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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?

The Corset Question: real controversy or pornographic wish fulfillment? published on No Comments on The Corset Question: real controversy or pornographic wish fulfillment?

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?

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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?

The four -sexes, or, The curious absence of Nussex

The four -sexes, or, The curious absence of Nussex published on 1 Comment on The four -sexes, or, The curious absence of Nussex

I grew up in Essex Center, Vermont, and, on my frequent travels through the state, cracked up at the highway sign announcing an exit to Middlesex. Being a etymology nerd, I thus had ample time to contemplate the two -sex towns in my state. Where did their names come from?

 

The most immediate antecedent to both Essex and Middlesex is England. Like so many New England names in the region, the towns of Vermont recapitulate place names of Old England. Essex is a county in southern Old England. Middlesex is another.

 

But what do such town names mean? Again the map of England holds a clue. Besides Essex and Middlesex, England also has areas by the names of Sussex [East and West]. Additionally, Wessex was historically a kingdom in southern England. Furthermore, while there is no contemporary place name of Wessex, Thomas Hardy’s fictional Wessex has had such an influence on the region that it may be used today to describe the region in the southwest of the country. In conclusion, Essex, Wessex, Middlesex, and Sussex all cluster in the same southern region of England.

 

At one point, I stared at all the -sexes I knew and realized that they followed a pattern. They each denote a relative direction. Obviously Middlesex is “the middle -sex.” Essex is “the east -sex.” Thus Wessex is “the west -sex” and Sussex “the south -sex.” The prefixes of the –sexes function as geographical markers.

 

Having solved a long-standing [at least in my own head] mystery about the sources of the -sexes, I then moved onto the next logical step: the meaning of -sex itself. The Oxford English Dictionary, quoted in the article on Wessex, says that -sex derives from the Old English Seaxe, meaning “Saxons.” The -sexes then point out the geographical distribution of various Saxon settlements: Essex for the Saxons to the east, Wessex for the Saxons to the west, Sussex for the Saxons to the south, Middlesex for the Saxons in the…uh…middle.

This information only led to a further question. Extant -sexes represent three cardinal directions [east, west, south] and one relative one [middle]. But what about the missing cardinal direction? Shouldn’t there be a “north sex?” Presumably it would be called something like Nussex or Norsex, by extension from Sussex, but it doesn’t exist.

 

Though the absence of Nussex has pissed me off for years, I have finally figured out why it doesn’t exist. There is no Nussex because it is the default -sex. In other words, it was the Saxon settlement used as the original reference point for the names of the rest of the -sexes. In the same way that the state of Virginia has no geographical adjective, but the later and geographically relative state of West Virginia does, so the -sex used as the point of comparison for all others would remain uninflected. Only those –sexes developing chronologically after and in relation to the original -sex needed geographical adjectives after all.

 

There — now you know everything I know about the four -sexes.

Diversity, deviance, perversion, transgression, and the negative connotations of difference

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I love words of Latin origin for turning and going and progressing, which brings me to the cluster of diversity, deviance, perversion, and transgression. Interestingly, all of these have negative connotations, except for diversity, which has somehow escaped the specter of badness.

Let’s start with deviance. It’s from de-, Latin for “away from,” and via, Latin for “way” or “path.” Thus deviance means “going off the beaten path.” In its primary, popular definition, it means “disgusting, immoral criminality and/or sexual behavior.” Example: The deviance of pedophilia represents significant sexual dysfunction. In conclusion, deviance is gross.

Perversion is pretty close to deviance. From Latin pervertere, “to overthrow or overturn,” and thus from per-, “away from,” and Latin vertere, “to turn,” it means “turning the wrong way.” Perversion has never had positive connotations; it’s always about making changes for the worse. More recently, it has also developed connotations of deviant [har] sexuality, thanks to the sexologists of the end of the 1800s who used pervert to mean “someone who has sex in other than a prescribed heteronormative manner.” In conclusion, it’s another word of bad progression.

We now come to transgression. This is from Latin trans-, “through, across, or beyond,” and gressus, “going.” The sense is of “crossing a line” or “going beyond a [legal] limit.” Transgression thus connotes egregious behavior. More than that, it connotes sin, as it tends to be associated with the Christian characters Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil after God told them not to. Oh look — another term of disgusting degeneracy!

These few examples suggest that English words of Latin origin in which people lose their way tend to be loaded with negative judgment. So what’s up with diversity? Coming from Latin de-, “away from,” and vertere, “to turn,” why isn’t it like perversion and deviance? The source material for diversity is very similar to that of perversion and deviance, but somehow diversity has now ended up as a neutral English noun meaning “great variety.” Furthermore, diversity may even signify a positive celebration of the many differences, particularly among a group of people.

The deviation of diversity from the perverted connotations of its cousins becomes more puzzling when one learns that it used to have a negative definition, which is now obsolete. Diversity meant “contrariness or perverse adherence to something wrong” in English from the late 1400s and through the 1500s, but was out of use by the 1600s.

 

I wish that I had some definitive answer to the question of diversity’s goodness. I don’t, but it’s still fascinating to ponder.

I’m digging this fusion character.

I’m digging this fusion character. published on No Comments on I’m digging this fusion character.

I just watched the latest Steven Universe episode, Mindful Education, which features my absolute favorite character of the whole series: Stevonnie. Stevonnie is a magical fusion of protagonist Steven and his best friend Connie. Together they make one person, Stevonnie, who blends characteristics of their source material, both physically and characterologically. For example, Stevonnie has Steven’s gem located at their navel, and they also have Connie’s lithe physicality. Personality-wise, Stevonnie seems to be more mature and reflective than either Steven or Connie on their own, suggesting that the two bring out the best in each other. Also, interestingly enough, Stevonnie is much more at home with magic, transformation, teleportation, flying, etc., etc., etc., than either Steven or Connie separately, possibly because they’re a product of magic themselves. Also they’re incredibly cute!

 

Aaaaaaanyway, with thoughts of fusions on my mind, I returned to a fusion character of my own that I thought up 17 years ago: Nova, which was me + Frank. Now that I have Daz Studio and all the appropriate tools, I can mess around with morph dials and actually create digital representations of such blended characters, so I did! I made a digital Nova, who is not appearing here because she’s not my focus.

My interest this evening was in doing a digital combination of me + Jareth. I’m digging the result, shown below in the middle with me on the left and Jareth on the right. I’m actually thinking that Jareth should be looking a little more like the middle facially, so maybe it’s time for me to change his digital likeness.

 

Continue reading I’m digging this fusion character.

I have a sewing machine! I can do this!

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Instructables instructions on how to make a clip-on tie.

These do not seem to take much fabric, so they would be a perfect use of some of those meretricious pieces of fabric that I got for Isabel’s shirts and have not yet used.

Obviously I need to make clip-on ties with all my skull fabric [especially the flowery skulls!], my spiderweb fabric, and possibly my graveyard fabric. Those will definitely look business professional. :p

Time for new work clothes…

Time for new work clothes… published on No Comments on Time for new work clothes…

If I could afford to replace my entire wardrobe at once, which I can’t, I would probably get a bunch of the following: dress shirts, clip-on ties, vests, and pants. Ideally all the pants would be in tan, navy blue, black, and all the shirts would be in loud solids, like magenta, bubblegum pink, blood orange, carmine red, that sort of thing. If I could find a source for loud dress shirts for people with breasts, that would be a start…

EDIT: Someplace like this, Six Star Apparel and Uniforms, might satisfy my need for dress shirts and vests for people with breasts. Prices look reasonable too, and they even have plus sizes! Hmmm…

EDIT 2: Oooooh, I’ve just discovered Six Star’s mother lode of tacky, affordable vests!!!!!

Basic black! …And with a triangular pattern because it looks cooler!

Shiny gold floral with notched collar!

Dark red jacquard “symphony vest,” whatever that is!

Simple vest that comes in a variety of more and less obnoxious colors!

And my favorite, shiny purple stripes and polka dots!

Also dress shirts in a variety of colors!

The ice cream contains WHAT?

The ice cream contains WHAT? published on No Comments on The ice cream contains WHAT?

The corollary to Mr. Ding-A-Ling, this experience is based on an encounter with a local parlor’s odd flavors. Sometimes unusual flavors can be delicious — I myself have had wonderful cucumber sorbet, wasabi ice cream, and strawberry basil ice cream — but sometimes I get the feeling that the makers are just being weird for weird’s sake.

 

Side note: You can tell that it’s coming along autumn when Jareth breaks out the combo of slit throat choker and phalanges jewelry! ^_^

 

Side note 2: My favorite expression in this story is Jennifer’s in panel 8. That’s disappointment and revulsion all rolled into one if I ever saw it!

 

Continue reading The ice cream contains WHAT?

The ice cream van is named WHAT?!

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Jareth encounters an oddly named ice cream van. Yeah, ice cream. That’s what this photostory is about: ice cream. :p

P.S. There is a real, actual, 103% true ice cream van by this name that drives around Winooski. I am not making this up. [My fictional ice cream truck would probably be something like Creemees 2 Go or Artisanal Cone Productions, Inc.]

Continue reading The ice cream van is named WHAT?!

The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Dead or Alive — parallels

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Dead or Alive frequently looks and sounds to me like a New Wave version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show [1975], except, to use the immortal words of Rantasmo, with “more gay.” For example, the music video for Something in My House [1986] provides many echoes of the whole Rocky Horror movie and especially Sweet Transvestite. It would be a crying shame not to use all the screencaps I already generated from my Something in My House audience participation snark, so let’s see some of them again, shall we? This time, they’ll be accompanied with screenshots from similar moments in Rocky Horror.

 

First things first. Here’s Sweet Transvestite, featuring words ‘n’ music by Richard “I Hate Myself” O’Brien, as well as enough bananas on ham to feed the entire state of Vermont, contributed by Tim Curry [Frank], Susan Sarandon [Janet], and Barry Bostwick [Brad]. And here’s Something in My House, featuring words ‘n’ music by Dead or Alive, as well as drama and histrionics contributed by Pete Burns [singer] and Steve Coy [drummer]. Look; listen, and learn. Continue reading The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Dead or Alive — parallels

Something in My House, bananas-on-ham fit throwing, and the sheer beauty of Pete Burns’ melodramatic petulance

Something in My House, bananas-on-ham fit throwing, and the sheer beauty of Pete Burns’ melodramatic petulance published on No Comments on Something in My House, bananas-on-ham fit throwing, and the sheer beauty of Pete Burns’ melodramatic petulance

The title says it all, folks. The music video for Something in My House epitomizes Dead or Alive’s combination of playfulness, silliness, and camp so high that it’s smoking pot somewhere in the stratosphere. Speaking of bananas on ham, there are actual bananas in the video [and maybe actual ham, although I’ve never gotten a close look at the smorgasbord], which means that Pete is quite literally chewing the scenery. I feel that this is what The Rocky Horror Picture Show should have been like — a goofy celebration of flirting with and mugging for the crowd — instead of being a toxic pile of transmisogynist waste that derided the over-the-top character it supposedly centered around. Hmmmm, I smell another essay in the works about camp in RHPS versus camp in Dead or Alive.

Anyway, this entry is mainly an excuse for copious screencaps and sarcastic comments…Continue reading Something in My House, bananas-on-ham fit throwing, and the sheer beauty of Pete Burns’ melodramatic petulance

“Door & windows — divorced, just like Mommy and Daddy”: the educated snark of Worst of McMansions

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Worst of McMansions, which recently debuted on the Tumblr scene, unites architectural savvy with humorous sarcasm to devastating effect. Kate’s clever potshots at the bloated houses built during the real estate bubble of the 1990s through mid 2000s are comedy gold; check out her photo annotations on this Mclean, Virginia monstrosity. I’d love to link to her autobiography, but I can’t find it.

EDIT: I found it.

Dead or Alive, Too Hard to Swallow — Part III — Effects on the Band

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Being the third in a multipart essay on a) the queer aesthetics of Dead or Alive, b) the effects thereof on the band, and c) the effects thereof on Pete Burns, with AIDS panic and transmisogyny for good measure!

I previously engaged in long, hard study of Dead or Alive’s performances and music to bring you the penetrating news that, first, they were all about the gay imagery and, second, they were all about the gender-bending. Now we’ll examine the effects of said performance and reputation on Dead or Alive’s popularity. Basically I argue that the homophobic and transmisogynist hostility to Dead or Alive hampered their mainstream success.

An in-depth view of You Spin Me Round Like a Record — and, more specifically, what it conspicuously lacks — demonstrates the cultural prejudices arrayed against Dead or Alive. You Spin Me, as I mentioned in Part I, is the song for which the band is best known, at least in the US, UK, and Canada [which all are, of course, the center of the world 😛 ]. Analysis of the reasons for its success leads me to the conclusion that it succeeded mostly on the strength of being neither homoerotic nor generally genderqueer. Yes, folks, I’m saying that the song topped the charts due to the sheer power of its mediocrity.

Now I’m not arguing that lack of homoerotic and genderqueer content automatically makes You Spin Me dull; instead I’m arguing that it charted because it was one of the least queer, most heteronormative, least innovative, and generally commercially safest in Dead or Alive’s oeuvre. In no particular order, here are my reasons for the song’s boringness:

  1. Musically speaking, You Spin Me demonstrates a conservative dependence on other artists’ work. According to Wikipedia, Pete’s autobiography states that the song arose from his mental mashup of Luther Vandross’ I Wanted Your Love and Little Nell’s See You Round Like a Record. I don’t count this as much of a strike against the song, as it’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it, but I know that Dead or Alive can do cool, creative reinterpretations of others’ songs [ref. their cover of That’s The Way I Like It]. However, You Spin Me, which is neither original or daring, doesn’t come anywhere close to That’s the Way I Like It.
  2. Furthermore, the lyrics play it straight. A significant number of Dead or Alive’s songs either leave the identity of the singer’s lover ungendered and/or insinuate that the singer is a dude singing about another dude. By contrast, You Spin Me has a male singer addressing someone as baby, a feminized diminutive, thus implying the male singer’s interest in a female person, i.e., heterosexual desire.
  3. It’s not funny. I earlier derided Dead or Alive’s lyrics as generic, but that was before I detected the sly humor at work in some of their stuff. This wryness appears in Brand New Lover, in which the peripatetic singer frankly wishes for “someone who will lie to me” and pretend not to notice his constant infidelities. Many of the homoerotic double entendres are also pretty entertaining, as when the lyrics of Something in My House wonder “what might have been / If I’d never met that wicked queen.” Queen qua regal woman or queen qua gay guy? I opt for b), given the total context of Dead or Alive’s preferred imagery. Anyway, the point remains that You Spin Me, with its simple, generic declaratives, has none of this humor.
  4. Even the supporting material is unusually subdued. The music video, for example, features the band mostly singing into the camera, occasionally tied up in ribbons and sometimes waving flags, with breaks to show an out-of-focus disco ball. Pretty much nothing happens in it, although we do see Pete dancing wiggling slightly, as some people’s hands, adorned with golden nails, appear from behind him. I understand [from the Wikipedia article again] that they did this on the cheap, but it completely avoids the energetic abandon of all other music videos of theirs I’ve seen.

To summarize, You Spin Me eschews all those potentially controversial aspects of Dead or Alive’s music and image: the homoeroticism, the genderqueerness, and the tongue-in-cheek humor. The song plays it safe melodically with its homage to other artists’ hits. The lyrics describe a thoroughly average experience of heteronormative lust. The song is completely without the humorous glints of self-awareness and/or homoerotic allusions prevalent in other songs. More than that, even the music video shows Dead or Alive in a quiet, physically restrained [literally, by the ribbons!] physical presentation. Pete’s purple loungewear aside [seriously, what is that revolting thing?!], the video showcases nothing remarkable. In other words, You Spin Me gains significance for those qualities conspicuous by their absence in it, not because it has some positive greatness.

You Spin Me is both Dead or Alive’s least quintessential song and also their most popular and commercially successful. I acknowledge that some of their other songs did chart and achieve popularity, particularly in the UK and Japan, but mainstream culture regards the group as a one-hit wonder with You Spin Me as their emblem. That’s because, in the homophobic 1980s, during which people were having moral freakouts over the AIDS crisis, Dead or Alive’s ebullient, flamboyant homoerotic image, genderqueerness, and playful, funny performance of sexuality had little appeal. Only when the band toned down or even excised these aspects could they achieve a chart-topping hit.

 

The case study of You Spin Me suggests that the homoerotic and genderqueer aesthetics of Dead or Alive manifested in some ways as absences. They played up these aspects in many of their songs, videos, and concerts, but the presence of such tropes led to a mainstream cultural censorship. We found Dead or Alive too hard to handle in the 1980s, so we ignored them, denied them popular and commercial success, and thus absented them from widespread familiarity. When they evacuated their signature aesthetics from You Spin Me in a sort of creative absence, we rewarded them by acknowledging their existence and granting pop cultural success. These absences at play conjure up the metaphorical space of an artistic closet, a homophobic construction created when the audience willfully avoids things it doesn’t want to accept and the artists go along with it by pretending not to evince said traits.

 

Tune in next time when I focus my attention on Pete’s image in particular and the ways in which homophobia and transmisogyny have played out more recently in his life.

Other parts of this essay:

Part I — The Homoeroticism.

Part II — The Genderqueering.
Part I Addendum — Extreme Homoeroticism.

Wait…that’s not the usual way to listen to music?

Wait…that’s not the usual way to listen to music? published on No Comments on Wait…that’s not the usual way to listen to music?

When I find a song that I particularly like, I play it over and over. There’s a reason I’ve referred to endless repeat elsewhere on this blog — because my new favorites go into heavy rotation. While heavy rotation in radio station terms seems to mean playing the same song once or twice an hour for six weeks, the same phrase in MW terms means playing the same song over and over, several hours a day, for two to six weeks.

I listen to song until I know every note, every silence, every enunciation and slur of the vocals, all the reverbs on the percussion, every nuance of the lyrics, every single minute detail. The song becomes so familiar that it becomes as customary to me as my own thoughts. It’s like breaking in a pair of shoes and starting off with the pinch and pain, but then making them comfortable, so that one can then revel in the pure flow of walking movement without interruption. I play the song so often that it softens and disintegrates, becoming part of me. The song melts down into background noise, an ambient sea of sounds and connotations.

Then, somehow, the song hangs around for so long, unexamined, that I inevitably bring it back for a closer look. It loops back around into novelty, whereupon I begin to inspect it more closely. Now I can compare the baseline to others songs from the same period; now I can detect the subtle, self-mocking humor at work in the words; now I can identify why I find that pitch change right there so irritating… I look at something that I haven’t thought about in a while and realize why I sent it temporarily down to another level of my consciousness, only to later retrieve it. By dint of pure unstinting sensory feed, I absorb a close understanding of the musical text.

Apparently this is not the way that the vast majority of people listen to music. Apparently this joyously repetitive immersion and breakdown overlaps a lot with the stimming practiced by neurodiverse people. Huh. So how do the vast majority of people listen to music?

 

So…devos…have you actually ever encountered an amputee?

So…devos…have you actually ever encountered an amputee? published on No Comments on So…devos…have you actually ever encountered an amputee?

Just like any other group of fetishists that doesn’t desire who or whatever they lust after so much as what connotations they afford to their fetish, so devos seem not to actually be interested in amputees themselves. Nah, instead, the devos seem to prefer a sexualized combination of immobility, helplessness, passivity, diminution, and humiliation with which they associate people with amputated body parts.

And yet — surprise surprise! — amputees are not essentially immobile, helpless, passive, diminished, and/or humiliated! They’re [gasp!] fellow human beings, with a wide variety of various temperaments, traits, skills, abilities, and inabilities, just like everyone else in the species. I have a special loathing for devos because their fetish so blatantly illustrates the objectification and dehumanization that many disabled people struggle with every damn day.

 

On a tangentially related subject, I remain highly disappointed that I haven’t figured out a good way to render amputees in digital, especially Fay. She has a BTK amputation of her left leg, and there are no realistic socket prostheses anywhere on the market. I’ve resorted to hiding her left leg from the knee down and parenting a lower leg from my vast collection of robots to her left thigh. This is inaccurate all the way, as well as limiting to the type of clothing I can make her wear, as I don’t want to show the unrealistic join between end of [hollow] leg mesh and beginning of metal prosthesis. I could also do with some sort of attachments that would realistically turn plug the [hollow] open ends of figure mesh to create convincing stumps, but I haven’t seen any of those either. Thhpfft.

No wait…this one’s better: cheaper action figure with cooler clothes!

No wait…this one’s better: cheaper action figure with cooler clothes! published on No Comments on No wait…this one’s better: cheaper action figure with cooler clothes!

Wolfking is issuing a 1:6 scale action figure, the Female Clown, which is a loose interpretation of Heath Ledger doing the Joker in The Dark Knight Rises. I always liked the palette of the costume, but I would have only modified the stuff to put on my favorite dolls. Thus I’m happy to see a similar palette with clothing better fitted for the type of 1:6 scale body I have the most of.

 

Anyway, I think this doll is pretty cool, especially her $125.00 MSRP for an entire dressed doll with accessories! If I got her, I would get rid of that wretched rooted hair and put on a fur wig, swap out gloved hands for ungloved or half-gloved, exchange skirt for short shorts, remove tie, and do something with all those bulky layers up top. Maybe I’d get rid of the blue base shirt entirely in favor of a dickie, adjust the vest fasteners somehow, and/or shorten the coat so her shorts could be seen from the rear. A top hat is also a possibility, and that headsculpt is really crying out for some bananas-and-ham makeup enhancement.

Open-mouthed 1:6 scale action figure with decent yelling smile!

Open-mouthed 1:6 scale action figure with decent yelling smile! published on No Comments on Open-mouthed 1:6 scale action figure with decent yelling smile!

I haven’t seen anything 1:6 scale that I’ve wanted in a long time, but then this Hot Toys likeness figure of Margot Robie as Harley Quinn from recent turd The Suicide Squad came across my radar. Despite the movie being crap, this figure looks promising, at least in prototype. If the actual figure looks as decent as the previews, I would love to get a parted-out head, rip off that horrible hair for a wig, and make her a REALLY LOUD AND PERKY character.

Need more pelvic thrusting in my life.

Need more pelvic thrusting in my life. published on No Comments on Need more pelvic thrusting in my life.

Not in my actual physical life, as I can bump and grind pretty well myself, nor in my imagination or the videos I watch, but in digital. My digital assets sorely lack poses of people dancing from the hips. Thus I had to make some my own, which involved a lot of posing in front of the mirror, telling myself things like, “Hands left! Hips right!”, going back to the computer and shoving around the model, trying to replicate the desired pose in my chair [a difficult task], watching a little Pete Burns, repeating the whole process, etc., etc. Jareth demonstrates results below. Continue reading Need more pelvic thrusting in my life.

Bananas-on-ham Jareth all duded up for a fancy dinner out

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Ever since I read someone describe a wild, unpredictable, over-the-top, and entertaining anime as “bananas on ham,” I’ve decided to use that phrase in reference to my signature style as much as possible.

Anyway, Jareth and Jennifer are on a road trip. They’re going out to eat at a fancy [?] sushi restaurant. Jareth, who is on a Pete Burns kick because his creator is on one too, is dressing up in his interpretation of whatever the heck Pete Burns is wearing in the I’ll Save You All My Kisses Boners vid. Continue reading Bananas-on-ham Jareth all duded up for a fancy dinner out

Dead or Alive, Too Hard to Swallow — Part I Addendum — Extreme Homoeroticism

Dead or Alive, Too Hard to Swallow — Part I Addendum — Extreme Homoeroticism published on No Comments on Dead or Alive, Too Hard to Swallow — Part I Addendum — Extreme Homoeroticism

Back when I was discussing Dead or Alive’s mischievous deployment of homoeroticism in their music and videos, I completely passed I’ll Save You All My Kisses, from Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know [1986]. I’m here to rectify this unforgivably grievous omission because, not only is the video for it hilarious, but it’s also so extremely homoerotic that I could have used it as my sole piece of evidence.

In the vid, Pete is dancing with his back to a fence, from which guys in tight jeans are hanging avidly. Steve Coy and Mike Percy patrol the ground, smacking baseball bats into their hands menacingly, presumably to keep the groupies from touching Pete. I doubt the groupies would be able to touch much, though, as Pete’s leather jacket is armored with approximately 700 zillion rhinestones, and his embossed steel codpiece/chastity belt/jockstrap thing is firmly chained to said jacket. Pete makes faces at the camera, deliberately pointing away from the groupies. The members of the audience grow increasingly excited, straddling the top of the fence and ripping off their shirts. After all this preparation, the video ends.

I have to say that, whenever I watch this video, I feel like I’m watching some crappy commercial cut edited down for length or unobjectionability. I feel like there was a moment to which all the fence climbing and baseball bat whacking was building, some confrontation between groupies and guards, of which I was tragically deprived. Phooey.

 

Other parts of this essay:

Part I — The Homoeroticism.

Part II — The Genderqueering.

Part III — Effects on the Band.

The problem with getting into everything about someone…

The problem with getting into everything about someone… published on No Comments on The problem with getting into everything about someone…

…is that then it’s hard to get everything about them out when I realize that I’ve gotten into, say, transmisogyny too [which is my main subject of wrath these days on account of its sneaky evil insidiousness].

 

Sexuality, gender, and the performance thereof are very personal right now, so it’s very easy to take what sexuality- and gender-related role models do [or fail to do] very personally.

 

In other words, I would just once like some role model who isn’t a transmisogynist/rapist/asshole/ disgusting pervert/disappointment.

 

Yes…but…no one is perfect.

“Let’s get political?”: Miz Cracker on activism

“Let’s get political?”: Miz Cracker on activism published on No Comments on “Let’s get political?”: Miz Cracker on activism

My favorite Slate columnist, besides the new Prudence, is Miz Cracker, who writes occasionally for Outward, which is one of Slate’s topical blogs on people outside the heteronorm. A few days ago she wrote about the relationship between queens and activism. There’s something interesting here, but, frankly, I’m a) exhausted and b) preoccupied with Pete Burns’ pants still, so I’ll come back later, I s’pose.

Jareth and Jennifer on the road

Jareth and Jennifer on the road published on No Comments on Jareth and Jennifer on the road

Jareth and Jennifer, motoring west,
Find that the Galaxy’s condition isn’t the best.
Automotively clueless, Jareth freaks out.
Jennifer, chill, says there’s no need to shout.
The following pointless presentation
Sits below the cut for delectation.
If this ain’t your prideliction,
Go and read another section. :p

Continue reading Jareth and Jennifer on the road

Dead or Alive, Too Hard to Swallow — Part II — The Genderqueering

Dead or Alive, Too Hard to Swallow — Part II — The Genderqueering published on No Comments on Dead or Alive, Too Hard to Swallow — Part II — The Genderqueering

Being the second in a multipart essay on, first, the queer aesthetics of Dead or Alive, second, the effects thereof on the band, and, third, the effects thereof on Pete Burns, with AIDS panic and transmisogyny for good measure!

I previously demonstrated that Dead or Alive regularly used performance of gay male eroticism as part of their image. They also employed a more generally queer aesthetic of gender play, endearing them even less to the mainstream US. Continue reading Dead or Alive, Too Hard to Swallow — Part II — The Genderqueering

Dead or Alive, Too Hard to Swallow — Part I — The Homoeroticism

Dead or Alive, Too Hard to Swallow — Part I — The Homoeroticism published on No Comments on Dead or Alive, Too Hard to Swallow — Part I — The Homoeroticism

Being the first in a multipart essay on a) the queer aesthetics of Dead or Alive, b) the effects thereof on the band, and c) the effects thereof on Pete Burns, with AIDS panic and transmisogyny for good measure!

 

For the purposes of this essay, Dead or Alive constitutes a British New Wave dance pop band most prominent in the mid-1980s. Lead singer Pete Burns, drummer Steve Coy, guitarist Wayne Hussey, and bassist Mike Percy formed the group during their years of greatest exposure. They really hit it big with their second album Youthquake, from which You Spin Me Round Like A Record charted to 1 on the UK singles chart, number 11 in the US, and number 1 in Canada.  Further albums had chart success in the UK and Japan, but never hit mainstream popularity in the US.

Okay, so…rad New Wave band with a danceable groove, fun songs, and super sexy members — what’s not to love, right? I theorize that Dead or Alive was way too hard to swallow [pun intended :p] for a homophobic 1980s United States. The societal forces of homophobia and transmisogyny militated against Dead or Alive’s US success. Furthermore, it’s arguable that the same prejudices also nearly did in Pete Burns himself.

Continue reading Dead or Alive, Too Hard to Swallow — Part I — The Homoeroticism

How to scare off people: “Wait! I have flowcharts!”

How to scare off people: “Wait! I have flowcharts!” published on No Comments on How to scare off people: “Wait! I have flowcharts!”

I just adore Assigned Male [comic strip] by Sophie LaBelle, and this one where the protagonist is waving gender flowcharts at a passerby illustrates why — geeky humor, cute art, and a a constant counter to my hardened, bitter, cynical heart.

“Just shoot it through a fish tank on a sound stage — it’ll be great!”

“Just shoot it through a fish tank on a sound stage — it’ll be great!” published on No Comments on “Just shoot it through a fish tank on a sound stage — it’ll be great!”

The official music video of Dead or Alive’s In Too Deep has everything you could ask for:

  • Obviously gay merman pining after Pete
  • A fish tank in front of the lens about 90% of the time
  • Set dressing made primarily of colored cellophane
  • Lots and lots and lots and lots of glitter
  • Pete Burns in a clamshell
  • A WTF? ensemble from Pete Burns, featuring peach loungewear, mirrored eyepatch, and white socks

Looks nice, and I can understand the lyrics, but I like the live version from Rip It Up more.

Blatant homoeroticism in Dead or Alive’s My Heart Goes Bang Bang

Blatant homoeroticism in Dead or Alive’s My Heart Goes Bang Bang published on No Comments on Blatant homoeroticism in Dead or Alive’s My Heart Goes Bang Bang

Wow. I’m surprised that the music video for Dead or Alive’s My Heart Goes Bang Bang includes a blue handkerchief pinned to the right rear of Pete Burns’ jeans, and, as far as I can tell, no one made a stink about it.

Maybe very few people knew about the hanky code in 1985? Anyway, the hanky code, an innovation associated with gay dudes in the 1970s, developed as a way to signify predilection for certain erotic activities. The color of the hanky denoted the category of activity, and the side on which someone wore their hanky indicated what role they preferred in the activity.

To use the example of Pete Burns’ hanky in this video, dark blue refers to anal sex. Right side says that the wearer prefers the submissive/penetrated position. So, as far as I can tell, this is as obviously homoerotic as the Verlaine/Rimbaud Sonnet to the Asshole [which is exactly about what the title says, as you can tell from this very well done English translation], but I guess either people missed it and/or no one watched the video. I thought that, for sure, in the age of the AIDS panic and the Moral Majority, something like this would would cause strenuous objection.

Things I Have Learned from Watching Dead Or Alive’s Rip It Up Concerts

Things I Have Learned from Watching Dead Or Alive’s Rip It Up Concerts published on No Comments on Things I Have Learned from Watching Dead Or Alive’s Rip It Up Concerts

Dead Or Alive did two concerts in 1987 for their Rip It Up release. Last night I watched an intercut of the two performances. While the video quality was grade Z, the video itself proved extremely educational. Here is what I learned:

 

  1. Pete Burns is like a combination of Freddie Mercury and Ivan Doroschuk. He’s got Freddie’s glee of staging himself and Ivan’s complete inability to stand still when singing. He also has the same tendency that both Freddie and Ivan have to let go and just start flailing in glee. Like Freddie, like Ivan, like Lesley, like Shirley, like Michael, he doesn’t so much sing as much as he emanates an irresistible combination of music, power, and joy. I will always find the tension between controlled performance and irrepressible musical abandon incredibly hot.
  2. There is, however, such a thing as too much Pete Burns. The camera spent way too much time on him and not nearly enough on the other band members. It’s not a solo show, people! Where’s Steve Coy [drummer]?!
  3. I figured out why Pete Burns’ hair is like that — all the better for whipping around during instrumentals.
  4. Good backup makes or breaks a concert. I’m talking, of course, about the several guys in sparkly jockstraps who were pretty much doing high-intensity aerobics for a full hour while getting manhandled by Pete Burns [hah!]. I remain irritated that I saw a lot more of them than, you know, 75% of the actual band, but I have to admit that they matched Pete Burns rather well in terms of energy and amount of sheer fun they were having.
  5. Concerts where people onstage take off their pants are infinitely more entertaining than the same performers on stage avec pantalons.
  6. If you’re really good, not to mention a little tired from all the singing and dancing, you can take off your pants during an instrumental, turn your ass to the audience, bend over, and stay like that for a few minutes. The crowd’ll go wild.
  7. Dead Or Alive’s lyrics and melodies are just…mediocre. Generic like hotel room upholstery. As exciting as water at room temperature. Abysmally unexceptional without the visuals. The aggressively homoerotic  scene dressing works mightily to compensate. “Sure, we sound like vanilla pudding, but take a look at those guns!” Sometimes it succeeds.
  8. It’s a pity that the amazing vanilla has become linguistically synonymous in English with boringness, but that’s another entry…

“That’s the way I like it, uh huh, uh huh…”

“That’s the way I like it, uh huh, uh huh…” published on No Comments on “That’s the way I like it, uh huh, uh huh…”

I’ve figured out why I don’t go to the gym. All I see is people fleeing in place. The exercise rooms are conspicuously lacking in individuals like the following:

Continue reading “That’s the way I like it, uh huh, uh huh…”

I’m conflicted about this cover of Rebel Rebel.

I’m conflicted about this cover of Rebel Rebel. published on No Comments on I’m conflicted about this cover of Rebel Rebel.

On one hand, it’s a light boppy electronic flashing 2D advertising blitzkrieg reinterpretation with vocal stylings [and general style] from Pete Burns with backup from Steve Coy! Apt fusion of style, substance, and subject, whoop whoop!

On the other hand, Dead Or Alive just works better as a complete band. I feel like the presence of the other members would have made it harder, tighter, and stronger. It needs a little more slam, bang, and twitch [“Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww wham bam thank you ma’am”? :p], also more Steve Coy looking absolutely deadpan.

“When you turn, you turn me AWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNN…”

“When you turn, you turn me AWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNN…” published on No Comments on “When you turn, you turn me AWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNN…”

Otherwise known as My List of People That I Have the Hots For and Who Are, So Far As I Know, Decent Individuals, Plus The Reasons They Are Hot. Please provide info if I am mistaken!

Shirley Bassey: Sings like magma, moves like a wave, and smirks.
Lesley Gore: Sings like magma again, obviously loves what she does, queer, feminist.
Pete Burns: Moves all body parts with a fascinating sinuousity, sings, clearly enjoys being about as hammy as a deli sandwich, has carefully curated and super creative signature style with zero fucks given about what anyone thinks.
Freddie Mercury: Magma, wave, can’t resist air-guitaring, radiates joy on stage, loves cats.
Ivan Doroschuk: Totally bad-ass image belied by flailing enthusiasm for making music, straight white cis dude feminist!
Peter Dinklage: Dry, sarcastic sense of humor, immense acting talents, floppy hair, soulful eyes, general embodiment of sexiness.
James Marsters: Good actor, thoughtful, smart, witty, seemingly humble, sharp cheekbones, nice smirk.

Robert Pattinson: Good actor, fascinating nose, tantalizing hair, entertainingly tongue-in-cheek perspective on Twilight franchise success.

Kristen Stewart: Immense acting talents, intense eyes and mouth, very few fucks given stylistically speaking, refuses to smile on command.

Janelle Monae: Immense talents in singing, doing concept albums, genderfucking, dressing snappily, and articulating her artistic philosophies.


People I Have The Hots For Who Are Problematic Individuals, Plus The Reasons They Are Problematic

David Bowie. Rapist. Racist [i.e., do not try to tell me that China Girl, both song and video, aren’t].

Kate Winslet. Rape apologist for Roman Polanski.

Emma Thompson. Rape apologist for Roman Polanski.

Tilda Swinton. At the very least, cultural appropriation in Doctor Strange.

 

 

I did not know that this was the official music video for That’s The Way I Like It.

I did not know that this was the official music video for That’s The Way I Like It. published on No Comments on I did not know that this was the official music video for That’s The Way I Like It.

(O_O) Now I am edified and completely distracted with lust. I don’t know where to look first — the hips, the lips, the limbs, the chins, the lips [again], the hair, the eyebrows…

Extra super amazing bonus points for the woman with the updo dancing in front of the “Keep my body strong” weight-lifting segment. Double plus bonus points for the eyebrows. Everyone in this video is having a huge amount of fun, which makes it even sexier.

Lead of Dead Or Alive = Pete Burns apparently.

Another installment of the Painfully Cheap Music Video With Choreography From A Fifth Grade Play

Another installment of the Painfully Cheap Music Video With Choreography From A Fifth Grade Play published on No Comments on Another installment of the Painfully Cheap Music Video With Choreography From A Fifth Grade Play

I’m pretty sure that Dead or Alive spent a grand total of $5.00 on the official You Spin Me Round [Like a Record] music video, broken down as follows:

 
That purple thing the lead is wearing: 25c [from a garage sale]
Gold semaphore flags: 75c
Fake nails: $1.50
Hair spray: $2.50

Modern Wizard: causing heternonormative heads to explode since at least 1978!

Modern Wizard: causing heternonormative heads to explode since at least 1978! published on No Comments on Modern Wizard: causing heternonormative heads to explode since at least 1978!

Had an entertaining conversation with a kid this weekend, reproduced here in digital photostory form. The photostory is about 85% true, with the exception of the last picture, which is how I wish I could have summed up the conversation. [It actually ended with the previous panel.] The conversation also occurred with me reading Demon Lover on my front porch and the kid on the front sidewalk, but I transferred it to powerage’s Fantasy Library, which saved me the trouble of trying to approximate my front porch in digital. The Fantasy Library also has infinitely cool rolling ladders, none of which can be seen in this story, but which add a certain je ne sais quoi nonetheless. :pContinue reading Modern Wizard: causing heternonormative heads to explode since at least 1978!

This is your periodic reminder not to judge a book by its cover…or its title…or its premise…or its first third…

This is your periodic reminder not to judge a book by its cover…or its title…or its premise…or its first third… published on No Comments on This is your periodic reminder not to judge a book by its cover…or its title…or its premise…or its first third…

We went to the Fourth of July book sale in Williston, a yearly extravaganza in which Alling Library volunteers stock the gym of Williston Central School with tables of books, organized roughly by category, and then stand back and let the hordes descend. The library raises money, and the horde gets cheap books. Fun for all!

 

This year I acquired, among other things, Demon Lover by Juliet Dark, which is either the best or the worst pseudonym for a paranormal romance novelist, depending upon which second I’m making the judgment. It combines the inexplicable fetish US authors seem to have for folkloric fairies of the British Isles with the inexplicable fetish that people from outside New England and northern New York have with small, elite, liberal arts colleges in these locations. It follows 26-year-old assistant professor of demon sex visited regularly by — you guessed it! — a sexy demon. Plot ensues.

Okay, this is cool. I’m all up for academic types running up against the fictional objects of their research actually existing. Then you get the chance for them to deal not just with reality shifting, but a particularly personalized clash thereof. You also get the chance for the academic type to apply their intelligence and knowledge to the situation at hand in a way that, one hopes, would be more interesting than the response of the average person who knows nothing about, say, sexy demons.

Well, not with this book you don’t. Instead we have the Triple B — that is, a Badly Boring Book. How do you make a book with such a cool premise a tedious slog? I’ve provided a handy numbered list below.

 

  1. Make the main character’s entire existence revolve around the male love interest in the most egregious way possible. Main Character [MC, since I can’t be arsed to recall or  look up her name] studies sexy demons because one started hanging around after her parents died. She wrote a book about demon sex based on her research, and her book got her a job at Adirondack Fairy U, and now she teaches about demon sex. Her life is driven by the sexy demon, but we’re not done yet; we have to suffer through an entire book about MC’s present-day, demon-motivated activities. At this point, MC comes across as the emptiest of ciphers, with no motives, personality, or significant relationships of her own, unrelated to the sexy demon. Here we have the sexist trope of fictional woman as nearly irrelevant appendage of  male love interest taken to a stupefying extremity. I remain crashingly indifferent to MC and to the sexy demon, who has predetermined the entire narrative by grooming MC since puberty to be his alarmingly devoted partner. Where’s the plot, character development, exploration, surprise, or pleasure in that? It’s uninteresting and screamingly pedophilic to boot.
  2. Give the main character expertise in characters like the love interest, and then prevent her from applying that expertise. MC is supposedly an expert in sexy supernaturals, but this seems to have no effect on her own experience with one of ’em. She teaches a class full of books on demon lover-like characters, but these only appear as name drops without affecting MC’s self-awareness or insight into her predicament. She knows, for example, that this type of sexy demon will eventually exhaust her with sex and kill her, but she never seems particularly alarmed. In fact, MC might as well not be an expert in sexy demons because, the one time she needs specific info on the aforesaid sexy demon, she turns not to her own research, library, or personal associates, but to the Fairy Queen, who dropped a vague passing reference to the sexy demon having been human once. The author writes many opportunities for MC to demonstrate individuality, assertiveness, or, at the very least, a fleeting modicum of original thought, and then stonewalls every single one of them. You can literally see the author forcing her ostensible heroine into passive, ineffectual, clueless twittitude, much as the sexy demon does. I’d feel sorry for the main character, but she’s not enough of a person to really merit any sympathy.
  3. Railroad the sexy supernatural for a significant portion of the story. For a while there in the beginning, MC and the sexy demon have rapey encounters [still not clear on whether she consents to any of this, especially as she thinks it occurs in her dreams] and subsequent dramatic conflicts. Then MC tries banishing the sexy demon, and the story just flattens out, even when a dreamy new prof appears, and MC starts getting it on with him. Of course, to the surprise of absolutely no one who has been following the moonlight imagery associated with the sexy demon, the new prof is the demon, just in human form and totally not banished at all. Yet this is incredibly boring because all MC and the new prof do is…uh… have lots of hot, consensual sex. That’s it; that’s their entire relationship. No character development! No explosions! To be clear, I’m not campaigning for persistently rapey love interests here. I’m just saying that we read paranormal romance for dramatic conflicts and sexy supernaturals, and the author provides neither for long enough so that my mind wanders.

 

In summary, this treatment of the demon lover trope greatly disappointed me and, even worse, bored me. Hey, even though Father of Lies disappointed me [probably even more], it approached the same subject more engagingly — in much better prose too. 

 

OMG it’s the Tentacular Spectacular!

OMG it’s the Tentacular Spectacular! published on No Comments on OMG it’s the Tentacular Spectacular!

I’ve had a penchant for digital fair/carnival/midway stuff ever since my first multipart digital photostory occurred at one. I thought up a really cool ride, the Tentacular Spectacular, but didn’t show it in that series, as I didn’t have a model.

Well, I just found one: Simon 3D’s Otis Carnival Fun Octopus Ride! So cool! Too bad the digital me would digitally puke after digitally riding one. I can’t stand anything more exciting than a merry-go-round or a Ferris wheel these days.

Digital stuff I collect:

 

  • Fair/Carnival/Midway
  • Realistic cemetery stuff
  • Therianthropes
  • Clowns
  • Robots/Clockwork
  • Dolls
  • Dead people
  • Books, bookshelves, libraries
  • Realistic contemporary cars
  • Corsets, collars, gags
  • Hilarious skimpwear

Revised Fritillaria concept

Revised Fritillaria concept published on No Comments on Revised Fritillaria concept

Grim Reaper puppet clown!!!

She needs the following:

 

  • Face paint like the Clown option for MadDelirium’s V4 Dolly character.
  • Eyehooks in back of hands and top of head with frayed ribbons trailing from them.
  • Blouse with some of my seven zillion skull beads as embellishment.
  • Separate ruff, possibly paper, with bells.
  • Jester’s cap with more skulls and bells.
  • A marotte with a skull wearing a jester’s cap.

 She’s kinda like Thalia and Never the Less, though subtler in both the skull department and the mask department.

Update on dolls that need work

Update on dolls that need work published on No Comments on Update on dolls that need work

 

 

I think Fritillaria is my next BJD in line for completion. Sure, Delmar’s been waiting longer, but I have Fritillaria hanging out with the other BJDs who bug me in the living room. Thus I stare at her multiple times a day, feeling guilty about her being faceless, hairless, and eyeless among her finished friends.

 

For BJDs who bug me:

Delmar needs faceup, hair, restringing, and tail. Faceup stalled.
Fritillaria needs faceup, eyes, wig, outfit. Temporary outfit completed, eyes acquired, along with final bloomers, stockings, and shoes. Shirt, ruff, jester cap, wig, and faceup stalled.
Mellifer needs a complete do-over. Fuck it. I’m gonna sell him.
Never the Less needs faceup, wig, clothes. Done!
Polly needs a seat belt. Stalled.
Thalia needs a shirt. Done!
Timonium needs a new wig cap and new hair. Working on wig cap. Done!
Touralyn needs a new body and clothes. Body in progress.

For Zombieville denizens:

Doctor Z needs her own body with appropriate neck. Ordered! Done!
Sylvia needs a new fat body. New base body procured and cut down. Fats need sculpting.

Righteous rage, or, Don’t piss off Jareth!

Righteous rage, or, Don’t piss off Jareth! published on No Comments on Righteous rage, or, Don’t piss off Jareth!

Mostly an excuse to work out my rage using Cybertenko’s V4 Gatling Bra, AntFarm’s Window Shopping, and some hyperbolic sound effects.

Note that Jareth is, of course, singing Labyrinth by Oomph! It’s no accident that the lyrics he’s quoting go [roughly], “When I penetrate your soul / And exploit you for my lust / Then I’ll blind your senses…”

Continue reading Righteous rage, or, Don’t piss off Jareth!

Jareth im Labyrinth

Jareth im Labyrinth published on No Comments on Jareth im Labyrinth

Here’s Jareth showing off his new cape from Meshitup’s G2M DM Suit, which ripples better than any other cape I’ve ever seen. Set is FirstBastion’s Lost in a Labyrinth, location for much of my music video photoshoot based on the song Labyrinth. Click to enlarge.Continue reading Jareth im Labyrinth

An attack on GLBTQI people of color and Latinx

An attack on GLBTQI people of color and Latinx published on No Comments on An attack on GLBTQI people of color and Latinx

I didn’t know until today that many of the people who died in the Pulse massacre were Latinx and/or people of color. Thus my statement about “50 of us [sic]” being killed is not really accurate. I have some similarities with the people who died, but, because of our races, our types of privilege and oppression interacted and manifested differently. My initial emotional reaction might be to take the attack personally, but it ain’t really about me; it’s about them.

I would like to add to my enraged editorial the following:

Mateen was a part of a society that promoted his murders through the institutionalized oppression of people based on sex, sexuality, and gender, the valorization of toxic masculinity, officially sanctioned anti-Muslim racism and xenophobia, institutionalized devaluation of Latinx and POC, and easy access to largely unregulated war-grade machines of death, just to name a few influences. Analysis, commentary, and action on this massacre must account for these factors if we are going to create a more humane and just future where stuff like this doesn’t happen.

And also:

…Thinking and praying alone will accomplish nothing. We need to challenge the anti-marriage campaigns and the bathroom police and rule their legal wangling unconstitutional. We need to focus on and celebrate the beauty and awesomeness of people of color and Latinx in our novels, our poetry, and our songs. We need to make movies about men who face life’s challenges with compassion and honesty, rather than blowing up everything in their path. We need to stop supporting war in and/or invading Muslim countries and then regarding the refugees as vermin. We need to enact some serious blanket bans on guns. In other words, we need to do something else besides the same old shit.

My point is not that people don’t do these activities. It’s just that rhetoric remains empty without proof in action.

Making art helps me feel better.

Making art helps me feel better. published on No Comments on Making art helps me feel better.

Below, 49 Pieces, a mini universe photostory. Click to enlarge.

My digital T-shirt, besides being a virtual model of something I will eventually have in real life, also serves as an efficient metaphor for my raw emotional state. The graphic derives from an illustration in Juan Valverde de Amusco’s 1560 textbook Anatomia del Corpo Humano. Known as an écorché [French for flayed person], the skinless figure proved a popular way to depict human musculature. Interestingly enough, this one appears remarkably sanguine for just having peeled off his skin. He is a lot calmer than I am at the moment.

Continue reading Making art helps me feel better.

Major Tom before blasting off for the Odd Planet?

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Yaaaaaaay! Another $100.00 music video by Men Without Hats, this time for Moonbeam. [$25.00 clearly went to space rental, $25.00 to safety harnesses, and $50.00 to dry ice. See commentary on Pop Goes the World video for budget breakdown on that one.]

I feel like this is what Major Tom was doing before he got strung out. :p

For comparison and contrast, see David Bowie’s also obviously cheap video for Space Oddity.

“And I don’t want a neverending life / I just want to be alive while I’m here…”

“And I don’t want a neverending life / I just want to be alive while I’m here…” published on No Comments on “And I don’t want a neverending life / I just want to be alive while I’m here…”

I’ve been digging the Strumbellas’ studio version of Spirits for a few months now, but recently just found a live version. It has even more passion than the studio version! [Also please note lead singer wearing socks. 🙂 ] This song feels appropriate, especially with its celebratory memorial parade in the video, in the wake of the Pulse massacre.

We don’t know why this lone wolf perpetrated such senseless and unimaginable violence.

We don’t know why this lone wolf perpetrated such senseless and unimaginable violence. published on No Comments on We don’t know why this lone wolf perpetrated such senseless and unimaginable violence.

Now that at least 50 of us have been slaughtered in an Orlando, FL night club two days ago in the worst mass killing in US history [at least until someone else gets an AR-15 or eight and decides to go after, say, people using the “wrong” bathroom], so many public statements trot out the usual tired rhetoric, all of which I’m going to compile in a single sentence:

 

We don’t know why this disturbed lone wolf perpetrated such senseless and unimaginable violence, but our thoughts and prayers go out to all those people touched by this tragedy.

 

To hear such statements, one would think that it’s a complete mystery why this happened. Omar Mateen was completely isolated from all societal context and cultural influences. This atrocity is so puzzling that we literally cannot think about it; our minds fail when we try to encompass it. In response, we are not going to do anything except for think about all the victims and their families and wish they wouldn’t be so sad.

 

I have a few responses to this bullshit. First, Mateen may have operated without official connections to a terrorist group, but I object to the phrase lone wolf. That epithet implies that he came up with the idea of killing a bunch of us all on his own, which he didn’t. He was a part of a society that promoted his murders through the institutionalized oppression of people based on sex, sexuality, and gender, the valorization of toxic masculinity, officially sanctioned anti-Muslim racism and xenophobia, and easy access to largely unregulated war-grade machines of death, just to name a few influences. Analysis, commentary, and action on this massacre must account for these factors if we are going to create a more humane and just future where stuff like this doesn’t happen.

 

Second, the term unimaginable reeks of denial to me. Mass killings happen with such horrible regularity these days that, by now, they’re news, and they’re shocking, but they’re neither rare, nor unique, nor strange. We know how they go. They’re anything but unimaginable; in fact, we can all too readily conceive of them. We just don’t want to because then we would have to confront the horror of hatred and terror embodied in a man and enabled by the very culture we live in.

 

Finally, thoughts and prayers aren’t enough here. Sure, let’s wish all we want for peace on behalf of the victims and their families. However, contrary to the deleterious lie promoted by this bootstrapping culture, in which desiring something a lot automatically translates into success, thinking and praying alone will accomplish nothing. We need to challenge the anti-marriage campaigns and the bathroom police and rule their legal wangling unconstitutional. We need to make movies about men who face life’s challenges with compassion and honesty, rather than blowing up everything in their path. We need to stop supporting war in and/or invading Muslim countries and then regarding the refugees as vermin. We need to enact some serious blanket bans on guns. In other words, we need to do something else besides the same old shit.

Ham + tired religious imagery + misogyny = Sex Hat Keine Macht

Ham + tired religious imagery + misogyny = Sex Hat Keine Macht published on No Comments on Ham + tired religious imagery + misogyny = Sex Hat Keine Macht

Oomph!’s music video for the song is nothing novel, and the amount of time lavished on Marta Jandova acting like she’s in a third-rate shampoo commercial is abysmal when compared to the amount of time we see Dero Goi tied to the bed. There should be at least four minutes of the latter and two seconds of the former.

 

That being said, I, as usual, find Goi’s scenery chewing melodrama irresistibly hilarious, especially in this video, for some reason. I think it’s probably the bodily emphasis on his attempted rejection of the Macht of Sex: flailing, pushing, lurching.

You know, main character — if you’re slam dancing in denial, you might wish to re-examine the sources of your vehemence. I’m not advocating for a capitulative landslide here, but for the realistic appraisal of your interest in the subject, as clearly your zealous attempts at repression aren’t benefitting you.

 

But seriously…could the imagery in this video be any duller and more trite? And could the lyrics any further epitomize Baudelaire’s favorite trope, the Misogynist DeathSex? [Sample lyric: “Du blutest nicht genug für mich / Küss mich noch ein letztes Mal.” “You’re not bleeding enough for me / Kiss me one last time.” Implication: …Before I kill you.] Snore!

 

And now, for an antidote, Poi Dog Pondering’s Blood and Thunder.

My photography setup

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Someone on MWD asked what mine was. Since I recently consulted with a Green Mountain Camera employee who came over to my house to give me advice, I have improved my studio based on some of his recommendations. The setup below includes those innovations that I recently incorporated.

 

As for my photography setup… I shoot in a 9×9′ room with a door and one exterior window. Walls are light cream, ceiling white, carpet navy blue. I have a single-panel, black, insulated blackout curtain over the window, and I shoot only with artificial light.

I set things up on an unfinished desk on a white cardboard flat to cover the yellow unfinished desktop. The backdrop is a folding three-panel magnetic screen, covered in canvas, to which I affix various pieces of fabric or paper with neodymium magnets. A pale blue or pale pink sheet of art paper, mounted on cardstock to stiffen it, serves as my green screen.

For light, I have two umbrella lights that are supposed to be the Kelvin of natural sunlight [hah!]. When I say “umbrella lights,” I mean two light bulbs on tripod stands with white umbrellas for shades, the whole rig of which, including stands, bulbs, umbrellas, and carrying case, cost me less than $100.00. Each is set up so that the bulb is about 5′ off the ground and the umbrella is pointing out and away from the desk. Both lights are tilted up so that they shine down on the desk from a bit above, like they are satellite dishes receiving signals from my dolls. :p Each umbrella light points in at a 45-degree angle toward the center of my set.

To set the room up for shots, I use natural light or crappy overhead light to arrange things in the set. Then I turn off the overhead light and shut the shade, making sure that it is tacked to the window frame for better darkness. Then I turn on the two umbrella lights and move them around so that they mostly cancel out the shadows behind figures. I just started with this setup, so I’m not sure if I need more light.

I currently use a Canon EOS 30D 8.2MP Digital SLR with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens and no tripod. I have a 60mm macro lens, but I don’t use it as frequently. The camera was used when I got it about 5 years ago, so it is nowhere near the latest and greatest.

Flashback to early renders

Flashback to early renders published on No Comments on Flashback to early renders

Oh ho ho, I just unearthed my renders from the short period during which LHF went digital. Some things have changed, and some have stayed the same. Examples and commentary below. All pictures can be clicked to be enlarged, though I’m not sure you’d want to.

Continue reading Flashback to early renders

More things I am going to model whenever I get around to learning

More things I am going to model whenever I get around to learning published on No Comments on More things I am going to model whenever I get around to learning

A followup to the list in January.

 

Continue reading More things I am going to model whenever I get around to learning

After the fact, I find a doll mask for a BJD.

After the fact, I find a doll mask for a BJD. published on No Comments on After the fact, I find a doll mask for a BJD.

After I finish Never the Less, I find a mask for a 1:3 scale BJD that would have worked for her outer mask. It’s from Ringdoll, your friendly purveyors of the perverse. I’ve almost bought Ringdolls twice [once a Frankenstein, once a Zombie Amy], but the seller of the Frankenstein never wrote back, and I couldn’t persuade myself to fully go for Amy’s sculpted decay. I’m interested in this mask, though, partly for the novelty, partly because it has a classic ball-jointed bébé sort of look.

Hmmmm…I just got an interesting idea. I could make another masked doll with a Ringdoll Mona head and this mask over it!

Mona has long intrigued me, given my love of open-mouthed sculpts with unusual expressions. However, while I can reinterpret Araminthe’s ferocious bared teeth as general crabbiness and even Yamarrah’s protruding tongue into ice cream eating, I find Mona’s face less versatile. She’s either in pain or about to sneeze, the latter option of which would actually be a hilarious expression for a doll. I couldn’t have her hanging out in my living room, constantly on the brink of tears. However, if she wore the bébé mask most of the time, then she could at least have another expression. It would be, in effect, a faceplate, as Never the Less has.

If I decide to do such a doll, she’ll have to wait. I have several BJD projects waiting before I consider purchasing a whole new doll. Poor Fritillaria needs kitting out, and Delmar’s still in pieces!

“Say things” and “plaything” don’t rhyme!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Say things” and “plaything” don’t rhyme!!!!!!!!!!!! published on No Comments on “Say things” and “plaything” don’t rhyme!!!!!!!!!!!!

There’s a verse in the German Labyrinth that goes:

Wenn ich in deine Seele tauche
Und dich für meine Lust gebrauche
Dann word ich deine Sinne blenden
Das Spiel kannst nur du selbst beenden

Oomph! changed the lyrics for the English version to:

When I possess your soul, I’ll say things
And use you as my personal plaything
The time will come — I’ll dull your senses
If you don’t stop, this game is endless

That is one of the most flaccid translations ever. What the hell, Oomph!? How can you translate that verse with a screamingly obvious lack of, well, oomph?

Here’s a more literal translation, courtesy of yours truly:

When I plunge into your soul
And use you for my lust
Then I will blind your senses
Only you can end this game

And my less literal translation, still a work in progress:

I’ll go deep inside your core
And I’ll use you as I please
I will blind you and benight you
Only you can end this game

See where Oomph!’s stinks? This is a verse that needs short, sharp, declarative words — concussive stuff, assaultive language, precision. But instead Oomph! goes for the multisyllables [“possess,” “personal plaything”], which, while plosive, attenuate the brief force of the German.

Also…seriously, Oomph!? You’re gonna go all generic in a verse that needs specificity? The original indicates a targeted inward strike, followed by exploitation for lust, and then a complete sensory overpowering. The speaker says exactly what’s going to happen, while, in the English, we have just a vague “possession,” during which the speaker will “say things,” followed by “dull[ing] senses.” In the original, we have complete physical and mental ruination precipitated by rape, after which comes sensory implosion. In the English, it sounds like the speaker is casually planning to set up shop inside the listener’s skull and talk about, you know, some stuff, while fucking around a little bit, which might cause blurred vision.

They’re so good with other parts of the song too. For example, Klopf klopf, lass mich rein / Lass mich dein Geheimnis sein is literally Knock knock, let me in / Let me be your secret. But the English goes, Knock knock, let me in / Let me be your secret sin, which captures not only the rhyme, but also the shame and humiliation for which the speaker is aiming. Too bad they couldn’t sustain it.

“Achtung and lots of spit”

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I read an essay in Smithsonian years back in which the author described childhood war games. When the author and friends were being Nazis, they used their imaginative interpretation of German. In a memorable turn of phrase, the author describes this fictional German as being made up primary of Achtung and lots of spit. Whenever I think of this, I snicker.

Given my recent NDH Ohrwurmer, the phrase Achtung and lots of spit comes to mind again. It’s actually a fair approximation of the percussive enunciations that at least Rammstein likes to use [“Rrrrrrrrrrein rrrrrrrrrrraus…”]. Oomph! does it too, but with less growling and more banging.

NDH: making German sound like a self-parody since whenever the genre developed. ^_^

Thalia’s shirt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thalia’s shirt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! published on No Comments on Thalia’s shirt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I feel quite proud of myself. I used my new [to me — found it by the side of the road a few years back] sewing machine today, successfully threading the thread and the bobbin, then hemming Thalia’s shirt. As previously mentioned, I used a pattern Lyrajean told me about — one she has used for her own BJDs. I modified it by leaving off the neck ruff and tying off the cuffs with raw fabric instead of ribbon. I also used a long piece of raw fabric as a belt, with the tails pinned like a sash over Thalia’s left shoulder.

Hooray! I have completed my first piece of 1:3 scale clothing!!!!

Continue reading Thalia’s shirt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NDH breaks mein Herz.

NDH breaks mein Herz. published on No Comments on NDH breaks mein Herz.

With regret and nausea, I’m going to suspend the assumption that Oomph! eschews Rammstein’s metric fuckton of misogyny. I mean — they’re both in the same genre [Neue Deutsche Härte, a.k.a. NDH, “New German Hardness,” or, more metaphorically, “A Good German Bang” or possibly “Teutonic Stiffie”]. Indeed, Oomph! was even seminal enough [see what I did there? <_< ] to influence Rammstein. Also they have a 2011 album called Wahnsinns fette Beute [“Insanity’s Junk in the Trunk”], so whoop de doo; I don’t particularly want to listen to that.

I really think there’s an opportunity here for NDH about something other than Misogynist DeathSex. I’m sure it exists; maybe I just haven’t found it.

“Links rechts gerade aus / Links rechts gerade aus…”

“Links rechts gerade aus / Links rechts gerade aus…” published on No Comments on “Links rechts gerade aus / Links rechts gerade aus…”

Soooooooo SeventhBard and Roland introduced me and Jareth to Oomph!, a German slammer band. They don’t have the musical, uh, oomph of Rammstein, but that have tons more humor and more fun, not to mention a scenery-chewing complete hambone for a lead singer. And none of the sicko Baudelairean perverted Misogynist DeathSex [so far]!

Naturally, I downloaded Oomph!’s Labyrinth. The song and music video together are clearly the result of a bangin’ threesome between Labyrinth the movie, Alice’s Adventures Underground, and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, the sexcapades of which were then followed by a viewing of Pan’s Labyrinth and dramatic readings of Blake’s Sick Rose, as well as Dickinson’s Me from Myself — to Banish, with Rammstein’s album Mutter for a little mood music, not to mention a compendium of knock knock jokes for a chaser. Yes, knock knock jokes. ^_^

Aaaaaanyway, in the immortal words of Howard Dean speaking to the Governor’s Institute class of summer, 1994, this song grabs me where I like to be grabbed, so I’m planning an accompanying photostory. Below we have Jareth as one of the players. Please ignore the shirt intersecting with the pants and all such crap.

 

Continue reading “Links rechts gerade aus / Links rechts gerade aus…”

Today’s business jargon

Today’s business jargon published on No Comments on Today’s business jargon

 

“Why don’t you and she touch bases and find where the connection points are so we can have a discussion around how to leverage the synergy?”

 

Well, okay, I just heard the phrase leverage the synergy, but people are always touching base, finding connection points, and having discussions around things in my workplace, so it’s eminently plausible that this sentence has come out of someone’s mouth.

 

I just can’t use touch base. It sounds like a grade Z euphemism for something objectionable. Don’t touch my base! Keep your hands to yourself!

 

 

50 shades of unintentional connotations

50 shades of unintentional connotations published on No Comments on 50 shades of unintentional connotations

The following conversation occurred at work the other day:

 

MD executive [jokingly, to HR executive, holding up document]: This is like that book 50 Shades of Grey!

Me [to MD executive’s assistant]: Did he just say what I think he said?! To an HR person?!

MD executive’s assistant: Yeahhhhh…he doesn’t know what that book’s about.

Me [later, after some thought]: Did he mean that it was confusing and hard to understand, like it wasn’t black and white, but shades of grey?

MD executive’s assistant: Yup, and, while that’s technically correct…

Me: Jeez, I really hope that document wasn’t like grade Z erotica.

I expect there was some subtlety lost in translation too, as the MD executive’s primary language is not English.

And here, my dear readers, we have a great illustration of the difference between connotation and denotation. If I say in an exasperated voice, “Ugh, this stinkin’ document is 50 shades of grey!” it is eminently plausible that I’m annoyed at its endless sfumato murkiness, and I could certainly use the words to denote that — that is, to indicate it definitionally. However, such a remark now currently carries associations with certain pieces of grade Z erotica, so, even if I mean something frustratingly ambiguous, no one will interpret my remark that way.

Speaking of grey, apparently une éminence grise does NOT mean an old, respected, redoubtable person, but a power behind the throne. I always thought it referred to an old eminent person, with the grey alluding to the person’s grey hair, but apparently it refers to Francois Leclerc du Tremblay, the advisor of Cardinal Richelieu. Leclerc was technically not due the title of Eminence, as he wasn’t a cardinal, but people called him the Grey Eminence in respect to his power. The grise denotes not the color grey, but Leclerc’s beige friar robes. I guess beige was called grise back then. Makes me wonder what the French for beige was.

“Back! Back to the fetid darkness that spawned you, you fiend!”

“Back! Back to the fetid darkness that spawned you, you fiend!” published on No Comments on “Back! Back to the fetid darkness that spawned you, you fiend!”

“And…uh…make like a trowel and hit the bricks, okay?” The immortal words of Janine, Valley Girl narrator of Esther M. Friesner’s classic short story, The Blood-Ghoul of Scarsdale, adequately sum up my response to Fox recently coughing up a teaser trailer for their rehash of Rocky Horror. The other part of my response was a barely coherent, “Laverne, nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Your makeup looks great, but noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”

 

I’m gonna go reread The Blood-Ghoul of Scarsdale to console myself. It’s a self-aware parody of classic horror, but at least it’s not a festering slag heap of [trans]misogyny.

 

P.S. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

 

 

The beauty of self-decapitation and other marvels of vintage magic show posters

The beauty of self-decapitation and other marvels of vintage magic show posters published on No Comments on The beauty of self-decapitation and other marvels of vintage magic show posters

I am currently making a digital changing room for use at one of my favorite mini universe events to recreate in digital — a kink fest. First I thought it was going to be a vintage theater dressing room with a well-lit vanity and old playbills on the walls, but I didn’t feel like spending money on this set. Then I thought maybe old circus posters, but I couldn’t fit good ones with high resolution and unrestricted reproduction rights.

And then I discovered freevintageposters.com, which has a whole section of freely reproducible circus posters. Great! I’d hit the trove for all my circus poster needs! Then I noticed that, interspersed with the circus ephemera, were ads for magic shows. Obviously, methought, magical characters partaking in an event of illusion and performance should try on disguises in room decorated with signs of sleight of hand. I began to download….

 

Check out the Circus/Magic category on freevintageposters.com, and you too might be hooked. The vibrant lithographs promise sensuous delights by which modern advertising’s porno gloss loses luster in comparison. Kellar will [neatly, bloodlessly, and without disturbing the accuracy of the portrait rendition] perform “self-decapitation” in “his latest mystery!” Neff’s “Midnite Ghost Show” abounds in “speed, flash, thrills, color, surprise, beauty, action,”  presumably all embodied by the “beautiful girls with ‘hex’ appeal!” Thurston, “the great magician,” will leave crowds asking, “Do spirits come back?” [In an unintentionally amusing juxtapositional riposte, the archive also includes a poster for the actually truly great Harry Houdini, in which he performs “magic — illusions — escapes” and calls bullshit on “fraud mediums:” “Do spirits return? Houdini says no and proves it!” Harry Houdini, folks — skeptic, realist, and scientific realist extraordinaire!]

And, in my favorite of the bunch, the clairvoyant Alexander “sees your life from the cradle to the grave.” A lovely macabre illustration shows a skeletal hand holding a crystal ball that encompasses the sacraments of heteronormativity. There is no way the content of such a show could even begin to approach the awesomeness promised in that poster.

 

The tension between image and reality forms part of my fascination with these posters. Produced before rigorous standards of truth in advertising were developed, these ads make claims upon which they cannot possibly deliver, implying that the magic is real. Note, for example, that the Kellar levitation poster doesn’t even stipulate magic, just simple “levitation,” as if it’s a plain and simple fact that Kellar can shoot lightning out of his fingertips [?!] and raise someone off the ground. Note also that Alexander is billed as “the man who knows” in another poster, with no hint that he’s performing illusions based on cold reading for entertainment and diversion. In such instances, the ads raise audience expectations so high that any gaps between said expectations and the actual performances will be likely be glossed over. The audiences, hoping for spirit communications or levitation demos or whatever and conditioned by the posters to look for them, will convince themselves that they are seeing those things instead of illusions. In some way, the images perform the ultimate sleight of hand.

Every Breath You Take in a minor key

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A minor key version of String’s Every Breath You Take, done by Chase Holfelder. Musically speaking, this sounds so much more beautiful and compelling than the original. Even though it’s very tonally pleasing and Christian Grey isn’t, I still deem this version his theme song because it connotes more danger, doom, and despair than the original.

Daz monthly freebie contest entry: “When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Woodland Fairy”

Daz monthly freebie contest entry: “When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Woodland Fairy” published on No Comments on Daz monthly freebie contest entry: “When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Woodland Fairy”

Here’s my entry, based on the timeless principle that humorous interpretations are almost always an improvement over “straight” ones. ^_^

Delphinia McAllister, junior career counselor at Land-o-Fae Tech Center, shook her head. It was supposed to be a simple, straightforward final project — “When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Woodland Fairy.” Indeed, most of the students had taken it that way [much to Delphinia’s relief], offering essays and artistic interpretations of their futures as sprites of the glade.

And then there was Rhododendron Jones. An inveterate troublemaker, she slouched in the back of the class, seeming never to pay attention. But then she’d pipe up with a snarky remark that was so on point that everyone cracked up. As Delphinia surveyed Rhododendron’s willful misinterpretation of her directions, she wondered if the kid was just a smart aleck. Or maybe Rhododendron was too smart for her?

Judging from the proud and gleeful expression on Rhododendron’s face, Delphinia surmised that the answer was a little bit of both.

 

Continue reading Daz monthly freebie contest entry: “When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Woodland Fairy”

1:6 scale me

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I haven’t done a 1:6 scale me for years. Anneka Elizabeth was sort of one, but the one I’m thinking of is was from like 2002. It was a blond helo Jane base, customized as follows:

 

I used colored pencil to redo the eyebrows, widen the mouth, and add my distinctive facial moles and scars.

 

I sculpted short spiky hair with modeling paste, painted it ex-blond, and put glitter in it. [Glitter appeared in a lot of my customs at that stage — I also did a drag queen with individual pieces of glitter for each sparkly nail…!]

 

I sliced a foam earplug in half lengthwise and glued it to the crotch for the appropriate bulge.

 

I painted a gold band around one of its fingers and used a red bead to simulate my ruby ring [later tragically lost 🙁 ].

 

I repainted some clunky black Ken shoes tan to represent my most frequently worn footwear.

 

I commissioned Andrea to make a white poet’s blouse integrated with a black vest decorated with flames. She also made a cape. I found some black Ken pants to use for the bottoms.

 

Of all of these pieces, only the shirt/vest remains in my possession. [I also have lots of foam earplugs, but not glued down action figures’ pants. :p ]

 

A recent thread on Figurvore about 1:6 scale dolls of oneself got me thinking that, with the cheap 3-D printed likenesses available from purveyors like actionfigure2002, along with my advanced skills [?] in body mods and clothing construction, I could totally make a decent mini me!

 

The head would be a 3D print from actionfigure2002. I just need to get someone to take photos of me, preferably after I’ve just shaved my head. I would probably enhance the print to make it look more caricature-like.

 

The body would be a DML male body, preferably in the light pink skintone [as opposed to the brownish orange they seem to favor]. I’d need to hack down arms, legs, and torso to approximate my height and then break out the Aves Apoxie Sculpt for appropriate fat distribution.

 

I can definitely make a shirt for it. Not sure about pants.

 

It would actually be pretty easy!

 

 

 

 

Concatenation of prepositional phrases

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I had the joy of writing the following phrase today: UVM Health Network Regional Transport Leadership Structure Analysis. It’s actually pretty cool the way in which English can just drop prepositions and go from An Analysis of the Structure of the Leadership of the Transport System for the Region Overseen by the Medical Center Affiliated with the University of Vermont [26 words] to UVM Health Network Regional Transport Leadership Structure Analysis [10, counting University of Vermont as three]. Sure, it doesn’t dance trippingly off the tongue, but it’s succinct and informative.

Goblin Market part II: the religious aspect

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I ran my theory on Goblin Market by my learned friend, who offered the following comment:

But I also wonder if it is sort of sex mixed with religion, seeing who she is.
More like a pseudo-lesbian eucharist.

Hmmmm, the sacrament of cunnilingus? Certainly plausible.

LEGS! O_O

LEGS! O_O published on No Comments on LEGS! O_O

According to Afropunk, “Mychel Beckhtold and Lucas Souza absolutely kill it, showing off their flexibility and athleticism all while wearing stilettos and crop tops.” Yes, yes, they are absolutely killin’ it. Excuse me while I feast my eyes….

This popped up in my FaceBook feed with a title about “gender non-conforming models,” but that grabs my attention less than picture 4, in which one of them is doing that “my leg is straight-up parallel to my torso” pose. That’s some contortionist/gymnast/performer level of stupendousness right there.

Hey look — people wearing outside of my head what a certain someone regularly wears inside!

“Did you miss me? / Come and kiss me”: Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market is totally queer!

“Did you miss me? / Come and kiss me”: Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market is totally queer! published on No Comments on “Did you miss me? / Come and kiss me”: Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market is totally queer!

I was going to write an extensive essay, with line by line analysis, about how Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market can be read as a warning to queer women not to mess around with hetero sex, as represented by the goblins. Then I decided to cut right to the chase and just present this particularly torrid passage below. Continue reading “Did you miss me? / Come and kiss me”: Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market is totally queer!

Mr. Beep, the adorable and pointlessly gendered toon car model

Mr. Beep, the adorable and pointlessly gendered toon car model published on No Comments on Mr. Beep, the adorable and pointlessly gendered toon car model

I’m currently on a digital toon kick, and I discovered this exceptionally cute toony classic car, Mr. Beep, for free over on TurboSquid. Created by squir, this is an unrigged model, but it’s so adorable that I have spent several hours this weekend breaking it up into separate morphable doors, trunk, and bumper, making more expressive eyes and movable geoshell pupils for it, and rearranging the material zones for more customization. Here are some of its new faces below. It’s so cute that I want to develop some digital photostories specifically featuring it… 😀Continue reading Mr. Beep, the adorable and pointlessly gendered toon car model

“That liquefaction of her clothes”

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Robert Herrick writes six lines Upon Julia’s Clothes:

 

Whenas in silks my Julia goes

Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows

That liquefaction of her clothes.

 

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see

That brave vibration each way free,

O how that glittering taketh me!

 

 

 

I’ve pondered this poem for decades, mostly because the “liquefaction of her clothes” is just about the bestest description of some long, heavy, sweeping, sussurant, layered garment. Last night, however, I realized that the poem can also be easily read as a description of a man watching a woman masturbating, turning herself on, and having an orgasm.

 

I derive the turn-on from a crashingly literal interpretation of both the sweet flow and the “liquefaction of her clothes” — i.e., her lubricating her clothes from the intensity of her desire. The “brave vibration each way free” connotes an expansive release, reminiscent of the way that some people flail and fling all their limbs out when they hit orgasm. The “glittering” could easily be flashes of perspiration glinting as the woman exerts herself, or the shine from her wide-open eyes, or even the speaker’s dazzled perceptions.

 

The assumption of masturbation requires a little more explication. The poem sets the scene as one between two people, Julia and the poet. If we’re going with the orgasmic interpretation, let’s assume that Julia is somehow getting turned on. However, we have no indication that the speaker is interacting with Julia in any way that contributes to her desire [although she could arguably get off on being watched, I suppose]. Thus, for this reading, process of elimination suggests that Julia is taking matters into her own hands.

 

 

Unfortunate drug name of the day: Dysport

Unfortunate drug name of the day: Dysport published on No Comments on Unfortunate drug name of the day: Dysport

I don’t know what the pharmaceutical marketing teams are thinking when they come up with drug names like Dysport, which is an injectible drug used to treat spasticity in arms, hands, and fingers. It’s also used to temporarily remove frown lines. [Botulism toxin is everywhere these days! I really wish botulism-based drugs were covered by more insurance companies as antispasmodics.]

 

Dysport, like its cousin Botox, is yet another example of a great drug with a wretched name. Honestly, who thought it was a good idea to give Dysport a first syllable, dys-, that connotes something problematic or difficult, as in dysfunction [poor function], dystopia [bad imaginary future], and dysphoria [unhappy feelings]? This makes Dysport sound like either a bad port or a bad sport. Maybe they were going for homonymy with the rather outmoded verb disport [to frolic], but, since the negative connotations of the dys- prefix seem to have utterly escaped them, I really doubt that anyone on the naming committee knew about disport.

As a bonus, here is a slightly less unfortunate drug name: Gleevic. Gleevic is an extra super expensive drug used against various types of cancer, particularly chronic myeloginous leukemia. It’s an improvement over Dysport in that it has more positive connotations [hell, it starts with glee!]. However, it’s not a complete success, as it still sounds like the noise that a frog makes when you step on it.

“When logic [beat] and proportion [beat] / Have fallen [beat] sloppy dead [beat]…”

“When logic [beat] and proportion [beat] / Have fallen [beat] sloppy dead [beat]…” published on No Comments on “When logic [beat] and proportion [beat] / Have fallen [beat] sloppy dead [beat]…”

I’ve been listening to Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit because it was on Says You last weekend [in a round about songs that people know by informal titles that aren’t their actual titles — I guess people know it as Go Ask Alice]. Also for some reason I ended up at a trailer for Alice Through the Looking Glass, a sequel nobody wanted for a movie nobody liked. Pink was covering it with an interesting raw, rocky edge, but I was much too distracted by Johnny Depp’s whingeing and Sacha Baron Cohen’s scenery chewing. I have therefore been listening to the album original and then the version done live at Woodstock. In the latter, one can watch Grace Slick in all her barefoot, fringe-bedecked, frizzy-haired glory, plugging one ear with a finger, grasping the microphone tight enough to strangle it, and singing with an intensity both joyful and piercingly focused. She is the personification of groovy — she has a groove, and she’s grooving in it, and she’s amazing. [For further illustration of Grace groovin’ in her groovy groove, check her — and the whole Airplane crew — doing Somebody to Love! Wow!]

Ahhhh, this is wonderful — David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly dancing

Ahhhh, this is wonderful — David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly dancing published on No Comments on Ahhhh, this is wonderful — David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly dancing

Ahhh, this is wonderful — David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly practicing in costume and like trying to dance down steps or something — you can see him saying, “Don’t trip!” and she’s saying, “Whoops — got it!” More expression in two seconds than she shows throughout the entire film. Continue reading Ahhhh, this is wonderful — David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly dancing

A Celle Qui Est Trop Gaie, or, Baudelaire is a sick, sick puppy

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You can arguably translate A Celle Qui Est Trop Gaie to To a Bitch Who’s Too Hot for Her Own Good. And then it goes into a particularly virulent permutation of Baudelaire’s favorite theme, the Misogynist DeathSex. I mean, seriously — I don’t even want to write about it — it’s that repulsive. Let’s just say that I was woefully underinformed when I made the sophomoric judgment [literally] that this individual was the best poet of the French language.

Media I can no longer bring myself to partake in:

 

  • anything having to do with Rocky Horror
  • pretty much anything by or about Charles Baudelaire the racist, sexist, classist, misogynist wonder

Okay, I’ll make exceptions for the following:

 

  • Correspondances for the synaesthesia
  • Spleen for the sheer Gothiness
  • Le Revenant for evoking the dubious allure of the sexy vampire in just 16 lines
  • Femmes Damnees because of the queer women, some actual character development, and the fact that I got word-drunk on it and wrote an exhaustive paper about it, and I AM IGNORING THE LAST FOUR STANZAS, OKAY?!
  • La Chevelure for giving my French teachers a legit means of classroom introduction to the concept of sexual fetishes, as well as exoticism, and also for introducing me to a beautiful word that I really wish we had in English

Clearly I need to just go into the woods…

Clearly I need to just go into the woods… published on No Comments on Clearly I need to just go into the woods…

…And stand on a path and take some panorama shots. I also need to get some panorama shots of rolling hills.

I say this because my digital backgrounds are sorely lacking. Whenever content creators make mountains, they assume that mountains = jagged, pointy rocks. They never think that mountains = rounded lumps. Thus most of my shots of people out walking don’t really look like they’re walking in the Champlain Valley of Vermont. They look like they’re out west somewhere, and it really distresses me.

Since no one seems willing to make the background images I would like to use, I have to generate them myself:

 

  • Forest [Allen Brook Nature Trail, Tanglewood Trail, trails in Winooski]
  • Rolling hills [somewhere on Route 7 between Shelburne and Middlebury, maybe also along the ridge of the Tanglewood Trail]
  • Reservoir or pond [ideally Indian Brook Reservoir, but could also accept Colchester Pond]

 

 

Ideally I should do shots in all seasons, which means, if I break out the camera soon, I’m just in time for spring…

Words schmords!

Words schmords! published on No Comments on Words schmords!

Using schm- to substitute for the first letter of the second word in a reduplication automatically makes the resultant phrase dismissive and contemptuous, neatly encapsulating, for example, my feelings about the lingering cold weather: Winter schminter!

Apparently this comes from Yiddish, where the word + sch- + [word minus first letter] concatenation performs exactly the same function.

Prescriptivists schmecriptivists!

The one thing I miss about my previous base model

The one thing I miss about my previous base model published on No Comments on The one thing I miss about my previous base model

I’ve upgraded my most-used digital characters from the Genesis 2 Female base model to the Genesis 3 Female base model. The G3F model benefits from a vast array of facial “bones” that make subtle nuances of facial asymmetry and expressions easily achievable. This is mostly awesome!

I can make the model have all sorts of expressions, but I just can’t make it smile convincingly. The top lip doesn’t roll up and thin easily, and the corners of the mouth don’t become as deep and as pointy as they need to.

 

On the other hand, the Genesis 2 Female has expressions based on hand-crafted morphs. Some of my favorites include the correct nuances of lip flexion in smiles, creating results on G2F that G3F can’t come close to.

 

Here’s an example:

 

Continue reading The one thing I miss about my previous base model

Father of Lies V: miscellaneous thoughts

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Miscellaneous thought 1: My identification of Lucian as a psychopomp owes much to my own psychopompic story character, Lucian, who pesters Ellery over in Me and My Muses. [Insert link to his first appearance in the comic, during which he utters the immortal lines, “Hello, my name is Lucian. Let’s have sex.” Actually, I’m much more a fan of “Ta dah! Now let’s do the horizontal mambo!” myself, which comes in the episode after. But I digress.] Interestingly, though, given that I first read Father of Lies when it was published in 2011, i.e., before I started working on Me and My Muses, my Lucian quite possibly owes something to Turner’s Lucian.

 

Miscellaneous thought 2: Lucian could be an imaginary character and function of Lidda’s mental illness, or he could be an actual supernatural entity who has chosen to associate with her. I have to admit that the possibility of him as an actual supernatural entity would help to explain some of the odd implications of previously quoted statements. For example:

  • P. 4: “It is lonely here… I yearn for warmth…to be in a living being…” Possible implication: He’s a discarnate spirit looking for a host.
  • P. 114: “I have knowledge beyond your wildest dreams, you poor child, stuck in this backwater of a town.” Possible implication: He’s much more widely traveled, urbane, and experienced than Lidda could imagine.
  • P. 118 [when Lidda asks where he comes from]: “That does not matter. You do not need to know that.” Possible implication: He’s a being separate from her who wishes to keep his true origins a secret.

Of course, I do not think that Turner supports a supernatural origin for Lucian. For one thing, Turner shows that Lidda’s universe contains no magic whatsoever. Despite the Salem residents’ claims of magical persecution and spectral torment, Lidda perceives that conspiratorial human malice drives the panic. Turner’s materialist, societal explanation of the witchcraft outbreak implies that any other supposedly supernatural phenomena in the book — i.e., Lucian — may also be adequately explained as functions of human behavior.

Second, Turner argues more directly that Lucian is a figment of Lidda’s mind, rather than a magical being possessing her. In fact, Lidda herself gestures toward this idea when she compares her “fits” to those of the accusers, concluding that the accusers’ come from external cues [i.e., secret gestures to coordinate behavior or the influence of ginned-up xenophobia], while hers come from “within” [p. ????] — that is, from inside her. Furthermore, Turner’s afterword, About Bipolar Disorder, notes that hallucinations symptomatic of the disorder may have a “dark, demonic appearance” [p. ??????]. A threatening presence [at least at first] in Lidda’s life that most people around her would deem devilish, Lucian fits the description perfectly of a sinister illusion. He’s not an unreal, magical demon. He’s a real, imaginary hallucination.

Miscellaneous thought 3: This book isn’t perfect, of course, but several things keep me coming back: Lidda’s overall dignity as a mentally ill person, Lucian as the quintessential psychopomp, the strong, ambivalent relationship between them, and, finally, the writing. Whatever her failures with historical accuracy, Turner sure knows how to write well. Her style remains clear and straightforward throughout, but she constantly hits grace notes when she evokes Lidda’s perceptions in immersive clarity. [Check out Lidda’s first full sight of Lucian, which I quoted in part III, or her synaesthetic experience of colored music, which I quoted in part IV.] The specificity and immediacy with which Turner transmits her protagonist’s sensations facilitates the reader’s sympathy for and identification with Lidda. Ultimately the good writing subserves Turner’s overall characterization of Lidda as unusual [because mentally ill], but also understandable [because human — just like the reader], and thus contributes to the book’s strengths.

 

Miscellaneous thought 4: Since historical Salem, Puritans, and witchcraft outbreaks represent Turner’s largest failures, I think Father of Lies would be greatly improved by changing the setting to the present day. All the well-done elements could remain essentially the same, and it wouldn’t be that difficult to find some other repressive bullshit for Lidda to speak out against. If Turner wanted to sustain the socio-religious conflict, Lidda could be a child of evangelical, Dominionist Christians objecting to the limited possibilities available to her as a young woman. Or she could involve herself in intersectional feminism and the Black Lives Matter movement. She could agitate for anti-racist causes on account of debates on Islamophobia and increasing numbers of refugees. Hell, she could even propound the truly radical notion that trans people should be allowed to use the bathroom. [You can see where my interests lie… :p ] She could be the exact same person chafing at the exact same prejudices in the community around her, and we could even have the exact same ending of her running away from home and Lucian coming back. However, there could even be a realistic glimmer that she might survive and even thrive — perhaps not in her culture of origin, but in some other subculture. If Turner wanted, she could create a more convincing hopeful conclusion.

Part I here.

Part II here.

Part III here.

 

Part IV here.

A perfect example of gender discussion in the Style section…

A perfect example of gender discussion in the Style section… published on No Comments on A perfect example of gender discussion in the Style section…

Monica Hesse writes in the Washington Post about Kelsey Beckham and their non-binary or agender gender, as well as their relationship with their mom. And of course this story is covered by a staff writer for the Style section because that’s where all the discussion of people who aren’t straight white cis rich dudes should go. Hisssssssssssss.

Thoughts on digital skimpwear…

Thoughts on digital skimpwear… published on No Comments on Thoughts on digital skimpwear…

Whenever I see pretty much anything by powerage or Exnem, I’m like, Damn — that’s gotta chafe! I certainly understand that one of the main points of digital is that it don’t chafe. I mean, heck — that’s why I have a whole section of my digital wardrobe devoted to fetishy stuff. But it tends to be more like models of things I’ve seen in real life, as opposed to stuff like, uh, this [Exnem’s G3F Spike and Chain].

Wtf is that? I mean, I know what it is, and it looks like a disaster waiting to happen. Just about as useful as putting buckles on underwear. Whyyyyyyy? I guess injury by clothing is t3h sexx0rs. Or something.

“I’m asking you as a person / Is it a crime? / Do you think that you could fall in love / With Frankenstein?”

“I’m asking you as a person / Is it a crime? / Do you think that you could fall in love / With Frankenstein?” published on No Comments on “I’m asking you as a person / Is it a crime? / Do you think that you could fall in love / With Frankenstein?”

Been listening to some New York Dolls, the eponymous album only, in the last few days. Also been trying to figure out what’s going on in Frankenstein, since I can only understand about 50% of the words, and it drives me up the wall. Let’s see if I can follow along with the lyrics…

 

We start off in New York City. Something [bad] must have recently happened. All the kids are fucked up. Probably has something to do with Frankenstein.

 

The person to whom the speaker is singing used to be pretty cool, dancing, tripping, figuring out what was what. Behind that nonchalance, though, lurked the listener’s sense that Frankenstein would start controlling their life.

 

So now Frankenstein’s back, trying to run the listener’s life, telling them that everything they’re doing is wrong. The listener feels like shit because of Frankenstein’s treatment and takes it out on the local scene, trying to manipulate it in the way that Frankenstein manipulates them.

 

Is it wrong to fall in love with someone like Frankenstein? Maybe the listener could use a friend. Sure, Frankenstein might be misunderstood, but still — he makes the listener feel trapped in their own home.

 

The listener knows they’re not alone, right? Even though the role doesn’t quite fit, even though the listener’s gonna get it, the speaker can’t keep quiet. It’s time to scream this story in the streets.

 

The speaker concludes with a single serious question: Does the listener really think this is going anywhere?

 

Hmmm, okay, now I clearly understand what the song’s about. Looking at the lyrics, I read it as a description of an abusive relationship, as observed by the sympathetic singer. The singer contrasts the listener’s earlier, pre-Frankenstein happiness with their behavior since meeting the nasty Frankenstein. Desperate and control freaky, the listener seems to be using Frankenstein’s own tactics on their social circle. The speaker perceives that the listener feels some sort of attachment to Frankenstein, but also feels lonely and oppressed. The speaker says that it’s okay to have friends besides Frankenstein and foresees nasty events in the listener’s future. Even though they love Frankenstein, Frankenstein ain’t ever gonna love them back.

 

The Wikipedia article on the album offers interpretations of the song about Frankenstein as New York City itself, working a transformative number on naive young people who flock to it.

 

 

 

 

OH GOD FAIRYLAND IS MAKING 1:3 SCALE MERMAIDS!

OH GOD FAIRYLAND IS MAKING 1:3 SCALE MERMAIDS! published on No Comments on OH GOD FAIRYLAND IS MAKING 1:3 SCALE MERMAIDS!

Fairyland recently blogged a preview of its new FairyLine 60 line. The preview includes shots of a 60cm mermaid with an articulated tail in lovely translucent yellowish-brown resin. The number of tail joints seems to be greater than that of Soom’s mermaids, but less than that of Asleep Eidolon’s. I’m indifferent to the generically pretty head, so I’d definitely swap it out for something cooler, like an AOD Hui Xiang.

 

So there’s a 1:3 scale mermaid in my near future….

Home invaders, vampires, rapists, kidnappers, and other people who think intent is magic

Home invaders, vampires, rapists, kidnappers, and other people who think intent is magic published on No Comments on Home invaders, vampires, rapists, kidnappers, and other people who think intent is magic

I detest characters who think that no means yes [fuckin’ Lovelace… >_> ], but I must admit I have a special depth of hatred for characters who manipulate others’ ambivalence.

For example, in no particular order:

  • Christian Grey. As I’ve discussed ad nauseam [most recently here], Ana thinks Christian’s pretty hot. However, he also terrifies her. Christian gives exactly zero shits about Ana’s terror. He assumes that her lust for him means that she wants him. He equates the presence of her lust with consent to sexual activity. Thus, in his mind, he is perfectly justified in raping her.
  • Frank from Rocky Horror. In my discussion of rape scenes I’ve missed, there are successive parts of RHPS in which Frank rapes both Brad and Janet. Both of them express distress in these scenes, as well as some indications that they’re turned on. Some twisted logic in Frank’s mind, same result.
  • That pervert in that movie who’s obviously watching that girl’s house, just waiting for her to give him an excuse to break, enter, scare her, and wangle her into his mind games. [Which movie? Find out below the cut.]

 

I have a particularly violent loathing for scenes according to the following template:

Protagonist [all by herself]: Hmmmm, should I do make this statement?

Audience: No!

Protagonist: I really shouldn’t.

Audience: Yes!

Protagonist: I mean, it’s not very nice…

Audience: Don’t say it!

Continue reading Home invaders, vampires, rapists, kidnappers, and other people who think intent is magic

50 Shades of Poooo, book 1, chapter 12: not missing it this time

50 Shades of Poooo, book 1, chapter 12: not missing it this time published on No Comments on 50 Shades of Poooo, book 1, chapter 12: not missing it this time

After having read Clarissa, which handled the whole rape scene plot in a frighteningly realistic manner, I repair to 50 Shades of Pooooooooo, chapter 12, location of a rape scene that I’ve apparently missed all the times I’ve looked at it. Continue reading 50 Shades of Poooo, book 1, chapter 12: not missing it this time

One of the things I especially dislike about rape scenes

One of the things I especially dislike about rape scenes published on No Comments on One of the things I especially dislike about rape scenes

…When I miss the rape scenes because I’m so inculcated, acculturated, and inured to depictions of normalized sexual assault that I gloss over them as examples of…well, not unproblematic sex, but at least not-rape scenes.

 

Rape scenes I have missed:

 

  • The bit in Rocky Horror where Frank tricks Brad into sex by pretending to be Janet and Janet into sex by pretending to be Brad.
  • The one in chapter 12 of 50 Shades of Poooooooooooo. Hat tip to Cliff Pervocracy for identifying and deconstructing it.

I figured out my main problem with romance novels.

I figured out my main problem with romance novels. published on No Comments on I figured out my main problem with romance novels.

I’m reading them from Clarissa’s perspective, in which all the women should be respected and allowed to live their lives on their own terms, without the male characters steamrolling them and assuming that the women really, truly want their hot bods, even if they express ambivalence or lack of interest. Let the women make up their own minds without being coerced.

 

Meanwhile, other people, who enjoy them much less critically, are reading them from Lovelace’s perspective. This point of view, in which intent is magic and we can obviously skip all the negotiation because they both know that, deep down, she really wants it, has a powerful hold on people, but…but…it’s just not how the world works.

The most horrific scene in Clarissa…

The most horrific scene in Clarissa… published on No Comments on The most horrific scene in Clarissa…

…is not actually the rape scene, in my opinion. It’s the scene in which [yet again] Clarissa has escaped Lovelace’s clutches and found refuge in some nice person’s house.

Lovelace finds out where she is and barges in. He claims that Clarissa is his wife. In excessive anger over a disagreement, she, the silly thing, is now denying their marriage. He has, however, come to take her home now.

 

Clarissa, understandably vibrating with fear and barely able to support herself at the sight of her jailer and abuser coming after her [yet again], says that she is not his wife. He is not her husband. He’s vile, horrible, contemptible, and mean, and she wants nothing to do with him.

 

And the women who stand between Clarissa and Lovelace, guarding Clarissa, don’t know what to do. They hold their ground in compassionate defense of the obviously terrified and distressed Clarissa. And yet they can’t dismiss Lovelace out of hand. He has cleverly predetermined the situation so that every statement of Clarissa’s may be interpreted as the unreasonably incensed blather of a hysterical wife. Plus he’s a straight white cis aristocratic dude, and, just as the women are used to deferring to him and his ilk, so he is used to receiving deference.

 

That, right there, is the horrifying crux of Clarissa: the realization that straight cis white rich dude privilege may be employed to break links of compassion, altruism, and resistance so that even allies start thinking that they should betray each other for a man’s favor. It’s this sort of scene that demonstrates the chilling omnipotence and inevitability of straight cis rich white dude privilege.

In such a setting, Clarissa’s choice to opt out of the toxic system entirely by dying appears less like the Instructive Apotheosis of Virtue and more like The Only Thing She Really Could Do. I pretty much loathe Heroine Deaths for the Promulgation of Moral Sentiment, but I can accept Clarissa’s death because, besides being morally sentimental, it arises straight out of Clarissa’s character, conflict, and setting. She chooses to die because, as the bulk of the novel demonstrates, it’s the sole action she can take on her own terms. It’s not a happy ending, obviously, but, given the fictional universe and its populace, it’s right and fitting and good. [The happy ending is when Lovelace dies. > :p ]

I finished an abridged version of Clarissa last night.

I finished an abridged version of Clarissa last night. published on No Comments on I finished an abridged version of Clarissa last night.

No one really knows how long Samuel Richardson’s epistolary novel Clarissa, first published in 1748, is. The exhaustive story of a young rich white woman’s struggle for self-determination is, however, considered the longest novel in the English language. If you’d like to follow the story, I’ve modernized, condensed, and dramatized it for you in a single blog post below! You’re welcome. Continue reading I finished an abridged version of Clarissa last night.

45 Things You’ll Never Hear Someone From Vermont Say

45 Things You’ll Never Hear Someone From Vermont Say published on No Comments on 45 Things You’ll Never Hear Someone From Vermont Say

From here, with my commentary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The middle of the road is the best place to stop your car and take pictures of the leaves! We like to complain about leaf peepers as much as we complain about the weather. We’re also sometimes uncertain why they’re taking pictures of the leaves and why, if they like them so much, they just don’t take them back with them.
  • Who are those two guys that started that ice cream company? Ben and Jerry! We’re still sad that they sold out to Unilever.
  • I’ll take all of my groceries in plastic bags, please. This is implying that Vermonters tend to go for paper bags, their own bags, or no bags, but I dispute this, having seen plastic bags in use ubiquitously.
  • What’s your area code? ‘S’all 802, buddy.
  • You should probably shave your beard. I guess we don’t remove our facial hair here?
  • I wish more people would get married in rustic farm barns. “Rustic farm barns” is a tridundant phrase; we just call them “barns,” and they’re not some vintage shabby chic wedding destination in our view. If we’re talking wooden barns, those are the dilapidated structures all over the state that people either use as makeshift garages/sheds or just allow to slowly decompose by the side of the road.
  • I’d love some vanilla soft serve. It’s a vanilla creemee, not “soft serve,” and local tradition decrees that it [and any other flavors] must be advertised via large, handmade wooden cutout of a creemee in a cone.
  • I need something to put on my pancakes. Please pass the Aunt Jemima. We don’t use racist water, sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, here. We use what comes from sugar maples — so-called “REAL maple syrup,” the adjective being there to distinguish it from the swill that almost everyone else in the country counts as syrup.
  • No, I don’t know any farmers. Most of us know farmers…
  • You just moved here from Connecticut? Oh, you are definitely a Vermonter now. People who have moved here from out of state are called “flatlanders.” We tend not to consider people Vermonters unless they were born here, along with their parents, etc.
  • I bought so much stuff at Target today! We have no frickin’ Targets in this state, but plenty of Wal-Marts. What gives, Target?
  • There is no such thing as Champ the Lake Monster. We take our cryptid seriously.
  • I don’t own any flannel. Better statement: “I don’t dress in layers.”
  • Did you see that great billboard advertisement on I-89? We don’t have billboards in the state, so we always experience the shock of their ugliness whenever we cross the borders.
  • I never run into anyone I know! Vermont: a small town cleverly masquerading as a state.
  • I’ll pass on the craft beer; just toss me another Bud. Microbreweries proliferate.
  • I’ve never met anyone who smokes weed. I guess it’s ubiquitous, like real maple syrup.
  • I don’t eat organic food. I guess it’s ubiquitous, like real maple syrup.
  • This restaurant only serves local, farm to table food? No thanks. Locavore and farm-to-table movements have great support here, to the extent where we assume that all locally based restaurants should participate.
  • What’s a fiddlehead? It’s the unripe, rolled-up frond of certain types of fern, edible steamed or in salad.
  • Vermon-T. We swallow the T and insert a glottal stop.
  • Moun-T-ain. Insert glottal stop instead.
  • Spring is the season that comes right after winter. Nope, that’s mud season.
  • The weather here is so predictable. The only thing predictable is that we complain about it.
  • Rain in January? Yes! January is statistically our cold month; though we may have some rain for January thaw [or at least we did when our weather was more regular], we tend to get lots of snow then.
  • You have gluten intolerance? Good luck finding a restaurant to eat at. We apparently have lots of gluten-free options.
  • We are proud supporters of the University of Vermont football team! UVM doesn’t have one. We’re all about hockey instead.
  • You’re from New Jersey? Wow, that’s so cool! Flatlanders…! >_>
  • Let’s leave the beer brewing to the professionals. See statement on Bud.
  • Let’s go to Stowe for an inexpensive weekend getaway. Stowe is not cheap at all!
  • I’ll just quickly run into the store and grab what I need. I won’t talk to anyone, promise. See “small town” comment.
  • No more kale! “Eat more kale!” [Corollary: HISSSSSSSSSSS to Chick-Fil-A.]
  • The leaf peepers are leaving for the season? Nooooooooo! See comment on taking pictures of leaves.
  • I wish my neighbors lived closer. They live so close that they won’t go away.
  • I hate that we have to drive so far to go hiking. Getting anywhere is pretty much a hike.
  • Let’s move to Massachusetts! Some of us moved to get away from Massachusetts and have no desire to return.
  • I think I’ll just stay inside all weekend. We tend to like to frolic outside.
  • It’s snowing out, looks like school is going to be closed. Snow does not necessarily guarantee school closure; lots of ice and crappy back roads, however, tend to shut it down.
  • What’s Town Meeting Day? It’s when the local government gets stuff done.
  • Phish got started in Vermont? I had no idea. We tend to have some idea.
  • I sure wish there were more Subarus in this parking lot. Four-wheel drives like Subarus really help in the winter.
  • People go on vacation here? Really? Why? Some of us have deep, unreasoning love for this state.
  • The air is so dirty. I guess it’s cleaner than other places, but it’s really not that great over all.
  • This state has nothing going for it; I think it’s time to leave. “Deep, unreasoning love.”
  • Bernie who? The politician we’ve all been on a first-name basis with since the 1980s.

 

The power of the anime hair!!! or, What, philosophically speaking, is a shirt?

The power of the anime hair!!! or, What, philosophically speaking, is a shirt? published on No Comments on The power of the anime hair!!! or, What, philosophically speaking, is a shirt?

Jareth with anime hair and what may or may not be a shirt, depending on your definition of the word… Continue reading The power of the anime hair!!! or, What, philosophically speaking, is a shirt?

Vermont Doll Lovers St. Patrick’s/Easter meetup, 03/12/2016

Vermont Doll Lovers St. Patrick’s/Easter meetup, 03/12/2016 published on No Comments on Vermont Doll Lovers St. Patrick’s/Easter meetup, 03/12/2016

Never the Less made her debut at today’s VTDL meetup. I posted her photostory below, while the full complement of VTDL photos is, as usual, on the blog. Continue reading Vermont Doll Lovers St. Patrick’s/Easter meetup, 03/12/2016

Father of Lies IV: Lucian the psychopomp

Father of Lies IV: Lucian the psychopomp published on No Comments on Father of Lies IV: Lucian the psychopomp

Welcome, folks, to part IV of my enumeration of the strengths and weaknesses of Ann Turner’s YA novel of Salem witchcraft accusations, Father of Lies. Though Father of Lies founders under loads of anachronisms [particularly protagonist Lidda’s feisty feminism and her imaginary friend Lucian’s shirtless sex appeal], it accomplishes things that I have rarely seen in fiction. For one thing, Turner treats Lidda with respect and empathy, instead of the rank ableism seen in so many descriptions of people with mental illnesses. For another thing, Lidda’s relationship with Lucian depicts the exhilarating, ambiguous messiness of having a guide/guardian/friend/pest/sex object character in one’s head.

 

Though Lucian manifests as he does in large part because of Lidda’s mental illness, I’m referring to exhilarating, ambiguous, messy characters more generally. I’m talking about Lucian as one of those characters created by people — who may or may not have mental illnesses — in a desperate attempt to learn more about themselves. Let’s call them psychopomps, after those supernatural entities supposed in many religions to guide a dead person’s soul on its travels from its body to the realm of the dead. Anyway, when creators like Lidda personify unknown aspects of themselves as psychopomps, they can only go so far with their characterization. After all, we can’t delineate in detail what we don’t know about ourselves. We thus end up with imaginary people encompassing our unknown aspects and, as such, behaving in ways that we can’t fathom. Their unexpected actions and obscure [at least to our conscious minds] motivations make these characters seem like independent, separate beings. The knowledge that they provide can bring comfort and a sense of security. At the same time, their apparent otherness destabilizes the order that they were ultimately created to support. Throw some experimentation with sexuality and/or gender identity in there, and it’s an ambivalent whirl of excitement and panic. Turner never explicitly identifies Lucian as a psychopomp, but he acts just like one.

 

Lucian works as a wish fulfillment for Lidda. For example, he represents himself as older, smarter, and wiser than her. He sets himself up as a subversive teacher, claiming, “I have knowledge beyond your wildest dreams, you poor child, stuck in this backwater of a town” [p. 114]. In this way, he functions exactly as Lidda wants. Scared and confused by her unique perceptions, she wants to know why they occur, where they come from, and what they mean. She wants to be understood and to understand herself. Lucian, who implies that he has a handle on everything and a particular investment in Lidda learning his skills, is the ultimate wish fulfillment for a 14-year-old girl who has heard all her life from authority figures that she should sit down and shut up. In other words, he’s a person with power who treats Lidda as someone with potential and promise of her own.

 

Though Lidda gives Lucian traits of her fantasy authority figure, he’s mostly her match, her equal, her counterpart. To illustrate this, Turner makes him similar, but not identical, to his creator. Lidda experiences the world  less through language, analysis, and word-based thought and more through full-body perceptions of sensation. In a particularly illustrative scene, she thinks of Lucian singing, but she’s not really paying attention to the content of his song, so much as what it looks like: “Lidda felt the notes slide down her arms and legs, and circle up through her head; they had colors like sky birds — orange, yellow, blue, purple, and a kind of green almost beyond imagining, like the tiniest, brightest, newest leaf just before it unfurls, all curled in upon itself. That kind of green” [p. 151]. She concentrates on what words feel like and look like. Lucian has his own linguistic interests, but more based on semantics [e.g., what his name means]. Lidda senses intuitively when people are propagating bullshit around her, and Lucian gives her the words to precisely call it out. When they get along with each other, they form a team that gives Lidda enough confidence and courage to make her voice heard amidst the clamor of the witchcraft outbreak.

 

Even Lucian’s manipulative button pushing rings true for psychopompic characters. Lucian reassures Lidda that, whatever’s rotten in the state of Salem, it has nothing to do with her vaguely preternatural ability to detect bullshit and everything to do with feuding villagers lathering each other up into senselessness. Thus he turns her sense of isolation into a virtue of analytical detachment. At the same time, he urges her to laugh, dance, and behave in ways that earn her censure. In other words, he sometimes gives her a sense of comfort and security that she craves, while simultaneously provoking her to actions that make her feel frustrated and humiliated. His alternating niceness and snideness correlate to his status as both known and unknown creation. Lidda made him to help her make sense of the world; when he gives her answers, she looks on him favorably. However, when she reaches the limits of her knowledge, Lucian highlights her ignorance and seems nasty and arrogant. Being a part of Lidda, he knows exactly how to flatter her and make her feel good, but he also has enough intimacy to know where she’s most vulnerable, so he knows as well how to wound her. And yet she made him have what she wants — “truth and lies…and the wit to tell the difference” [p. 39] — so, even though he regularly irritates and unnerves her, she can’t stay away from him.

 

The cracks in Lucian’s facade of masterful superiority also help to characterize him as Lidda’s psychopomp. My favorite exposure of his limitations occurs when Lidda asks where he comes from. As Turner puts it, “There was an answering silence, then something that sounded almost like a cough, and a muted reply: That does not matter. You do not need to know that” [p. 118]. This is a moment that’s at once hilarious, pathetic, and realistic. It’s hilarious because, at least for a moment, Lucian quits acting like some omnipotent, omniscient magical being and suddenly comes across as an fallible person who’s embarrassed and possibly ashamed about something. It’s pathetic because, being part of Lidda, he obviously partakes of her self-examining anxiety, but, even though she bares the inside of her head to him, he doesn’t reciprocate. Instead, he keeps from her the source of his perturbation. Finally, it’s realistic that he avoids answering Lidda’s inquiry about his origins because Lidda, who made him, has no idea what said origins are. She can’t answer the question that she created Lucian to answer, so of course he’s going to squirm out of a point-blank response.

 

As a figment of Lidda’s mind tasked ultimately with helping Lidda [though his methods often seem infuriating and questionable], Lucian works desperately on her behalf to assuage her worst fear: that she’s going to be alone forever. When her mental illness causes her suffering, it literally separates her from the rest of the world. At several times in the novel, she tries to escape hallucinations by running outside, away from the dinner table and her family to the outhouse. To put it another way, at her most miserable, Lidda sits in a stinking shit heap, sobbing, overwhelmed by inarticulate confusion that she can share with no one. Thus Lucian’s first words — “It is lonely here… I yearn for warmth…to be in a living being…” [p. 4] — basically describe the chill sense of divorce with which Lidda associates her lowest points of depression. Because he’s part of her, he knows exactly what such excruciating despair is like.

 

Like Lidda, Lucian has no interest in remaining in a frigid shit heap, so he does everything he can to ensure that he and Lidda avoid such a fate. That’s why he says to Lidda, “Yes, girl, I am here, with you always” [p. 56]. She fears being alone, with its stench of sadness [and shit], so she makes up someone who, even though he doesn’t always answer her summons, proves a more constant companion than the fickle townsfolk.  That’s why he says, “I do not wish you to marry. …Because you belong to me” [p. 38]. Realistically speaking, if Lidda did not marry, she would end up without a husband, without the opportunity to have legitimate offspring, without children, without a family — in some sense, she would be without context, without identity, without a place in her Puritan society. On the margins of the community, she would face general suspicion, disapproval, and a certain measure of ostracism. Single life would bring some of the loneliness that threatens her so much. Terrified by that possibility, she tries to change it from a negative absence of family, friends, and community support to a positive presence of an internal companion, guide, and friend. Lucian is such a strong, vivid creation in part because Lidda wants so much not to be alone that she attempts to make herself a friend out of a piece of her mind.

As Father of Lies closes, Lidda interrupts the hearings at the Court of Oyer and Terminer, describing the witchcraft outbreak as not Devil-induced suffering, but lies wielded on purpose by people who want to harm others. Fearing that she will bring accusations of witchcraft upon herself or, at the very least, that she will subject her family to ignominy if she stays, she runs away from home. She plans to travel on foot to Boston and obtain “a position in some household” [p. 235]. Her brother gives her a little money to help her. Lucian, who has been absent for a while, reappears, congratulating her for her bravery, and — scene.

In other words, at the end of the book, Lidda separates herself from her family and social supports. Now on the aforementioned margins of society, she faces an uncertain life. With “a strange excitement,” Lidda contemplates the possibility of being herself, “with no one to criticize her” [p. 235]. However, the fact remains that her worst fear — solitude — has come to pass. Furthermore, since her behavior has reduced her already limited prospects as an unmarried young Puritan woman in Massachusetts Bay Colony, her chances for an expansive, uncensored, liberated existence remain dubious. I think Turner is trying for a happy ending here, but I don’t buy it.

Over in my [cynical] head, I imagine that the book stops at this particular moment because Turner doesn’t want to look several years into the future. In a few years, Lidda may have found a place as a servant, but her masters abuse her physically and emotionally. Upon perceiving her symptoms of mental illness, her masters berate her as “distracted in her wits,” which was the term back then for being mentally disturbed. The family she works for claims that no one else would accept such an unreliable worker, and they use her fear to keep her with them as a convenient punching bag. Dancing, laughing, and speaking up now seem like luxuries for Lidda, who expends more effort on mere survival. Lucian no more promises delights, but he does teach her skills of dissociation, which help with the pain. At the same time, even though she vowed in the past not to consider it, marriage to a fellow servant ten years older is looking good. He lacks any sort of “spirit,” as Lucian would say, but he’s unobjectionable, and he has nearly saved up enough to strike out on his own. Right now, that looks like the best she can hope for. The [much more realistic] end.

Part I here.

Part II here.

Part III here.

 

Part V here.

 

 

“Richard O’Brien disappoints fans with transgender rant” — and Gay Star News misses the point.

“Richard O’Brien disappoints fans with transgender rant” — and Gay Star News misses the point. published on No Comments on “Richard O’Brien disappoints fans with transgender rant” — and Gay Star News misses the point.

Failure and disappointment abound on multiple levels here. First of all, Richard O’Brien is apparently an essentialist transphobic stinker who thinks he knows what people are better than the people themselves.

Second of all, Gay Star News, source of the subject line of this post, completely misses the actual story. The actual story is not that Richard O’Brien disappoints people. The actual story is that Richard O’Brien ranks right up there with Germaine Greer in transmisogynist bigotry. They’re locked in deadly serious competition for who can drag the worst concepts from the 1970s into the 2010s.

As a related aside, O’Brien’s statements illustrate the direct connection between transmisogyny and queer coding, at least in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. As I have noted elsewhere, queer coding is a process whereby a fictional character, almost always an antagonist, is loaded with stereotypical signifiers of non-heteronormativity as a way of making them look even worse. Male characters typically suffer queer coding in the form of caricatures of femininity.

In RHPS, the original script and lyrics to which were written by transmisogynist extraordinaire O’Brien, Frank, l’antagoniste, is queer coded through a performance of negative femininity. Just too much in all the wrong ways, Frank wears too much makeup and too little clothing. His heels are too high, his reactions too hammy and unhinged. Excessive in vanity and overly voracious in sexual appetite, he epitomizes the worst traits associated with femininity.  Because he’s too femme, he’s seen as silly, vapid, and trivial. Queer coding makes him more contemptible, demonizable, and dehumanizable.

Besides reducing antagonists and making them easier to dislike, queer coding can even go further and narratively justify bumping off an antagonist. Frank ends up so overdetermined with transmisogynist traits that the characters easily move from despising him to killing him. Riff Raff [who is, significantly, played by O’Brien] connects Frank’s queer coding with his demise in the following lines: “Frank N. Furter, it’s all over / Your mission is a failure / Your lifestyle’s too extreme.” For “lifestyle,” read “gay lifestyle,” and the queer connection becomes apparent. Queer coding thus contributes to a variant of the trans panic defense, in which the movie would like you to believe that Frank was asking to be murdered because he was just so…well, you know!

Anyway, it’s sure nice of O’Brien to make his rotten transmisogyny so obvious. It makes pointing out the multifarious problems of RHPS way easier.

Anyone who pulls the “It’s just a movie” riposte clearly has never hated themselves for years and years after watching queer coded antagonists contend with vast amounts of narrative transmisogyny.

 

I rescind my “trans yay” tag, applied several years ago to a discussion, also on Gay Star News [and also with an inaccurate tag line], about Richard O’Brien’s supplemental hormone use and statements about himself.

Father of Lies part III: Lucian and the Bishonen Fever Dreams

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Welcome back to the third part of my extensive rant about Ann Turner’s Father of Lies, a YA historical fiction novel about a teenager, Lidda, with mental illness and a very interesting character inside her head, Lucian. This book does some things horribly and other things excellently. As I’ve detailed, Turner’s version of 1690s Salem during the witchcraft outbreak falls apart under multiple anachronisms. At the same time, the author gives Lidda and Lucian dignity and seriousness almost never granted to fictional people with disabilities, especially when said people are written about by authors without disabilities. Reading Father of Lies is an exercise in frustration, as it’s the novelistic equivalent of the little curly-haired girl of nursery rhymes. When it’s good, it’s very, very good, but, when it’s bad, it’s horrid!

Sometimes, just to put my poor emotions through the wringer, Father of Lies manages to be very, very good and horrid simultaneously, mostly as far as Lucian is concerned. As Lidda’s most active hallucination, he shares her restless contempt for the restrictions of her small-town life, as well as the repressive model of Puritan femininity to which Lidda is supposed to adhere. At the same time, he crystallizes Lidda’s often-inchoate tendencies toward physical rebellion [dancing, tree climbing, not wearing her stays] into an articulate stance of license in all respects. He mocks the villagers’ petty, dissembling behavior; he pushes Lidda to speak out in favor of the truth. He even challenges Puritan religious orthodoxy when he asserts that he has nothing to do with God and then helps Lidda to the conclusion that witches do not actually exist. While he directs her fidgetiness into intellectual rebellion, he also adds sexual aspects to Lidda’s disobedience, as, for example, whenever he appears half naked and then comments that she would look good naked [“You would like being naked, girl. No stays or petticoats to trap you like a snared rabbit” (pp. 102-103)]. In response, Lidda views the smart, sly, sexy, borderline blasphemous Lucian as a private ally, imperceptible to everyone except herself, and spends a lot of time trying to figure him out and please him. His running commentary on her experiences and her disputes with him form the entertaining, engaging core of the book.

 

As the overview in the previous paragraph intimates, I think Lucian is a wonderful character, but he also has serious flaws in his construction. Just as Lidda is essentially modern into her proto-feminist critique of Puritan beliefs and culture, so Lucian seems to have time traveled from the 21st century back to the tail end of the 17th, a fact most apparent when you take a look at his appearance, described in breathless detail on page 88:

 

“Then, like something becoming clear under the surface of a rushing stream, piece by piece the creature assembled himself so that Lidda could see him in the darkness of her head: He unfolded his body, starting with his long, elegant feet; up his lean legs, encased in shining black breeches; his bare torso became visible, gleaming as if from distant firelight; then his long smooth arms and hands with exquisite pointed fingers; and last his head, which was frighteningly handsome, more glorious than anything she had ever known, with black hair cascading down his back, waving in an invisible breeze. Complete, there, unlike anything ever seen before in the drab confines of her village.

 

“But his eyes! Silver like a running stream — a straight nose — and a mouth that curved in an intimate smile over pointed teeth.”

 

Given that your average Puritan man wore layers of clothing, including a hat, at almost all times and regularly tied his hair back or wore a wig, where does this hatless hottie come from? And what’s with the dramatic, flowing locks, sharp teeth, and silver eyes? Lucian looks like the bishonen fever dream of someone who’s been reading too much vampire romance manga. His sexiness is discordantly ahistorical. [“Hey, everyone, it’s Discordantly Ahistorical Sexiness, opening for Lucian and the Bishonen Fever Dreams!” I imagine both of these groups as New Wave in sound, though Discordantly Ahistorical Sexiness looks like Cotton Mather by way of Adam Ant, while Lucian and the Bishonen Fever Dreams looks like William Stoughton crossed with classic V-kei. Incidentally, both of these groups sound awesome!]

 

Just as I wonder where Lidda’s image of Lucian comes from, so I wonder where she gets his personality. Lidda uses Lucian as a way to consolidate and refine her iconoclastic thoughts and practices, some of which do have some grounding in her own experience. For example, Lidda’s criticism of Puritan life derives from contrasting it with what little she has heard about the practices of local Native Americans. When Lidda resents wearing her stays, she reminds herself that Indians don’t wear such uncomfortable clothing. Since the Puritans at large were scared shitless by the Indians, whom they regarded as marauding tools of Satan, I can’t believe that a Puritan teenager would admire the dress of the natives. However, that’s what Turner writes, and, while Lidda’s distaste for Puritan fashion rings false historically speaking, it works in a certain way. Lidda’s contrast between Puritan and Indian dress gives a real-world context for her annoyance with restrictive clothes. Thus Lidda’s — and thus, by extension, Lucian’s — interest in loose clothing and the idea of naked frolicking [as well as, now that I think about it, Lucian’s penchant for hanging around in the equivalent of underwear] makes sense.

 

I can see where Lidda gets Lucian’s concepts of physical rebellion, but I remain at a loss to explain Lucian’s [i.e., Lidda’s] proto-humanist critic of the Puritan religion and worldview. Obviously people other than Puritans lived in and around Salem in the 1690s who could have provided alternatives to the Puritan perspective. Turner mentions two possibilities in Father of Lies: the local Indians and then Tituba and John Indian. The New England natives, however, appear only in the context of a clothing contrast, so they do not serve as a philosophical counterpoint. Likewise, Tituba and John Indian, characterized as dark-skinned servants of Samuel Parris who look and speak differently than the white people, function as contrasts of appearance, not as contrasts of thought. Turner does not set up either Indians or Tituba and her husband as possible influences on Lucian’s anti-Puritan perspectives.

 

The most historically believable model for Lidda and Lucian’s proto-humanism would have been the Quakers. The Puritans mistrusted the Quakers as they mistrusted the Indians, but, since the Quakers were supposedly civilized and also white speakers of English, like the Puritans, the Puritans tolerated them somewhat more. According to the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay Colony, however, Quaker beliefs posed a significant threat to the Puritan establishment. Puritans viewed religion as a hierarchical chain of command with God at the top, who then imparted His Word to the [male] ministers, who then imparted it to the people. Quaker theology eschewed the patriarchal rigidity of Puritan practice because it emphasized each individual’s direct, personal experience of God. Both men and women, in Quaker belief, had the capacity for Inner Light — their term for personal knowledge of the Divine. Several aspects of Quaker belief — their insistence on a unique, individualized knowledge of God, their potential for equality of men and women before God, and their resistance to being ordered around from the pulpit — could have convincingly correlated to to some of Lidda and Lucian’s contrarian views. However, the Quakers do not appear in Father of Lies, and so my question remains. With no in-world role models for her modern, anti-Puritan rhetoric, how in the hell does Lidda develop Lucian’s sophisticated, occasionally ironic analysis and detachment?

While I’m discussing Lucian’s failures as a character, I would just like to say that I still can’t get over Lidda’s easy acceptance of him as a non-demonic entity. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, this makes no sense, as both devils and angels were real and ubiquitous to your average Puritan. Therefore, if someone like Lucian appears out of thin air and starts chatting with you [and he’s not someone you recognize and thus a spirit], he’s either a devil or an angel. Although devils may disguise themselves as angels and try their hardest to fool you, you can usually determine the nature of an apparition by its topics of discussion. Is it, for example, giving you advice on a cure for your sick family member or exhorting you to renew your commitment to God? If it encourages you to support Puritan society, it’s an angel, and you can trust it. If, however, it recommends swimming naked, doubting the existence of witches, and otherwise contradicting the tenets of Puritan society, it’s a devil, and you should resist it by quoting Scripture, praying, and loudly proclaiming your devotion to God. In other words, everyone around Lidda would, at most, interpret Lucian as a demon and tell him to shove off or, at the very least, have serious reservations about him, but she doesn’t.

Lidda’s welcome of Lucian represents a problem insofar as her entire culture would read him as a devil and a generally bad, unwanted thing. It’s also a problem because Lucian characterizes himself as demonic, but Lidda doesn’t really seem to care. He tells her very early on [p. 12], “Heaven has nothing to do with this, girl,” implying that the other place, Hell, does. Slightly later, when Lidda asks who he is, he says, “You may call me Lucian, light bringer. … I deal in truth and lies, and to you I give the wit to tell the difference” [p. 39]. He might as well say, “Hi, I’m Lucifer, and I’m a fallen angel,” especially since Lucifer, another name for the fucking Devil, means light bearer in Latin. Of course, at this point in the story, I’m screaming at Lidda, “He just equated himself with the Devil and told you he was a sneaky bastard — don’t trust him! And, if you want to be historically accurate, run to your nearest minister for spiritual guidance!” But nope — fictional characters never listen when I yell at them.

As an aside, though, I suspect that Lucian’s oblique comparison of himself to Lucifer constitutes another historical inaccuracy, mostly because I don’t think Puritans referred to the Devil by that name. I’ve read an exhaustive amount about the Salem witchcraft outbreak, and I remember primary sources referring to “the Devil” and “Satan.” Even when warning that the Devil could deceive people in the appearance of an angel, the clergy commentators at the time apparently didn’t remark on the Devil as “the fairest of the fallen” — or, at least, not as far as I know. Then again, I’m not conversant with the history of appellations for the Devil, so I could be wrong.

Yet again, I have gone on much longer than expected and hit my bedtime. More later. Maybe, in the next section, I’ll finally get around to what I think is so awesome about Lucian.

Part I here.

Part II here.

Part IV here.

Part V here.

NERDS Show, Lowell, MA, 03/05/2016: transactions and evaluation

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I attended the NERDS Show to meet fellow doll fans and new dolls. I hoped that I would sell some stuff, preferably enough to break even, and maybe find some doll stuff to buy, but I didn’t really expect to. I was therefore happily surprised to a) offload some stuff I didn’t want and b) acquire some stuff that I did.

 

In terms of riddances, I sold a Sleeping Elf/Tinybear Bon Bon [$125.00] and a fur wig [$5.00]. I got rid of a pair of Dikadoll jointed hands in a sale [$30.00] + partial trade [wig]. That was more than enough to cover the expense of table and room rental [$35.00], and I even got a small chunk of change to put toward taxes.

 

In terms of acquisitions, I picked up two freebies: a leotard and a sparkly overskirt. The second will work for Isabel, but the first may not be adequately modifiable for her, though it will certainly fit a narrower 1:6 scale doll. No pictures.

 

I took pictures of my more exciting acquisitions.

 

Continue reading NERDS Show, Lowell, MA, 03/05/2016: transactions and evaluation

NERDS Show, Lowell, MA, 03/05/2016: Sacred Stones Studio, LuckyXIII’s dolls

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The owners from Sacred Stones Studio in Connecticut were kind enough to give information about owner, maker, and sculpt for all their dolls, as well as credits for wigs, faceups, and outfits, not to mention character sketches for a significant number. Very entertaining! All information about Sacred Stones dolls comes directly from said signs.

Continue reading NERDS Show, Lowell, MA, 03/05/2016: Sacred Stones Studio, LuckyXIII’s dolls

NERDS Show, Lowell, MA, 03/05/2016: swap meet table, CatalystFlours, and Holy Calamity

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Lyrajean and I conveniently sat next to the most popular area of the show: the swap table. Besides things available for sale or trade, the swap table also held a bunch of dolls belonging to Missi. Continue reading NERDS Show, Lowell, MA, 03/05/2016: swap meet table, CatalystFlours, and Holy Calamity

NERDS Show, Lowell, MA, 03/05/2016: our table + Maverick and Madison’s

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Lyrajean and I started bright and early for Lowell, MA, yesterday, leaving my house at 7:00 AM for the long-awaited NERDS Show. I brought Yamarrah, not for sale, but to attract attention to the various clothes and small resin items I was selling.  Lyrajean hauled along a few display peoples, but mostly a yard sale’s worth of furniture in various scales, as well as clothes she had made.

 

We traveled without incident until we approached Lowell. The city, which started off as a mill town, features densely packed, narrow streets, the lay-out complicated by canals and the Merrimack River. This lay-out probably worked fine before cars, but it’s a clusterfuck for automotive traffic. Because it’s so hemmed in by water, Lowell cannot easily expand its streets for the usual complement of cars + bikes + pedestrians, so it accommodates all modern-day travel by creating a labyrinth of one-way streets. Somehow this gets people where they’re supposed to go, but in a manner that is neither logical, nor expected, nor easily discernible by the casual visitor. Let’s just say we had some difficulty getting around in Lowell. Fortunately we had budgeted time for getting lost, so we arrived at the Western Ave. Studios before the show began.

But we made it! Western Ave. Studios, a previously light industrial space converted into a warren of artists’ studios, reminds me favorably of artists’ studios in the South End. The NERDS Show set up in the Onyx Room. Painted black, windowless except for a skylight, and strung with disco balls and paper lanterns, the Onyx Room looked like a great place for a dance party or theater in the round. Round display tables, where people could show off their dolls, were distributed in the entry way, while about ten rectangular vendor tables, including ours, lined the inside perimeter. Some clusters of upholstered chairs in the center provided a space for mini meetups. Right by the off-street parking, the bathrooms, and all the studios participating in the Western Ave. Studios’ open studios event that day, the Onyx Room was optimally situated to attract not just doll enthusiasts, but also people who came for the open studios. In short, the Onyx Room proved the best possible place to have the show, with the sole reservation being that the lack of natural light made photos a challenge.

Lyrajean and I set up our wares all over our table. Good thing I had much less stuff than she, as her stuff was literally stacked in layers. As I have never staffed a vendor table, I did not know what to bring beyond my goods, my tablet computer [in case people wanted to use Paypal], cash, and my camera + memory card, of course. Thus I tossed in paper, pens, plastic bags, tent cards, an extension cord, water bottle, snacks, painkillers [as I fell on the ice last week and banged an unpadded part of my ass], even my cell phone [which usually never leaves my house]. That seemed to be a comprehensive array of supplies, although, in future, I will also bring hand cream and a snot rag. I will also eat a substantial lunch [not a bag of Deep River rosemary and olive oil chips, however delicious they may be] before the event starts.

I set up Yamarrah on Jareth’s “crotch stand” [i.e., a stand of adjustable height with a U-shaped clip that a doll can situate their crotch in] with one her favorite creemees to attract attention. As Lyrajean observed, she did a very good job of it. Her bright and unusual styling caught the eye of passersby, as did the fact that she was standing up in a naturalistic position. Anyway, I have decided to acquire more “crotch stands” for my 1:3 scale BJDs. They’ve been sitting around [literally] for years and years, as I’ve always been worried that standing them without support would lead to shelf dives, but they just look so much cooler when upright occasionally!

 

Continue reading NERDS Show, Lowell, MA, 03/05/2016: our table + Maverick and Madison’s

Father of Lies part II: disability = difference

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I just reread Father of Lies by Ann Turner, and I both love it and hate it in equal measure. Briefly put, it’s about Lidda, an unconventional Puritan girl who lives in the time of the Salem witchcraft outbreak. She feels compelled to denounce her town’s mass panic over the supposed machinations of Satan. Her developing relationship with an invisible man inside her, Lucian, who encourages her defiant, rebellious behavior and claims to give her the power to see the truth of the witchcraft accusations, makes her life somewhat more complicated. Much to my dismay, Turner completely misrepresents Salem, a failure that I have discussed earlier at great length. As the Goblin King would say, “What a pity,” because Turner does so well at other aspects of the story. For example, her depiction of Lidda and Lucian’s relationship — indeed, Lidda’s mental illness in general — is powerful, sensitive, nuanced, rich, and basically everything that I wish her treatment of Salem was.

 

Regarding Lidda’s mental illness, it is neither a surprise nor a spoiler that she has one. The Library of Congress data at the front of the book categorizes Father of Lies as a book about “1. Manic-depressive illness — Fiction,” even before “2. Trials (Witchcraft) — Fiction.” If that ain’t explicit enough, Turner dedicates the book to “all those with bipolar disorder who work so hard to make lives for themselves.” She also includes an afterword entitled About Bipolar Disorder, in which she makes it clear that all of Lidda’s strange and frightening perceptions [racing thoughts, seeing auras, uncontrollable movement, hallucinations] may be adequately explained by the disorder. Though she concludes with an open question about Lucian’s reality, Turner obviously characterizes him as a hallucination, an unreal product of Lidda’s imagination, and thus the most salient symptom of her mental illness.

Okay, so Lidda has a mental illness, and she directs much of her time, energy, and interest to Lucian, a person who does not exist outside of her head. Now, if this were a typical book written by an author without a mental illness and/or characters in their head, Lidda’s mental illness and her relationship with Lucian would be horrible barriers to happiness, fulfillment, or satisfaction. Lidda’s inability to be like everyone else would cause her no end of distress; her relationship with Lucian would just highlight for her what she was missing in relationships with people outside her head. In other words, she would be wretched and miserable because of her mental illness. She would only attain peace through managing her symptoms, denying her unique perceptions, and almost certainly killing off Lucian. And the narrative would stink of condescending pity for the poor little mentally disabled protagonist.

 

But this is not your typical book written by someone without a mental illness [and, I’m assuming, without characters like Lucian in her head]. Nope, in fact, Turner takes both Lidda and Lucian seriously in Father of Lies. While definite that Lidda has a mental illness, of which Lucian is a particularly egregious manifestation, Turner accords Lidda robust characterization without ableist authorial pity. Because of her mental illness, Lidda suffers physical and emotional pain that those around her do not: when she feels chilled and overheated in rapid succession, for example, or when she panics upon seeing flames emanating from her sister’s head. Yet she also experiences unshared joys: the sense of flight and freedom in a wild onrush of thoughts, the secret solace of a friend inside her who admires her for those traits that people around her chastise. As Turner writes it, Lidda’s mental illness makes her life different from that of most people around her, and it frequently contributes to the difficulties she faces. However, Lidda’s mental illness is never shown as inherently bad, wrong, pathetic, or burdensome. It may be disabling on occasion, but mostly it’s just a difference upon which the author places no negative judgment.

Turner’s respect for Lidda comes across most subtly and pervasively in the way that Lucian is written. As noted, Turner’s descriptions of Lucian as a voice in Lidda’s head, a sensation centered in her belly, and sometimes a shifting, flickering form on the wall demonstrate to the reader that he is an imaginary, unreal hallucination and byproduct of Lidda’s mental illness. To Lidda, however, he is a true, concrete, separate individual with his own agenda and personality. She jokes with him, argues with him, asks his advice, wonders where he goes when he won’t talk to her, fantasizes about him, and otherwise treats him like a real person. Turner reports all of Lidda’s interactions with Lucian in a straightforward, matter-of-fact manner. Turner never looks down on Lidda for believing in Lucian, nor does she invite the reader to do so.  Avoiding the evaluative and contemptuous distance endemic to so many portrayals of people with disabilities and/or mental illness, Turner’s portrait of Lidda shows that she is mentally ill, but also fully human, fully sympathetic, and fully dignified.

I must note that Turner’s treatment of Lidda isn’t perfect, verging as it does on the stereotype of Super Crip with Compensatory Powers. In the concluding paragraph of the afterword, Turner writes, “Was Lidda mad, or was she saner than the villagers? You decide” [p. 239]. Ignoring the artificially binary choice, we can discern that Turner wants us to answer yes to both questions. She wants us to think that, yes, Lidda was “mad” or mentally ill, and, yes, she was “saner” — or, more precisely, more reasonable and accurate in her analysis of the witchcraft outbreak — than the villagers. In fact, because Turner has Lucian tell Lidda that he gives her the wit to separate truth from lies, Turner effectively argues that Lidda’s reasonable, accurate analyses derive directly from her mental illness. Like Daredevil, Professor X, Daphne in Heroes, or any other superhero who loses some capacity, but then gains a magical ability that allows them to do way more than they ever did and thus basically renders the lost capacity irrelevant, Lidda has the superpower of seeing the truth. Her superpower comes from her mental illness and reinforces her unfortunate status as an insufferable Visionary Before Her Time Doomed to Pass Her Days Among the Small-Minded Masses. [See my analysis of this anachronistic concept in part I.] In other words, Turner risks defining Lidda by — and thus reducing her to and objectifying her with — her disability. Turner’s sympathetic and respectful treatment of Lidda ensures Lidda’s full humanization, but the deleterious authorial tendency to objectification yet remains.

 

Despite my caveat, I generally approve of Turner’s deployment of mental illness in Father of Lies. Though it occasionally smells like a crashingly obvious metaphor that Turner uses to highlight the “true” “madness” at play [i.e., the anti-witchcraft panic], Lidda’s mental illness mostly functions with a refreshing realism. Sometimes it contributes to her distress, sometimes to her happiness, always to her unique interpretation of reality. While Lidda’s mental illness sometimes estranges her from people and causes her difficulties because her perceptions don’t accord with others’, Turner does not ask the reader to pity Lidda because of her disability. The matter-of-fact way in which Turner reports on Lidda’s treatment of Lucian demonstrates that Lidda recognizes her difference from other people, but does not think any worse of herself for it. In a culture where the treatment of people with disabilities defaults to snide objectification, Turner’s well-rounded, compassionate characterization of Lidda is a radical [and depressingly uncommon] argument for disability rights.

 

Well, it looks like I don’t have time tonight to expatiate about Lucian and the Bishonen Fever Dreams. More later….

Part I here.

Part III here.

Part IV here.

Part V here.

Ann Turner’s Father of Lies part I: flunking Salem

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Two kinds of books automatically draw my interest: 1) those about the Salem witchcraft outbreak and 2) those about girls or women who talk to people in their heads and fear that they might be going insane. A book about a girl who talks to someone in her head and fears that she might be going insane in the context of the Salem witchcraft outbreak will thus make me drop everything and read. Since Ann Turner’s Father of Lies — featuring fourteen-year-old Lidda as the girl in question and Lucian as the ambiguous person inside her — combines both of these interests, you can see why I snatched it up eagerly. Unfortunately, Turner uses these combustible, promising subjects to tell what I consider is the wrong story.

First, a little plot summary. Lidda, as I have mentioned, lives in the Puritan colony of Massachusetts, on the verge of the eighteenth century. She has no desire to comport herself as expected; she does not want to be a sober, modest, God-fearing wife. She likes the tales of murder and flirtation in the Bible, but has no patience for the apocalyptic visions of doom and punishment that the ministers conjure up regularly. She would rather dance, wear bright colors, climb trees, and speak her mind. She wishes that she lived someplace more exciting than Salem.

As if Lidda’s inability to accept any aspect of the Puritan status quo wasn’t enough, two other complications mess up her life. First of all, she has these episodes with inconsistent symptoms. Sometimes her thoughts race, and she can’t control them; sometimes her bodily sense of temperature is off, or she sees burning auras around people, or she can’t help but yell, laugh, or dance. During these episodes, this man, Lucian, appears inside her at intervals, alternately mocking and complimenting her. He claims that he has given her the power to tell truth from falsehood, but Lidda’s not sure what to do with that.

Lidda’s Lucian-granted power of discernment would certainly be an asset in the case of the second complication, which is, to put it simply, an infestation of evil. Starting with a few girls around Lidda’s age, people all over town have been falling into fits, tortured by the specters of witches. Most people believe that, indeed, devils and witches live among them, lurking, waiting for the chance to ambush and torture. But Lidda, who has overheard the afflicted girls planning their accusations, knows that there is no witchcraft here, only petty vengeance and a sense of self-importance magnified by a panicked mob mentality. How can she speak out against this dissembling without being called a witch herself?

…And here we arrive at the problem. Turner frames the central conflict of this story as the struggle of an insightful, independent-minded, rebellious girl to tell the truth in a repressive, ignorant, and sexist setting. Not just any repressive society either, but the Puritans, who, as conventional wisdom tells us, were quite possibly the most uptight, humorless, judgmental, prejudiced, irrational, retrograde, philosophically constipated, and generally miserable people in the history of the United States. In other words, Turner is writing not The Father of Lies, but The Tragedy of Lidda Johnson vs. the Evil Puritans, with Bonus Salem Witchcraft Outbreak to Illustrate Just How Evil the Puritans Really Are. And that’s the wrong story, mostly because it’s a historically inaccurate crock of shit.

If we want to be historically accurate [and much more interesting] about this, the theme of the story should be something like one girl’s struggle to identify good and evil in a society ravaged by war, violence, and political instability and characterized by fundamental uncertainty. And, just to make things even more difficult, let’s throw the entire community into a crisis of faith and pitch the girl into her own personal crisis about the nature of reality and her experiences. Woo hoo! Now step back, and watch the action begin.

Turner’s simplistic concept of the Puritans diverts her from one of the most salient aspects of the setting: the constant terror. Her portrayal of the witchcraft outbreak as cruel games orchestrated by some power-drunk girls, which were then enhanced by gullibility and rabble-rousing, completely ignores the levels of pain, suffering, and fear that these people lived with on a daily basis. First of all, they lived in a culture of rudimentary, ineffective medicine and high mortality [especially of mothers and kids], when so many babies died young that they just recycled the dead kids’ names for the next ones to be born. Second of all, they lived in New England, which, with its long, snowy, cold winters, impassable mud season, and short, hot summers, is a climatological craphole. Third of all, back then, Salem was on an unstable, war-torn frontier, isolated from what the Puritans considered civilization [i.e., Great Britain] by an entire ocean. People died in wars against the French and Abenaki all the time. Indians kidnapped, tortured, and killed settlers just miles away. Everyone knew someone who had died in such violence. In summary, Salem was not a good place to live; physical suffering was ubiquitous.

Puritan religious beliefs compounded the bodily suffering by adding spiritual and emotional dimensions. The Puritans of Massachusetts Bay Colony believed that they were born sinful. They would not know if they were part of the elect — that is, if they would go to Heaven — until they died and actually ended up there. God determined who was saved and who was damned according to some secret process that no human could fathom and that no human could affect. Not even good works and piety could guarantee one’s place among the elect. Furthermore, assuming that one was saved was arrogance of the worst sort. One should always interrogate oneself, looking inside for signs of worthiness. This left your average Puritan in an endless introspective recursion of helpless anxiety, vacillating between hope that they were Heaven-bound and terror that they weren’t.

With this information in mind, we can see how the Salem witchcraft outbreak is not primarily about silly, superstitious people being easily whipped into a pointless panic, as Turner would have it. It’s more about people who, already on edge, physically miserable, and emotionally tortured, find themselves besieged by their worst nightmares. Let’s face it — if, on top of the shitty weather and the high mortality and the dubious health care and the upheaval of frontier life and the casualties of war and the threats of Indian invasion and the fact that you’re a born wretched sinner and the possibility that, no matter what you do, you might not go to Heaven, you also have to deal with your neighbors having fits and your friends and enemies hurling witchcraft charges at each other and the Devil taking other people’s shapes and invisibly tormenting people and an ever increasing number of townsfolk confessing to alliance with the Devil, you might be slightly concerned that reality as you know it appears to be coming apart at the seams. Please note that I am not discounting the superstitions, racism, classism, sexism, religious bigotry, and socioeconomic factors that shaped the Salem witchcraft outbreak. The point I’m trying to make here is that every single person affected by the Salem witchcraft outbreak faced a fundamental, epistemic terror that led them to see witchcraft as both a personal and a community threat.

While the historical Salem and environs labored under a burden of fear, Turner’s Salem lacks such pervasive anxiety. Lidda herself epitomizes this anachronistic insouciance. For just a few examples:

  • The Puritans hated the Indians, feared them, thought them subhuman, murderous monsters, and elided them with the Devil, but Lidda does not see them as a threat. “Perhaps she would run off and join the Wabanaki Indians farther north,” Lidda thinks [p. 11]. “Were they as cruel as the tales said? She thought people exaggerated…” Instead, she fantasizes about running away to live with them because they don’t make their kids wear corsets.
  • Puritan society, including the ministers, who were considered general experts and role models, had a complicated relationship with magic. Even though belief in God and the Devil predominated and was supposed to exclude a belief in magic, the principles of sympathetic magic circulated as general cultural knowledge. Not everyone practiced magic, but Puritans thought that it could be a good supplement to more Godly activities — a way to hedge bets, so to speak. At one point, however, Lidda concludes that the baking of a witch cake, a piece of folk magic designed to identify the witches in their midst, arises from a combination of “fear, lies, and stupidity” [p. 83]. Lidda’s harsh condemnation of the cultural vocabulary of magic thus seems unconvincing.
  • All the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay Colony worried about the state of their souls. They wondered incessantly about their damnation and/or salvation. While the Devil was always a real and imminent threat to them, the witchcraft outbreak turned him into a particularly personal adversary. You had to watch out for him because he was going to do everything in his power — corrupting your neighbors and family, sickening your animals and crops, sending nightmares and physical pains, even taking the shape of innocent people and plaguing you — to turn you to evil. However, the Devil does not seem to bother Lidda. When Lucian appears in her head, inciting her to rebellious behavior and implying that God has nothing to do with him, Lidda barely entertains the thought that he’s demonic. In fact, she rejects that conclusion: “How seductive he was, how beautiful, just as Reverend Parris spoke of the Devil, except she did not think Lucian was evil. Something else, but not — the Evil One” [p. 56]. She interprets him as her friend and a flattering source of evidence that she possesses perspicacity that everyone else lacks, even though Turner gives Lidda no reason for her conclusions.

In other words, Lidda is a thoroughly modern fourteen-year-old, inserted into Puritan Salem solely to foment righteous indignation at her plight in automatically sympathetic, modern-day readers. Ugh. The Noble Struggles of the Feisty Proto-Feminist in a Time of Sexist Bullshit is one of the least nuanced, least accurate, and least satisfying interpretations of any historical event ever. It’s also a cheap, lazy authorial ploy to gain reader engagement at the expense of sophisticated character development and historical depiction. Worst of all, it flattens out the glorious messiness and ambiguity of history into a boring linear teleology of increasing progressiveness, of which we — O glorious, enlightened moderns! — are naturally at the apex.

I’m so very disappointed that Father of Lies turns a volatile subject, full of my favorite narrative elements [marginalized women and girls, magic and magic users, the power of storytelling, endless self-examination, queries into the nature of perception and reality, moral ambiguity, existential dread], into a simplistic morality tale. In fact, my disappointment feels particularly acute because, for all that she botches the historical part of her fiction, Turner does a virtuoso, amazing, fascinating, suggestive job with the other part of her fiction: viz., Lucian. Tune in next time when I discuss the strengths of Father of Lies in a little segment I like to call Lucian and the Bishonen Fever Dreams. [Hey, that’s a great name for a band…]

Part II here.

Part III here.

Part IV here.

 

Part V here.

Some more virtue names

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I’ve long known about the Puritan virtue names that appear occasionally among New Englanders until about the mid-1800s; I mean hell — when one has a Submit as one’s greatx8 grandmother, one does have an incentive to learn where a name like that comes from. While some virtue names like Charity, Chastity, Faith, and Hope are used even today, others have died out.

Puritan virtue names that have died out include Submit and Thankful, but also two that I recently learned about: Silence and Desire. I’m sure the Desire is something like “desire for God’s love” or “desire to be saved.” The first seems more about not expressing and the second about expression, though. I find it especially interesting that, in the context where I learned these names, Silence and Desire were sisters.

Such names have always gotten me thinking, particularly Submit. Verb names, much less imperatives, are pretty rare [although, around these parts, we are familiar with Remember Baker, Green Mountain Boy and cousin of Ethan Allen]. Was having a command as a name considered odd back then? Did Submit and Remember go by nicknames or by the one-word sentences that served as their first names? What did Submit think of having that name?

Submit, Silence, and Desire just beg for me to write a story about them — well, mostly Submit. It would be a modern-day story about a modern person named Submit and her struggles with family, ancestry, expectations of femininity, and irritatingly overdetermined nomenclature. I envision Submit as coming from a long line of women with Puritan virtue names and being particularly pissed that she didn’t get something like Faith or Hope…or, hell, even Chastity, because at least you can shorten that to Chaz. But noooooo, her mom had to name her ironically in some sort of feminist statement [????]. I get the sense that she rattles off her standard greeting — “My name is Submit Delacroix, sierra-uniform-bravo-Mike-India-tango, like the verb” — through gritted teeth every single time, and if someone says anything more than “Oh” or “Okay,” they receive the Death Glare. >:(

Cakeland!!!!

Cakeland!!!! published on No Comments on Cakeland!!!!

If you put a gingerbread house, the feast scene in Pan’s Labyrinth, and any sort of Barbie furniture sets made by Mattel into a blender, something like like Scott Hove’s Cakeland would emerge. It’s a dizzyingly bright and confusing milieu of artificial sweets, flounced and swagged with endless curlicues of fake frosting. It’s — sniff! — so beautiful! This is definitely my aesthetic, though I feel that there need to be more skulls [human and avian] and switchblades.

P.S. That chandelier is making me HUNGRY!

Volks Yukinojo redux thoughts

Volks Yukinojo redux thoughts published on No Comments on Volks Yukinojo redux thoughts

While I’m thinking about it, any BJD with a Yukinojo head would absolutely require an Iplehouse EID Woman body with large bust [and thigh swivels]. If such a body had been available a decade [?!?!?!?!?!?] ago when I was making my 1:3 scale BJD version of Frank, I would have snapped it up because of its perfect adherence to unrealistic, superheroic standards of voluptuousness and muscularity combined. I am pretty sure that is the only 60+ cm body of that shape out there, excluding the discontinued Angelsdoll massive girl body and its unattractive articulation. Not a real fan of Iplehouse’s poseability, but I can’t think of any alternatives with better articulation, comparable height, and equivalent shape.

Ordering from Iplehouse would provide an opportunity to acquire some of their fabulous clothes. High-collared dress showing cleavage and then some? Hot pants? The classic catsuit + corset? A dress with thigh-high leg slits and navel window? Whatever the heck this thing is? In other words, the chance to own in 1:3 scale the sort of over-the-top, ridiculous shit I heretofore have only possessed in digital? SIGN ME UP!

Volks Yukinojo = 1:3 scale Dollmore Klaire?

Volks Yukinojo = 1:3 scale Dollmore Klaire? published on No Comments on Volks Yukinojo = 1:3 scale Dollmore Klaire?

I really want a Dollmore Trinity Klaire, but I highly doubt I’ll ever get one. Therefore I was just thinking about a BJD headsculpt for which I have a sentimental fondness, Volks Yukinojo, and wondering if that sculpt would be a good 1:3 scale equivalent to Klaire. I’ll have to compare my Yukinojo pics to some of Klaire…

EDIT: Klaire has much rounder and blunter nose/lips/chin, while Yukinojo’s are slightly narrower and more rectilinear. However, both dolls’ cheeks/chin/mouths are big and strong. If I closed Yukinojo’s eyes slightly, I could achieve a shape similar to Klaire’s.

Straight white cis dude writes sexist, racist, classist, ageist jeremaid.

Straight white cis dude writes sexist, racist, classist, ageist jeremaid. published on No Comments on Straight white cis dude writes sexist, racist, classist, ageist jeremaid.

“Do teens read seriously anymore?” asks the title of David Denby’s New Yorker screed. Of course not! answers the author, blaming “most of all, screens (TV, Internet, games, texting, Instagramming).” “Screens” have killed teens’ interest in self-development through “serious” reading, turning them into superficial shlubs with no attention span. I’m dying to know how Denby deduced this, since he’s so out of touch with the under-21 set that he refers to them as “teen-agers.” Why should anyone listen to this irrelevant person?

I also can’t help but notice that Denby’s idea of “serious reading” is gendered, racialized, and classed. He cites “Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Poe, Hawthorne, Twain, Stevenson, Orwell, Vonnegut” as exemplars of the genres that today’s “teen-agers” putatively avoid. Elsewhere in his word vomit, J.D. Salinger, Charlotte Bronte, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Joseph Heller, and Allen Ginsburg appear as sadly neglected greats. “Wilde, Nabokov, Updike, Vidal” also garner mentions as “sophisticated” author-critics of the 20th century.

Of these 18 authors, all are from the United States or Great Britain, and 16 are white cis dudes, 2 white cis women. There are 2 gay dudes [whoop de fucking doo] and 0 queer women. There are no non-honkies or people of color. All of this “literature” issues from the privileged socioeconomic classes. By contrast, the fantasy, dystopian, vampire romance, and graphic novel genres that he shits on feature a much larger representation of women and/or POC and/or various socioeconomic classes and/or national origins. And Denby hates it.

Shorter Denby: “Waaaaah, my straight cis white dude privilege is being threatened!”

Oh shut up and go hang out with Simon Doonan, another rich old cis white dude master of ageist, sexist, racist vituperation.

Hat tip to Katy Waldman for her criticism of Denby’s crap on Slate.

Humanoid bipedal robot walking around and lifting stuff

Humanoid bipedal robot walking around and lifting stuff published on No Comments on Humanoid bipedal robot walking around and lifting stuff

Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot walks around, opens doors, and lifts things in this amazing video. I wish I had more context, but this is still stupendous. Thoughts in no particular order:

 

  • Atlas’ stability on uneven terrain — with snow on the ground no less! — is particularly cool. I envision its stabilizing, balancing, and flexion systems eventually [if not currently] being incorporated into lower limb prostheses to obviate use of a cane, walker, or similar for some people.
  • I’m not sure why Boston Dynamics decided to design a humanoid robot, but I applaud them for throwing in some humanoid engineering as well. Most obviously, Atlas swings its arms when it moves. It didn’t have to do that; it could have had tighter shoulder joints, but Boston Dynamics mimicked humanoid design and allowed it to maintain its balance with one of the ways in which people who walk can.
  • Atlas pops up almost immediately after being knocked over — recovering just as rapidly, if not faster than, a human. I’m very impressed with its multistage standing, especially the final step, when it pushes itself to its feet using basically just the propulsion from its toes.
  • When the person kept knocking the box out of Atlas’ hands and Atlas continued to walk forward, reaching for the box, I was thinking, Don’t piss off the robot!

 

Filed under mannequins because I sure wish I had one that did that.

EeeeeEEEEEeeeeee suspenders!

EeeeeEEEEEeeeeee suspenders! published on No Comments on EeeeeEEEEEeeeeee suspenders!

I think he was going for some early 20th-century blue collar look here. The thoroughly modern OMG SQUEEEEEEEEEE! body language could be slightly anachronistic, though. :p

As an aside, I should mention that Neftis and Cauchemar3D’s G2M Jack the Ripper Hair supersedes Luthbel’s G2M Horror Survivor Marius spike, brows, and facial hair as my favorite set designed for a male figure. Jack the Ripper has a wonderful messy, wayward look. The hairline and distribution of hair on the front crown convincingly mimic a high, possibly receding forehead. In a market full of luxuriant, bountiful hairstyles created for youthful characters for whom hair loss is just a distant nightmare, Jack the Ripper remains one of the few realistic options for slightly older people. The morphs to alter/remove sideburns and mustache just make this even more versatile. Now that I’ve gotten the set to work on G3F, I do believe that I’ve found Jareth’s preferred hairstyle for whenever he feels like “butchin’ it up.”
 

Continue reading EeeeeEEEEEeeeeee suspenders!

Zombieville Chapter 10.5: Unresearched Ridiculousness

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This episode is not at all based on my reaction to the mini tombstone in question. :pContinue reading Zombieville Chapter 10.5: Unresearched Ridiculousness

Thoughts about various iterations of the Girl

Thoughts about various iterations of the Girl published on No Comments on Thoughts about various iterations of the Girl

The Girl, one of Daz’ iconic figures [and, in more recent versions, figure morphs], began life as a toon created by Kim Goossens. Daz or its predecessor Zygote acquired the figure and all rights to it, I guess. From then on, the Girl joined Victoria, Michael, and a small elite of characters that appear in [almost] every generation of figures that Daz puts out.

 

The Girl has four iterations so far. The first was as a standalone figure by Kim Goossens, a contemporary of Victoria 3. The second was a character morph of Victoria 4, called Girl 4. The Girl skipped the next generation of Daz figures, Genesis 1. However, Girl 6 showed up as a morph of Genesis 2 Female. Most recently, Girl 7 appeared as a character for Genesis 3 Female. I put them in a lineup below to compare and contrast.

 

Continue reading Thoughts about various iterations of the Girl

Timonium’s new hair, or, How not to make a wig

Timonium’s new hair, or, How not to make a wig published on No Comments on Timonium’s new hair, or, How not to make a wig

I spent the last two weeks making Timonium a little red version of the Goblin King’s hair. First I ordered a bunch of rooting hair from dollyhair.com. With the delightful name of Vampire Kisses, the deep reddish color has purple tones to darken it, suggestive of both red wine and fresh blood. Perfect color for someone who claims that he sups on “the blood of the innocent.” >_>

 

Then I hand sewed a wig cap from scrap cotton print, using my faux fur pattern as a base [plus seam allowances]. I used a technique that I first tried about 15 [!] years ago to attach the hair to the cap. Holding a small clump of hair between thumb and forefinger, I trimmed the ends so they were even. I applied hot glue all around the end of the clump to stick all the strands together. I hot glued this bundle to the cap, beginning at the bottom center back of the wig cap. Working my way toward the crown in a spiral path, I attached successive bundles all over the cap. Periodically I trimmed the hair to make sure that it was all a single, manageable length. I did final styling — addition of bangs, layering, and whatnot — at the end, though.

 

I can’t think of another way that I could have easily constructed this particular style in this particular size, but I still don’t recommend this method of wig construction. It’s tedious as fuck and highly unrewarding. While I enjoy almost all aspects of doll customization, I found this one a boring chore. I’m never doing that again.

 

On the plus side, Timonium looks pretty cool now!

 

Continue reading Timonium’s new hair, or, How not to make a wig

All my dolls, 02/16/2016

All my dolls, 02/16/2016 published on No Comments on All my dolls, 02/16/2016

Technically this should really be A good complement of my dolls, excluding those who are in pieces and the one that I’ve hidden because I really don’t like it and can’t sell it, but All my dolls has a better ring to it. Continue reading All my dolls, 02/16/2016

Dolls that need work

Dolls that need work published on No Comments on Dolls that need work

For BJDs who bug me:

  • Delmar needs faceup, hair, restringing, and tail. Faceup stalled.
  • Fritillaria needs faceup, eyes, wig, outfit. Temporary outfit completed, faceup, eyes, and wig stalled.
  • Mellifer needs a complete do-over. Stalled.
  • Never the Less needs faceup, wig, clothes. Clothes done, working on wig, mask/faceup stalled.
  • Polly needs a seat belt. Stalled.
  • Thalia needs a shirt. Stalled.
  • Timonium needs a new wig cap and new hair. Working on wig cap. Done!
  • Touralyn needs a new body and clothes. Body in progress.

For Zombieville denizens:

  • Doctor Z needs her own body with appropriate neck. Ordered!
    Done!
  • Sylvia needs a new fat body. New base body procured and cut down. Fats need sculpting.

Whenever I feel like getting more 1:3 scale BJDs…

Whenever I feel like getting more 1:3 scale BJDs… published on No Comments on Whenever I feel like getting more 1:3 scale BJDs…

…[because I know I will in future, though I don’t now]…I’ll probably get one of the following:

  • Angel of Dream Hui Xiang. Long admired and very smiley, she could probably be modded into an OMV easily. She’s also rather cheap, as 1:3ers go.
  • Serenade Doll Lotus. Taking Doll Chateau’s super scrawny aesthetic into the realm of etiolated, elongated fashion illustrations, Serenade Doll pairs an impossibly long-limbed body with a small head. I wasn’t really sold on the doll until I saw this robe, which is perfect for the slim, wispy physique. The clothing convinced me to seriously consider the doll, who would be a late Victorian/early Edwardian ghost.
  • Bergemann Dolls Sassafrass. I usually dislike the blocky, rounder sculpting favored by U.S. BJD sculptors, but I’m a huge fan of THE SMIRK.

Journee, avian therianthrope

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Remember how I admired Ali’s original digital figure, Bod, recently? Well, I ended up purchasing her, and she’s just even more adorable in my runtime than she is in the promos. I ran into some difficulties clothing her until I realized that she is based off Ali’s free human figure Angela. With that knowledge, I was able to purchase her a T-shirt and shorts from Ali’s site [pretty much the only thing that wasn’t a bikini]. I also found some free poses for Angela that worked for Bod with a little accommodation for her different feet. Anyway, here’s Journee, my Bod-based character….

 

Continue reading Journee, avian therianthrope

Facial hair!!!!!

Facial hair!!!!! published on No Comments on Facial hair!!!!!

I figured out how to get facial hair [both transfers from G3F and also from previous figure generations] onto G3F so that it follows expressions! Woo hoo!

I’m also happy because this evening I just sprang for AprilYSH’s Leandros Hair and Beard for G3M. I got it because it beautifully represents the messy ponytail that I see so many people use whenever they don’t want to put much effort into styling their hair — just pull it back and don’t worry about the flyaways. The inclusion of a beard, up to AprilYSH’s usual spectacular standards of modeling, was just a nice bonus.

Now that I’m playing with it, though, I really like the beard. It’s a decent closely clipped style, very realistic, and the alternative trans maps for full hair growth and sparser hair growth are pretty convincing. Once I made a little morph to keep the mustache hairs from shoving themselves up Jareth’s nose, everything worked well.

Continue reading Facial hair!!!!!

Dance moves that “fit the meter”

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One of the most memorable and useful justifications I learned in Latin class was “It fit the meter.” You see — the Latin language poetry I translated in high school followed a rigorous form of syllabification and rhythm known as meter.

 

When we were working on lines, our teacher regularly pointed out poetic devices and asked us why we thought Virgil [because we were doing the Aeneid] — used certain words. Without fail, one kid always responded, “It fit the meter!”

 

This explanation, while technically true, always entertained me. It completely dismissed all sort of sophisticated rhetorical effects and instead focused on wedging language into the appropriate amount of syllables and lines.

 

That being said, I find myself seeing all flourishes that “fit the meter” in a variety of media. When someone is repeating “Yeah yeah yeah” or “Oh oh oh” in a song, those words exist to fit the meter. Rococo architecture is full of curlicues and flourishes that fit the meter. When my digital sets look boring and empty, I may add people and decor to fit the meter. In other words, fitting the meter means filling available space in an appropriate way.

Back to the title of this entry… After watching Michael Jackson’s Bad and Smooth Criminal, I think that a certain number of his crotch grabs and hat tilts occur because they fit the meter — i.e., they fill time and look cool.

Hey look — a mediocre picture of Never the Less!

Hey look — a mediocre picture of Never the Less! published on No Comments on Hey look — a mediocre picture of Never the Less!

I worked on Never the Less today. First I sanded down her stabby Nipples of Doom. I dressed her up, then decided that I should wire her arms. I took off her shirt and tried to shove wire into her arm channels, but the 3mm elastic filled up the holes.

I released the string running from neck to torso, took off the bust, and removed the 3mm elastic from the arms. Restringing her arms with 2mm elastic, I then easily fit wires in her arm channels. Then I had a big huge fight to bring her core elastic through her torso again and out her neck, as AOD apparently suffers an elastic shortage and so must string all dolls with the bare minimum.

 

I redressed her, then decided that she needed a bra. I took off her shirt, put on her bra, then put her shirt on. Then I had a big huge fight with her shoes, which, at 7cm inner measurement, were the exact length of her feet and thus a challenge to put on her.

 

Finally I gave her the brown frizzy wig from my collection of 1:3 scale stuff, restrung her mask with longer elastic to fit around her bulky wig, then collapsed in exhaustion. No, really, I just took a few pictures, only one of which came out any good.

 

Continue reading Hey look — a mediocre picture of Never the Less!

Taste Testing: Jareth, Tomaeo, Nero, and Russell at the bar

Taste Testing: Jareth, Tomaeo, Nero, and Russell at the bar published on No Comments on Taste Testing: Jareth, Tomaeo, Nero, and Russell at the bar

Here’s the photostory featuring Jareth in the aforementioned inimitably Jarethian outfit. Other people include Tomaeo [rainbow shirt], Russell [grey sweater], and Nero [black corset]. As usual, there’s a lot of sarcastic remarks and tongues sticking out.
Continue reading Taste Testing: Jareth, Tomaeo, Nero, and Russell at the bar

NERDS doll meetup and sale in Lowell, MA, on March 5th!

NERDS doll meetup and sale in Lowell, MA, on March 5th! published on No Comments on NERDS doll meetup and sale in Lowell, MA, on March 5th!

Yes! Something doll-related is happening in an accessible location in New England! Lyrajean and I are planning to go and split a vendor table. I hope to publicize VTDL too.

Out drinking with Tomaeo and bros on a weeknight

Out drinking with Tomaeo and bros on a weeknight published on No Comments on Out drinking with Tomaeo and bros on a weeknight

Sometimes I put together outfits that are just so quintessentially Jarethian that they make me laugh out of happy surprise. This is one of them, to be seen in a photostory that occurs during Jareth’s casual night at the bar with Tomaeo, Russell, and Nero.  The title of this picture is Makeup Emergency — Jareth’s explanation for why he took a while in the bathroom. ^_^Continue reading Out drinking with Tomaeo and bros on a weeknight

I call this one “Heeeeeeeere am I floating ’round my tin can.”

I call this one “Heeeeeeeere am I floating ’round my tin can.” published on No Comments on I call this one “Heeeeeeeere am I floating ’round my tin can.”

Testing out imaginary spacesuits in preparation for a trip to the moon. 😀 Continue reading I call this one “Heeeeeeeere am I floating ’round my tin can.”

Master of the Universe as commentary on Twilight

Master of the Universe as commentary on Twilight published on No Comments on Master of the Universe as commentary on Twilight

I skimmed some of Masters of the Universe while I was doing something else, which is probably the best way to read it. :p Thoughts follow.

  • It’s very strange to read a story in which Bella and Rosalie are roommates. I kept thinking, Wrong! Rosalie is a Cullen, and she lives in a strange vampire family with all the other Cullens.
  • Very little seems to have changed between the self-published version of Masters of the Universe and the traditionally published 50 Poops. There was obviously a search and replace done on character names, some superficial clean-up for spelling, punctuation, and grammar, and a removal of some Briticisms. Other than that, though, it’s all pretty much the same: the scenes, the lines, the adverbs, everything. Made me realize how much 50 Poops could have used an editor. I think there was an opportunity here for some heroic editorial effort to turn improve the story by excising redundancy and making it overall more concise. Then it would have still be formulaic and cliched, but at least it wouldn’t have been so badly written and constructed.
  • Now that I think about it, E.L. James’ interpretation of Edward Cullen as a really bad dom who can’t separate his actual self from his pathological need for controlling everything is pretty accurate. No wonder Stephenie Meyer doesn’t really like E.L. James. E.L. James can see the grotesquerie at the base of Meyer’s characters.

Therianthrope with talons

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I love Mankahoo’s original digital figure Bod. With her wide-set eyes, pronounced brow ridge, and talons instead of feet, she looks like an avian therianthrope. She’s the sort of character for which AprilYSH’s V4 Yolande Hair or V4 FeatherHawk would be perfect! I also feel like she needs a feathered texture…and some clothes, of course!

50 Shades and the fanfic shrew

50 Shades and the fanfic shrew published on No Comments on 50 Shades and the fanfic shrew

1. Stephenie Meyer writes Twilight saga.

2. E.L. James writes Twilight fanfic, Masters of the Universe.

3. E.L. James edits and publishes novels, the 50 Poops trilogy, based on Masters of the Universe.

4. E.L. James publishes Grey, arguably fanfic of her own trilogy.

I think we’ve moved past ouroboric territory. That snake is just biting its tail; no one ever said it was trying to consume itself from the end up. However, I hear that, when some shrews get exceedingly desperate [i.e., they haven’t eaten in about five hours], they start eating themselves. We’re in starving shrew country now.

Watch out. They bite.

“It’s a novel; it’s not a manual!”: the problem with 50 Shades of Pooooooo

“It’s a novel; it’s not a manual!”: the problem with 50 Shades of Pooooooo published on No Comments on “It’s a novel; it’s not a manual!”: the problem with 50 Shades of Pooooooo

50 Shades of Poooooooo somehow came up in discussion at the Friends of the Library meeting this evening when we were talking about the prospect of a book swap and donations this spring. I felt it apropos to mention that the first book in the series keeps getting stolen from the library, so I keep donating copies to replace it. [Okay, just twice, but still…]

Favorite response: “Why would you steal it?! It’s a novel; it’s not a manual. You’re supposed to read it and then return it, not keep it for reference!” That cracked me up because clearly the speaker was not thinking about the pleasures of rereading. I was also entertained because, distressingly, people actually do take the series as a manual for either an ideal relationship and/or how to practice bdsm.

On the subject of pooooooooooo, a friend has sent me a pdf of Masters of the Universe, which is, of course, E.L. James’ Twilight fanfic that eventually spawned the Media Juggernaut of Poooooooo. If I don’t get lost in some infinite wormhole of recursion upon reading it, I might post a thought or two about it here.

Breaking news: Kid with disability becomes object of contemptuous pity

Breaking news: Kid with disability becomes object of contemptuous pity published on No Comments on Breaking news: Kid with disability becomes object of contemptuous pity

James Rink hit his head in an Apple Store in Green Hills, TN when shopping with mom LynnMarie. Store employee Andrew Wall asked how he could help, comforted James, and programmed James’ iPad. For some reason, this is news.

 

Actually, I know the precise reason that this counts as news. It’s because of the way in which the culture at large views the kid, who has autism and Down Syndrome. Thus, because of his disabilities, the cultural narrative assumes that he is miserable, contemptible, and subhuman. The cultural narrative also assumes that non-disabled people don’t have to pay any attention to those wretched objects. Therefore, when a non-disabled person advances the radical notion that disabled people are persons worthy of respect and, as a result, treats a disabled person with basic dignity, respect, and kindness, the heads of most non-disabled people implode.

What beacons of compassion these non-disabled people are in according basic humanity to disabled people! Let’s keep our standards of humane and decent behavior so low that yet more non-disabled people can practice Level 0 Altruism and dehumanize even more disabled people!

Excuse me while I puke.

Jareth is awesome.

Jareth is awesome. published on No Comments on Jareth is awesome.

Okay, now he’s ready for prime time. I transferred Ghastly’s G2F Flat Chested morph to achieve his accurate breast size and modified his base texture to add some shadows under his eyes. I also took the subsurface scattering off his surfaces, and he looks much better — much less red. Continue reading Jareth is awesome.

Somebody is doing something with Labyrinth? I can’t tell.

Somebody is doing something with Labyrinth? I can’t tell. published on No Comments on Somebody is doing something with Labyrinth? I can’t tell.

Hollywood Reporter says that Columbia Tristar made a deal with the Jim Henson Company to have Nicole Perlman write a script having something to do with Labyrinth. Could be a redo, could be a sequel. Given the vagueness of details, I seriously can’t tell if this is legit. I dunno — is the Hollywood Reporter a reputable source?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to work on something definite from a movie, i.e., my Pouty McShouty project.

Things I am going to model whenever I get around to learning

Things I am going to model whenever I get around to learning published on No Comments on Things I am going to model whenever I get around to learning

Digitally speaking, of course. Continue reading Things I am going to model whenever I get around to learning

Temperature scales with reference to cats, Californians, Floridians, Bostonians, and Minnesotans

Temperature scales with reference to cats, Californians, Floridians, Bostonians, and Minnesotans published on No Comments on Temperature scales with reference to cats, Californians, Floridians, Bostonians, and Minnesotans

This temperature scale amuses me. I figure that the “Bostonians” column applies equally well to all Vermonters. Being dissatisfied with the weather is practically a regional sport in New England. The “Cats” column [“Yell at you until you turn the heat up”] also entertains me.

Mad Mazzy Mickle’s musical inspirations

Mad Mazzy Mickle’s musical inspirations published on No Comments on Mad Mazzy Mickle’s musical inspirations

Mad Mazzy Mickle Goes Looking for Love owes significant and obvious debts to some real-life music and musicals. In no particular order, here they are.

1) That entire subgenre of songs in the 1950s and 1960s about vehicle crashes. Epitomized by Ray Peterson’s insufferably whiny Tell Laura I Love Her [1961], this group also includes the iconic Dead Man’s Curve [1964] by Jan and Dean. The song I most associate with the genre, though, is the Shangri-Las’ Leader of the Pack [1965], which actually includes sound effects of the devastating car crash at the climax of the song. As a bonus, it also contains the line “They told me he was bad but I knew he was sad,” which is a concise summation of the appeal of the Byronic hero right there. This subgenre probably serves as the source for the automotive theme in the film.

2) The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie. Mazzy’s general appearance recalls David Bowie’s circa 1975. Also much of the album has haunting, otherworldly notes of melancholy that I envision underpinning MMM. Lady Stardust really encapsulates the tension between ecstasy and depression because it describes the speaker’s — and everyone else’s — excited fascination with the performer, but the song itself is delivered in a halting, lugubrious manner, full of regret and nostalgia. Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide, with its desperate plea for connection — “Give me your hands because you’re wonderful” — also embodies that alienation.

3) The Rocky Horror Picture Show by Richard O’Brien. MMM initially rose from my desire to explore the transformative effects of cult movies on people’s identities without using RHPS as an example. Thus Mazzy is a Frank analogue, while the Dude and Cyn are analogues of Brad and Janet, and all their trajectories are roughly the same, as is the general flow of the plot. Songs like Toucha Toucha Touch Me definitely gave me the idea for playful, punny songs.

Mad Mazzy Mickle Goes Looking for Love: plot and core cast

Mad Mazzy Mickle Goes Looking for Love: plot and core cast published on No Comments on Mad Mazzy Mickle Goes Looking for Love: plot and core cast

As all of you who pay attention to my blog [maybe two of you] know, I have a cult classic film, Mad Mazzy Mickle Goes Looking for Love, recurring in my fictional oeuvre. Modeled after The Rocky Horror Picture Show, MMM is a musical melodrama about sex, death, and drag racing in really cool cars. So far it has appeared in two places. One, a short story with the same title as the movie, follows Sarah, who played Mazzy, dealing with the legacy of stardom and typecasting in her 30s. The film also shows up in Me and My Muses, where college student Ellery watches it as part of her journey of self-discovery. I’m also planning to bring MMM into Zombieville, but I’m not giving any details.

Characters

Preferred name: Mad Mazzy Mickle
Given name: Lee Masters
Age: north of 16, south of 21
Sex: “Sure!”
Pronouns: Ze/hir
Race: “Fast.”
Family: Unknown, except for twin sibling who died shortly after birth
Colors: Pale blue, pale green
Motif: Comet
Style: Neo-retro astro-chic
Job: Ticket seller/concession manager/usher/factotum at the Psycholodeon, the city’s art-house movie theater
Pastime: Star gazing
Car: Hearse rat rod
Conflicts: Parents are actual movie stars, but ze keeps this a secret, wanting to live unaffected by them. Convinced that ze should have died instead of hir twin. Not-so-secret death wish.

Preferred name: [the] Dude
Given name used at start of movie: Richard “Dickie” John Hitchcock III
Age: 19
Sex: Male
Pronouns: He/him
Race: South Korean
Family: Adoptive super-rich white fathers, adopted younger brother
Colors: Black, dark grey
Motif: Moon
Style: Greaser/biker/Goth
Job: Back-up vocalist for the Thereminions, an ambient space techno band
Pastime: Lucid dreaming
Car: Limousine
Conflicts: Feels divorced from origins as a transracial adoptee. Dropped out of high school and now working on GED, but feels fake. Has no idea what he wants to do with his life, which freaks him the fuck out.

Preferred name: Cyn
Given name used at start of movie: Cynthia Ann “Cindy” Sweet
Age: 17
Sex: Female
Pronouns: She/her
Race: Black woman of color
Family: Working class, mother, father, two older sisters
Colors: Red, orange
Motif: Sun
Style: “Whatever’s cleanest.”
Job: Auto mechanic at Sweet Rides, the family garage
Pastime: Queering old movies
Car: 1980s station wagon with fake wood paneling that she rebuilt herself
Conflicts: Overshadowed by academically successful siblings. Feels invisible and ugly. Pretends that she doesn’t care about her practical, grease-stained look, but would much rather be “elegant.”

Plot

Intro to Dickie and Cindy and their respective families and conflicts. Then Mad Mazzy Mickle shows up, and we’re off. Everyone sings a song about what they want, and Mazzy sings seduction songs with both Dickie and Cindy with automotive puns. Seduction scenes also include stylistic transformations for Dickie/the Dude and Cindy/Cyn. Dickie/the Dude > handcuffs off, color on. Cindy/Cyn > grease off, elegance on.

For a brief, shining moment, Mazzy, the Dude, and Cyn form a happy family. Mazzy sings a song about finally feeling happy, worth something, excited about life, not wanting to escape to the stars. Planning for the big drag race — car prep, more automotive puns, increasing excitement and obsession.

Cyn’s and the Dude’s families confront them, warning them to slow down. The Dude and Cyn interpret this as rejection of their new selves, Mazzy, and their coming out in general. They remain defiant. In fact, they throw themselves into race prep even more. Mazzy sings, worrying about going too far, too fast, crashing and burning, how nothing good can last.

The race occurs: Mazzy competing against Cyn and the Dude. Cyn and the Dude tie for first, but something goes wrong with Mazzy’s car. It hits a tree and gets totaled. Cyn and the Dude discover that Mazzy appears not to have been in the car, but no one knows where ze went. Convinced that ze’s dead, each of them grieve with their families. The final scene shows Cyn and the Dude watching stars together, and they see a shooting star. Mazzy sings a song over the credits about being a star.

Fandom

MMM came out a while ago — I have to check my notes. Critical consensus thought that the young unknowns were hot and the costumes were fabulous, but the acting quality was dubious, script hackneyed, lyrics inane, and ending a tonally discordant downer. Popularly, though, MMM proved to be a hit, especially with genderqueer, trans, and/or queer youth, poly people, Goths, transracial adoptees, gay dudes, lesbian women, bi people, lucid dreamers, amateur astronomers, feminists, femmes — anyone who could find something of themselves in the main characters. MMM was a movie that people came out to and cited as life-changing. [It also changed the lives of Sarah, Sean, and Bebe, who played Mazzy, the Dude, and Cyn. They were inevitably typecast and confused with their characters, but that’s another story.]

MMM showings turned into gatherings for all the weirdos who identified with the movie on some level. Talking about the movie and celebrating favorite characters, fans naturally started yelling at the screen, dressing up for the showings, and acting out the whole thing in front of the screen. Over time, people formed casts to do regular showings, and an audience participation script was codified.

In the present day, though MMM is decades old, it remains popular for all the reasons it originally sparked interest. MMM now has a reputation of being a rite of passage that enhances one’s cred, especially if one is gay, lesbian, bi, poly, trans, genderqueer, intersex, non-binary, or otherwise non-conforming in sexuality and/or gender identity and/or gender expression. Given the intensely personal nostalgic admiration with which this crowd views MMM, you’d think it was an exemplar of sympathetic, inclusive representation, intersectional feminism, and general awesomeness. Let’s just say it’s not, which gives scholars endless fuel for their academic analyses of the film and its subculture.

I should also mention that the ending of MMM has prompted much controversy. It’s a tragedy on the scale of Romeo and Juliet. It’s the ol’ homophobic Kill the Queer stereotype write large. It condemns Mazzy by killing hir off. It idolizes Mazzy by making hir a star. Cyn and the Dude are totally getting together at the end, and this is awesome. Cyn and the Dude are totally getting together at the end, and this is some heteronormative cop-out. Mazzy is dead, having become a metaphorical star. Mazzy is not dead, because the song ze sings over the credits proves that ze survived the crash and became an actual star like hir parents. Let’s argue till the cows come home!

My favorite prefix is trans-.

My favorite prefix is trans-. published on No Comments on My favorite prefix is trans-.

I cannot tell where my interest in the prefix began. Perhaps in Transylvania, arguably translatable as “Through-the-Woods-Land,” which is the most fairy-talish and coolest and vampiric place name ever. Or maybe it started with transformation and the magical protean changes it connoted. In any event, the beauty of translucency and its glass-like clarity certainly made me love it further.

It certainly continued in translation, a literal bringing across of words and communication from one language to the other that I’ve always pictured as a ferry across a river. When I learned about transcendence, which I envision as an airplane rising in a perfect steady angle across the sky, closer and closer to cruising altitude, I liked it even more.

Despite my dislike for transgression, which I associate with stuffy, verbose academic analyses of behavior outside of the societal norms, my interest in trans- only increased, especially because it contributes to really cool words like transducer. As for transducer, I learned this word from The Rocky Horror Picture Show [line from Planet Schmanet Janet: “The transducer will seduce ya!”] and never bothered looking it up until now. My loss, as it’s an amazing word that means “an electronic device that converts energy from one form to another.” Microphones and speakers are transducers, as are thermometers and antennae, even LEDs and incandescent light bulbs — so, in other words, all the sorts of items from which people would build prop supercomputers for sci-fi movies. [“What the hell is that mess of blinking lights and screens and speakers and dials and gauges?” “Oh, that’s just the Transductomatron.”] Transducers: they’re everywhere! [Not to be confused with traducers, who I really hope are not everywhere!]

And, of course, I think it’s stupendous that the prefix became a word all by itself: trans.

I kind of want to go to a forested area of Transylvania just so I can write in Latin, Eo trans sylvaniam Transylvania!, which is, of course, I am going through the woods in Transylvania!, or possibly, I am transylvanianing in Transylvania!, although that sounds kinda transgressive.

Bulge morph — fairly easy, right?

Bulge morph — fairly easy, right? published on No Comments on Bulge morph — fairly easy, right?

Just stick a D-form on the crotch, kind of between the legs, pull out and down, and inflate a bit.

Hmmm, apparently not. I thought I had successfully made one for G3F in about three minutes. However, close examination [i.e., I compared it to someone else’s] reveals that the deformation is occurring too high on the pubis. Fortunately, I saved the D-form preset, because I’m a genius like that, so, when I get home, I can move it a little more down and under and redo.

And yea verily G3F shall have multiple bulge morphs — because it’s 2016, people, and I know I can’t be the only one who wants them.

Time flies when you’re dressing up: digital models, clothing, body shapes, etc.

Time flies when you’re dressing up: digital models, clothing, body shapes, etc. published on No Comments on Time flies when you’re dressing up: digital models, clothing, body shapes, etc.

About eight and a half years ago, I failed spectacularly in my attempts to find mainstream gay or lesbian content, specifically poses, for digital models. I was also seriously pissed by my inability to put clothes designed for one figure on another figure.

 

Eight and a half years later, gay and lesbian poses have appeared slightly in mainstream markets like Renderosity and heavily in porno markets like Renderotica. The autofit function in Daz Studio 3+, and/or the Clothing Room in Poser Pro 10+, and/or PhilC’s Wardrobe Wizard, and/or Evil Innocence’s CrossDresser [okay, now it’s XD 4, to be cooler, I guess] allow users to fit almost all clothing items on different figures, though special things like therianthropic parts remain a challenge. I guess I can say that one of my greatest sources of digital frustration has disappeared.

 

Of course, I have a new one: clothing fit across the breast. Daz’ autofit does pretty good work in clothing conversion, but it can’t handle the pectoral area well. Conversion of clothing for prominent breasts to clothing for minimal breasts = weird peaks where the breasts used to be. Conversion from clothing for minimal breasts to clothing for prominent breasts = shrink-wrap effect with no realistic draping. Conversion from clothing from figure A for prominent breasts to clothing for figure B with same = shrink wrap and no draping.

Of course, there are the most problems with the two types of body shapes I most use: a) flat, minimal breasts [e.g., Jareth] and b) prominent, fat, sagging breasts [e.g., me and pretty much everyone else]. In the first case, rippling and puckering develops around the pectorals as autofit tries to flatten out all that “boob geometry,” as it’s referred to on the Daz forums. In the second case, autofit tucks the clothing up under the breasts and refuses to drape it. This is why vendors make a small fortune in products like “breast fixers,” “fit control,” and other suites of projection morphs to forcibly shove the mesh into a more realistic position. And, of course, prominent breasts [and fats] distort clothing meshes and textures unrealistically.

Thus, besides HAIR, one of my prime motivations for learning how to model is BOOBS. Specifically, I want to make some basic clothing that accommodates prominent, fat, sagging breasts without shrink wrap. I also want to make some basic clothing for same that doesn’t get stuck up under the breasts. Of course, I haven’t seen anyone else achieve this, but I also haven’t seen anyone with the same level of frustration as me. And frustration is a powerful motivator.

Jareth on Genesis 3 Female base

Jareth on Genesis 3 Female base published on No Comments on Jareth on Genesis 3 Female base

Tired of waiting for Dimension3D’s GenX3 to automate the process of transferring morphs, I decided to take another stab at approximating Jareth on the G3F base. I’ve been working on moving him manually to G3F for several months, with unsatisfactory results.

 

Last night I finally figured out how to move him over without distortion — or, more precisely, the chief components of his head morph.

  1. On G2F, I added to Favorites the head morphs that his likeness depends on: my RedPlanetArachnid [young David Bowie] and Genesis Head [because RedPlanetArachnid was developed for a Genesis 1 base].
  2. I then used the Transfer Utility.
    Source: G2F. Shape: Default.
    Target: G3F. Shape [and here’s the key]: Genesis 2 Female Head from Slosh’s Genesis 2 Legacies.
    Slosh’s Genesis 2 Female base morph included in this series provides much more accuracy than you would get if you used either the G3F clone shape under Source Shape or the G2F clone shape under Target Shape. As many people have noted, the G3F clone for G2F and the G2F clone for G3F do not follow the shapes that they clone exactly; distortion becomes especially egregious around the eyes.
  3. After transferring the morphs over to G3F, I did the usual rigging adjustment and ERC freeze. For some reason, even though I was just transferring head morphs, I had to leave pretty much everything selected in terms of bones to adjust and influencing face groups. For the first iteration, though, I unchecked Left Squint Inner and Right Squint Inner, as those bones tend to move way out of line during rigging adjustment. Then I did a second rigging adjustment with only those bones selected.
  4. I defined limits, colors, names, paths, etc. for the morphs and saved as usual.

After all that, I then loaded a new G3F and dialed in G2F Head 100%, Genesis head 50%, and RedPlanetArachnid 75%. Using the G2F version as reference, I used my G3F Morphalynn morph package, Dogz’ 200+ G3F Head and Face Morphs, and Daz’ G3F body morphs to reproduce the salient features of his shape. Anyway, here’s a full body shot. Needs a little more adjustment, especially the transfer of some age morphs and a Flatten Chest morph, but I think I’m finally ready to use him in digital photostories!

 

Continue reading Jareth on Genesis 3 Female base

Lupita Nyong’o, embodiment, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Lupita Nyong’o, embodiment, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens published on No Comments on Lupita Nyong’o, embodiment, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I recently held forward at length about the frustrating representations of women and/or people of colors other than pasty in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. One of my criticisms discussed Lupita Nyong’o’s character, the mocapped Maz Kanata. I interpreted it as a literal erasure of a Mexican-Kenyan woman and thus a very problematic maneuver with imperialist, colonialist overtones.

A December 13th, 2015, Buzzfeed interview with Nyong’o complicates my interpretation. Nyong’o explains her choice of the mocapped Force Awakens role as a calculated assertion of agency in a racially charged environment. Having recently won an Oscar for her performance as the enslaved [and much abused] woman Patsy in 12 Years a Slave, Nyong’o made the following remark:

“12 Years a Slave was a film that was so much about my body, and Star Wars is not at all. There was a liberation in being able to play in a medium where my body was not the thing in question,” Nyong’o told BuzzFeed News. “The acting challenge I was looking for was completely different, a complete departure from 12 Years a Slave.”

Let’s break her comment down a bit. 12 Years a Slave film centralizes the brutal violence to which black bodies are subjected in the form of kidnapping, rape, assault, and other kinds of torture. Thus Nyong’o’s performance as Patsey contains a crapload of racialized and sexualized suffering that the character experiences precisely because she is poor, black, and female. Patsey’s characterization thus becomes hyperfocused on her body, especially when she is hurt and violated. Nyong’o’s comment that it’s freeing to play a character like Maz Kanata where “my body was not the thing in question” implies that her body was “the thing in question” in 12 Years a Slave. Notice how she talks about her body as a “thing,” rather than part of herself. This leads me to suspect that she found her performance as Patsey objectifying to some degree, thus exhausting and disturbing. I think “acting challenge” underestimates the significant physical and emotional difficulties Nyong’o experienced in 12 Years a Slave.

Nyong’o’s description of the role of Maz as a “liberation” suggests that she found it a respite from the role of Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. Patsey is an enslaved woman who experiences physical, mental, and emotional abuse, all with the ultimate effect of making her blackness, femaleness, and enslavement the most salient things about her. In contrast, Maz Kanata is neither black, nor enslaved, nor a victim of onscreen abuse. As an old, wise character and owner of a popular intergalactic watering hole, she has a certain agency and independence denied to Patsey. Nyong’o acknowledges an “acting challenge” in doing a mocap performance for the first time, but I’d hazard a guess that, absent the history of degradation and mistreatment weighing down the role of Patsey, the role of Maz was less emotionally and physically taxing.

 

Nyong’o obviously does not see her portrayal of Maz Kanata as a racist effacement of a woman of color. In fact, she sees it as an escape from and alternative to the race-obsessed, body-obsessed, and emotionally exhausting work she did for the role of Patsey. So who am I, a white person, to insist that there’s racism and sexism at play here?

Well, there is. Nyong’o, as a woman of color, experiences a double bind created explicitly by the confluence of racism, sexism, classism, etc., in the movie industry. She can play a role like that of Patsey, which foregrounds her blackness, femaleness, and enslavement, and win awards, but suffer emotional and physical aftershocks. When she seeks to avoid physical and mental stress by playing a role like that of Maz Kanata, which is much less strongly determined by race, sex, and even physicality, then people go, “What the hell? Black erasure!” While Patsey and Maz do not represent all the roles available to Nyong’o, they do represent the ways in which racism, sexism, and classism limit her options. Cultural expectations of women of color reward highly sexualized, racialized, classed roles like that of Patsey and look down on less sexualized, racialized, classed roles like that of Maz. The variety of roles available to women of color may be slightly larger than it was 75 years ago, but the racism, sexism, and classism of the movie industry still literally reward them for playing poor, abused, enslaved victims of violence.

Digital likeness attempt 2: Adam Driver

Digital likeness attempt 2: Adam Driver published on No Comments on Digital likeness attempt 2: Adam Driver

…Seems to be going well for a few hours’ worth of work, all with free morphs, either DieTrying’s 182 for V4, ported to Gen1 by SickleYield, or my Morphalynn G3F set ported to Gen1 by me. Continue reading Digital likeness attempt 2: Adam Driver

Wait…that was supposed to be a smart sci-fi film? or, Ex Machina and Smug White People Feminism

Wait…that was supposed to be a smart sci-fi film? or, Ex Machina and Smug White People Feminism published on No Comments on Wait…that was supposed to be a smart sci-fi film? or, Ex Machina and Smug White People Feminism

I have no idea where all the reviewers of Ex Machina get off, thinking that it’s some novel, philosophical, highly intelligent piece of sci-fi movie making. It’s not. The first two thirds contain the insufferable misogynist bloviation of two straight cis dudes, objectifying all the female characters in the most blatant, unoriginal, and uninteresting ways possible. I mean, seriously — one of the robots, Kiyoko, is so objectified that she has no language, thus making her the ultimate silent, submissive, docile Asian woman stereotype. The last third of the movie contains the supposedly narratively inevitable consequences of their assholery, in which the women become scary and murder the dudes. Then all the women of color either die or sacrifice themselves so that the white woman can escape to her dreams of white-collar big-city life, and it’s all so tedious and sludgy and dull…except for the hotel where it was filmed. That was pretty. But aesthetically pleasing scenery cannot compensate for raging misogyny and racism.

This enraged critique of Ex Machina owes much to Sharon Chang’s incisive analysis, which goes into much more depth.

EDIT: And here’s a perfect example of someone analyzing queer subtexts in Ex Machina and completely failing to call out the racism and sexism. Sorry, Jeffrey Bloomer. I really don’t think that a white woman reconstituting herself from the bodies of women of color is merely a moment of queer transformation that should be celebrated. It’s also a reification of an ongoing colonialist project that should be acknowledged and critiqued.

We can be sad that an abusive person is dead, and we can also deplore the abuse.

We can be sad that an abusive person is dead, and we can also deplore the abuse. published on No Comments on We can be sad that an abusive person is dead, and we can also deplore the abuse.

Aida Manduley writes a nuanced article that addresses the fact that, yes, David Bowie was famous and talented and significant to a lot of people and, yes, he abused his power. Her title, “David Bowie: Time to Mourn or Call Out?,” is actually misleading. It suggests that the correct response is one or the other, but, as one reads Manduley’s analysis, one realizes that she is not proposing such a binary dilemma, but critiquing it. We can do both at once, she argues; in fact, she goes so far to say that doing both is the humanest, most compassionate response. In mourning, we respect the significant effect that David Bowie and his art had on people, while, in calling out, we respect those people that he disrespected and harmed. If we can hold a myriad of emotions in our minds, then we can respect the complexity of human experience.

Digital robo-dolls and stuff

Digital robo-dolls and stuff published on No Comments on Digital robo-dolls and stuff

Samildanach’s clown robot dolls Black & White are on clearance at Rendo. Time to get ’em!

 

Also at Rendo, Edart3D’s Pin-up Gynoid Phase 1 implies the future existence of later phases, so I’m keeping an eye on this vendor. As a bonus, this person also does accurate [from what I can tell] renders of outmoded technology in a way that I haven’t seen anyone else do.

 

Speaking of clearance and also of gynoids, Traveler’s Technophilia Retro Gynoids are in the RDNA discount bin.

And, in recent purchases, I acquired Mannequin for G3F last night. Much to my delight, the geografted head follows head morphs and expressions somewhat, allowing for rough likenesses. Woo hoo!

I also made some sorely needed disturbing overlays for the blank head. Below is one of them. Continue reading Digital robo-dolls and stuff

“Does it make a realistic digital human model look like an inanimate humanoid object? I’ll take it!”

“Does it make a realistic digital human model look like an inanimate humanoid object? I’ll take it!” published on No Comments on “Does it make a realistic digital human model look like an inanimate humanoid object? I’ll take it!”

Today’s digital models of people — I’m thinking primarily of Daz Studio 3D’s Genesis 3 Female and Male — are designed for maximum realism, mimic human anatomy, flexibility, skin translucency, muscle flexion, facial expressiveness, fat distribution, etc., as much as current computing technology allows. While I benefit from all the advanced features of such models, I spend much of my time dehumanizing them and objectifying them as dolls, puppets, mannequins, robots, cyborgs, statues, and inanimate humanoid objects.

I don’t feel like I collect actual dolls, preferring instead to refer to them as small populations. But I definitely collect digital dolls, to the extent that I have a whole category in my database of digital content devoted to them [and a separate one for robots]. Thus I am happy to see Mannequin for G3F released at Daz today. I’m especially interested in the geografted stylized head [effaced face :p ], but it would be infinitely cooler as geografted patches to seal up the eyes and mouth of any model, rather than a whole new head to be swapped out. But I can work with it — I wonder if I can make the geografted head a conforming figure for G2F? Anyway, I think the Mannequin needs some sinister textures…

 

Overrated persons, parts 2 through n [where n is a very large number]

Overrated persons, parts 2 through n [where n is a very large number] published on No Comments on Overrated persons, parts 2 through n [where n is a very large number]
  • Ricky Gervais. Yeah, it’s so entertaining when you punch down, you self-important gasbag.  Just because you’re miserable doesn’t mean you have to spread it around. Also being offensive doesn’t mean that you’re successful. It just means that you’re offensive.
  • Robert Frost. The inclusion of Frost may be a personal choice based on my alma mater, Middlebury College, where Frost was considered all that and a bag of chips because he taught at the Bread Loaf School of English for 42 years. Yes, he was the poet laureate of Vermont, and yes, he wrote regional poems in a compelling style that married nineteenth century formalism and new vernacular, and, yes, some of it is even good, but, no, he is not the greatest thing since sliced bread.
  • William Shakespeare. Elizabethan era fan fictioneer extraordinaire and floating signifier, about whom we know very little except, for some reason, English-speaking people like to think he’s like the pinnacle of their cultural output. That’s a depressingly narrow view of English-speaking culture.
  • David Bowie. Anyone who goes on and on like he invented ambiguous gender presentation is really not paying attention.
  • Straight white cis non-disabled dudes. All of them ever, especially if they’re already famous for doing something supposedly noteworthy.

People who are grossly overrated, part 1: Quentin Tarantino

People who are grossly overrated, part 1: Quentin Tarantino published on No Comments on People who are grossly overrated, part 1: Quentin Tarantino

I have no idea why people think he’s so great. He has bamboozled great numbers of individuals into thinking he’s an edgy, creative, incisive filmmaker because he legitimizes his derivative, sexist, racist crap with callbacks to movies by straight, white, cis dudes of the past. Nope — sorry — it doesn’t take much talent to hold the majority of the world’s people in contempt. I am severely underimpressed.

Dolls in various states of progress and what I need to do

Dolls in various states of progress and what I need to do published on No Comments on Dolls in various states of progress and what I need to do

For BJDs who bug me:

  • Delmar needs faceup, hair, restringing, and tail. Working on faceup.
  • Fritillaria needs faceup, eyes, hair, outfit.
  • Mellifer needs a complete do-over. Stalled.
  • Never the Less needs faceup, hair, clothes. Working on head.
  • Polly needs a seat belt. Stalled.
  • Thalia needs a shirt. Stalled.
  • Timonium needs a new wig cap and new hair. Working on wig cap.
  • Touralyn needs a new body and clothes. Body in progress.

For Zombieville denizens:

  • Doctor Z needs her own body with appropriate neck. Ordered!
  • Sylvia needs a new fat body. Need to look in raw dolls bin.

 

 

Salad ideas

Salad ideas published on No Comments on Salad ideas

Cleveland Clinic’s overview of really cool, nutritious, and tasty salad assembly is mostly my kind of document. It suggests alternatives to traditional salad ingredients and explains their benefits. It also explains some of the things to watch out for in traditional ingredients, and it doesn’t say anything about losing weight.

 

I now have some ideas for interesting salad ingredients based on this list…

 

  • Kale mix
  • Peapods
  • Soybeans
  • Red onion
  • Beets
  • Avocado
  • Chicken
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Raw sweet potatoes
  • Olive oil and balsamic for dressing

 

 

I now want to make a salad with kale, peapods, soybeans, hard-boiled eggs, raw sweet potatoes, and balsamic and olive oil for dressing.

 

Notable ingredients to use in greater moderation than I have been include the following:

 

 

  • Cheese
  • Peas
  • Croutons
  • Raisins
  • Cashews

Timonium stars in “The Humiliating Sweater”

Timonium stars in “The Humiliating Sweater” published on No Comments on Timonium stars in “The Humiliating Sweater”

Christmas crap is 50% off at most stores, so I purchased several items for my dolls yesterday. The following photostory features a seasonal sweater ornament and an extremely pissed off fairy.

 

Continue reading Timonium stars in “The Humiliating Sweater”

Recaito = “reh cah EE toe” not “reh KAY toe”

Recaito = “reh cah EE toe” not “reh KAY toe” published on No Comments on Recaito = “reh cah EE toe” not “reh KAY toe”

Recaito, the star of Tarah’s chili recipe, is apparently four syllables, not three. It’s also pronounced “reh cah EE toe,” not “reh KAY toe.” No wonder the worker in Shaw’s gave me a really weird look when I asked for “reh KAY toe.” I’m going to blame my mispronunciation on a) the fact that I’ve never heard this word spoken aloud, b) the fact that I don’t know any Spanish, and c) the proliferation of names like Caitlyn [“cah EET lin”? :p].

Tarah’s chicken chili revised

Tarah’s chicken chili revised published on No Comments on Tarah’s chicken chili revised

Tonight’s permutation of the recipe follows:

 

2 chicken breasts, cooked in recaito
2 1/2 med carrots, shredded
2 1/2 tbsp recaito
honey [1 tsp?]
16 oz salsa verde
1 envelope Herbox
1 cup water
29 oz cannellini, rinsed and drained
16 oz red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 white onion, chopped
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp + 1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp cilantro
1/2 head garlic, minced
salt
frozen peas
frozen corn

Thaw chicken breasts. Slash. Place in glass baking dish in two layers of tin foil. Moosh recaito into the slashes and over the top of the breasts — a total of 1 to 2 tbsp. Wrap tin foil around them so they are covered. Cook at 450 degrees for at least 25 minutes. Shred.

Put all the ingredients except frozen veggies together in slow cooker. Fill the rest of the space in slow cooker with peas and corn. Stir thoroughly, making sure recaito and spices distribute evenly through ingredients. Cook on low for at least 8 hours. Check at least once to stir and make sure there’s enough liquid.

Notes:

Cooking chicken in recaito is my attempt to make it more flavorful. Also recaito seems like garlic — you can pretty much never have enough. There’s a lot of recaito in this version…

Carrots added per my previous notes.

Amount of honey was not measured — just enough to cut any heartburn-producing acidity.

I’m not a particular connoisseur of beans, but I’ll see if the cannellini make a difference in the taste.

White onions are nice and crunchy and juicy — good cooking onions!

Double the cumin from last time because cumin is the shit!

Increased amount of paprika, just for the hell of it.

Whoops, forgot the chili powder. I don’t feel like it was doing anything important last time, though.

Plus cilantro because cilantro is the shit, although not the the extent of garlic and cumin.

Salt to tie things together and highlight the flavors. I tend to skip salt, assuming that there’s enough sodium in everything else, but a judiciously applied amount of salt can have significant and subtle effects on the cohesion of a dish. Also it just tastes good, even if it is not as much of the shit as garlic, cumin, recaito, cilantro, etc.

The frozen veggies bulk up the chili and make it a one-pot meal, very appealing for us lazy people.

I’ve discovered that I follow recipes best when I discover why ingredients are being used. For example, if I read my recipe above and saw honey and salt, I would immediately assume that the two would cancel each other out. Thus I wouldn’t see the point of either, and I’d skip both. Knowing that honey mollifies the acidity of the salsa, while salt highlights other flavors, gives me the reason I need to add these ingredients. Also once I know the reasons for ingredients, I can get to the fun part — substitutions and experiments. Obviously, though, I clearly do substitutions and experiments even if I don’t know why certain ingredients are included.

December doll update: Novella gets new faceup and half a new body

December doll update: Novella gets new faceup and half a new body published on No Comments on December doll update: Novella gets new faceup and half a new body

In other news, I finished a body mod on Novella and got her back from the faceup artist with a new paint job!Continue reading December doll update: Novella gets new faceup and half a new body

December doll update 2: Fritillaria!!!!!

December doll update 2: Fritillaria!!!!! published on No Comments on December doll update 2: Fritillaria!!!!!

Fritillaria, my Withdoll Adriana, arrived on December 19th! Well packaged and very tightly strung, she poses solidly and stands on her own right out of the box. In fact, she was so tightly strung that her wrist S hooks and I had a fight; they drew blood when I was swapping out her hands. [You know you’re a hardcore doll enthusiast when you bleed in the course of a doll project, wipe it up casually, and consider your project officially christened. :p ] Nice creamy “cream white” resin with even coloration, no bubbles, no seam lines. Overall, I had a good experience with Withdoll, though I had to poke them when two months passed and they had yet to ship, despite promising that they would. A few pictures below.Continue reading December doll update 2: Fritillaria!!!!!

December doll update 1: more dolls for dolls

December doll update 1: more dolls for dolls published on No Comments on December doll update 1: more dolls for dolls

I’m cleaning off my memory card before the end of the year, and I have quite a few photos on it that I have yet to blog. Les voici.

At Vermont Doll Lovers on December 12th, I purchased some gachapon minifigures from Lyrajean. They represent cutesy versions of some Japanese airline’s stewards’ uniforms throughout the airline’s history. Lyrajean, who picked them up in Japan a few years ago, says that they came as promotional items with different kinds of soda. [I think she was buying the soda just for the minifigs…] Continue reading December doll update 1: more dolls for dolls

The Force Awakens and Smug White People Feminism

The Force Awakens and Smug White People Feminism published on No Comments on The Force Awakens and Smug White People Feminism

While many media outlets are covering Star Wars: The Force Awakens with glee, one reason for the excitement is the way in which female characters and characters of color are treated. Rey, a white woman, seizes a primary protagonist role, kicks general ass, fights her first cousin to a standstill despite no formal training, avoids a metal bikini, and [surprisingly enough] doesn’t get railroaded into a bullshit romantic subplot with Finn — awesome! Finn, a black man, also features as a protagonist and gets to be goofy and heroic, and no one makes a stink about his skin color — yippee! Poe, an arguable secondary protagonist and brown man, is a totally hot dude whose origins on a Guatemela-like planet seem to pay homage to the actor’s own nationality — nifty! Princess Leia, a white woman, is a general now, leading the Resistance — finally! Captain Phasma, a white woman, intimidates everyone, also avoiding metal bikini — aw yes! Maz Kanata, an alien voiced by a black woman, does a wise, wry, insightful female Yoda impression — woo hoo! There’s a female Resistance pilot [I think she’s Asian] with lines — and she doesn’t die — party party! There are actual women, including Asian women, African women, and women of color, in bit parts and extra roles — sometimes they too have lines, and sometimes they don’t die either — ZOMG1111! From the way that general media interpretations are reacting, you’d think that this film was a historic landmark in progressive portrayals of women and/or people of color.

 

Mmmm…nah. It’s only a stupendous achievement if you’re looking at it from the limited lens of Smug White People Feminism. Otherwise, it’s not.

 

You see — if we were really going to have a super cool Force Awakens with novel and progressive treatment of its female characters and/or characters of colors other than pasty, the movie would address these aspects of characters’ identities in their stories. I do not care how irrelevant one’s sex and/or one’s race are supposed to be in the sci-fi universe of Star Wars; in the present day, on this planet, these highly salient characteristics inflect pretty much every aspect of one’s daily existence. Thus, The Force Awakens, as a movie that was created in the present day, on this planet, must reckon with the cultural truths that sex and race significantly define our lives.

What might such a realistic consideration of the characters’ sex and race look like in The Force Awakens? Perhaps Rey, having heard so many “myths” about the predominantly dude-based Jedis, could have some serious questions about her ability to use the Force like them. Maybe Finn’s revulsion at serving the Empire could include his unwillingness to support an overwhelmingly Aryan elite that sends brown people to do their dirty work. Maybe Maz could attribute her watering hole’s thousand-year tenure to the toughness she’s had to develop as a single woman running a huge business. Maybe the whole movie could stop gendering its primary conflict as “sons and their extremely boring Daddy Issues” and reconceptualize it as “people and their struggles with legacies, broadly construed.” In any event, a truly insightful treatment of sex and race in The Force Awakens would have the characters actively discussing such salient traits from which many aspects of their identities arise.

 

So…does The Force Awakens contain any self-consciousness for its characters about the sex they were assigned, the color of their skin, how these traits are negotiated in their cultures of origin, anything, anything? No! Of course not! Then we wouldn’t have enough time for Daddy Issues Part VII: A Lost Hope!

 

Seriously, though, The Force Awakens tries to update itself for modern liberal interests, but its treatment of female characters and characters of color shows the update as superficial at best. For example, let’s look at Captain Phasma, storm trooper leader of Finn’s regiment [and apparently the only woman in any position of power anywhere in the Empire]. Her character was originally male, explains Force Awakens cowriter Lawrence Kasden, but then was changed to female at the last minute. The Vulture article in which Kasden was quoted strongly implies that this change occurred in response to fan disappointment with the lack of women in the movie. The ecstasy with which actress Gwendoline Christie, who plays Phasma, receives this information — “…For that evolved thinking to be in a Star Wars movie, I think people love that!” [also from the Vulture article] — seems to represent the general joy with which The Force Awakens’ “evolved thinking” has been received.

 

A closer look at the example of Captain Phasma, however, reveals absolutely no “evolved thinking” of any kind. As Kasden explains, she was originally thought up as a man, but then her sex was swapped out as almost an afterthought. In other words, nothing changed about the character except that she would be played by a woman, rather than a man. In practice, this means that no one in the movie notices the novelty of a female storm trooper captain, despite the fact that they’ve been male in all previous films. I’m not asking for a soliloquy in which Captain Phasma reveals that she has impostor syndrome [although it could be really cool if done right, which it wouldn’t be]; I’m just saying that a truly progressive and insightful portrayal of a female character doesn’t just slot her in where a male character would have been. Instead, it considers how her experience, perspective, and personality are shaped because she’s a woman and, more specifically, a woman in a society dominated by men. In the same way, Finn’s story does him no justice as a black man because it refuses to let him engage with the reality of being a black man in a society dominated by people who look like the upper echelons of the Empire.

For further proof of lack of “evolved thinking,” let’s consider the example of Maz Kanata. Her character, who presides over a bar where characters go to get Luke’s light saber, is a small, four-fingered, hairless orange humanoid with super-powered glasses. She is played by actress Lupita Nyong’o, who identifies as Mexican-Kenyan. She has also won an Oscar, as well as acclaim in 2014 as one of People’s Most Beautiful. In other words, she’s an extremely skilled and talented performer who considers her embodiment as a brown-skinned woman with kinky hair important. In fact, in her commentary on being chosen as one of the magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful, Nyong’o implicitly contrasts her own features with the “light skin and long, flowing, straight hair” that formed her template for attractiveness when she was growing up. Force Awakens, take note — Nyong’o’s self-consciousness is just one example of the way that sex and race impinge on one’s self-concept and development.

The Force Awakens may give a brown woman a strong, crucial role, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good. In fact, it’s pretty racist. This Entertainment Weekly article points out why: “Maz is one of the few creatures in her court who is not a real-life, practical effect…” In other words, there were plenty of people and puppets in Maz’s set, but the director specifically decided to omit Nyong’o bodily and entirely, her presence only available as mediated through motion capture. While Nyong’o is performing in the movie, she’s not performing as a brown-skinned woman with kinky hair. She is instead performing as an orange-skinned alien with [unlike most of the bar patrons] no tangible presence. The Force Awakens literally disembodies Nyong’o, whose body and beauty are inseparable from her personality, identity, acting style and success, and public reception. The long [white, male] colonial project of reducing, distorting, and suppressing the [brown, female] Other continues unabated.

Anyone who thinks that The Force Awakens is an amazing win for representation of women and/or people of color should temper this analysis with two observations. First, representation is more than just a superficial numbers game. Authentic representation requires an engagement with the ways in which sex and race affect one’s life, especially if one isn’t white and/or male. Unfortunately, The Force Awakens lacks such character development. Second, we can’t just take as our measure of success, for example, Lupita Nyong’o playing a character who actually does stuff and performs integral, interesting plot functions. We have to examine how such a character is portrayed. And, if she’s not only deprived of a backstory that addresses her experiences as a person of a non-dominant sex and non-dominant race, but she’s also deprived of physical, bodily presence, then we have to recognize the sexism and racism at play here. Then we have to call it out, criticize it, and work against it, ’cause that’s the only way anything will change.

P.S. I actually really liked this movie.

It’s “Let’s complain about Hot Toys!” time again.

It’s “Let’s complain about Hot Toys!” time again. published on No Comments on It’s “Let’s complain about Hot Toys!” time again.

Hot Toys has a real hard time doing likenesses of women, which makes me downgrade their vaunted verisimilitude. Who cares if they can do decent dudes if they can’t be arsed to bring the same accuracy and realism to their women?

Case in point: There’s something off about their attempt at Daisy Ridley as Rey. Pictures show that she has a squarer jaw, narrower face, narrower eyes, more angularity around her lips, and just overall more character. Also none of the pictures of the doll show her from the rear, so we can’t see if her hair has been accurately duplicated.

Meanwhile, over on the other branch of the family tree, I have no idea how the likeness of Adam Driver as Kylo Ren is because his mask won’t come off! [And we know how I feel about that… >_> ] I can understand Captain Phasma or your standard issue storm troopers with molded-on masks, but c’mon, HT — Darth Vader Jr. Jr. dispenses with the mask for key segments of the movie. In fact, I’d argue that the whole point of this character is the tension between the mask and the face underneath, but I guess the doll doesn’t have tension because he doesn’t even have a face. Did they just not want to do a portrait? Why not? Driver’s distinctive features would probably make for a really cool portrait.

 

Okay, guess we’ll have to wait to see who they reissue for the sequel and the sequel to the sequel.  It is my fond hope that Captain Phasma starts running around without her helmet on and maybe even has a last, desperate, sweaty, maskless duel [like Rey and Kylo] so we can get a doll of her with an actual face. If she doesn’t, I’m at least holding out for her continual treatment as a non-sexualized individual and eventual survival — she already has to deal with enough crap as the token Nazi Empire woman with any significant lines. I do not want her to end up like Irina Spalko in Indiana Jones and the Unnecessarily Confusing Jump Cuts. [Seriously, could anyone follow the chase scenes in that movie?] If the choice ends up being between a) permanent masked badassery and b) unmasked sexualization [which it probably will end up being], I vote for a).

 

Okay, well, I guess I had more feelings about that than I expected. :p

First version of Tarah’s chicken chili, as interpreted by Modern Wizard

First version of Tarah’s chicken chili, as interpreted by Modern Wizard published on No Comments on First version of Tarah’s chicken chili, as interpreted by Modern Wizard

Inspired by Tarah’s green chicken chili, I made my own version of the following:

2 chicken breasts, precooked and chopped
16 oz. frozen corn
14 oz. frozen peas
2 cloves elephant garlic, minced
1/3 head regular garlic, minced
1 packet Herbox
1 cup water
~16 oz. salsa verde [used Goya]
~30 oz. light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
~15 oz. dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, diced
2 tbsp. racaito [used Goya]
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. chili powder

Prepare individual ingredients as directed in ingredients list. Put everything in slow cooker; stir thoroughly. Cook on high for a while, stirring sporadically.

Notes: As you can see by my adaptations from the original recipe, I told the peppers, both green and jalapeno, to fuck right off, as peppers give me indigestion. [Also I’m sure there are plenty of peppers in the salsa verde and racaito.] I also increased the amount of garlic and precooked the chicken. Tarah didn’t specify if the chicken was supposed to be cooked beforehand, but I just wanted to make sure. Frozen veggies make it more like a hearty stew!

Next time I make this [and there will be a next time, if only to improve on this attempt], I’m shredding a carrot or two in there. I may also add some honey if the chili proves particularly acidic.

More work on Never the Less and a mock-up

More work on Never the Less and a mock-up published on No Comments on More work on Never the Less and a mock-up

I filled in Never the Less’ original mouth slit, recarved it, sanded her forehead and eye sockets, then stuck her on Thalia’s body to get an idea of how she will look when done.

Conclusion: She’s going to look creepy when done. For some reason I find her inner mask, with its crude, mostly erased features, immensely disturbing. In contrast to her beautiful, eye-catching outer mask, her inner mask looks like a hasty fill-in job. She looks like her inner mask is engulfing her, especially because it adheres directly to her head. Fortunately I can hide it so I don’t have to look at it all the time.

Never the Less’ head looks way too small on Thalia’s body. I’m glad that I’m getting her a 60cm Angel of Dream girl body with small chest [ordered two days ago from Alice’s Collections!], with an overall slimmer build similar to Araminthe’s. Never the Less’ head already seems small because of her masks, which act as focal points and do not take up her entire head. Thus I think a more slightly built body will be more proportional.
Continue reading More work on Never the Less and a mock-up

Never the Less: probably some conservative BJD purist’s worst nightmare

Never the Less: probably some conservative BJD purist’s worst nightmare published on No Comments on Never the Less: probably some conservative BJD purist’s worst nightmare

Because I use permanent marker and colored pencils on my BJDs, hold them together with hot glue and swears, modify them with a hacksaw, and regularly take them outside in the sun, all to make resin versions of characters with an, ahem, unique aesthetic sensibility, I suspect — no, in fact, I know — that my BJDs make certain conservative BJD purists revolt. They’re over there, meticulously layering subtly blended pastels on their limited edition dolls, only using imported Japanese sealant, keeping all their outfits fullset and pristine, and maintaining their investments in climate-controlled cases where the curtains are always drawn, and I’m over here, experimenting with enthusiasm, undeterred by lack of skill, splicing together REALLY LARGE ACTION FIGURES!!!

Anyway, I’ve been working on Never the Less’ head recently. Shocking pictures, guaranteed to give someone the vapors for the inelegant liberties taken with such expensive materials, follow. Continue reading Never the Less: probably some conservative BJD purist’s worst nightmare

Plots of favorite books in six words

Plots of favorite books in six words published on No Comments on Plots of favorite books in six words

Saw this on Facebook as a challenge for people to guess the title and author of books based on six-word summaries. In no particular order, here are some of my faves:

Anorexic city girl proves excruciatingly introspective. [Rebecca Josephs’ Early Disorder]

Clare escapes becoming Niall’s kinky doll. [Sarban’s Doll Maker]

Laura learns magic and rescues brother. [Margaret Mahy’s Changeover]

Dead lesbian seeks ingenues for dinner. [Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla]

Being royal makes growing up complicated. [Maria Gripe’s In The Time of the Bells]

Enemies bang each other into “love.” [This works for both Johanna Lindsey’s Warrior’s Woman and E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey.]

Alice keeps her cool amidst bullshit. [Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures Underground and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There]

Self-absorbed language experiments obscure the plot. [Greer Gilman’s Moonwise]

And some short stories:

Princess knows she’s in a fairy tale. [A.S. Byatt’s Tale of the Eldest Princess]

Valley Girl totally kicks vampire butt. [Esther Friesner’s Blood-Ghoul of Scarsdale]

BJDs old and new

BJDs old and new published on No Comments on BJDs old and new

Just out of curiosity, I ran through the current list of BJDs who bug me [that is, BJDs that live in my universe, as opposed to fictional universes like Me and my Muses or Zombieville] to see who was oldest and who was newest. Judgment of their ages is complicated by the fact that several of them were inresinated in other forms before their current ones. Thus the characters may be old, though the doll forms representing them may be younger. This comparison of my BJDs’ ages calculates from their current inresinations only, though information about past forms is included in brackets.

This comparison also uses the date on which the doll arrived to me in the mail as its birthday, except in the case of hybrid dolls. For hybrids, I use the arrival date of the doll’s head as its birthday. The only exception to this is Polly, whose head, an Elfdoll Doona Kathlen faceplate, lay around, unused, until I saw Asleep Eidolon’s 1:6 scale mature mermaids and ordered one for her body. Because I made up the character only when I had the body, I count the arrival of the Asleep Eidolon body as Polly’s birthday.

So, from oldest to newest, here are the BJDs who bug me:

1. Sardonix: [Version 1 arrived January, 2005. Sold December, 2005.] Version 2 arrived January 24, 2007.

2. Araminthe: Arrived February 7, 2011.

3. Jujube: Arrived December, 2011.

4. Flower: Arrived March 19, 2012.

5. Mellifer: Arrived June 22, 2012.

6. Jareth: [Version 1 arrived February 9, 2006. Sold in summer, 2009.] Version 2 arrived October 15, 2012.

7. Timonium: Arrived February 27, 2013.

8. Yamarrah: Arrived July 13, 2013.

9. Polly: Arrived March, 2014.

10. Thalia: Arrived November 5, 2014.

11. Dorothy: [Version 1 arrived March, 2011. Sold August, 2012.] Version 2 arrived September 29, 2015.

12. Jeff: Arrived September 29, 2015.

13. Delmar: Arrived October 13, 2015.

14. Honorine: Arrived October, 2015.

15. Submit: [Version 1 arrived March, 2007. Sold May, 2007. Version 2 arrived November, 2007. Disassembled November, 2015.] Version 3 arrived November 9, 2015.

16. Never the Less: Arrived December, 2015.

17. Touralyn: Arrived December 12, 2015.

18. Fritillaria: Arrived December, 2015.

If calculated by age of characters, BJDs who bug me would be, in order from oldest to youngest: Jareth [of course!], Sardonix, Submit, Araminthe, Dorothy, Jujube, Flower, Mellifer, Timonium, Yamarrah, Polly, Thalia, Jeff, Delmar, Honorine, Never the Less, Touralyn, Fritillaria. If Jareth, a character who existed long before his BJD form, is excluded, the oldest character first inresinated as a BJD that bugs me is Sardonix. She’s also my oldest BJD by a long shot — soon approaching her 9th [!] birthday, while the next oldest, Araminthe, will only be 5 at the beginning of next year.

My current crop of BJDs who bug me does not reflect the entire length of my interest in this type of doll, though. I got my first, Zephque, a Customhouse Gene, in May, 2004 [and sold him in November, 2005]. My interest in BJDs thus goes back more than a decade.

I saw the queer coding and transmisogyny before I had the vocabulary to call it out.

I saw the queer coding and transmisogyny before I had the vocabulary to call it out. published on No Comments on I saw the queer coding and transmisogyny before I had the vocabulary to call it out.

Digging back through past blog entries, I came across a chat with author Alex Potter about the attractiveness of antagonist characters. I excerpted our thoughts in an entry with the subject line “Why villains are cool and gay villains even cooler.” In the chat, we clearly picked up on the characterization of many villains as evil and
attractive and queer. We focused less on their presentation as villainous and more on their irresistible and transgressive sexiness. We really liked them and agreed that they were pretty cool.

 

I see that I recognized queer coding back than — the clustering of evilness, sexiness, and queerness — even though I didn’t know the term. I also didn’t really recognize the negative connotations of queer coding. I was mostly happy just to have found characters that I thought were cool role models; I focused more on them being attractive and queer than on their villainy. I was so happy to have role models of any kind [finally, people in the media whose portrayals I could identify with!] that I didn’t think critically about how they were presented as evil because queer and failures because misogynistly presented as femme. I kind of skipped over the persistent link between, first, queerness and villainy and, second, queerness and transmisogyny. Of course, now I can look back and see how the queer coding and transmisogyny that I swallowed along with all my aspirational desire really messed things up, so blargh.

Tarah’s chicken chili recipe

Tarah’s chicken chili recipe published on No Comments on Tarah’s chicken chili recipe

From Tarah. I’m a little disturbed by the presence of jalapeno, but I think the addition of salsa verde and racaito is a genius maneuver!

 

1 med onion (valencia), chopped
1/2 lg jalapeño, seeded chopped
1 med green bell pepper, seeded chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 t salt
1 t flour
1 c. Chicken broth
1 jar (16 oz) salsa verde
2.3 lb chicken breasts
2 T racaito
2 cans cannellini beans
1 can small white beans
(1 T) cumin, paprika, chili/cajun powder. 1 T each (I had cajun, not chili and no paprika on hand – didn’t want to use smoked paprika, which I did have)

Saute flour, onion, peppers, garlic, and salt until tender (aromatic roux). Put all ingredients in crock pot 5-7 hours on low. Chicken can be shredded an hour before complete.

Do NOT use more chicken… less will make it soupier, if you like that; 2-2.5 lbs makes it super thick and easily reheatable with a bit of water.

Modern Wizard’s chili yet again

Modern Wizard’s chili yet again published on No Comments on Modern Wizard’s chili yet again

2 pounds ground beef
~32 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
~32 oz diced tomatoes with chilies and garlic
~16 oz tomato sauce
~16 oz salsa with garlic
2 grated carrots
1 big white onion, chopped
7 cloves fresh regular garlic, minced
1 1/2 heads roasted regular garlic
1 clove fresh elephant garlic, minced
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp chili powder
miscellaneous amounts of salt
miscellaneous amounts of grated cheese

Mix garlic in with beef; brown; drain.

Put all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover. Cook for about 4 hours on high.

Put grated cheese on the chili if you want.

I think I’ve finally hit on a good chili recipe. One of the keys is to put the garlic in with the beef so that it distributes its flavor into the meat, but does not get lost in all the rest of the ingredients. Another key is to let the salsa do the rest of the heavy lifting flavor-wise. Cayenne pepper and chili powder are just there for the burn. Another key is to add as much garlic as you can possibly stand, not just with the beef, but with the diced tomatoes and the salsa. The roasted garlic seems to punch up the fresh garlic, giving it a foundation so that the taste of the latter is more apparent.

In future iterations, I will not be using elephant garlic; it’s too mild, but I was just trying to get rid of it. Looks like the final garlic count will be 5 to 7 regular cloves and 1 head regular roasted. Maybe fewer fresh cloves. Dare I say that was almost too much garlic?! GASP! Hopefully the chili will mellow over time.

Chase Holfelder and Kurt Schneider do Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” in a minor key

Chase Holfelder and Kurt Schneider do Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” in a minor key published on No Comments on Chase Holfelder and Kurt Schneider do Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” in a minor key

As a result, I hate it 85% less than the original. The key change, the slowing of tempo, and the change from pop to smash make it much more enjoyable to listen to, as well as just all-around interesting. But it’s still a Christmas song, and I hate pretty much all Christmas songs, so it’s not a full rehabilitation.

 

That being said, I could totally get behind a serious metal version of We Three Kings — not an instrumental, as I’ve been finding on Youtube, but the actual song, with all the lyrics, including my favorite verse, which is pretty metal anyway:

 

Myrrh is mine

Its bitter perfume

Breathes a sign

Of gathering gloom

Sorrowing, sighing

Bleeding, dying

Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

Vermont Doll Lovers December meetup, 12/12/2015

Vermont Doll Lovers December meetup, 12/12/2015 published on No Comments on Vermont Doll Lovers December meetup, 12/12/2015

Araminthe, Honorine, Sardonix, and Submit went to VTDL today, along with a crapload of Christmas props. While there, I swapped a Lumedoll Arine for Touralyn, DragonGems’ second scratch-built BJD ever. Because I found a crack in her torso, Megan is redoing her body, so I actually came home with just her head. I did, however, get some photos of her hanging around Submit, the other 1:6 scale doll of mine in attendance. Pictures are on the VTDL blog, as usual.

I’m just over here watching Michael Jackson dance.

I’m just over here watching Michael Jackson dance. published on No Comments on I’m just over here watching Michael Jackson dance.

This is very hot. I am going to watch this many many many times on repeat. There’s also a song in there that’s not too bad to listen to…but damn — that individual can move. [A little concerned about the bruise-colored eyeshadow, though…]

You’re bad? Okay. You can call yourself anything you want — just do that pelvic thrust again!!!

I wonder if the jingling chains were just taped along with the singing or if they were put on a separate track that was added in later. In any case, they’re my favorite part of the song aside from Michael Jackson’s pelvic girdle dancing.

Facial hair cues categorization

Facial hair cues categorization published on No Comments on Facial hair cues categorization

That is what I learned from this article about a bearded woman. Bodily distribution of hair seems to be one of the most visible and salient characteristics upon which people make assumptions about someone’s gender identity. I have no profound observations on this subject, except to state that my personal experience, in which people have clocked me as a dude because of my shaven head, supports this.

 

In other news that no one except me cares about, my attitude toward facial hair has slowly shifted from general repugnance to almost one of neutrality. It’s not an automatic incitement of lust for me, but it’s not an instant buzzkill either. I’ve stopped caring violently about it, except in the following cases. 1) I don’t want any, thank you very much. 2) Soul spots and goatees are silly. 3) Lightning-shaped sideburns will always be hella cool!

My hair models receive some mild acclaim!

My hair models receive some mild acclaim! published on No Comments on My hair models receive some mild acclaim!

I started making freebie digital hairstyles last September. Using primarily PhilC’s Hair Designer [and a little bit of Alabone LLC’s Hair Shop beta, now folded into Head Shop], I constructed models that no one else was making. Hair Designer contains various hair figures, already rigged for Poser and UV mapped, such as single- and double-ponytail skullcaps, straight hair pieces, wavy hair pieces, and various accessories, from which to build one’s own creations. This is great for me, as I have not yet learned how to model anything from scratch. Thus my forays into digital hairstyling consist mostly of kitbashing elaborate updos from pre-existing pieces.

My first attempt at hair was Aliza, a multi-layered reproduction of Jareth’s ‘do in Labyrinth, still my most popular hair model to date. After a few Rococo pompadours and some more subdued modern-day styles, I took a hiatus of about 10 months, then turned my attention to historical women’s hairstyles. My first bundle was relatively simple, but my most recent release features 4 complicated, high-poly models with layers of cascading curls. I seem to have an affinity for complex styles!

My freebies have always received grateful thanks from people who bother to comment, but I consider that par for the course. The Poser/Daz community encourages and promotes creation of freely downloadable digital assets from anyone at any skill level. Every freebie garners accolades because downloaders not only like free stuff, but they also appreciate the generosity and skill of the freebie creators. Thus, while comments like “Thanks!” and “Nice!” certainly motivate me to continue making and offering my stuff, I consider them as general applause, not as specific compliments.

Public response has changed, though, with the issue of the 1820s G2F Hair Bundle 2. I first sensed that something was up when Arcadium69 commented on ShareCG, “It’s hard to believe your [sic] offering this kind of quality for free, but it’s very noble.” Over on the Daz boards, my post announcing the hairstyles actually generated some excited chatter, including jpb06t requesting 1870s styles [with pictures provided] and Tako Yakida asking when I would start making content for G3F. timmins.william posted some Iray renders of my freebies and, in a PM, even offered to do a promo render or two for me. SaphireWild had trouble loading the freebies, so the thread might offer some troubleshooting too.

I’m thrilled at the implications here. Arcadium69’s ShareCG comment indicates that they consider my efforts worth paying money for. Of course, I, being the critical creator, see many flaws in my freebies that I would never countenance if I had paid money for them, but I rejoice to hear that someone likes what I do enough to willingly part with money for it. jpb06t and Tako Yakida’s Daz board comments show they they like my models so much that they wish I would apply my skills to their chosen areas of interest [1870s hairdos and G3F respectively]. In summary, I have satisfied fans who eagerly await my next freebie. It’s like having avid readers of my photostories, only in a different realm!

Never the Less’ head

Never the Less’ head published on No Comments on Never the Less’ head

Decided last night to use Janvier Jett’s head for Never the Less, assuming that Never the Less’ mask scales well with it. Also decided that Never the Less’ creepy-deepy-doo face will be mostly built up with Aves Apoxie Sculpt, as sanding down is a pain in the rear.

Today’s chili recipe

Today’s chili recipe published on No Comments on Today’s chili recipe

Today’s version of slow cooker chili is an experiment in a) compensating for half the required amount of ground beef and b) cooking from memory. I was on the right track when I decided to put six grated carrots in for more bulk, but I don’t think the chili needs three cans of water; I think I was confusing it with the chicken tomato veggie stew. I hope I put in enough garlic… Find out tomorrow!!!

1 pound ground beef, browned in garlic and drained

2 cans [~30 oz] black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cans [~30 oz] diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano

3 diced tomato cans’ worth of water

5 cloves regular garlic, minced

2 cloves elephant garlic, minced

1 big yellow onion, chopped

6 carrots, grated

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

2 1/2 tbsp chili powder

miscellaneous amounts of salt and parsley flakes

Mince garlic. Put in with beef; brown beef; drain. Put beef and all other ingredients in slow cooker. Add preferred amount of salt and parsley. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.

EDIT: Way too much water makes this soupy and seems to dilute the flavor. There’s a lot of burn from the cayenne and chili powder, but the garlic seems to be lost in the confusion. I like the addition of the carrots, but I think this really needs another pound of beef to support the amount of fresh garlic I put in. Edible but really boring. 

 

Never the Less’ mask has been acquired!

Never the Less’ mask has been acquired! published on No Comments on Never the Less’ mask has been acquired!

I just spent more on a single BJD outfit than I ever have for one in my size: ~$335.00 for Souldoll’s Eve-ZF. [Thanks to the Doll Peddlar, which had this outfit in stock Stateside so I only had to pay domestic s/h.] Well, technically, I paid that much for the mask and happened to get a dress along with it. I sure hope I can sell the dress…

Last night I decided that the un/masked doll’s name is Never, but her full name is Never the Less. I think of “the Less” as her cognomen. There’s a whole family of Nevers, including More, Do Well, Mind, Ending…and the Less, who I have. Even though “the Less” is the closest thing she has to a personal name, she goes by Never the Less, although her closest associates may be permitted to call her Natheless, an archaic form of “nevertheless.”

I picked her name because I was thinking of it as a tripartite word made of “never,” “the,” and “less.” The first is an absolute denial, the second a definite article, and the third a comparative adverb. You can’t have a greater or lesser amount of an absolute absence of something, and it certainly isn’t a definite article itself; in fact, it’s an anti-article. The competing concepts hidden in the parts of “nevertheless” make it an ambivalent, riddlesome word, especially to a language lover like me.

Never the Less has an ambivalent riddle for a name because she’s an ambivalent riddle of a character, playing with the concept of “doll.” Resin BJDs in particular are generally thought of as lifelike [despite the proliferation of fantastic anatomies] because their materials [resin, glass eyes, fiber wigs] can mimic the appearance of human skin, eyeballs, and hair to a more realistic degree than, say, a playline fashion doll. But what if Never the Less flouts the expectation of lifelikeness by clearly having no face? Is she still a traditional doll? Or is she more of a floating signifier?

Of course, there’s a whole line of questions about the relationship between her head, her mask, and her identity. She has a head, but her head doesn’t have a face. Her mask has a face, though. Is her mask her face? If her mask is her face, then is it really a mask anymore? Is she her mask? Insert stack of questions about the relationships between masks, personae, personalities, characters, inner selves, outer selves, and representations of selves here. :p

Another burning question is…what the hell else is Never the Less going to wear besides her mask? I’m thinking jeans and a T-shirt and canvas sneakers — i.e., the most realistically bourgeois and undifferentiated casual outfit I can think of. She’s operating on the same principle as the Terrible Trivium from Norman Juster’s Phantom Tollbooth, who creeped me right the fuck out because he was described as a perfectly ordinary man wearing a perfectly ordinary suit, except for he had no face, just a blank head.

She also needs a doll too. I mean — I have her mask, but I need something to put it on.
 

Robert Dear, domestic terrorist and “gentle loner”

Robert Dear, domestic terrorist and “gentle loner” published on No Comments on Robert Dear, domestic terrorist and “gentle loner”

I’m really late to the party here, but I see that a New York Times article described Planned Parenthood terrorist Robert Dear as “a gentle loner who occasionally unleashed violent acts toward neighbors and women he knew.” After criticism online from numerous sources pointing out that this was basically white straight cis male apologism [especially when black male victims of white male violence receive vilification when described posthumously — hat tip to Chaedria LaBouvier], the NYT made some cosmetic changes to the article, but, to date, has made no direct acknowledgment of the multiple levels of bullshit involved in its portrayal of Dear. This reminds me of the 2012 coverage of the death of Lorena Escalera, trans woman of color, wherein the NYT’s confluence of racism, sexism, classism, and transmisogyny led me to cancel my subscription.

I think I’m going to start writing like the NYT.  In fact, I’m now going to characterize the paper itself as “an objective, trustworthy, fair-minded, egalitarian news source that occasionally unleashes bigotry toward anyone who’s not a straight white cis bourgeois male.” That’s accurate, right? :p

Just in case the article isn’t enough of a cesspool already, two other threads in it piss me off. First, there’s the strong assumption that anyone who lives by themselves, doesn’t socialize much with the locals, and keeps mostly to themselves is automatically up to no good. They must be like that because they’re hiding skeletons in their closet.

Second, there’s the strong implication that Dear’s interest in bdsm correlates to his recent murders. In the sixth paragraph of the profile, the topic sentence discusses “sporadic brushes with the law, neighbors, and relatives,” while the last sentence notes that Dear looked for bdsm partners online. The position of the sentence about Dear’s online profile thus groups it in with “brushes with the law,” suggesting that kinky sex and domestic terrorism are on a continuum. Apparently the slippery slope argument is alive and well in supposedly reputable news sources.

 

I’m really surprised that there’s nothing in this profile proposing that Dear is mentally ill and that his mental illness correlates to his criminality.

 

 

Masked/Unmasked doll

Masked/Unmasked doll published on No Comments on Masked/Unmasked doll

I’ve been pining over the limited edition outfit that comes with SoulDoll Evelyn — she has a mask!

 

I like the doll, as she’s an OMV, but I mostly like the concept of a doll with a mask even more. In fact, what would be severely cool would be a doll with a mask like Evelyn’s, only painted up to look all translucent and realistic an’ shit [i.e., like the type of sublte, layered faceup that I don’t do at all]. The mask would be magnetic, removable to see the doll’s actual head. The doll’s actual face would be this planed-down, sealed-off, empty-eyed, creepy-deepy-doo [yup, it’s a new adjective] mask of which I have a digital model by RetroDevil.

Nifty idea, but I’m struggling with the execution. Namely, where do I get a mask? I’m thinking it would probably be a faceplate with the back ground out some more to accommodate the non-removable face. Hmmmm, what standard-issue 1:3 scale BJDs have faceplates?

Doll playlist

Doll playlist published on No Comments on Doll playlist
  • Barbie Girl by Aqua. Witty, catchy, and slyly addressing the Madonna/whore dichotomy! What more could you ask for?
  • Coin Operated Boy by the Dresden Dolls. Overwrought, but still insightful and memorable, especially with plinky-plonky piano. Also Brian Viglione is really hot.
  • Close to You by the Carpenters. Because of the scene in Mirrormask [linked in song title] in which those clockwork gynoids dollify Helena to the tune. Get away from me with your creepy Objectification Dust [TM], robots!
  • Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead. Metaphorical dolls. Close enough.
  • China Girl by David Bowie. Double entendre dolls with more Objectification Dust and bonus racism!
  • Rent by the Pet Shop Boys. Willfully trying to confuse money and possession with love and acceptance and, on occasion, succeeding in this self-delusion.
  • Columbine by David Bowie. The first 1:40 of this mournful video, which is apparently part of a pantomime, Pierrot in Turquoise, that David Bowie created and starred in around 1967. Mimes have always reminded me of dolls.
  • Toy Soldier by David Bowie. Another song from the same era as Columbine. It’s like a nursery rhyme mashed up with Velvet Underground’s Venus in Furs, from which he lifted most of the chorus. The result is as funny, disturbing, and downright weird as you would expect.
  • Under My Thumb by the Rolling Stones. We’re not dealing with Objectification Dust here, folks. We’re dealing with Objectification Cement.
  • More to come.

“I’m a blond bimbo girl / In a fantasy world…”

“I’m a blond bimbo girl / In a fantasy world…” published on No Comments on “I’m a blond bimbo girl / In a fantasy world…”

I didn’t really know the lyrics to Aqua’s dance hit Barbie Girl until today when I watched the video. Both the lyrics and the video crack me up. I love the way that the main verses make repeated obvious reference to sexual activities, like undressing, kissing, touching, even blatant “hanky panky,” but the chorus insists that Barbie and Ken’s main activity is partying. Yeah right…the video demonstrates that Rene Dif’s Ken is trying to get into Lene Nystrom’s Barbie’s pants.

I also like Nystrom’s delivery. She sings in a simpering falsetto that accentuates the non-sexual aspect of all the proposed activities. In fact, her Barbie seems more interested in stereotypes of romantic love [“You can touch / You can play / If you say / I’m always yours”] and has very little awareness of the double entendres of her lines. The closest she comes is when she says, “I can act like a star / I can beg on my knees,” whereupon she looks over her sunglasses with an expression that could possibly be knowing or conspiratorial if her character weren’t so blithely uninterested in sexual objectification for the rest of the video. Ken’s the one rolling his eyes and winking at the audience, while Barbie is busy petting the dog, roller skating, and thinking of true love. She’s illustrating the interpretation of doll qua child’s toy, and he’s illustrating doll qua sex toy. Of course, the whole song’s constant emphasis on contrafactuality [“Imagination / Life is your creation,” “…In a fantasy world,” “I can act like a star”] points out that both concepts of dolls are overheated stereotypes created by heterosexual dudes who are not interested in relating to actual, real, complex women, so it’s a sly critique masquerading as a poppy dance hit.

I like smart songs about dolls! 

 

 

Word of the day: vasistas

Word of the day: vasistas published on No Comments on Word of the day: vasistas

I was looking up how to spell “Was ist das?” and found that a word derived therefrom, the French “vasistas,” refers to small windows in doors of houses in Germany, through which people look to see who’s calling. The word comes from the phrase with which German people answer the door: “Was ist das?” I love it — it’s the French equivalent of calling a peephole a hellothere.

Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself music video is a gas!

Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself music video is a gas! published on No Comments on Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself music video is a gas!

In this video, Billy Idol prances around on a junky, post-apocalyptic sound stage, proclaiming how he’s all alone. As he continues posturing and sneering in a hammy, macho manner, fans [?] dressed in grey, ragged clothes scale the walls and attempt to reach him, but he zaps them all away with electricity and continues to assert that he’s dancing with himself dammit! Undaunted, the fans climb up the walls again, gather around him on the sound stage, and start seriously boogeying down. Billy Idol ends the song insisting that he’s still all by his lonesome, but the effect of this statement is diminished by the sweet moves of the fans around him.

 

P.S. Yes, I am also aware of the misogynist themes in this video, like the silhouette of the chained woman dancing and the man sharpening his razor in preparation for killing her.

In case I needed another reason to find Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf objectionable…

In case I needed another reason to find Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf objectionable… published on No Comments on In case I needed another reason to find Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf objectionable…

…I just saw the music video for the first time, and it’s one of the purest, most horrible depictions I’ve seen of Brown People As Props On Great White Hunter’s [Misogynist, Racist, Objectifying] Journey. The singer, who’s not only white, but also dressed in white, just in case we forgot he’s white, mouths the lyrics while plowing through crowds of subcontinental Indians. He grows increasingly irritated as people keep him from shoving his way through the crowd. I like to imagine that all the extras aren’t following the direction to obstruct the singer, but instead are pretending to go about their daily business, unimpressed by some white dude who thinks that the world should clear a path for his penis. Quick cuts reveal that he’s chasing after an African woman, who inexplicably has pointless designs painted on her brows and cheeks. The end up in the leaves of a swampy forest, rolling around. I think they’re supposed to be contending, but the slow motion just makes it seem like they’re doing some sort of badly coordinated tumbling routine. Brilliant.

 

On a purely cinematographical level, this video also fails miserably because it’s filmed during the daytime. However, the first lines of the song — “Dark in the city / Night is a wire / Steam in the subway / Alleys afire” — describe an evocative setting in which the exhalations from the underground mirror the singer’s panting, while the fire in the dead ends links into his energy and urgency. Also I would like to point out that this song happens at night, which heightens the whole singer=wolf metaphor by connoting wolves baying at the moon. The nocturnal setting is essential to the song, but the video discards it in favor of daylight for no apparent reason. Why? They couldn’t wait a few hours? They didn’t have enough spotlights? Who knows? This music video stinks all around.

Today’s word is “cockernonnie.”

Today’s word is “cockernonnie.” published on No Comments on Today’s word is “cockernonnie.”

While I was poking around on Wikipedia for information about Gibson Girl bouffants, I followed a link on that page to one on the chignon, which advised me to “see also: cockernonnie.” Of course, since I have never laid eyes on a cockernonnie before, I felt compelled to follow Wikipedia’s advice in hopes of finding out what one looked like. Wikipedia had the grace to inform me that a cockernonnie was a historical Scottish women’s chignon, also known as a “cock-up,” which is, as we all know, British slang for a complete mess. However, though a cockernonnie may also be referred to as a cock-up, cock-up qua mistake does not derive from cock-up qua hairstyle. And still, after all that, I have no idea what a cockernonnie looks like! Woe is me!

 

On a tangentially related subject, I think “cockernonnie” would make a great insult. Like “nincompoop,” it has vaguely scatological associations, a satisfying plosive at the end of the first syllable, and a wonderful roll off the tongue. The loose association with “cock > dick > dickhead” and the loose homonymy with “ninny” both make “cockernonnie” sound like a word that refers to someone who is rude, arrogant, and offensive in their inane, asinine behavior. Yup, “cockernonnie” is ripe for repurposing…

Let me tell you about U.S. women’s hairstyles of the fin de [19ieme] siecle…

Let me tell you about U.S. women’s hairstyles of the fin de [19ieme] siecle… published on No Comments on Let me tell you about U.S. women’s hairstyles of the fin de [19ieme] siecle…

Around the turn of the 20th century, women pursued two ideals when dressing their hair. The first was VOLUME. The second was CURLS. Even a cursory glance over photos, drawings, and other ephemera of the period shows lofty, complicated updos. Women labored carefully to achieve such styles, setting and curling their hair, teasing it up over rats to give it more height, adding hairpieces, etc., etc. Such hairstyles reached their popular apotheosis in the satirical and yet idealized sketches of Charles Gibson, creator of the Gibson Girl, whose look, at once haughty and casually tousled, bespoke an independent and athletic New Woman. In the same way that big hair of the late 1980s and early 1990s correlated with women’s increasingly large presence in corporation positions of power, so the big hair of a century earlier arguably connoted women’s agitation to take up more space in the world. Also it looked really cool.

 

As much as I love big hair from any period, I lament the difficulty of finding digital models of it. Therefore I’m glad to report that I just yesterday figured out how to construct a CGI Gibson Girl bouffant! I used two instances of goldtassel’s lovely Edwardian Hair for Gen1 and G2F. One I pushed beyond the limits of its morphs to achieve the correct voluminous silhouette; the other I used as fill. Jareth illustrates the results below.Continue reading Let me tell you about U.S. women’s hairstyles of the fin de [19ieme] siecle…

Heavenly Pant[r]y

Heavenly Pant[r]y published on No Comments on Heavenly Pant[r]y

E-mail circulated on Friday on a departmental mailing list to which I subscribe:

 

I love our team!

In the spirit of serving our communities…my girls school is hosting a non-food drive for the Heavenly Panty in Essex Junction that serves a lot of our local communities. Some of these items are hard for food pantry’s to get – yet are still very much needed by our neighbors. If you are so inclined….feel free to drop items off with me and I will get them to the Heavenly Pantry.  [details]

E-mail circulated two minutes later, flagged with high importance:

HEAVENLY PANTRY PEOPLE NOT PANTY!!

(crawling into a hole now)

Ringdoll Zombie Amy engages philosophical questions on the nature of decay.

Ringdoll Zombie Amy engages philosophical questions on the nature of decay. published on No Comments on Ringdoll Zombie Amy engages philosophical questions on the nature of decay.

Ringdoll Zombie Amy has come off her preorder and is now on regular sale until the end of January. Ringdoll has put up some more detailed pictures as well. Of course, none of them are unpainted, but they do confirm that she has a face embedded in her viscera where her navel would be. Why? I don’t know. I also don’t know why she is splattered with yellow stuff that looks like dried rubber cement.

 

I’m still not sure whether to get her. I still maintain that a decomposing dryad [with a sapling growing out of her eye socket!!] is a wonderful, hilarious concept that I could execute with great skill, panache, and satisfaction. However, whenever I think about getting the doll, I inevitably think of her “red paint and rubber cement” look, and it just grosses me out. I can’t tell whether I’m balking at artistic engagement with rot and decomposition and/or if I’m just really turned off by the default paint job.

 

Time to do some concept art…

Doll successes and frustrations this weekend

Doll successes and frustrations this weekend published on No Comments on Doll successes and frustrations this weekend

In successes, Submit’s Hujoo Wings body in apricot came on Friday. I narrowed the neck to fit her head socket, trimmed down the feet so they could fit into her glittery shoes, and wired her arms. The apricot plastic matches with the color of her resin well, and the proportions work very well; she now looks like she’s between 8 and 10 instead of between 6 and 8. With more evenly distributed weight, a jointed torso, single-jointed elbows, and double-jointed knees, she has much greater stability and articulation than she did in her original form.Continue reading Doll successes and frustrations this weekend

“PEEK unt!”: or, using words I can’t pronounce correctly

“PEEK unt!”: or, using words I can’t pronounce correctly published on No Comments on “PEEK unt!”: or, using words I can’t pronounce correctly

I love the word “piquant,” but it’s one that I have learned only through reading. No one besides me uses it aloud, so I have always said it as “peek CON[T],” that is, in the French way, with the stress on the second syllable. This always sounded wrong, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the right pronunciation. Nor did I bother to look it up.

I ended up researching the correct pronunciation this morning. Turns out that the stress should be on the first syllable, both in English [“PEEK unt”] and French [“PEE con(t)”]. I will be pronouncing it “PEE con[t]” from now on.

Cranberry Orange Relish That Makes Your Kitchen Look Like Something Died in It

Cranberry Orange Relish That Makes Your Kitchen Look Like Something Died in It published on No Comments on Cranberry Orange Relish That Makes Your Kitchen Look Like Something Died in It

Adapted from a recipe passed down from my mom’s mom to her and then to me. So named because I used an antique meat grinder to mince the fruit, and red pulpy stuff, as well as gruesome-looking drips, got everywhere. This is lots of fun to make, at least with a manual grinder, as the fruit [cranberries especially] pops and squishes in a very satisfying manner upon being crushed by the corkscrew.

12 oz. cranberries, either fresh or frozen
6 mandarin oranges
1 cup sugar

Mince the cranberries with a meat grinder or food processor. Peel oranges, remove pith, quarter, and do the same. Put the glop in a bowl. Mix in sugar. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours [up to 4 days] so that flavors can meld.

“Doing a Devo,” or, What Goes On in My Imagination

“Doing a Devo,” or, What Goes On in My Imagination published on No Comments on “Doing a Devo,” or, What Goes On in My Imagination

I rarely share in public what goes on with the characters in my head, but this is one of the more innocuous events.

For context, I got Whip It by Devo stuck in my head, which is clearly a goofy set of puns, even if you haven’t seen the video. Then I started thinking about Jareth’s workplace, which is mostly your basic corporate office, except for the fact that the business, the Mortal Coil [yes, thank you very much — I like the name too] sells party space, scene space, kinky equipment, and bdsm services. [And that’s one of the ways you can tell it’s imaginary — because such a company would never exist anywhere in Vermont. :p ]

Sadine is the Coil’s rock star domme who brings in so much business that she gets her own assistant, which is Jareth. It’s mostly executive assistant work, with a ton of calendar management. Lately, though, she’s been getting a lot of really low-quality crap from the web content specialists who are ghosting her blog copy, and so we begin our vignette…Continue reading “Doing a Devo,” or, What Goes On in My Imagination

Touralyn, a unique 1:6 scale BJD

Touralyn, a unique 1:6 scale BJD published on No Comments on Touralyn, a unique 1:6 scale BJD

Ever since DragonGems started coming to VTDL meetups, I’ve watched her dollmaking skills develop rapidly. That said, I’ve always particularly liked her second 1:6 scale BJD, an elf, who first showed up to doll club on May 18th, 2013.Continue reading Touralyn, a unique 1:6 scale BJD

Made Honorine a night cap tonight…

Made Honorine a night cap tonight… published on No Comments on Made Honorine a night cap tonight…

I stitched together 4 triangles, each measuring 0.5 inches along the base [plus seam allowance], as her head circumference is ~2 inches. I turned it inside out, added slits for her ears, and stuck it on her head with sticky tack. The waffle pattern on the fabric and the perky shape put me in mind of a hat made out of a leaf, although Honorine, along with her fellow denizens of 1 12th Street, is adamant that she’s not some cute little pixie. [That’s why she looks annoyed — too many 1:1 scale people have said, “Awwww, how precious!”]

 

Continue reading Made Honorine a night cap tonight…

If you ever want to weep for the fate of humanity…

If you ever want to weep for the fate of humanity… published on No Comments on If you ever want to weep for the fate of humanity…

…go watch I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, a so-called musical comedy revue, the music for which we can blame on Joe DiPietro and the script on Jimmy Roberts. Wikipedia says that this is the second-longest running off Broadway musical, which makes me respond with the same exclamation that I had after reading Best Loved Poems of the American People: “Wow, the American people have no taste.”

I Love You is basically a laundry list of all the stereotypes associated with modern heteronormative relationships, from dating, to marriage, to having kids, to growing old, all expressed in their most formulaic banalities, set to pointless, unoriginal arrangements that add nothing to the story, such as it is. The reliance on a variety of sketches, united by theme, rather than compelling, engaging characters, shows up the tedious, threadbare nature of the cliches at play. I’m not sure why it’s called a comedy, as it highlights the self-loathing, desperation, and barely concealed hostility that motivate the modern heteronormative narrative. Hah hah. Real funny.

 

P.S. I have to say, though, that I did like the part that went something like this:

 

“Did you put the boys to bed?”

“Yeah.”

“How’d you do it so fast?”

“Told ’em we were going to Disney World.”

 

“You bribed them with promises of Disney World?!”

 

“I couldn’t help it — they were throwing the goldfish at each other. –I figure we’ll just wait a few months, then tell ’em it burned down.”

Doll work and acquisitions this weekend: a little Honorine, mostly Christmas crap

Doll work and acquisitions this weekend: a little Honorine, mostly Christmas crap published on No Comments on Doll work and acquisitions this weekend: a little Honorine, mostly Christmas crap

Besides hosting the monthly VTDL meetup yesterday, I also worked a bit on dolls today. Honorine got wiring in her limbs, as well as a comfy outfit of pajamas and slippers.Continue reading Doll work and acquisitions this weekend: a little Honorine, mostly Christmas crap

Vermont Doll Lovers meetup, 11/14/2015

Vermont Doll Lovers meetup, 11/14/2015 published on No Comments on Vermont Doll Lovers meetup, 11/14/2015

Submit, along with Jujube, Dorothy, and Jeff, attended yesterday’s VTDL meetup. House Rainbow Barf made an appearance as well. Pictures on the VTDL blog.

Modern Wizard’s stream-of-consciousness pea soup redux

Modern Wizard’s stream-of-consciousness pea soup redux published on No Comments on Modern Wizard’s stream-of-consciousness pea soup redux

Making the stream-of-consciousness pea soup again today with some revisions.

 

1 lb. ground beef.

1 lb. dry yellow split peas.

2 carrots, sliced. 6 carrots, sliced.

 

1 white onion, diced.

2 potatoes, cubed.

3 packets Herbox bouillon in 6 cups warm water. 6 cups water.

1/2 tsp. pepper.

1/2 tsp. thyme. 3 tsp. thyme.

Somewhere between 1/2 and 1 tsp. cumin.
2 tsp. cumin.

1 tsp. parsley.

1 tsp. salt.

6 hulking garlic cloves, minced. 8 hulking garlic cloves, minced.

Brown the meat with the garlic. Do not put the garlic in the slow cooker with all the other ingredients, as this neutralizes most of the flavor.

Cook for 7 hours on high until peas have disintegrated, stirring regularly to distribute spices.

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