Friday, December 14, 2012

Why I Hate Social Networking, Part 75325

Facebook: "To avoid overwhelming users and servers, we only show the most popular posts, using an elaborate algorithm that incorporates likes, shares, and views. Oh, and being paid to show it helps, too."

Tumblr: "We fix that problem by limiting posts to 50 per day, per blog, and by encouraging queued postings. Oh, and blocks help too."

Twitter: "120 chrs @ a time. Plus users get used to Fail Whale. LOL!"

Google+: "l wish I had that problem."

MySpace: "What problem?"

Me: ...For a bunch of social networks, you are all pretty goddamn antisocial.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas Cheer, Er, I Mean, Jeer

  And now even those stores with a modicum of restraint will let loose the red-and-green torrent of holiday commercialism. Which is why I recommend the following FUNNY tunes, from last year's XMAS HELL 2011 playlist, as well as the XMAS HELL 2012 playlist currently in the works. 

Note that any songs where I clearly could tell there was some FCC-banned words are marked ***NSFW*** for those of you who insist on playing these at the office... or on a radio show. *ahem*

Prophecy Ov Pointman - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Relient K - I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas

SkaldGrim - All I Want For Christmas Is Beer

metal christmas song "xmassacre"

Butthole Surfers - Good King Wenceslas

Nekrogoblikon - The Goblin Christmas Armageddon, Part 1

The Depot Tones - Wonderful Christmas Time

The Rugburns - I Hate Christmas ***NSFW***

Spalien Acecraft - Anti-Christmas Song

Steel Panther - Sexy Santa

The XMAS HELL playlists include a variety of tunes, not all of which are funny--some are just absurd, while others are horrifying, and many are simply offensive to anyone who takes Christmas too seriously. And there's even a few which could be construed as sentimental, if heavy and filthy musically.

XMAS HELL 2011: 

XMAS HELL 2012: 

And for what it's worth, I stayed away from excessive references to Hollywood Christmas movies, with one exception--the "xmassacre" video, because the video portion is largely made up of clips by Cyriak Harris, the Internet's answer to Terry Gilliam, even if the clips had NOTHING to do with Christmas. Nay, BECAUSE they had nothing to do with Christmas. And on a tangent, Cyriak has come up with some very bizarre, horrifying, yet cool as hell and still funny Christmas videos of his own:

 

 

 

Christmas Cheer, Er, I Mean, Jeer

  And now even those stores with a modicum of restraint will let loose the red-and-green torrent of holiday commercialism. Which is why I recommend the following FUNNY tunes, from last year's XMAS HELL 2011 playlist, as well as the XMAS HELL 2012 playlist currently in the works. 

Note that any songs where I clearly could tell there was some FCC-banned words are marked ***NSFW*** for those of you who insist on playing these at the office... or on a radio show. *ahem*

Prophecy Ov Pointman - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Relient K - I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas

SkaldGrim - All I Want For Christmas Is Beer

metal christmas song "xmassacre"

Butthole Surfers - Good King Wenceslas

Nekrogoblikon - The Goblin Christmas Armageddon, Part 1

The Depot Tones - Wonderful Christmas Time

The Rugburns - I Hate Christmas ***NSFW***

Spalien Acecraft - Anti-Christmas Song

Steel Panther - Sexy Santa

The XMAS HELL playlists include a variety of tunes, not all of which are funny--some are just absurd, while others are horrifying, and many are simply offensive to anyone who takes Christmas too seriously. And there's even a few which could be construed as sentimental, if heavy and filthy musically.

XMAS HELL 2011: 

XMAS HELL 2012: 

And for what it's worth, I stayed away from excessive references to Hollywood Christmas movies, with one exception--the "xmassacre" video, because the video portion is largely made up of clips by Cyriak Harris, the Internet's answer to Terry Gilliam, even if the clips had NOTHING to do with Christmas. Nay, BECAUSE they had nothing to do with Christmas. And on a tangent, Cyriak has come up with some very bizarre, horrifying, yet cool as hell and still funny Christmas videos of his own:

 

 

 

Untitled

 And now even those stores with a modicum of restraint will let loose the red-and-green torrent of holiday commercialism. Which is why I recommend the following FUNNY tunes, from last year's XMAS HELL 2011 playlist, as well as the XMAS HELL 2012 playlist currently in the works. 

Note that any songs where I clearly could tell there was some FCC-banned words are marked ***NSFW*** for those of you who insist on playing these at the office... or on a radio show. *ahem*

Prophecy Ov Pointman - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Relient K - I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas

SkaldGrim - All I Want For Christmas Is Beer

metal christmas song "xmassacre"

Butthole Surfers - Good King Wenceslas

Nekrogoblikon - The Goblin Christmas Armageddon, Part 1

The Depot Tones - Wonderful Christmas Time

The Rugburns - I Hate Christmas ***NSFW***

Spalien Acecraft - Anti-Christmas Song

Steel Panther - Sexy Santa

The XMAS HELL playlists include a variety of tunes, not all of which are funny--some are just absurd, while others are horrifying, and many are simply offensive to anyone who takes Christmas too seriously. And there's even a few which could be construed as sentimental, if heavy and filthy musically.

XMAS HELL 2011: 

XMAS HELL 2012: 

And for what it's worth, I stayed away from excessive references to Hollywood Christmas movies, with one exception--the "xmassacre" video, because the video portion is largely made up of clips by Cyriak Harris, the Internet's answer to Terry Gilliam, even if the clips had NOTHING to do with Christmas. Nay, BECAUSE they had nothing to do with Christmas. And on a tangent, Cyriak has come up with some very bizarre, horrifying, yet cool as hell and still funny Christmas videos of his own:

 

Untitled

 And now even those stores with a modicum of restraint will let loose the red-and-green torrent of holiday commercialism. Which is why I recommend the following FUNNY tunes, from last year's XMAS HELL 2011 playlist, as well as the XMAS HELL 2012 playlist currently in the works. 

Note that any songs where I clearly could tell there was some FCC-banned words are marked ***NSFW*** for those of you who insist on playing these at the office... or on a radio show. *ahem*

Prophecy Ov Pointman - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Relient K - I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas

SkaldGrim - All I Want For Christmas Is Beer

metal christmas song "xmassacre"

Butthole Surfers - Good King Wenceslas

Nekrogoblikon - The Goblin Christmas Armageddon, Part 1

The Depot Tones - Wonderful Christmas Time

The Rugburns - I Hate Christmas ***NSFW***

Spalien Acecraft - Anti-Christmas Song

Steel Panther - Sexy Santa

The XMAS HELL playlists include a variety of tunes, not all of which are funny--some are just absurd, while others are horrifying, and many are simply offensive to anyone who takes Christmas too seriously. And there's even a few which could be construed as sentimental, if heavy and filthy musically.

XMAS HELL 2011: 

XMAS HELL 2012: 

And for what it's worth, I stayed away from excessive references to Hollywood Christmas movies, with one exception--the "xmassacre" video, because the video portion is largely made up of clips by Cyriak Harris, the Internet's answer to Terry Gilliam, even if the clips had NOTHING to do with Christmas. Nay, BECAUSE they had nothing to do with Christmas. And on a tangent, Cyriak has come up with some very bizarre, horrifying, yet cool as hell and still funny Christmas videos of his own:

 

Chrismas Cheer, Er, I Mean, Jeer

 And now even those stores with a modicum of restraint will let loose the red-and-green torrent of holiday commercialism. Which is why I recommend the following FUNNY tunes, from last year's XMAS HELL 2011 playlist, as well as the XMAS HELL 2012 playlist currently in the works. 

Note that any songs where I clearly could tell there was some FCC-banned words are marked ***NSFW*** for those of you who insist on playing these at the office... or on a radio show. *ahem*

Prophecy Ov Pointman - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Relient K - I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas

SkaldGrim - All I Want For Christmas Is Beer

metal christmas song "xmassacre"

Butthole Surfers - Good King Wenceslas

Nekrogoblikon - The Goblin Christmas Armageddon, Part 1

The Depot Tones - Wonderful Christmas Time

The Rugburns - I Hate Christmas ***NSFW***

Spalien Acecraft - Anti-Christmas Song

Steel Panther - Sexy Santa

The XMAS HELL playlists include a variety of tunes, not all of which are funny--some are just absurd, while others are horrifying, and many are simply offensive to anyone who takes Christmas too seriously. And there's even a few which could be construed as sentimental, if heavy and filthy musically.

XMAS HELL 2011: 

XMAS HELL 2012: 

And for what it's worth, I stayed away from excessive references to Hollywood Christmas movies, with one exception--the "xmassacre" video, because the video portion is largely made up of clips by Cyriak Harris, the Internet's answer to Terry Gilliam, even if the clips had NOTHING to do with Christmas. Nay, BECAUSE they had nothing to do with Christmas. And on a tangent, Cyriak has come up with some very bizarre, horrifying, yet cool as hell and still funny Christmas videos of his own:

 

 

Chrismas Cheer, Er, I Mean, Jeer

 And now even those stores with a modicum of restraint will let loose the red-and-green torrent of holiday commercialism. Which is why I recommend the following FUNNY tunes, from last year's XMAS HELL 2011 playlist, as well as the XMAS HELL 2012 playlist currently in the works. 

Note that any songs where I clearly could tell there was some FCC-banned words are marked ***NSFW*** for those of you who insist on playing these at the office... or on a radio show. *ahem*

Prophecy Ov Pointman - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Relient K - I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas

SkaldGrim - All I Want For Christmas Is Beer

metal christmas song "xmassacre"

Butthole Surfers - Good King Wenceslas

Nekrogoblikon - The Goblin Christmas Armageddon, Part 1

The Depot Tones - Wonderful Christmas Time

The Rugburns - I Hate Christmas ***NSFW***

Spalien Acecraft - Anti-Christmas Song

Steel Panther - Sexy Santa

The XMAS HELL playlists include a variety of tunes, not all of which are funny--some are just absurd, while others are horrifying, and many are simply offensive to anyone who takes Christmas too seriously. And there's even a few which could be construed as sentimental, if heavy and filthy musically.

XMAS HELL 2011: 

XMAS HELL 2012: 

And for what it's worth, I stayed away from excessive references to Hollywood Christmas movies, with one exception--the "xmassacre" video, because the video portion is largely made up of clips by Cyriak Harris, the Internet's answer to Terry Gilliam, even if the clips had NOTHING to do with Christmas. Nay, BECAUSE they had nothing to do with Christmas. And on a tangent, Cyriak has come up with some very bizarre, horrifying, yet cool as hell and still funny Christmas videos of his own:

 

 

Untitled

And now even those stores with a modicum of restraint will let loose the red-and-green torrent of holiday commercialism. Which is why I recommend the following FUNNY tunes, from last year's XMAS HELL 2011 playlist, as well as the XMAS HELL 2012 playlist currently in the works. 

Note that any songs where I clearly could tell there was some FCC-banned words are marked ***NSFW*** for those of you who insist on playing these at the office... or on a radio show. *ahem*

Prophecy Ov Pointman - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Relient K - I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas

SkaldGrim - All I Want For Christmas Is Beer

metal christmas song "xmassacre"

Butthole Surfers - Good King Wenceslas

Nekrogoblikon - The Goblin Christmas Armageddon, Part 1

The Depot Tones - Wonderful Christmas Time

The Rugburns - I Hate Christmas ***NSFW***

Spalien Acecraft - Anti-Christmas Song

Steel Panther - Sexy Santa

The XMAS HELL playlists include a variety of tunes, not all of which are funny--some are just absurd, while others are horrifying, and many are simply offensive to anyone who takes Christmas too seriously. And there's even a few which could be construed as sentimental, if heavy and filthy musically.

XMAS HELL 2011: 

XMAS HELL 2012: 

And for what it's worth, I stayed away from excessive references to Hollywood Christmas movies, with one exception--the "xmassacre" video, because the video portion is largely made up of clips by Cyriak Harris, the Internet's answer to Terry Gilliam, even if the clips had NOTHING to do with Christmas. Nay, BECAUSE they had nothing to do with Christmas. And on a tangent, Cyriak has come up with some very bizarre, horrifying, yet cool as hell and still funny Christmas videos of his own:

Untitled

And now even those stores with a modicum of restraint will let loose the red-and-green torrent of holiday commercialism. Which is why I recommend the following FUNNY tunes, from last year's XMAS HELL 2011 playlist, as well as the XMAS HELL 2012 playlist currently in the works. 

Note that any songs where I clearly could tell there was some FCC-banned words are marked ***NSFW*** for those of you who insist on playing these at the office... or on a radio show. *ahem*

Prophecy Ov Pointman - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Relient K - I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas

SkaldGrim - All I Want For Christmas Is Beer

metal christmas song "xmassacre"

Butthole Surfers - Good King Wenceslas

Nekrogoblikon - The Goblin Christmas Armageddon, Part 1

The Depot Tones - Wonderful Christmas Time

The Rugburns - I Hate Christmas ***NSFW***

Spalien Acecraft - Anti-Christmas Song

Steel Panther - Sexy Santa

The XMAS HELL playlists include a variety of tunes, not all of which are funny--some are just absurd, while others are horrifying, and many are simply offensive to anyone who takes Christmas too seriously. And there's even a few which could be construed as sentimental, if heavy and filthy musically.

XMAS HELL 2011: 

XMAS HELL 2012: 

And for what it's worth, I stayed away from excessive references to Hollywood Christmas movies, with one exception--the "xmassacre" video, because the video portion is largely made up of clips by Cyriak Harris, the Internet's answer to Terry Gilliam, even if the clips had NOTHING to do with Christmas. Nay, BECAUSE they had nothing to do with Christmas. And on a tangent, Cyriak has come up with some very bizarre, horrifying, yet cool as hell and still funny Christmas videos of his own:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

IRON SKY--A Review

I neglected to mention one pet peeve I have--not with Iron Sky, but with the way some of my friends described the movie.

Goddamn it, Iron Sky is NOT steampunk.

Retrofuturistic? Maybe, from the point of view that the Nazis focused on helium-3 fusion, antigravity craft, and nuclear howitzers, but stuck with vacuum tubes for their computing needs.

But, really, for all my troubles with accepting steampunk in terms of how it approaches retrofuturism, I have equal problem with those who dub any retrofuturismn "steampunk."

Steampunk is Victorian retrofuturism, got it? Dieselpunk would be more apt for Iron Sky, if only because both Dieselpunk and Naziism arise in the dawn of the Modern Era. But really, Iron Sky doesn't propose going back in time and giving Nazis advanced science--it just presumes the Nazis developed scientifically in far different ways than the rest of the world. So I have problems accepting Iron Sky as retrofuturism in the first place.

But. It. Is. NOT. Steampunk.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

IRON SKY--A Review

Note: I try to avoid any major spoilers throughout, but if you would rather not encounter any spoilers, just go see the movie. It's well worth it, and not just for the laughs.

Helium-3 is an isotope of helium that lacks a neutron. It can be used in the presence of high temperatures to fuse with itself to produce ordinary helium plus two free protons per reaction. Those protons, carrying a positive charge, can be contained electromagnetically, and through interactions with the electromagnetic field, be used to directly produce enough electricity to sustain the field with ample left over for consumption. In short, helium-3 is a clean, non-radioactive fuel source, and if we can find it in abundance, our energy needs could be met for centuries. And it so happens that the Moon probably has helium-3 in greater abundance than can be found on the Earth, thanks to the Lunar surface's direct exposure to the solar wind. This much is absolutely real and quite serious--and it's a large part of why both NASA and the Chinese wish to return to the Moon, this time to stay.

And that's where Iron Sky starts.

I know, I know, this movie is billed as a comedy--and a black comedy at that. After all, what could be more far-fetched than the idea that the Nazis established a hidden colony on the Moon at the end of World War II, mining and utilizing helium-3, developing their industry and super-science, and biding their time for revenge and the establishment of a Fourth Reich? This is the stuff of conspiracy theories--it's no surprise that believers in Nazi UFOs happen to be Holocaust deniers as well. Nor is it a surprise that Nazi UFOs--in the form of the "Advanced Supersonic Aluminum Nazi Hell-Creatures from Beneath the Hollow Earth"--appear in the dogma of the Church of the SubGenius, which has mocked conspiracy theories of all sorts from its inception. But, while moon Nazis are the stuff of raving madmen on street corners as illustrated in the movie itself, there remains a very serious, and tragic, subtext--one that drives the black humor more so than the Nazis themselves.

Because, really, Iron Sky isn't about moon Nazis. It's about US--specifically, the US.

It's easy to laugh at the idea of Sarah Palin--or at least someone looking remarkably like her--becoming President. But this wouldn't have been funny except that, having been selected as John McCain's running mate, if the electoral college vote went only a little differently, she would have in fact been a coronary shy of the Presidency. But the President in Iron Sky--played with appropriate campiness by Stephanie Paul--is not just someone to mock. Her candor reveals much--a desire to maintain power, for herself first and for her country second, and a willingness to use any means, including propaganda and war, to hold onto that power. Between her and James Washington--the first African American on the Moon, a former model rather than an astronaut who admits to being a publicity stunt for the President--much can be said about the shallowness of American pretensions of diversity. We may now have minorities in greater roles in our evolving history, but the overall power structure hasn't changed, and those without power are still manipulated for the benefit of those with power. The President's throwaway laugh line about the Nazis being the last enemy "we beat in a fair fight" is a frank and bleak reflection on how America has used military power since WWII, and if you think about it, it is tantamount to an admission that we replaced the Nazis.

Incidentally, Laibach fans will no doubt have noticed that the President's symbol is in fact the symbol Laibach has used for their projects ever since the release of Volk, an album of songs based on national anthems. The presence of that symbol is more than a nod to the soundtrack composers, for Laibach are "no humble pop musicians," to quote one of their songs, but consummate multimedia performance artists. Since 1980, Laibach's stock and trade have been in bending totalitarianism to the purposes of art--a historic reversal of the use of art to promote totalitarianism. Laibach has long been accused of being fascists, although their ideology has been kept shrouded, with only the externalities of totalitarianism on display. Ultimately, Laibach deconstructs--and, as a side-effect, dismantles--totalitarian impulses, as is evident in their influence in politics in their region, where they were seen originally as a threat to Yugoslavia's Communist government, then heralds of the dissolution of the Yugoslav union, and finally prophets of the Balkan War that followed. Since Laibach's Opus Dei album, they have kept an eye on the relationship between the United States and Germany. For the first single off Opus Dei, Laibach underscored America's unspoken tendencies to totalitarianism by taking "One Vision," a song from the Iron Eagle soundtrack, translating it to German, replacing Queen's rock rhythms with the esthetics of the military march, and renaming it "Geburt Einar Nation"--"The Birth of a Nation," borrowing from the title of yet another film that portrays American nationalism through the eyes of a Ku Klux Klan sympathizer. Thus, with only a little effort on their part, they turned a bit of Hollywood jingoism into a full-blown accusation. They have revisited this "German-American Friendship" (a Laibachian reference to their industrial brethren DAF) on WAT, and again on Volk, repeatedly pointing out that while Germany had fallen and was struggling to learn from its tragic history, America was oblivious to its own descent and seemed unwilling to learn, either from Germany's example or its own.

I posit that the President's use of Laibach's real-world symbol as her own in the movie is a warning: Things are not as they appear. While the members of Laibach dress in strict uniforms, perform with discipline, and raises the specter of a lack of freedom--all in the name of challenging those who would usurp freedom --the President is surrounded by American flags, dresses and speaks like the common American, and seems to glorify freedom--all in the name of usurping that freedom for her own gain. And the President has no qualms about using Nazi propaganda (handily supplied by Renate Richter, the scholarly, virtuous, but naive Nazi played by Julia Dietze) and war (provided by Klaus Adler, the presumptive future Mondführer who unwittingly takes Renate to Earth to meet the President in their preparations for invasion) to brighten her election prospects. In a way, she--not Mondführer Wolfgang Kortzfleisch, portrayed by Udo Kier as the over-the-top Nazi evil one might expect--is the "bad guy" of the movie, as she ultimately accomplishes what the Nazis could not.

But, ah, Renate. Sweet, kind-hearted, idealistic Renate. She is presented as the Nazi's expert on Earth culture, but all she knows are Nazi distortions. Her first encounter with James Washington is actually touching--as she was born on the Moon she had never seen a black man before, but her curiosity overwhelmed any racial prejudice she might have been taught. Indeed, having grown up on the Moon, she seems to be blissfully unaware of racial prejudice at all. And it is through her connection to James Washington that she begins to discover the truth about the belief system she had always known. Meeting Nazi skinheads on Earth completes her disenchantment with National Socialism, and she urges John to help her stop the Nazis before their superweapon--the appropriately named Gotterdamarung--destroys the Earth. My only disappointment with her character is in how she is so preoccupied with stopping Gotterdamarung that she never realizes the damage she had done on Earth by enabling the President. It would have been nice if, in all her remorse for being a Nazi, she also demonstrated remorse for helping make America more Nazi-like. But, I guess it could be argued, that would have got in the way of the dark humor of the movie.

In stark contrast, there is the President's campaign manager, Vivian Wagner, played by Peta Sergeant. Where Renate wants the best for everyone, Vivian is cynical and calculating and willing to do whatever it takes to help the President--and by extension, further her own ambitions. This is underscored in one of the early scenes in the movie, a parody of the famous upbraiding cum temper tantrum scene in Der Untergang, with Vivian taking Hitler's place, and also by the eagerness in which she seduces Klaus Adler. By the end of the movie she looks and acts as if she came out of an old SF serial--just as campy in her evil as Mondführer Kortzfleisch, but with lots more black leather. It's easy to get excited about her fighting Nazis until you realize she's no better than the Nazis she fights.

I haven't talked much about James Washington, except in reference to his being used for PR purposes and his relationship with Renate. Let's just say that the Nazi scientists try to make him into a Nazi--in more ways than one. I really would rather not give much away beyond saying that it both lampoons Nazi racial theories and ruins Washington's life--and does much more to advance the plot, and the relationship with Renate.

In all my seriousness I neglected to point out that the dark humor isn't all obvious. The movie is full of Nazi in-jokes, from references to Richard Wagner's operas and names selected from Nazi history to pop culture references--alongside Der Untergang, references to Dr. Strangelove and especially The Great Dictator can be found throughout. And of course, Volkswagens prove to be as ubiquitous on the Moon as they are on Earth. If you are a WWII buff or know your war movies, there's a lot of material to keep you on your toes. And don't be surprised to find Pink Floyd references in the score--"Dark Side of the Moon," get it? Hell, there's even jokes about pubic hair trends and their resemblance to a certain leader's facial hair. The movie is dense with jokes both obvious and subtle, and this movie promises to be one of those where each new viewing will reveal details missed the last time around.

Is it worth seeing the first time, though? Yes, if you enjoy campiness, you can enjoy it strictly on that level. It's not terrible science fiction either, although it intentionally goes for the absurd. But my suspicion is that, after you've seen the movie, if you think about everything that happened, you won't be laughing quite so hard.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Spiked Spiked Heels--Pt. 2, Completion

Having committed to a design, I printed out some equilateral triangle
graph paper (I used http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/ as a source)
then cut it into a sufficiently small rectangle, containing all the
dots I'd need for the spike pattern. I taped them to the vamp of the
shoes, and once I was happy with how the dots lined up vis-a-vis the
shoe, I used a pin to poke little holes in the surface of the shoe.
These were my guide holes. An awl was then used to make bigger holes,
which were widened with a Phillips-head screwdriver. (Next time I do
something like this, I'm using a leather punch--it'd make for cleaner
holes in less time and with less work.) I also made holes along the
back of the heel in half-inch increments.

Then it was just a matter of pushing the screws through the hole,
tightening the spikes upon the exposed screws, and then covering the
screw heads with moleskin so they don't dig into my feet.

The results speak for themselves. While my GF calls these "overkill" I
call these relatively understated and classy compared to a lot of
pumps festooned with spikes.

For now I'll forego any colorization, and I'm already looking into
possible patterns or vendors for spats and/or gaiters.

You gotta admit, these are HOT.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Spiked Spiked Heels--Pt. 1, The Planning

I like the idea of putting spikes on a pair of spiked heels. I dislike
most of the attempts to do so to date, which in my mind really overdo
it with the spikes. Plus, I'm a woman with large feet and a small
budget who refuses to wear a pair of heels that cause her feet to hurt
within minutes of putting them on. DIY it is, then!

First, to find a pair of heels that meet all my requirements: They
have to be comfortable, stylish, understated, inexpensive, and a
little wider than my normal shoe size. That seems like a tall order,
but I found a pair that work.

They need to be a little wider than normal because, rather than gluing
easily broken plastic spikes onto the shoe, I'm going old school and
using nickel screwback spikes. Then to protect my feet and stockings
from the screwbacks, I'll apply a layer of moleskin. Any slack in the
shoe should be taken up this way. Also, the moleskin should help keep
my feet in the shoes, as heels tend to slip off unless there's some
sort of strap or lacing.

On the vamp I plan on applying spikes in an elongated hexagonal
pattern, reminiscent of a jewel, with three longer spikes in the
middle surrounded by shorter spikes. I've taken pics of the design I
have in mind, taken while experimenting with designs. (I'm considering
a second version of this shoe, only with the spikes forming an
inverted pentagram, but that will come later.)

As these shoes have a seam along the heel, I plan on adding spikes to
run along the seam--two short spikes at the top and bottom, and two or
three long spikes in-between.

For now I'll probably wear these with my spiked boot chains--as my
burlesque bra and bustle will also have spikes and chains, it should
give a nice unified look that way. Eventually, though, I may get
spiked spats to wear over the shoes.

I may wind up using red spray-on tool grip--which is a liquid rubber
compound that dries to a durable coating--to add features, such as
coloring the stiletto heel and possibly adding some color to the toe.
I'm undecided on that route--but if I go that route, I will probably
eschew the spats. If I go with the spats, though, I could have them in
red for when I'm going with the red version of the outfit, and have
black spats for when I'm dressing in black. Decisions, decisions!

At any rate, I'm eager to hear your comments and suggestions!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Most Awesome Makeup Bag EVER

Because, as the burlesque MC known as the Dyke With The Spikes, this
is just how I roll.

Friday, June 01, 2012

The Wrongful Hearth of Identity

(With many belated thanks to Carl Sagan, whose poetic visions of scientific endeavor still sing to me in my dreams.)

We treat genitals as if they are extraordinary. Sometimes we approach them with religious awe; at other times, we shun them as if from them all evils flow. But what makes genitals so magic that we grant them such power?

The genitals, in essence, are an intricate complex of glands and organs--but there are other complexes of glands and organs far more intricate, like the brain or the gastrointestinal tract. The genitals create hormones necessary to the regulation of life and growth in animals, with profound impact on moods--but so do the hypothalamus and thyroid glands, among others. The genitals include specialized glands for producing fluid--but the liver and pancreas do likewise. The gentials produce specialized cells capable of independent, albeit short-lived, existence outside of their origins, and can be frozen, thawed out, and returned to its original purpose--but bone marrow does this as well, and in even greater quantities. The genitals rest, by happy accident, at a dense juncture of nerves, bringing possibilities of pleasure through manipulation--but so does the neck and shoulders, which also respond happily to caresses and nibbles.

But we humans add one more characteristic to genitalia that do not exist, as far as we know, in any other species. We assign them meaning--specifically, social meaning. While we generally don't see genitalia aside our own with great regularity, we imbue the genitals, and the effects that come from them, with great significance in our everyday lives. To them we attribute identities, roles, and dogmas that do not take into account any other capacity of the person. We mold our expectations based on our assumptions of what's between our legs. And we expect others to meet those expectations, no matter how ill-suited.

We over-generalize when it comes to the genitals. For such a complexity of organs, we presume such simplicity in its variations, an either-or dichotomy that fails to acknowlege that complexity by its nature bears forth variability. Our dogmas prevent us from recognizing, as we do with other organs, that each person has a different stasis--that what is ideal for one person may not work so well for others. Our tasks, then, if we are seeking truth, is to embrace the variations that rigidity of thought insists isn't there--but which scientific endeavor tells us are there all the same. Just as our souls were once falsely enshrined in the heart, so our identities' hearth kept without reason in the genitalia.

If we are to be free, we must begin to challenge the ancient notions of only two sexes, two genders, created directly by the hands of God. We must allow for a multiplicity of genders, unmoored from unquestioned assumptions. We must embrace facts of existence that religious leaders have previously considered heresy or blasphemy: Your genitals do not make you who you are. The only organ that can do that is in your head. In that organ, the brain, lies everything that gives people their personality, their sociability, the meaning of symbols, and the ability to deduce facts from unambiguous evidence. And here also lies the very notions of sex and gender which we must put to the test, and if found wanting, discard for better notions that conform to facts. Our brains is where our sense of self and identity lie--and where we must challenge dogmas contrary to that sense. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Other Problem With the Term "War Against Women"

I'm deeply opposed to the GOP dragging this country back 60 years as if things really were better when the only people who could get ahead in society were able straight white cisgender men of means.

But "war against women"? I have a few problems with that term, in case it wasn't already abundantly clear.

But this time around I'd like to focus on the use of the word "war" here. I can't help but think it is dangerous that we'd frame this dissolution of liberties as a war.

Let's look at other "war against" phrases: The war against terror. The war against drugs. The war against pornography. The war against poverty. The war against alcohol.

There is no doubt that these so-called wars were declared by politicians with a sincere if misplaced concern about real social issues. But there should also be no doubt that when you call efforts to improve social issues a war, you make people defensive, and they start looking for enemies. It's rather hard to build common ground when stuck in an us-versus-them mentality. Unfortunately, that mentality appears to be ancient. Fortunately, it also appears to be flexible if we allow ourselves that flexibility.

What we should be doing is ridiculing anyone who thinks that holding back well over 50% of the population--cisgender women, transgender women, trans men, genderqueers, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, people of color, people of disability, the impoverished, and those deprived of education--is anything other than a pathetic attempt to cover up their goddamn insecurities. In the long term everyone benefits when everyone can benefit.

That's not a war. That's common sense.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Norwescon 35

I didn't take a lot of Norwescon pics, but I did take some I really liked. Oh, and there's one someone else took of me that I guess is OK. ;)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Podcasting Setup

I know some people have been curious about how I record Hymns to the Dead Goddess. I'm still fine-tuning my setup, so there's room for improvement here, and I'm sure my comments will mainly be of interest to audio recording geeks. Nonetheless, here is the setup I use....

I use a CAD u37 USB condenser microphone. It's not the world's best microphone but it's solid and works just fine for my needs. If you noticed the reddish gunk around the power LED--that's nail polish. I was trying to mask the LED a bit so that, if I left it on at night, the light wouldn't keep the whole room needlessly lit. Even with a couple coats of polish, the LED light is so bright that it cuts through the polish. Overkill, mayhaps?

I've used coat-hanger-and-pantyhose windscreens before, and they work fine, but for this setup I wanted something a bit more permanent, with a relatively easy way to replace the screen should it get ruined. You may notice there are already runs in the screen. If I were doing this over again and had an even more limited budget, I probably would have found a small, lightweight crochet hoop and used that instead. But the cost of the windscreen was worth it for the gooseneck and stand clamp, which helps greatly.

I could have used a desktop mic stand, but I like to be able to move my microphone around as needed, so I use an instrument mic stand. Because the base is a bit narrow, I have an A-clamp holding it to my desk for extra stability. It's nice to be able to raise the microphone out of the way when I'm done recording, or adjust the microphone position when I am.

The grey pad behind the microphone is acoustic foam, which helps to reduce room echo. It helps to make my voice sound a little warmer because there's less high-pitch reflections bouncing back. It's designed to be adhesively mounted to a wall, but I don't have a convenient wall for it, and besides I'd like to be able to reposition the foam as needed. So it's free-standing, propped up with--yes, I know--a green plastic folding table. VERY high-tech and professional, I know.... Hey, it works.

I've stuck with iTunes, despite my misgivings with Apple in the past several years, because it provides a Grouping tag that lets me flag which bands have women as members. As you can imagine, that's very helpful for my podcast! I also use iTunes to determine the playlist order using a very simple formula: Start with a strong, aggressive song, slowly transition to any slower or more delicate music, and end with an epic finish if possible. I then pay attention to the last 30 seconds of each song and how it transitions to the initial 30 seconds of the following song, just to make sure there's no jarring segues, and tweak as necessary.

When using my mic I record using Wavosaur, simply because it's lightweight, supports VST, and can adjust pitch without resampling, which can make things sound a bit jerky. (Confession: I adjust the pitch of my voice 50 cents, or half a semi-tone, partially to trim a few seconds off the introduction and partially to boost the treble in my voice slightly. It's a very subtle change, but I like the effect.) I also use the CompEQ-V VST plugin, which helps me adjust the voice's sibilance, levels, and timbre. I only started using this plugin recently, but the end effect is that Ss are less harsh, the volume of my voice is more consistent, and any flatness that comes from using the acoustic foam is reduced. In short, it makes me sound a bit more professional.

Any adjustments to the audio files--songs, spoken word, etc.--are done in Music Editor Free, which I favor over Audacity because of the user interface. I also do any mixing here, as well as compiling all the audio into one large file. A drawback to Music Editor Free is that it seems to apply joint stereo when saving MP3 files, even when you told it *not* to do so. I hope this gets fixed, because while joint stereo is great for compression, it's lousy for fidelity, especially if you're trying to preserve panning from the left channel to the right, or vice-versa. In the meantime, I save the end result as a WAV file, and then use VLC (not shown) to convert the WAV to the final MP3 file that I upload.

Through it all I save everything I do in the highest possible quality WAVs possible, and only at the end compress to 128 kbps MP3 for the sake of bandwidth. This reduces artifacts that might come up in the process. I also use LAME to create the MP3 files, since LAME is optimized for music, whereas the default MP3 format uses the proprietary Fraunhofer algorithm that is great for spoken word but lousy for music.

I hope you audio tech geeks are satisfied. Maybe now I can concentrate on actually, you know, making the podcast.... ;)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

How Many Boots Do I Own?

553497660

Some claim I have a fuckton of boots. This is demonstrably false.

This box can hold 0.25 metric fucktonnes, and yet with nearly all my boots inside, there is still room for my wellies, which I will keep in my closet for now.

Even with conversion factors, that is still less than one of your stinking imperialistic fucktons. So there, neener.

And some dare say I have too many boots...! HA! AS IFŠ

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Question of Womanhood and Uteri

(TRIGGER WARNING--discussions of transphobia, violence, and sexual assault)

Serious question time: Why do oh so many of you presume that "woman" = "uterus"?

I know, I know, I've brought this up again and again--here on this blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, in private conversations. But it is my obligation to keep saying it, for reasons that should be clear, if not already, then by the end of this post.

I have a lot of friends who swear they would never, ever, in a thousand years, blindly accept what they're told by their parents, or their schools, or the TV, or even their friends. But on this matter, they won't admit that they've already done so. They'll simply state, "Because it IS." They'll accept, without reflection, everyone else's word on the gender of a body part.

We wouldn't gender a foot, a lung, or a kidney. It'd be absurd to do so. But when it comes to the so-called "reproductive organs"--which are used for a lot more than reproduction, and in many cases never used for reproduction anyhow--we're eager to make an exception.

Never mind that there are women without uteri. Never mind that there are people with uteri who aren't women.

Ah, but sex and gender are different things, right? Don't we have a loophole here? After all, you may reason, you may have a trans friend who once told you glibly that sex is about your body but gender is about your identity. At one confused point in my life, I might've been that trans friend, trying to be helpful by claiming gender and sex weren't the same thing.

But no. HELL no. 

When I said sex and gender were different, I was terribly wrong. As Asher Bauer once pointed out, the terms we use for sex organs are as much socially constructed as the terms we use for gender. So all you're really doing by insisting that there's a difference between sex and gender is moving the goal posts. And doing so lets you get away with murder--literally.

The cruelty of this artificial dichotomy between sex and gender leads to so-called "trans panic" defenses where a cisgender person says they were deceived by a trans woman who didn't say who she "really" was. It leads to trans women being told that, because they weren't "born women," they won't be allowed into women's homeless shelters--and, since there are few gender-neutral shelters, they will likely have to choose between the risk of being assaulted in a men's shelter or freezing to death on wintry streets. It leads to hospitals refusing to help dangerously ill trans folk of all genders because the doctors and nurses are too fixated on what genders belong to which organs. It leads to assaults on people--not just trans folk--because someone thought someone else was in the "wrong" bathroom. In short, saying sex and gender are different things enables violent transphobia.

Do you get it yet? Nearly all of us--me, likely you, certainly our parents and our schools and the TV and our friends--have enabled transphobia because we couldn't let go of this notion that certain body parts belong to certain genders of people. I'm culpable too. I'm guilty. Hence my obligation--my endless atonement, on behalf of all those impacted by transphobia far worse than what I've endured. Hence, too, my moral outrage: In light of how most of us have allowed this tragedy to continue, we insist on clinging to the concepts that abet the tragedy. 

Worse, in this society, we are prone to excuse the gendering of organs on the grounds of what others do, which is a morally reprehensible excuse in the first place. We, as a society, are quick to ignore the deadly effects of transphobia because we are quick to assign genders to behaviors. 

Witness how rape is discussed; we assume the rapist is a man, the victim is a woman. That's not always true in the first place. But the assumption gets extended to feminist discussions of trans women, where suddenly--despite the horrific rate at which we get raped, too--we are accused of "raping" women's bodies since we are "really" men and thus appropriators of women's experiences. It also gets extended to discussions of trans panic defenses--if we didn't make it abundantly clear enough that we were trans, our sexual partners aren't fully consenting to have sex with us, and thus were raped.

Instead of merely dealing with the typical blame-the-victim shaming that comes after rape, we trans women are also accused of being perpetrators. How's that for a catch-22?

And then--get this!--we're sometimes told that since we obviously "chose" to be trans, we have to accept the transphobic consequences. As if we'd choose this. As if we're somehow oblivious to how this society treats people like us. As if we are somehow morally bound to pay the price for the sacrosanct place society created for gender definitions.

When someone mentions the "War on Women," I want to agree that there is a cultural war on women--trans and cis alike--and that we should stand together, united against this threat to our lives. But then they start talking about specific body parts that I don't have and can't get, and it's clear from the discussion that they won't stand with me. It's also clear that they won't stand with trans men either, who may in fact have the exact same body parts and the exact same resulting health issues.

And here is the tragic irony: If I bring all this up, they want to know why I won't stand with them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

OMG CHIBI LILITH

794422299

As drawn by my friend and fellow SubGenius, Suds Pshaw.

TEH DORBZ! <3

Friday, March 09, 2012

Slottet i det Fjerne II

I thought I'd share what the castle looks like in daylight, with greenery about. Also, some close-ups of my avatar just for giggles.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

New Boots, Red Boots, Hot Boots

I may well have more boots than skirts. Now ask me if I'm bothered by that.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Slottet i det Fjerne

(With a tip o' the horns to Darkthrone)

I've been setting up a gothic castle in Second Life, surrounded by lovely snowy peaks. The perfect place to torture prisoners, host metal concerts--whatever strikes my fancy!

Oh, and I'm showing off my latest mesh hair, latex, and boots.... :)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Orange Monkey!

I was at my favorite Japanese/Korean restaurant, enjoying a bowl of bibimbap, when one of the sushi chefs said, "Excuse me, this is for you." And he gave me an orange he had hollowed out, fashioned into a monkey, and then refilled with juicy chunks of orange goodness.

I guess they really like me. <3

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

I Have an Idea For a 2012 Doomsday Movie

Synopsis: The Aztec Sun Stone, enraged at its continually being confused with the Mayan Long Count calendar, plots its revenge on ignorant New Agers and the exploiters who plunder Mesoamerican cultures for ill-gotten gain. But when popular culture gets into the act, not even Hollywood can withstand the wrath of the Sun Stone! Features cameos by Olmec stone heads as The Things That Drop On Crystal Skull Lickers.

The problem is that, if I really did shop that synopsis around, most of the possible producers would say, "I don't get it." The rest would make it into a slapstick comedy.

Not that this isn't funny, but it should be dark humor, because cultural appropriation sucks.

Maybe Robert Rodriguez would consider it. HMM....