Steampunk: When a subculture gets turned into profitable sex culture.

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  There is an unavoidable fact on the internet. If you can think it, chances are someones already making pornography of it. Let’s face it, that’s what happens when mass media gets its hands on any fad, hobby, or interest. People want to cash in on it.

Recently, while browsing on Facebook, I noticed a really talented Steampunk fashion designer advertising another page she has. I thought “Oh, awesome! More cool steampunk stuff.” and happily clicked the link she had provided. Now, to be fair, Kato has always been rather liberal with how she works the Steampunk fashions she advertises. I’ve never had a problem with that, because after all, Steampunk is supposed to be this audacious and fantastical idea of what a technologically advanced Victorian era would have been like. Chances are, had women had the advances in technology at that time that Steampunk imagines, they’d probably be these fiery and rebellious creatures that Steampunkers like to portray. Nothing wrong with it at all. I was, however, really surprised to find that this insanely talented person who had so many other skills before her, would choose to go nude for the entire world to have access to. It’s her prerogative. That much is true. I guess in a sexually liberated world, as we live in today, it’s perfectly reasonable that some women will choose to take the reins and do that themselves, instead of letting men dominate that industry. I guess the part that struck me most was just how unnecessary it all felt.

I also sort of felt like there was one more thing which had a bit of purity in it, and was loved for all these crazy and fun reasons, being turned into a sexual cash cow. I mean, really, taking the term Steampunk and liberally applying it to a bunch of pretty girls taking off their clothing… well, it’s not really about the subculture. It’s about the girls with their boobs and their exhibitionism. It’s another way to get famous on the internet. It’s another way to fit into yet another cliche. I guess I have to confess that that irks me. It’s like a girl holding a baseball bat and wearing a baseball helmet, calling herself a Major League player, all in the buff, for pay. Big woop. You just discounted everything else you’ve ever done that was ever worthwhile. I guess I just have little respect for women who have talent and skill in a unique profession like being a seamstress or jeweler but choose to overshadow their skill with their skin. Sure, you’re pretty. I’ll give you that. Some might say gorgeous. That’s fine too. At the end of the day, though, I still view it as selling out your abilities.

Does this mean I’m a prude? I don’t think so. I don’t see the value in turning yourself into a product, when you’ve got the skill to create tangible and interesting stuff that people want without you having to go nude for it. That’s my prerogative. Just as choosing to go naked is theirs. Just don’t label it as something it really isn’t. That’s where the offense comes in.

How do you guys feel about women making pornography using a subculture title to gain fame from it?

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Being the person who stands by.

 

High school. So much to be said and yet it’s all the same isn’t it? We all had our traumas from it and our best moments from it, and we all look forward to the day when we’re no longer mortified by that one super embarrassing event we went through. Funny thing is: No one else remembers our high school experience as acutely as we do. They had their own story, their own soundtrack, and their own cast and crew. Needless to say, high school was a Motherfucker. Yes. I said it. It was an asshole. I left at 16 with the thought that I’d never ever want to go back. I’m still content with the course I chose. I tested out early, went to college early.

As I get older, though, I do look back sometimes and am in awe of how many life lessons I learned throughout my time there. We all hear about these bullying horror stories and a lot of us raise our hands and take the “I would NOT let that happen in front of me” stance. Sadly, that’s where it usually ends.

I had a lot of anger during my teen years. Oh god, the internal angst of a teen who did whatever she wanted! ARGH! I was actually really lucky in some ways (even if not in others, as previous posts can show). My parents knew that at the core I was a good kid so if I wanted to hang out until late, I got to. If I went to a friends house, they weren’t always nagging me. They knew I’d make logical choices based on the things I’d observed as consequences to friends and relatives who made BAD choices. That didn’t make me immune to the typical “I’m so misunderstood” phase of the teens. Sometimes, I wish I’d stepped out of my self-righteous rebellion and looked at the bigger picture.

See, I was not at all popular in High School. I had friends call me a social butterfly, but ask any of my previous schoolmates who I am, and they’d try to find me in the yearbook only to find “Picture Not Available.” because I skipped that day. Sue me, I hated yearbooks. Anyway, even without being popular, I wasn’t bothered much in my first high school. Until I started standing up for people who couldn’t stand up for themselves. I don’t regret it, but I wonder if I should have handled it differently.

Whenever I hear a bullying story, I’m reminded of three different specific occasions in which the bullying at my first high school went to an extreme. The first time was the most heartwrenching for me. The next few weren’t as angering but they were still quite bad.

The very first time I witnessed bullying, I had just left my Art class and was headed towards my English class. Our school was separated by buildings and there were these sidewalk pathways leading to the doors of each one, with a sort of metal awning at the top. I had just gotten into the building where my English class was and walked in, when I saw these jocks, and I mean these BIG hulking guys, taunting a guy in a wheelchair. The guy in the wheelchair looked familiar, but since I usually hung out with the grunge and goth crowds, I didn’t know him by name. It did catch my attention that they were taking away his schoolbooks and backpack. It caught my attention that they were taunting a guy with no legs. A nice guy, by all appearances and few interactions with him. What happened next still makes me cry. They flipped his chair forward and threw it aside. In a panic to get away from them, this guy dragged himself by his hands out towards that rough sidewalk right outside, while someone laughing held the door open for him. The sidewalk scraped what was left of his legs and the entirety of his hands and arms, I later found out. The thing that to this day frustrates me, is that I let my rage take over. I was only like 5’2″ at the time and wasn’t fit, but when my anger took over, it raged out of control, and all I remember is repeatedly punching and clawing at some of these guys. I broke one of their noses. I only saw blood and kept wanting to hit him more. I wanted him to feel like everyone who had ever been hurt felt. Victimized. To this day, I wish I’d chosen to grab the wheelchair, find the hurt guy, and help HIM. I wish I had bothered to find out his name and be his friend instead of pummeling his enemies. Why? Because those jackasses, those assholes, wouldn’t remember any “lesson” I thought I was teaching them, but this guy might have remembered the kindness, and may have had just a little easier time in high school if I’d been wise enough to be a friend instead of a vigilante with a chip on her shoulder. The thing I regret most, is never finding out his name, never talking to him (because I didn’t see him again), and never extending a hand.

The second time, this sweet girl who I was sort of friends with was sobbing and came to me to tell me that the guy she had been dating told everyone he had slept with her and that she had an STD (which he hadn’t and she didn’t) to get back at her for not putting out. A ton of guys and even some girls were really laying into her, verbally abusing her, humiliating her. What made it worse was that she was this super quiet girl who never messed with anyone, and the people who were supposedly her friends weren’t even comforting her or sticking up for her. So I found the guy. He happened to be by a locker near mine. I asked him his side of the story and when he laughed and said she deserved it, I threw him against the locker and held him against it and made him confess the truth. Probably not so bad, until he told me that he’d do it again, in which case… well, I had a pair of jeans that I called my nosebleed jeans for a reason. I used to introduce my knee to peoples faces if they weren’t exactly kind. It’d be almost funny to joke that I was on a first name basis with some of my teachers and the principal of the school, except that it’s true, and it wasn’t as fun as it sounds. If it hadn’t of been for most of my grades, I probably would have been gone from the school long before that. Either way, the only thing that I really regret about that situation is that instead of helping her figure out how to stand up for herself in a way that worked for her and helped her take control of her own life, I took matters into my own hands and instead solved a temporary problem instead of helping her gain permanent strength.

As for the third time… well, I had a guy friend who was extremely effeminate and was always getting teased by the hicks in our school for being gay. He was this fluffy lovable guy who was way taller than me and was kinda chubby, but healthy for the most part and really kind at heart. On this day, I had the awesome idea to wear a really elaborate black dress, and went full on goth mode. It was great. I felt right in my own skin. These guys decided to shove my friend around a bit in front of me, calling him every unimaginative gay slur you can imagine. It was actually kind of pathetic considering our really great English program at that school. So I intervened, because my buddy was a more gentle and patient person than I was. Problem is, fighting anyone while wearing a dress is really messy, in spite of what they show you on tv. They slammed me against a vending machine and upon seeing a temporary tattoo I had above my breast area and near my shoulder, they decided to rip my top. Yep, right in the middle of the lunch area, they ripped my top and of course, most of my guy friends from English as a Second Language (which I had been in for 8th grade and 9th due to some messed up bigotry on behalf of our wonderful educators) got really mad and started over, which led to the hicks backing down, but not before making it clear they wouldn’t forget my “bravery”. That was when I learned that at times, throwing a fist is not as beneficial as using your wit. Had I not thrown a punch, and instead used some sarcasm, confused them a little bit, maybe made them feel a little dumb, they wouldn’t have ripped my top, hit me back, or later on caused problems for my Hispanic schoolmates (although that last one may have happened anyway. We will never know.). Point is, there’s always a bigger picture and a different alternative. There’s also a lot of different consequences.

While I know I’ve mentioned a lot of things I regret about how I handled those situations, I can certainly say one thing that I am never going to regret. I don’t regret that I stepped in. I don’t regret that I had good intentions. I don’t regret that I didn’t stay silent while someone else got hurt. I know a lot of people who regret standing by, though. I know many who still beat themselves up for not stepping up and helping someone who was on the verge of breaking. Those people who regret those things, sometimes can’t go back to say they’re sorry. Not even if they tried. Sometimes, when we don’t step in, the people getting hurt will do anything to stop that hurt, and that anything might just be the worst permanent thing you could never hope for.

In the end, consider your options, but most importantly, always ask yourself “What outcome can I live with for the rest of my life?” and base your choice on that. Can you really live, knowing you may have turned a blind eye to someone at the end of their rope?

I couldn’t.

Nerding out when I’m sick is the best comfort I can have.

I am not a very graceful sick person. I mean, I don’t throw temper tantrums or anything like that, but I do get all frumpy and kind of bask in having to stay in bed or at least out of the prying eyes of neighbors and townfolk.  I get bored easily though. I’m used to keeping myself occupied while I’m sick, so to not have the freedom to do whatever I want to do when I am, is frustrating to say the least. I have found my sick-niche though.

I love watching animes and K-dramas when I’m feeling all sorts of icky and gross. As long as I’ve got some meds in me, a pot of tea, and animu, I’m generally a happy camper. I watched all of the Sailor Moon series when I was sick once. All of it back to back, and then went to school and work. Because in my more youthful days, I could do that without feeling the repercussions of it. Now, though, it’s not as hectic and so I take the time to rest up.

I do have a few things I like to do to keep myself from going batshit crazy when I’m sick.

 

1. Watch anime: Nana, Paradise Kiss, basically anything Ai Yazawa has created will put me in a happy mood when I’m feeling my worst. I do watch others, like Noein, and a lot of indepth animes about human nature, etc. I like things that have conflict/resolutions and ample storylines to keep me wanting to know more.

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2. A huge pot of David’s Tea ‘Organic Cold 911‘ tea, which has a bunch of really great smelling and great tasting herbs that help soothe me during a bad cold.

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3. Play non-combat video games. Okay, to some, this may not make sense, but I prefer video games where I go at my own pace, when I’m sick. I like MMO’s just fine, but I encounter a problem where I don’t have the energy to predict what someone elses move, screw ups, or gripe is going to be. Also, when I’m sick, I have very little patience for gamer drama, and end up logging off and possibly not coming back for weeks or months. To avoid all that, I prefer to play games like Recettear or Tropico when I feel sick. Sometimes, I throw in some Sims 3 because I might need to do something a little different. But ultimately, my being sick = me time.

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There are a few more things, but they’re pretty obvious. In case they aren’t, here it goes: Never underestimate the power of a nice hot bath or shower. It can be revitalizing.  Warm soup with lots of nutrients can give you enough energy to face the day if you don’t have the option to miss out on work or something important. Hydrate. Hydrate a lot. Drink so much water that you feel like a fish. Just don’t drink like 15 glasses in under an hour. It’s called being healthy, not neurotic.

  And with that, I must conclude my post because my tea is getting cold and I think I hear Tropico calling my name.

 

Time can change anything.

10-15 years ago, if you’d asked me where I’d be on my 29th birthday, I probably would have replied in one of two ways. I would either look cast down and my eyes would water. I would have changed the subject. The other option was to respond in a false joking tone and say, “Oh, I won’t be around. I’m going to be dead before I’m that age. Promise.”

It would be easy to assume that it was just that I didn’t want to get anywhere near 30 years old, to grow older. That wasn’t the case. There was nothing more inviting than an age where I could seek my own stability. In reality, I actually did believe I’d be dead before I ever reached 29. I remember writing in my journals that I felt like no matter what happened, I’d still die before that. It was this conscious decision I had made in order to push forward long enough to, I guess, “pay my dues”.

Frida Kahlo once said “I tried to drown my sorrows but the bastards learned how to swim.” and in many ways, I did the same. I was reckless with myself and would risk a lot because I didn’t think it mattered. I didn’t think time mattered because I had decided that mine would be limited here anyway.

As life goes on, though, many things change our paths and lead us to where we’re really meant to be. Some people do make terrible decisions, some do finish themselves off before they’ve even had the chance to love, laugh, and live, and some just die tragically young. Then there are others, like me, who no matter what we tried to accomplish a task we had set so determinedly, somehow get bumped through the murky waters of life, only to end up on the other side with a lot of doubts, guilt, worries, but a new gratitude for what they’ve got.

I’m not saying that I don’t have my bad days, where I start to fade off into that dark hole again. Instead I am saying that when I head into the dark hole, I try to remember to bring a flashlight. There are some experiences that can work like that. They become a beacon of hope for people who are exhausted from the fight that they put up just to try and stay alive long enough for the next experience, taking it one day at a time.

It’s my 29th birthday. I’m not dead and I’m not expecting to be or looking towards it. Instead, I’m looking right in front of me and seeing what’s really there.

  A chance to make life fun, interesting, and sure, even a little complicated, but worth it. Life is worth it. 

 Mazel tov!

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The Imposition of Language in MMO’S.

 

 

We’ve all been there. Hanging out, doing a raid or dungeon, and being forced to listen to that one guy who can’t stop saying “I raped that shit.” or some equivalent. I’ve been the girl who gets peeved by that terminology. I’ve been the girl watching another girl ragequit because that guy won’t stop using it. I’ve also been the girl who raises an eyebrow a little when another girl feeds into that mentality for the sake of internet popularity points. Even with all of these situations, I don’t think I ever stopped to seriously think about them or my position within them.  Until recently, that is.

A few days ago, I was listening to a rather serious discussion on how communication has become very stunted due to political correctness. I was nodding my head and agreeing with a lot of valid points about desensitized people and overly sensitive people, with very little middle ground being brought forth by either party. After a while, my mind began to wander back, kind of like an instant replay of my own behaviour and behaviours I’ve witnessed in other people while playing games, and how they could have been more pleasant experiences were it not for the types of comments being made and the reactions that followed them.

Do I think the term rape should ever be used loosely for the sake of describing an enjoyable asskicking of an opponent? No, not really. To be fair, a genuine rape victim was never and never will be an opponent. We’re not people to be conquered. So do I think another term would be suitable in a video game? Yes. I do. But do I have the right to dictate how another person expresses themselves? No. I hate to say that because it sounds like I’m conceding to the many blank faces on the internet that it’s okay to make light of the topic. That’s not the case at all though. I’m conceding that I can’t impede on their personal expressive freedom, such as I would hope that they would not impede upon mine. Let’s face it. If I tell them not to use that term, then aren’t they within their equal right to tell me to not openly discuss abuse and how to prevent it? Bingo.

If we want equality, we have to treat people as equals. Even if they express themselves in ways we wouldn’t like them to. That’s the nitty gritty. It’s reality. It’s idealistic, but it’s the reality of what equality suggests.

I did stop playing World of Warcraft because of that mentality, amongst many other reasons. It became less entertaining to play when guys were either hitting on the girls in the group (and to be fair, when the girls who wanted free crap baited them on) and when I kept hearing “I’m going to fucking rape you.” while dueling. Or worse yet, in general chat, when someone would get ragingly angry at another player for “ninjaing” their stuff. Sure, it’s usually a bunch of 12 year olds who don’t really realize the implications of what they’re saying, and a lot of the time by really idiotic individuals who can’t figure out how to express their frustration without relying on probably one of the most played out sayings on the internet. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s within their prerogative to use that language.

Does it mean I’ll be going back, creating my Pandaren character, and skipping my way down to whatever allegiance I choose? No, hahaha, no. I mean I loved the experiences gained on WoW. I even met my husband through there. But the recent changes make it a little unappealing to me. Plus, I played for a long time. I’ve done all the quests of the old expansions over and over again. Basically, I’ve moved on to different things. Still, I game. Just elsewhere.

It might be beneficial to take a step back and look at the restrictions we put on eachother, as well as the very uncomfortable boundary crossing we do, on the internet. As a matter of courtesy to one another. Ladies who get hyper offended by that term, if a guy says it once out of the blue moon in a casual way, don’t get ragingly peeved and make him feel like a horrible human being. Guys who overuse the term, consider toning it down a little. If anything, for the simple sake of maintaining the harmony in your groups and guilds.

 

 On a much lighter note, I ask you this. Should stealing stuff in a raid or dungeon really be called being a ninja? That’d be better suited for asskicking in stealth, amiright? Wouldn’t “being a pirate?” be more suited for when people steal things? Just a thought. 😀

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Down the rabbit hole we go!

There are some amazing games out there right now and some really interesting ones that will be popping out of their creative nests soon. I’m particularly eager to try a new one called Contrast since it features so many things I love.

First off, the animation is a key factor in my decision to play any game. I pick games based on their ability to transport me to another place and time. If something is pitched as steampunk, for example, but just looks like a cheesy replica of WoW but without any of the same perks, I tend to walk away pretty quickly. This game has none of that ripped-off quality that some game designers trying to make it big try to “subtley” put into their games as an effort to appeal to a specific group. Instead, it rears it’s very unique head and says “What’s up? I’m gorgeous. Come play with me.” and for once, I’ll be taking someone up on their offer to do just that.

Secondly the gaming style is important. I actually haven’t watched any gameplay and have chosen to wait to play it myself. Sometimes when I watch other people play a game, even a demo, I lose enthusiasm for it. Probably because everyone has a different playing style and makes different choices while playing a game. So since this game is so appealing to me, I’m not going to have someone elses gaming style turn me off of playing it.

Finally, music does factor in. If the game is set in a certain period, and the music chosen doesn’t suit that period (it doesn’t have to be OF that period. I mean look at The Great Gatsby film. Awesome music designed to travel through time and still suit the films needs.), then the game becomes a bit tedious for me. It’s probably due to my OCD but I do like things to suit eachother.

This game seems to hit most of my criteria right on the head, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see before I can say I love it. I can say, though, that I really really wanna try it!

Music is my coffee. I’m addicted to the beat.

To start off this post, I have to share something with you all.

It’s a really awesome fact that I will listen to almost anything as long as it’s not misogynistic or hate-ridden. I may not like everything I hear, but I give it a shot, and usually most stuff sticks. I like indie music. I like some pop music. I love love love industrial and various other subculture music. I fell hard into affection with The Cure, The Pixies, Annie Lennox, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and David Bowie at a very young age. Shoot, I even have really crazy dreams about encountering musicians I admire. In one of them, I was hanging out with the Golden Girls when David Bowie walks up to us with a goat wearing a shimmering rainbow coloured scarf and heart shaped sunglasses. We hung out. David sang for us, and Sophia told us awesome made up stories about Sicily.  If you think that’s a weird dream, I won’t even mention the really fun one I had about Daniel Day Lewis. Some things are just better left to the imagination.

Point is: I am a music fetishist. Okay, maybe fetishist gives the wrong idea but I do love music. When I was a kid I had a ton of ideas of what I wanted to do when I grew up. I considered bar tending, so I could gain worldly knowledge and understanding of other human beings (as well as great stories for my future novels). I thought about being a poet. The thing that stuck out most, though, was how music made me feel. In the midst of a lot of craziness, hearing great lyrics and a strong arrangement could push me forward. When it came time to pick a major in college, there was no hesitation. I was going to be a music promoter and agent. I had it all figured out. I was going to ignore the cliche bands that the generic masses listened to and I was going to push the amazing underground bands I came across. I’d heal the worlds music wound.

 I was so full of shit. That’s okay though. We all are at some point in our lives.

I think it’s kind of obvious that I didn’t become a music promoter and agent. I wanted to do it so badly that I entered into it naively. I didn’t realize how sexist the industry was just yet. I didn’t realize that even with a ton of women in the industry, it was still an old boys club. Nor that my own music business professor would be inclined to treat the girls in his class as jokes. Pity, too. He was rather cute since he was still rather young. It incredibly diminishes a mans sexiness to treat a woman like she’s incompetent. Such a turn off.  After spending a year chasing that dream and giving it my all, I realized it wasn’t right for me. I wanted it, but I didn’t want that agony of pushing myself and working my ass off only to get pushed over by a guy who thought he’d found a new secretary.

I should have fought for it.

Realistically, I’m happy that that venture didn’t pan out. I probably would have been happy enough with that career and lifestyle but I wouldn’t have met the people that followed that lifestyle change if I hadn’t walked away. That’s not to say that I think I was right to have given it up. I gave it up for all the wrong reasons.  I gave up because I thought that I would get tired of the fight. It’s probably true that I would have but I’d have been doing it for a good reason. I would have been helpful in changing the way the music industry perceives women, particularly those who work behind the scenes.

Lately, I find myself going “What the HELL is this crap?!” at a lot of music out there. I say worse stuff about certain music videos and the way some female singers are treated (and treat themselves) while in the public eye. During those moments I sometimes stop and feel like such a hypocrite. Who am I to get annoyed at what’s being put out there when I had a chance to change that and make it into something better? Then I think “Would it really have been better if I’d tried?”. I guess we will never know. But I did let myself down because I took the easy way out. I opted for something I knew I was good at and that wouldn’t be such a struggle. I love art and history. I’m psyched about it any time I encounter a new gallery or museum, or an artist with a unique eye. I just can’t help but see it as something that comes easily to me because I didn’t have to discover it. My love of those things have been with me for as long as I can remember. Just as my love for literature.

My love of music was a discovery though. Like a first love affair with someone who could bring you up when you were in your darkest pit. I let that lover go for all the wrong reasons and just as many people ask themselves about their first loves, I ask myself about my first passion. People mistake love with passion. On a lot of levels the two look and feel the same but where love is soft, subtle, and nurturing; passion is chaotic, scrambling, sometimes dirty, and often times explosive. My discovery of music was chaotic and explosive. Particularly when I found the music that connected with me and how I felt.

So while I may not be a music promoter and agent, I can definitely say I love to share music and I’m going to.

I figure the best way to do that is here. I’m including several genres of music and in various languages. Everything from anime songs to dark and broody songs.

Enjoy the sound wealth!

(Billie Holiday’s music is eternal. No doubt about it. You just can’t argue with the reminiscent value it has. If you can argue it, you’re wrong. Simple as that.)

(I like how tribal some of the arrangement in this song is. Using unique instruments and making it sound fluid and modern is such a great method in music.)

(This song breaks my heart. It’s about a gay man whose father rejects him, and due to it being the 80’s and unawareness, he dies of aids, suffering and alone.)

(Nana was one of the first serious style shoujo animes I ever watched and a lot of the music was kind of transcendental for me.)

(This remix would get me going in the morning when I had no choice but to drag myself through the muggy hot mornings in Miami.)

(I really love what they did with Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana. It feels like a perfect fit.)

(This stuff just makes me happy. It was used in the Novela “El Clon” which was (primarily) about forbidden love but had a very fascinating core story about what happens when human beings mess with the natural course of humanity. It touched on topics like human cloning and how it affects everyone involved, being and feeling lost, addiction, family, and destructive behaviour.)

(To be honest, K-on! is a lovable guilty pleasure of mine. I like to hop between happy and serious animes. The spectrum for anime is so vast that the music is really fascinating in how it captures the spirit of each anime. Especially when it’s done well.)

 

There is so much more that I could and would share in this post but it’s already so many videos that I’ll have to save more for later.  Happy to share though!