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS

60%        Wash your dishes.  Don’t leave them in the sink.  Put them in the dishwasher or wash them and put them in the rack to dry.  Even dry them yourself.  Put them away after they air-dry.  Don’t put away other people’s dishes. This just encourages them not to put away their own. Proactively load the dishwasher. All employees take equal ownership in a TEAM APPROACH to our COMMUNITY KITCHEN including loading, starting/running the dishwasher as well as unloading it. This is no single person with this responsibility – we should all do this freely. If you do not know how to turn it, on please ask a co-worker!

25%        Partner with your colleagues to keep the fridge pretty clean.  Friday is a good day to give it a once-over.  It’s actually kind of fun to find what other life forms have found fuel in neglected lunches.  Finding someone else’s ancient salad will let you feel superior for a few minutes, too.  On the other hand, don’t take someone else’s food, even if it is just a few tablespoons of salad dressing.

10%        Play an active, effective, team-oriented role in developing and implementing your own strategy for cleaning up after yourself.  You know what to do.

5%          Other duties as assigned.

 

Specific standards of performance will be captured as metrics in an annual kitchen plan.

 

MINIMUM SKILLS & ABILITIES

  • Team-oriented style combined with the ability and desire to achieve a high level of cleanliness.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and experience in exercising discretion in a potentially germ-infested environment.
  • Ability to motivate and manage our team to do the same.
  • Evening and weekend work is required to fulfill job responsibilities, except you don’t have to clean the kitchen on the weekend. Do that at your own house.

 

PREFERRED SKILLS & ABILITIES

  • Higher standards.
  • Experience living closely with other people.
  • A demonstrated ability to clean up after yourself.
  • Comfort with dishrags, kitchen towels, scrub brush and ice maker.
  • Ability to run a dish washer.
  • Willingness to ask if you do not know what the proper community kitchen etiquette is.

 


This masterpiece contains so many grace notes [?!] that it’s impossible to call them all out, but let me highlight a few favorites.

“Wash your dishes. …Even dry them yourself.” You can just hear the writer muttering, “Novel concept, huh?”

“All employees take equal ownership, in a TEAM APPROACH, etc., etc., etc.” Boldface and caps lock = srs bzns. So basically this entire document could be boiled down to “Use the goddamn dishwasher!!!!!”

“Finding someone else’s ancient salad will let you feel superior for a few minutes, too.” Author invites readers to share sneering contempt.

“5% Other duties as assigned.” I shudder to think.

“…experience in exercising discretion in a potentially germ-infested environment.” Some of these parody lines are actually kinda funny.

“Preferred Skills and Abilities: Higher standards.” Oh burn!

The Corset Question: real controversy or pornographic wish fulfillment?

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I was reading Wikipedia the other day and I came across an exhaustive article on The Corset Controversy. I read all the testimonials, arguing pro- and anti-, in various 19th-century periodicals, and I was like, “Is this for real? It sounds like something out of Penthouse letters.” My question occasioned an entire essay on the subject, cast in the form of a dialogue between me and Jareth. I’m just excerpting it here because I don’t feel like rewriting it univocally.

Me: Maybe you can help me.

Jareth: Certainly! Shall we parse the intricacies of Georgette Heyer’s complex portrayals of her female characters? ^_^

Me: No, but it’s tangentially related, insofar as I was reading about the Regency period on Wikipedia. Then I moved on to fashion in general, which, of course, got me into corsetry, which ended me up at an article called The Corset Controversy.

Jareth: Is this like The Woman Question?

Me: I dunno. What are you defining as The Woman Question?

Jareth: Oh, all that piss going back and forth in the latter part of the 19th century and the early 20th about women’s rationality, educability, legal rights, suffrage, etc., etc., etc.

Me: Not directly, although the two overlap chronologically. The Corset Question was a debate that ran on from about the 1790s to the 1890s. It was, of course, a disagreement over whether women should wear corsets, which was also referred to as tight-lacing or figure training. Detractors said that corsetry caused pain, squished the wearers’ bodies, reduced their lung capacity, muscle strength, and stamina, and ruined their health. Proponents said that, if practiced correctly, wearing corsetry was physically enjoyable, harmless to health, strength, and posture, and also fashionable/sexy.

Jareth: Are you sure that debate is over? –Because I don’t think it is. Whenever the subject of corsetry comes up online, usually in the context of costuming, Ren faires, and/or kinky clothing, there are always people who sound off on how disgustingly restrictive, painfully disfiguring, and generally evil corsets are. Then there are always people who are into corsetry who counter with something about it being perfectly fine if you do it right. Boy, is it tedious…

There are certain subjects, I think, that people have learned are bad through received wisdom. Like you should never put metal in a microwave because it will cause a nuclear detonation and wipe out your house. Or you should never trust a stranger who asks you for directions or offers you a ride because they’re clearly a child-molesting pervert who’s going to kidnap you, rape you, and leave you in a ditch. And you should never do any illegal drugs ever because they will either kill you the first time or damn you to a hell of escalating addiction and misery.

…I’d put people’s unreasoning objections to corsetry in the same category as stranger danger and the War on Drugs. People have worked themselves up into such a froth about the putative damage caused by corsets that they won’t stand to hear any actual information on the subject. Of course, the received wisdom is also so pervasive that it’s very hard to figure out what is true about corsetry.

Me: See – that’s kind of my problem.

…Reading selections of letters in the Wikipedia article makes me suspicious – specifically, all the pro-corsetry ones. Seriously, they all sound the same, especially when they insist over and over again that it was painful at first, but they quickly got used to it, and now they enjoy the “snug,” “tight” fit.

For example, there was a whole protracted argument in the Toronto Daily Mail about corsets, especially for girls and teenagers. It was in a weekly section called Woman’s Kingdom, and it started off on April 7th, 1883, with some mother asking if tight-lacing could be done without damage. There were the usual pro- and anti- sound-offs, and then there was a sidetrack about preventing girls from cutting the laces of their corsets overnight.

Here’s where I get suspicious. This is directly from the May 19th, 1883 Toronto Daily Mail in the Woman’s Kingdom section, page 5:

HOW TO PREVENT LACES BEING CUT.

“Mother” asks how to prevent her daughters taking off their stays during the night. I must confess I am a disciple of the old school, and believe in the efficacy of corporal punishment. The “severe punishments” …were whipping, which I administered. They were severe, but they served their purpose. Two applications prevented any further interference with the staylaces. I would recommend “Mother” to try the rod with her daughters. –STAYLACE.

ANOTHER PLAN.

I have a very simple plan to prevent my children cutting their laces when they are first put into tight stays, to obtain a temporary relief from the pain which is undoubtedly severe at first. When one of my girls disobeys me by removing her stays, I adopt this plan: After retiring, I fasten her wrists together with a silk handkerchief. This keeps her hands out of mischief, and she soon gets accustomed to the stays. –A.B., KINGSTON.

And here’s some more on the subject from the next week, May 26th, same paper, same section, same page:

CHILDREN AND STAYLACES.

I can entirely endorse what “A.B., Kingston” says, that the best way of punishing children cutting the laces of their stays is by confining their hands. Instead of a silk handkerchief I use a small leather strap, with which I fasten the wrists together at night to keep the hands away from mischief, and as a punishment I fasten the hands behind the back for the greater portion of a day. I find that a week’s restriction, which means a good wholesome position for the hands, induces a respect for the laces for all time to come. –A.R.

ANOTHER SUGGESTION.

I positively smiled at the plans suggested to prevent girls under training removing their stays, such as whipping them or tying up their hands. Mothers, listen to my plan. I get a small chain and a little padlock. When the stays are laced, I put the chain round the waist and fasten it with the lock, and put the key in my pocket, and there the stays have to remain till I remove the chain. Is that not simple? –COMMON SENSE.

Jareth: O_O Are you fucking kidding me?

Me: No! I’m legitimately getting this from pdfs of scanned Toronto Daily News microfiche that are freely available on Google News. Here’s a link to the head of the Woman’s Kingdom section for the May 19th quotes; go read it for yourself:

https://news.google.co.uk/newspapers?id=Yv1MAAAAIBAJ&sjid=9jQDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6659%2C4384004

 

 

 

Jareth: *clicking, reading*

Holy shit, you weren’t kidding. Wow, that makes me so sad.

Me: Yeah, but do you think that’s true?

Jareth: Are you seriously doubting the existence of corporal punishment?!

Me: I’m doubting the existence of bunches of people practicing what sounds weirdly like kinky bondage fantasies, combined with corsetry fetishes, on their kids.

…To me it sounds suspiciously like people getting a thrill from airing their fetishes in public through the medium of fictional letters.

Jareth: Oh… I was looking at it from a child abuse viewpoint. I can believe that it’s true because people visit all kinds of of horrible, degrading, painful treatment upon their kids.

I can also believe it’s true because of the simple fact that people wore corsets regularly  at that time. That includes kids! I’ve seen the ads for kids’ corsets, so it’s not like it was a rare phenomenon. Also there was a whole spectrum of attitudes toward corsetry for children, so naturally there would be people toward the extreme end who would lock their kids into stays at nighttime.

…I’m sure that some of the pro- letters were just elaborate whack-off hoaxes, but you say that this Corset Question went on for over a century, with pretty much the same arguments back and forth. I don’t think a 120-year-long whack-off hoax campaign over multiple countries, through multiple media outlets, is really likely. I think it’s much more probable that people were just coughing up the same pro- and anti- arguments at each other. Some of the pro- testimonials, I bet, were distortions and outright lies, and some were accurate reflections of how the writer perceived their experience. But I’m inclined to judge it a real controversy with real beliefs, real people, real stories, and real experiences behind it, even if it sounds pornographic.

By the way – I think you’re imposing your own modern judgment on this whole subject.

…Nowadays, pretty much no one wears corsets; they’ve gone from ubiquitous articles of clothing to costume-like things associated with extreme sexualization and kinky sex. You’re probably reading kinky sex back into the Corset Question because that’s what corsetry signifies to you, the modern reader.

Me: Mmmm, true. That makes sense. At the same time, though, I also see the Corset Question as intimately related to the Woman Question. If the Corset Question is about women’s physical freedom, then the Woman Question is about women’s legal and political freedom. The social body thus literally becomes a site for conflict as various people try to control it via the Corset Question, thus expressing their answer to the Woman Question.

Jareth: …So the Corset Question really is the Woman Question. Interesting.

Hey, can we talk about Georgette Heyer now?

Me: How ‘bout later? Writing an essay on the Corset Question just tired out my brain.

Jareth: Okay! I’ll hold you to that! ^_^

 

“Is that a lady?!” or, Further Tales from the Gender Blender

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Last night’s bus driver was extremely hung up on policing my gender, presumably to determine if I was performing female impersonation to avoid a $1.25 bus fare. The whole conversation was incredibly odd, especially since I told the driver three times that I was the transfer in question and also because the driver directed all questions about my gender to the woman who ended up apologizing to me. [Later conversation with the passenger indicated that she clearly identified as a woman with feminine pronouns, so I feel confident in gendering her as such.] Apparently I was both dubiously gendered and invisible.

It’s bad enough that people clock me as female and/or a woman, but I have a special loathing for being addressed as a lady. As the counterpart to lord, lady connotes high status, nobility, and superiority. Thus it carries with it the worshipful objectification that women have suffered for centuries from the perspective of men who could not see them as fully human and equal beings. To be called a lady is to be objectified and dehumanized against my will, an experience of which I am really not a fan. That is why I hate the term.

 

Continue reading “Is that a lady?!” or, Further Tales from the Gender Blender

Revenge of the gross ice cream: the sequel

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Following Jareth’s encounter with Mr. Ding-A-Ling in Ill-Advised Nomenclature and his and Jennifer’s run-in with Mr. Ding-A-Ling’s icky cousin in Artisanal Cones, it’s now time for a whole flotilla of ice cream vans, a milkshake of dubious name, and some close reading of an innocent [?] 1950s pop hit.

Side note: Through no fault of their own, the ice cream eating kids took a huge amount of time and labor. Everything went smoothly until I looked for a digital model for their headscarves. To be accurate to the style that many people around here wear, the digital model had to fit closely around the face and neck, with edges thrown back over the shoulders, covering all the hair [of course]. There are plenty of neck scarves, hoods, and head kerchiefs, but approximately zero headscarves of the type I was looking for. [I considered Oskarsson’s Gen1 Modern Muslim Girl and G2F Modern Muslim Woman, but both have little room to accommodate hair underneath them.] I ended up using Lyrra Madrill’s V4 Draped Hood, which I worked over tediously with D-Formers to make it follow the lines of the face closely.

 

Side note 2: Speaking of clothes, it entertains me greatly that Jareth almost always looks like he has just walked out from some other genre of story. This time it’s some Star Trek-like TV show, obviously. :p Jennifer, on the other hand, has a more mainstream style, but it’s still kinda weird.

Continue reading Revenge of the gross ice cream: the sequel

Rocky Horror contrafactuals: Mick Jagger as Frank

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Apparently Mick Jagger expressed interest in the lead role of Frank in the movie version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but Tim Curry got it instead.

 

My first thought on learning of this was, Well, if that had happened, we wouldn’t have been able to understand the lyrics. Seriously, I think Mick has a little contest with himself to see how unintelligible he can make his words every time he sings them. In a musical where the songs form an integral part of the plot, characters, and story, I shudder to think what he’d do to…oh, pretty much any of the words.

 

My second thought was a question. Why would the head of the [arguable, self-billed] World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band be interesting in taking time out from his busy schedule of writing songs, subsequently mangling the lyrics in concert, wielding his pelvic in a manner specifically calculated to freak out the straights, and rolling in dough to star in a cheap pastiche of B movie horror?

 

I’ve found two related answers. First, Mick has a side interest in acting, the same way David Bowie did. The role of Frank, with its hammy lasciviousness, fits in with Mick’s performing persona, so it’s a good match there too.

Second, I guess the Rolling Stones’ popularity waned in the early and mid 1970s. Though they remained popular with listeners, they didn’t sell as well as they had in the later 1960s. The rock establishment tended to regard them as irrelevant sell-outs.

 

In this context, Mick’s interest in Rocky Horror makes a little more sense. Contrary to my assumption, I guess he wasn’t busy being a superstar — or at least he had more free time around 1974 than he did about ten years earlier, when I Can’t Get No Satisfaction came out. The Stones’ comparative lull of the mid 1970s  gave Mick time in which to entertain alternatives, including cut-rate, campy movies based on successful stage shows.

Zombieville Chapter 12.6: Peter Paxton in the Flesh

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Isabel and the person in Rumpy Pumpy discuss the power of cult movies. They also, much to their embarrassment, eventually recognize each other.

Continue reading Zombieville Chapter 12.6: Peter Paxton in the Flesh

Bishoujo style Jareth?

Bishoujo style Jareth? published on No Comments on Bishoujo style Jareth?

Last night I sprang for the long-limbed, big-eyed Star 2 for G3F by LadyLittleFox, Cake One, and Traveler. All the renders on the Daz boards made her look irresistibly adorable, especially when blended with other G3F characters. I wanted to see how my digital people would look if Starified. Continue reading Bishoujo style Jareth?

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