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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.

Ravishing Rachel Life Size Sculpture from Design Toscano

Ravishing Rachel Life Size Sculpture from Design Toscano published on No Comments on Ravishing Rachel Life Size Sculpture from Design Toscano

I kind of pity the copywriters for Design Toscano. They have to make all that tacky shit sound alluring and justifiably high-priced. Look DT — you either want things like a suit of armor t.p. holder or you don’t. You’re preaching to the choir. Don’t waste your limited stock of two-bit adjectives on us.

Take, for example, a sentence from their copy for Ravishing Rachel [who’s in the Sexy Temptresses category, along with the ass-flaunting Temptress Witch Christmas Ornament]:

"Cast in quality designer resin, this large-scale, display-quality indoor sculpture transforms any home bar, entertainment area or recreation room into something truly magnificent!"

"Quality designer resin": as opposed, I guess, to all that shitty, no-name resin that floods the market these days?

"Large-scale": Isn’t that redundant, given that the title indicates that it’s "Life Size"?

"Display-quality": Seriously…why would you buy a Technicolor rendition of a very stiff, cartoony woman flashing her tits if not to display it?

"Transforms any home bar, entertainment area or recreation room": So you’re admitting that your target consumers for these are sleazy misogynist straight white cis dudes who throw around obscene sums of money in an attempt to compensate for their utter lack of redeeming traits? Superb! I’ll take 10!!!

"Truly magnficent": I don’t think that is the word you’re looking for. May I humbly suggest "alarming"?

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Inquiries have been made.

Inquiries have been made. published on 4 Comments on Inquiries have been made.

I just asked Angelsdoll if Jareth's head has shipped yet and, if not, when it should.

I also asked the Mannequin Store if the beautiful, lustworthy and attractively articulated Vanessa would even come back in stock.

And I'm exploring the possibility of commissioning the Ultimate Corset [and matching miniskirt] for Jareth: viz., the underbust number in alternating panels of black and hot pink 4-way stretch vinyl that the Frankenstein outfit needs I tell you NEEEEEEEEEEDS to finish it off.

Things are looking good!

Life-size dolls ZOMG!! Plus the tale of Mick the mannequin…

Life-size dolls ZOMG!! Plus the tale of Mick the mannequin… published on 1 Comment on Life-size dolls ZOMG!! Plus the tale of Mick the mannequin…

As an extension of my interest in dolls, I've long had an interest in mannequins. For example, about 11 or 12 years ago, when I lived in small quarters in Somerville, MA, I purchased a 1950s mannequin off Ebay.

I named her Mick. She was made of wood pulp composite and had a nice old musty smell. She had a lovely, small, foreshortened head with uptilted features and knowing, side-glancing eyes.

I customized her by giving her a mohawk of blue and purple and gluing stars over the areas where her skin paint had chipped. I also gave her rhinestone studs around the border of her pinnae. Then I dressed her in all the awesome clothes that I could never wear myself. Naturally, she also dressed as Jareth, with a white blouse, my black velvet cape, the pants seen below [har!], an artificial bulge and an appropriate wig.

She was classy, demanding and vulgar at the same time, rather like Frank from Rocky Horror, as you can tell from the photos below. Incidentally, the button on her pants says "I heard it was come as you are, so I came in my pants."

Continue reading Life-size dolls ZOMG!! Plus the tale of Mick the mannequin…

La petite geante: The little giant girl and her diver uncle — big moving dolls!

La petite geante: The little giant girl and her diver uncle — big moving dolls! published on 3 Comments on La petite geante: The little giant girl and her diver uncle — big moving dolls!

From "Earlier this week, 1.5 million people filled the streets of Berlin, Germany to watch a several-day performance by France’s Royal de Luxe street theatre company titled "The Berlin Reunion". Part of the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Reunion show featured two massive marionettes, the Big Giant, a deep-sea diver, and his niece, the Little Giantess. The storyline of the performance has the two separated by a wall, thrown up by "land and sea monsters". The Big Giant has just returned from a long and difficult – but successful – expedition to destroy the wall, and now the two are walking the streets of Berlin, seeking each other after many years apart.."

My favorite photo from this set is the one of la petite geante sleeping in her uncle’s lap. They look so peaceful and loving!

La petite geante goes pee-pee in the street, part of the same performance:

To see la petite geante in an earlier performance, go here. Watch her lick a lollipop! She has an articulated tongue! Also marvel at her body language; she looks on tenderly as the little girls are swinging on her arms. I think that one of the best things about these dolls is that they show body language, blinking, swinging their arms and breathing, while the operators are putting them into position.

La Revolte des Mannequins: life-size, changing tableaux

La Revolte des Mannequins: life-size, changing tableaux published on No Comments on La Revolte des Mannequins: life-size, changing tableaux

Over a period of 10 days in February this year, mannequins were set up in successive poses in Nice, France to illustrate tableau-style various episodes of several running storylines. At the end of each day, workers removed the mannequins from their positions and posed them in new positions and outfits to reflect the progress of their associated storyline. There were 14 storylines to follow during this exhibition, all of them weird to begin with and made even eerier by the use of 1:1 dolls. Visit the blog, with photos of all stories, at La Revolte des Mannequins. I especially recommend L’Anniversaire de Grand-Pere [Grandpa’s Birthday], in which a little girl vampire wakes her granddad out of his coffin to celebrate his birthday.

Life-sized, jointed dolls…errrr…medical mannequins!

Life-sized, jointed dolls…errrr…medical mannequins! published on No Comments on Life-sized, jointed dolls…errrr…medical mannequins!

A post on Oobject collects a bunch of medical mannequins from various vendors, including robot-like dental mannequins, rubber CPR dummies and highly articulated trauma mannequins with multiple injuries. [See my earlier entry about a Japanese elder care mannequin for another example of these figs.] They are all real examples of teaching tools that are really for sale, and their high level of detail, realism and flexibility makes them beautiful works of sculpture. Whenever I get a life-sized articulated doll, I will use a medical mannequin as the base for the body, as fashion mannequins do not match the sheer number of joints possessed by some of these plastic trauma victims.

Learn how to take care of the elderly with a life-sized silicone doll thereof.

Learn how to take care of the elderly with a life-sized silicone doll thereof. published on No Comments on Learn how to take care of the elderly with a life-sized silicone doll thereof.

Over on wtf_japan, I discovered a beautiful life-sized doll of an elderly woman, apparently designed to help personal care attendants practice caring activities for elderly people. She’s beautiful! She looks like she is going to tell you stories. Go here for translations, in case you couldn’t get the gist from the pictures.

Stvpid Svedka.

Stvpid Svedka. published on 2 Comments on Stvpid Svedka.

As a follow-up to my analysis of Svedka Vodka’s stvpid ads targeted toward straight viewers, here’s an equally pathetic attempt by the same company to target gay viewers. 

According to the copy, Svedka Vodka is right up there with clipping your toenails, taking out the trash, watching paint dry, doing laundry and all those other value-neutral activities that gay men would rather be doing than having sex with women. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement. Heck, I don’t even think this endorsement can reach the bell. If it does, it just bounces off like a foam ball, having made no sound on impact.

Svedka Vodka: Making useless, gratuitous, confrontational and meaningless comments about your sexuality since 2006.

My Fake Baby: British reborn doll documentary

My Fake Baby: British reborn doll documentary published on No Comments on My Fake Baby: British reborn doll documentary

Hmmm…interesting. Commentary later. 

LATER: I’m rather annoyed by the narration’s tendency to overdetermine the women’s experience by addressing the reborn dolls as if they are actual children, rather than dolls. From what I can see so far, owners of reborn dolls range in their reasons for owning and playing with reborn dolls, just in the same manner that people own and play with any other type of dolls [duh], from action figs to Barbies to RealDolls to 3-D models. The very title of the docu, My Fake Baby, sensationalizes the reborn doll interest as a pathological baby substitute for old woman with empty aching wombs, but, if you investigate the docu closely, you’ll see the dolls functioning as much more than kiddy substitutes.

I’m particularly interested by the woman in the first segment who freely admits that the reborn dolls fulfill her fantasy of having an odorless, docile, troublefree substitute for a child. She says that she likes kids, but she clearly likes the concept of kids, their cuteness from a distance, rather than the actual mess and responsibility. I’m not going to fault her for this ambivalence about children, and I would like to note that she’s rather pragmatic about her interest in reborn dolls. She has an idea of the psychological functions they have in her life, and she treats them like they’re real, but she knows they’re dolls. This is how most people I know play with dolls; they talk to them as if they are real, but they do know that the dolls are dolls, albeit heavily freighted with symbolic value. Despite the film’s attempt to make her come across as some sort of unhinged weirdo swaddled in the pink gauze of unreal baby fantasies, she actually appears to me as a relatively well-hinged doll owner whose major challenge is her obvious dissociation from any real-life experience involving kids.

I really like the artist in the first segment who paints the reborn dolls. She gets into the technical details and allows viewers to see that making one of these dolls is no different from any other detailed artistic endeavor. At the same time, the artist also knows that reborn dolls have a special affective power because they look like babies, which we are all programmed to respond protectively toward, and she cannily exploits the natural human interest in small Homo sapiens with her advertising techniques. She apparently goes out into public with her wares and gets people to do double-takes, then hands them business cards. She respects the emotive power that the dolls have for people and that people use the dolls for various emotional purposes, but she also has a straightforward view that she uses the dolls to make a living. Despite the paternalistic narration of the documentary, the artist also comes across as sane and average.

P.S. I’m never really impressed by the caliber of YouTube commenters, but I would like to point out that some of the commenters think that the reborn doll owners are insane because they talk as if the dolls are alive and because they spend lots of money on them. Oh good God! Just because someone treats an inanimate object as if it is alive, that is not automatically grounds for insanity. For just a few examples of the general populace treating inanimate objects as if they are alive, look at someone who gets angry at a rock after tripping over it, the loving personification that car owners may give to their cars, or the antagonism many people direct toward their electronic devices. Rather than being pathological, personification is more like an innate human tendency. There are pathological extremes of personification, to be sure, but I don’t see that any of these doll owners are manifesting it.

As for the argument that spending a lot of money on something means that someone is insane, that is just a different way of saying, “I cannot fathom what you are spending money on, so you must be nuts.” It’s not even worth a serious rebuttal, since it’s just a value judgment.

Heineken Draught Keg robo-woman ad: sexist?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lars and the Real Girl

Lars and the Real Girl published on 4 Comments on Lars and the Real Girl

…is about a guy with a Real Doll and his brother and sister-in-law who are worried about him. The preview plays it as a comedy about a delusional, immature man who needs to migrate from silly, lifeless toys to much better real-life people. 

Plot-wise, that’s the least realistic thing imaginable. From my research [see documentary Guys and Dolls here] and experience, people who are that into dolls, especially sexual substitutes, usually pursue this interest because a) they’ve have bad experiences in the past with women or b) they actually aren’t interested in real women. In case a, they’ve turned away from interactions with real people, and they are not likely to turn back because they are soured. In case b, they fashion their experiences with love dolls to such an idealistic extent that no real women would ever satisfy them in the same way. All of this is to say that, if this were a realistic movie, the man would probably get a girlfriend who would break up with him because of his RealDoll, and he would return to the RealDoll, soured and even more intent on remaining with his safe, plastic toy.

That said, I’m very curious about the movie. While playing for obvious laughs, the preview seemed to treat all characters with respect. Hmmmm…

All roads lead to…

All roads lead to… published on No Comments on All roads lead to…

RealDoll. [That’s a link to a Salon article, not a link to Abyss Creations’ site.] I swear…in the 10 [gah, has it been so long?!] years I’ve been actively playing with dolls, whether fashion dolls, action figures or BJDs, all discussions eventually wind around to RealDoll. This is probably because RealDoll encompasses and foregrounds the complicated relationships that people have with their dolls [personification, sexualization, idolatry, possessiveness]. What seems to be on the margin [RealDoll ownership] actually illuminates the central paradoxes of doll play.

My ideal mannequin

My ideal mannequin published on No Comments on My ideal mannequin

After reading yesterday about the guy who faces life imprisonment for breaking into yet another store to steal yet another mannequin, I fortuitously found an article on Salon about the burgeoning [hahahahah] popularity of mannequins with large breasts. This got me thinking. If there was a relatively cheap mannequin with these breasts and this body [and a head goddammit — why don’t the “plus-sized” ones have heads????], I would get it.

What I really want is a life-sized, well-articulated, realistic doll…like a ball-jointed mannequin. I’ll just keep dreaming…

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