Category: opinion


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I was watching Coraline on TV the other night. For those who have never seen this movie, it revolves around a young girl who finds a door to world that mirrors hers but is … different. It goes from quirky to trippy-evil over the course of the movie and one of the unusual things about the world is that everyone in the mirrored world has black button eyes.

This is the first indication that things are not quite right.

While watching the movie, with the main plot point of the creepy button eyes that indicate the very wrongness of the mirrored world, I see a commercial for an odd doll.

Holy. Crap.

I’ve seen these in the store, they are hard vinyl dolls that are meant to look like rag dolls. I personally think they look weird.

It would probably be a good idea for people in charge of programming to screen the commercials they play – the juxtaposition of creepy characters with black button eyes followed by happy little girls playing with plastic dolls with black button eyes was just strange.

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The Good Ship … AHHHHHH!!!


I’ve been interested in Fanfiction for a while – I’m one of those people who want to know what happened after the “… and they lived happily ever after.” My involvement with the Library of the Damned – where my friends and I riff on the worse fics we can find, (and I happen to have a post up today) has only strengthened one of my core beliefs;

People are fucking crazy.

Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of the Shipper.

Shipper comes from ship, an abbreviation of worship, and is used to describe someone with an unnatural and unwholesome attachment to a particular fictional character or character pairing. This obsession is always sexual in nature and is really, really creepy.

There are many things I consider myself a fan of, and there are even somethings that I could be considered a rabid fan of, but I have never been so intensely interested in a fictional character that I plotted out every moment of their intimate lives.

Graphically plotted out. In disturbing detail that makes me want to dig a bunker under my house. And it’s always subjects that you would never think would lend itself to that sort of fiction. SpongeBob and the various My Little Ponies feature in a number of works that would land their authors in a psych ward in a heartbeat.

I am refusing to link any examples that would prove my point, because I don’t think anyone should be subjected to them. I’ve read a couple and I really wish I hadn’t.

If you are interested in reading a poorly-worded description of two of your beloved childhood icons engaging in the sort of behavior you normally need a credit card to see online, head on over to fanfiction.net. It’s packed with the stuff.

If fantasizing about cartoon characters is what does it for you, fine. Dress up like Wonder Woman and have your wife tie you up with your magic lasso – so long as you are consenting adults there is really no harm in that sort of thing.

When you vomit your personal fantasies onto the Internet and start crafting entire fictional worlds that revolve around your characters fucking each other, that’s when you need to step back and take a look at your life.

Extreme Close-Up!


I’ve signed up for a Macro Picture Postcard swap over on Swap-Bot and I’d like some help picking out the photos to turn into postcards.Just drop a note in the comments.

I will have two partners and I only have to send one postcard to each, but I will probably send two just to be nice. It’s a themed swap – the idea is to find or take macro (close-up) photos of things that are important to you. I chose to take photos rather than try to find images, so these are all mine. Unless they all suck, then it’s someone else’s fault.

The candidates;

#1 –

Coffee Swirl

It’s the inside of my stove-top espresso maker. Of course I would take photos of coffee.

#2 –

Pincushion

My well-loved pincushion that I have had forever. It’s a tomato.

#3 –

Yarn and Hook

My current work in progress, a granny square bag.

#4 –

Sleeping Fearless

My cat Fearless. She’s incredibly easy to photograph when she’s asleep – she barely twitches even if you use the flash.

#5 –

Pins

Another shot of my pincushion from a slightly different angle.

#6 –

Something Brewing

Another shot of my coffeemaker, while brewing. Every time I tried to take the photo I would move too close and the lens would fog up. That stuff is hot!

#7 –

Yarn Swirl

The center of a granny square. I’m not completely happy with this shot.

#8 –

Scribble

A doodle I drew.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot


I am, as many of you know, of the female persuasion.

While I’m not the girliest of girls, I still like small adorable things like kittens, most babies, and tiny toys you can get out of vending machines.

tiny turtle

Like this itty-bitty turtle - it's standing on my quilting ruler which has a 1-inch grid.

 

Now take that turtle – after you pry it from my cold and rapidly stiffening fingers, of course – and jam him and fifty of his closest friends into a pile a glue that resembles whipped cream.

Congratulations – you’ve created deco-den.

 

I'm pretty sure there are cell phones under all that crap.

 

This particular brand of insanity comes from the Land of Crazy, Japan. It apparently all started with cell phones, called denwa in Japan, and little shops you could go into to take your five hundred dollar sophisticated electronic device and make it look like a toy that came from the dollar store.

 

Needs more icing.

 

While those might look like  Cakewrecks, they are in fact real things. Girls carry them around in their purses next to their cans of Tentacle Repellent.

It has since spread to anything that can be decorated – picture frames, cameras, false nails.

I'm unclear as to how you would be able to wipe your ass while wearing these things. Maybe there's an attachment for that.

 

For the most part the bits of flotsam seem jammed on indiscriminately, but I have found a few that do look as if they were well-planned and have a clear theme.

Okay, that's kinda cute.

 

But on the other hand, I don’t think “Batman” and “rhinestones” are two things that should go together.

 

A little piece of my soul just died.

 

The most impressive thing about this, other than no one has gone blind from the sparkly bits or been choked to death by a plastic teddy bear, is that many of those little gidjets are handmade. People sell tiny molds for making the little cookies, donuts, fruits, and other bits. There are dozens of tutorials on YouTube on how to make the tiny food bits to decorate your crap with and numerous sites to help you figure out how many Hello Kitties you can cram onto a cell phone case.

 

AHHHH! My eyes!

 

There are even dozens of recipes for substitutes for the silicone-based “frosting” glue, which is very hard to find outside of Japan. Most seem to use some sort of caulk and add various ingredients to it.

It just baffles me why someone would want to.

 

Strange Legacy


I finally got around to watching Tron  and  Tron:Legacy the other day. I know the original movie is fairly old (it came out the same year I was born) but I had never really gotten around to seeing it.

Enter the wonder of Netflix! I popped both movies into my queue and promptly forgot about them for a few months. (I have a very long queue.) They arrived after a while and I sat down and watched them back-to-back. To get the whole “Tron experience” as it were.

Sad to say, I wasn’t terribly impressed.

First – the original.

For a thirty year old movie, the effects were very good. Not what you are used to these days, but impressive for the time period. The story was not the greatest. The biggest sticking point for me was the games. The Master Control Program, in its quest for world domination, decided to behave like a Roman dictator and make the captive programs perform for the amusement of … Who? The MCP? The users playing the games? I just didn’t think it was clearly explained why these captured programs were being forced to do this. The MCP was trying to absorb as many programs as possible, destroying a few thousand in an arcade game just seems counter-productive.

And while I am by no means the most computer-literate person in the world, I didn’t think programs worked that way. If, say, an actuarial program suddenly vanished then someone would notice. The very pissed off insurance salesman would contact whatever the equivalent of the IT department was back then and get someone to either find out where the program went, or reinstall it from a back-up disk. And why, exactly, were arcade games wired into the mainframe computer of a computer software development company? This was back in the Eighties, before everything from coffeemakers to cars were Wi-Fi accessible and Bluetooth compatible. Each one of those games would have had to have a hard-wired modem and a phone connection and there were dozens of games in Flynn’s arcade alone. You would think the arcade owner would notice all the extra equipment and phone lines that all of that would have required.

And now – the sequel.

Story-wise there was an improvement. After stewing for thirty years I would hope so. There was still no explanation as to why the programs were still being forced to play games, but I’ve already covered that. The effects were top-notch, the lightcycle race was spectacular. Much better than the original, but thirty years will do that to technology.

Speaking of technology -there’s Clu.

I remember there was some sort of fuss back when the movie first came out, that Jeff Bridges was actually going to play a younger version of himself.

For those out there who are curious, here’s a photo from Wikipedia with Old Jeff and Digital jeff staring at each other.

Kinda creepy

It’s very close to the way Jeff Bridges used to look, but Clu’s face looks too smooth, the jaw is too square, and the forehead looks odd. Like a plastic action figure. The range of expression was not what a real face would be able to perform, but it was supposed to be the face of a computer program. I’m still impressed that Disney got it as close as they did. According to the IMDB, he had to wear a helmet fitted with four cameras to capture his facial movements. That seems like it would be a bit awkward. (Another fun fact – the lightsuits were actually practical effects. Each one was fitted with luminescent wires and a battery (that lasted twelve minutes at the time), the wiring was so fragile the actors couldn’t sit down in them but had to lean against boards when they took a break. They were also stifling hot and air conditioning tubes had to be trained on each actor to cool them off between takes. You too can own a sweltering rubber lightsuit – only $60000. Batteries and air conditioner not included.)

As a long-time animation freak, I’m all about the voice. Jeff Bridges has a very distinct voice that has gotten deeper, richer, and raspier as he has aged. I don’t know if there was some post-production audio tweaking or if Bridges’ simply pitched his voice higher while performing Clu’s voice, but since every so often some of Old Jeff crept in to Digital Jeff’s voice I think it was probably the latter. It’s most noticeable during Clu’s speech to his army; at one point in particular his voice drops noticeably in pitch and tone. It could have been a stylistic choice though.

If it is in fact pure Jeff Bridges, then I’m glad – Jeff Bridges’ voice is one of the best things in the world. Sure, he’s the same age as GhostDad, but that voice …

:shivers:

Mmmmm...

Puzzling Things Out


One of the items I picked up this weekend while yard saleing was a puzzle.

But it wasn’t any old puzzle, it was a puzzle without a box. I had no idea what sort of puzzle it would be. It only cost a quarter so I figured, “What the hell?’ The woman I bought it from said she had kept it in her purse, in a hard plastic container, so that her daughter would have something to keep her occupied while they were waiting at restaurants and the like. I imagine the girl had done the puzzle so many times she had it memorized.

The mystery puzzle.

Once I got a few pieces together, I could tell that it was a Care Bears puzzle. Sure it was for kids, but if you think it’s easy to put together something without even the foggiest idea what it looks like I invite you to try.

Be prepared for lots of cursing.

WOO-HOO! I completed a child's puzzle! Now I need a drink.

Once I was finished I was incredibly happy, absolutely thrilled. You can not imagine how out of proportion my sense of accomplishment was. You would have thought I had assembled the thing out of dust motes.

This is the container it came in.

I was somewhat disappointed, after seeing the container, that the puzzle wasn’t Hello Kitty as well. Practically everything else in the world is.

GhostSister adores Hello Kitty, so this will probably go to her next. Just like the last puzzle I did.

I had "help" with that one.

That thing was a bear to put together, even with my “help”. It’s lenticular, so the image on the pieces moves as you move it, making it a bit of a challenge. That was another yard sale find, that’s the one good thing about the ubiquitousness of Hello Kitty, it’s a lot easier to find Hello Kitty stuff at yard sales.

Don’t Call Me A Muggle


Tomorrow the last Harry Potter movie hits the theaters.

I shall pause to give the fans out there time to put on their pointy hats and fancy capes.

:plays Angry Birds, curses at little green piggies:

Everyone sufficiently attired now? Good. Hey, no poking each other with your authentically licensed replica wands!

One of the tellers I work with is a big fan of the whole Harry Potter business; she’s not just a fan, she’s a FAN. She has had her tickets to the midnight showing tonight/tomorrow morning for months. She has also taken Friday off and has tickets for several showings on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I think all told she is going to see the same movie about a dozen times over the course of three days. She will also be dressing up to attend the midnight showing with several of her friends, who are also FANS.

That kind of behavior is on the shady side of crazy.

Before I get several poorly-written comments threatening to cast one of the three Unforgivable Curses on me, let me say that I am a fan as well. I’ve read all the books multiple times and I’ve seen most of the movies. I’m familiar with the unique world my coirker seems to find so entrancing.

I’m just not that big of a fan. Not by several orders of magnitude.

I waited eagerly for the release of each new book, but I never spent the night at a bookstore, dressed as a fictional character, just so I could buy a book. I have books – lots of them. I can wait a day or two to buy another.

When I received my new Harry Potter book, I would read it all in one sitting, but that’s nothing new. I often read books all the way through at once; I read very fast.  Deathly Hallows has 759 pages and it took me about six and a half hours of steady reading to get through it.

While I do applaud the series, it is quite imaginative and has managed to get children interested in reading instead of relying on purely electronic entertainment, I do not see what sparks that kind of devotion.

They are only books. I’ve read thousands; some better, some worse.

They are only movies. I’ve seen hundreds; some better, some much, much worse.

The devotion of the Harry Potter fans baffles me, much in the same way Star Wars fans and Star Trek fans puzzle me. I like a lot of things, but not to that extent.

Show Me!


One day last week there was yet another shower at work, this time a bridal shower.

Congratulations, Sherry and ... Milliy?

Several of the gifts the bride received were lingerie, she held them up and “modeled” them for everyone with much whistling and hooting from the crowd (all women) – she didn’t strip down and try them on; I work in a bank, not a porno film, but she held them up and many crude comments were made in good fun. When two of the four guys who work there walked in, the lingerie was put away and talk turned to other subjects.

I’m curious as to why the introduction of two men, both married, who were on equally good terms with the bride as the women were, made the group veer away from the saucy lingerie and to the subject of Crockpots and wafflemakers. I’m pretty sure they’ve seen that sort of thing before and possibly even bought lingerie for their various wives at some point. Why would seeing a fully-clothed woman they are familiar with holding lingerie up be something that would be censored?

As a woman, I can admire another woman in a completely non-sexual way. If I tell a woman that her pants make her ass look terrific, then she will accept it as the complement it is intended to be. (and probably tell me where she got her pants) If a man told a woman that, he would run the risk of getting maced and/or called a pervert. Yet another of the subtle little double standards our society has created.

 


For over a week I have endured the horror that has been the Forbidden Fruit series. Having finally come to the end of that long, bleak tunnel filled with inappropriate penile metaphors, I would like to offer some advice to fanfic writers.

Red Lines of Death – Turn on your spell checker and actually use it.  All those red wavy lines are there for a reason – you suck at spelling. There is no shame in this; if there were not so many crappy spellers then spell-checkers would not exist. You cannot rely on your awesome natural ability to magically produce the right words. This is a time when the emotionless machine does, in fact, know more than you.

 Pop an ALL CAPS in Your Ass – There are certain things that should be capitalized, such as proper nouns and the beginning of sentences.  Capitalizing every single damned thing your character says is a very bad thing – in most circles, using ALL CAPS conveys shouting or strong emotion. It should be used sparingly or not at all. Having your characters constantly yelling at each other is just silly and annoys your audience.

Chameleon McChangiepants – So you have this list of character names a mile long and each one is a precious gem; fine. Pick ONE and use that ONE for the character. Add it to your browser’s spell checker so that you will not misspell it. Do not change the spelling whenever you feel like it.

The Wonderful World of … That Place  – Writing something like “We was out in the woods.” or “It was a typical school.” does absolutely nothing to convey to your audience what you are trying to describe. You don’t have to go overboard and describe every brick and window frame, (You are trying to paint a picture with your words, not club a baby seal to death with them) but some rough outlines are appreciated by your intended audience.

To The Library! – In these modern times, it is possible to find almost anything on the Internet, if you look hard enough.  You have no excuse to half-ass things – Do the damned research. Watching a special on the History Channel will not cut it. You will have a better story in the end.

This is Some Good Shit – Drug or alcohol use does not automatically equal “evil” – most drug addicts care more about getting their next fix then about doing “evil”. “Doing drugs” can also cover any number of substances, from prescription medications to street drugs to common household items like paint thinner, and not all of these substances will make a person behave in the same way. Again, do the research. If a character needs to behave a certain way while under the influence, find a drug that has those symptoms or make one up, don’t just use the catch-all phrase “[character] did some drugs.”

“Informal” is Not Writerese for “Half-Assed” –You cannot write something that looks like it should be scrawled on a truck stop’s bathroom wall and excuse it by saying that it is “informal”. Most creative writing can be considered informal; that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the effort to clean it up and make it presentable.

The Eternal “I” – If you are writing a first-person story, every sentence shouldn’t begin with “I”.  First-person narrative often mimics spoken language; if every sentence you speak starts with I, then you may want to do some serious self-examination.

LEGO Anatomy – If you are writing a sex scene, it is a good idea to be familiar with human anatomy beyond the vague notion that “Tab A goes into Slot B”. I’m not saying you should go out and shag the first person you see or spend hours watching porn; but as someone with access to the Internet, you can familiarize yourself with the basic equipment involved. (Reading a Danielle Steele novel does not count as research.) Try Wikipedia; they’re are plenty of pictures of genitalia on Wikipedia. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, don’t write graphic sex scenes. The same goes for any mature subject matter (rape, abuse, drug addiction, etc…); if you don’t feel comfortable reading about it when you research it, you probably shouldn’t be writing about it.

Death to Mary Sue – If you don’t know what a Mary Sue is, you should. There are a number of “litmus tests” on the Internet that can help you determine if your character is, in fact, a Mary Sue. Google “Mary Sue litmus test”, you’ll find thousands of them. A quick way to spot one; if the character does everything better than everyone, even canon characters who are experts in that particular field, you have a Mary Sue.

Euphawillies – It is called a penis. It is not a flesh sword, a man-carrot, a love wand, a gigglestick, or a man-fruit thing. Unless you are writing a comedy, such terms are better off not being used.

Beta to the Max! – Over at Fanfiction.net, they have an excellent beta reader program. Betas act as peer reviewers, reading through to check spelling and grammar, as well as offering notes about specific points and problems. Betas are a valuable resource for the fledgling writer;  a good beta will not fix all your problems for you, but they will suggest ways you can fix them yourself.



This post began as a review of one of my favorite websites, FocalPrice, but quickly veered into “mature themes” territory.

I suggest that all of you with weak constitutions and the under-aged not read any further.

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