Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Squee: Tea

The Sunday Squee is when I can talk about things that make me happy and excited. The main focus will be on different things people created, from books to movies to television shows to podcasts, and my effort will be to highlight less commonly known things as a way to share what I love. If you want to join in the Sunday Squee, please link back to me so I can enjoy what you love!

Single Frame Stories: Pot

One of the funny things about Sunday Squee is that it's as much a promise to myself as anything else - a desire to find something positive enough to write about every week.

This has been a very hard week to be Squeeful.

And so I retreat to a longstanding favorite - warm tea served with proper milk and sugar in the appropriate containers. My set at home is silver - a  family heirloom - but these cephalopods ones are from a gacha tea set from Schadenfreude. I love their wriggly bits, and I'm still sad I didn't manage to get the entire set. They're best with little pastries on the side, flaky and warm with perhaps a cream and lemon filling. The whole ritual of tea making, from warming the cup, to steeping the tea, to pouring out over a little filter, to the slow sips as one stares into space letting the flavor of the tea sooth every sore edge.

I love a wide number of teas, from the oolong which won my heart, to the white teas whose delicate flavor inspires daydreams, to blooming teas which create art in glass and water.

Join me in a cup?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Whatever I Fear

Whatever I fear the most is whatever I see before me
Whenever I let my guard down, whatever I was ignoring
Whatever I fear the most is whatever I see before me
Whatever I have been given, whatever I have been


Did we expect these things to change
By waking up and suddenly there they are
And all I need's a starting place
And nothing ever seemed so hard...

Monday, May 25, 2015

How do we Tolerate Intolerance

A Slow Start

The 2015 Eurovision Song Contest is a bright and frothy reflection of very dark things. I didn't want to get into it in my Sunday Squee because it is decidedly unSqueeful, but the Eurovision attempt to sing away war happened while a war was going on. Over a year ago, in February 2014, Russian forces invaded Ukraine in the wake of Ukraine trying to formalize stronger ties with Europe, and they've continued to advance their military despite sanctions from a West which has been unwilling to offer up direct military aid. Conflict News, a source which attempts to use citizen reporting about what they observe as a way to get more information about conflicts in areas where journalists are unsafe, has a running line of information about the ongoing conflict on their Ukrainian feed, including an animated gif which gives a sense of the war's size and progression. It is notable that Ukraine had withdrawn from the Eurovision Song Contest citing their unstable political and financial position while Russia remained in the contest, and scored second with a charming song I would have loved if not for the political backdrop.

In addition to Russia showing their intolerance of Ukraine's independence through war, Russia has also spent the last several years spreading prejudice about some of their citizens and codifying the abuse of these same citizens into law in 2013.  There are a lot of ways to interpret this in the face of a West which is becoming increasingly liberal about homosexual people, and to a lesser extent trans* gender people, it came briefly to the attention of a national stage during the 2014 Olympic Games in Moscow but was overshadowed by the attack on Ukraine in 2014. Vladimir Putin defended Russian law as being put in place to encourage population growth in Russia and even contextualized responses to Russia's codification of discrimination of law as foreign propaganda (source). Lithuania pointedly had two same-sex kisses as a highlight of their song This Time, a narrative choice which would have been strengthened by keeping that lineup the whole time instead of prefacing and following it with the expected heterosexual couples. The moment - and the cheers of the crowd - seemed extremely pointed, however, given Russia's contemporary treatment of gays and lesbians.

Image Description: Closeup of a woman holding a microphone and singing with her eyes closed.

And it is into this context that the points scoring section occurred, where the crowd booed when Russia received points - and it happened a lot, since the Russian song and singer were very good. The hosts of the show emphasized several times that “music should stand over politics tonight”, and last year's winner Conchita Wurst, who had been condemned by the Russian Orthodox Church, was seen comforting singer Polina Gagarina who had supported Wurst despite Russian condemnation in the wake of Wurst's 2014 win. Against this backdrop, in the context of individual people making connections while larger countries shift in focus, the question of how we respond to intolerance becomes even more important. It is notable that Gagarina was condemned along with Wurst within Russia and yet was still chosen to represent Russia. Whenever one is talking about a country there is a mix of people with directly opposing beliefs, and all too often a minority of the population can use violence or bureaucracy to monopolize the representation of the country. It's also important to keep in mind that we can use discrimination in other places as a way to draw attention from the local discrimination we condone, offering up a mirage of effortless moral superiority. Where I live in the US the legal discrimination has lessened, but there are still horrible and cruel things done to lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, as well as the broader spectrum of people with variable gender identities.

Discrimination is an act of individuals, but it is also an act of a collective, and so neither individual nor collective response is sufficient. I think that is why these moments can be so fraught, as thousands of people mistook Gagarina for Russia and booed, as other people defended Gagarina hoping the larger context would ally them with the accepting and not the intolerant. To object to something is an act of discrimination, and act of intolerance, and so often that simple fact is used as a weapon against people who object to anything - including intolerance. We don't live in a fairy tale world where the character of the king is reflected in his country, but we do live in a world where the many often go along with the few, and where objecting to the public face of a presumed majority is discouraged. We also live in a world where feelings may be mixed. Even knowing that Gagarina supported Wurst despite the words of prominent people in the country she is representing, I found that the very act of her representing Russia was an emotional challenge for me. I didn't want to like her or her performance - they were very good nonetheless - and despite their inaccuracy in the specific moment, I found the audiences' refusal to let Russia's actions against other countries and it's own citizens go unrecognized.

Image Description: Rear view of a woman in a pink dress with both hands up in the air; a microphone is in one hand.

Emotionally, I would have preferred if one of the bridges built was to Ukraine, even though Ukraine could not be present. Mentioning them, honoring them, would have done a lot to rebalance things in my opinion. Instead, the unmarked absence of Ukraine and the presence of the country which caused their absence felt like cheering on the bully while ignoring the person he put in the hospital - I found it intolerable. Clearly, the powers that be behind Eurovision felt differently - and given the reactions of the women who were the face of Eurovision this year, it felt like one which was congruent for them even while it was intolerable for me. The call to "Build Bridges" while people were being killed seemed painfully tone deaf despite the sheer joy I found in Eurovision. I think that particular flavor of tolerating intolerance by pretending it did not affect any of the people involved - in this case by trying to filter out the booing which was used by residents of the local area to register their dislike for Russia in the face of it's intolerance and aggression - was unreasonable.

I don't know how things would have gone differently if the Eurovision staff had created something recognizing Ukraine as a sibling nation and marking their absence, but I would imagine that it would have added to the individual acts by other countries, like Lithuania, which attempted to mark the intolerance they disliked by displaying a type of public approval of same-sex relationships, or like France and Hungary did with their songs decrying war. The presence of Wurst was an explicit condemnation of Russia as well, but I wish both Wurst and Gagarina had respected the voices that disagreed with the inclusion of Russia in the larger context. Gagarina's song was "A Million Voices," and I am sure her intentions and her desires for peace and healing are sincere, but I think calling for peace and healing while people are dying in their own countries and that isn't being recognized by the people calling for peace and healing is, again, unreasonable.

Image Description: Angry looking woman in a pink dress singing into a microphone on a stage.

A Million Voices should include the people currently being victimized, the people currently being attacked, the people having their children taken away, the people losing their jobs. It should include a country that was attacked and whose resources were drained so they couldn't attend. The Bridge to them shouldn't vanish, while the Bridge to their attacker is maintained, or this isn't true peace, this isn't true healing - it is a call for solidarity on the backs of the dying and dead, and that's no solidarity at all.

Context matters.

The Hermit

Image Description: The front of a large building with stairs going up to it; a woman in a purple dress is bottom left, with an open window top right.

The enormous building smelled faintly of mothballs and moonlight. Arabella approached in a rustle of skirts, bare feet clinging to marble all the way up the steps. The rugs inside were only marginally warmer, misty air singing into velvet pile and drifting absently along the edges of the great hall and slipping through half open doorways. Moisture made her skirts, tumbling over themselves in violent escape, seem heavier with every step and the scent of dust rose from flat surfaces and the pitted surface of paintings. Everything that could shine did, layers of lacquer catching the light in liquid shades of red and gold. In some moments, it was only the brush of silk against velvet which reassured her that there was surface she could rely on. Her eyes were dazzled by sparkles, confused by sumptuousness; only her toes, pressed into the floor they depended on, remained secure.

Image Description: A woman in a purple dress with a worried expression looks back over her shoulder. The rest of the picture shows a long hallways with doors and pictures along the sides and a door at the end.

Carpet gave way to stone again; Arabella's toes began to ache with the chill, but there were advantages to her noiseless journey through halls built for crowd. Mists swirled in her wake, following like a train as she moved from hall to room to hall again, meeting no other living impediments. That she had been sent for, she knew. That there seemed to be no one to have sent for her seemed impossible, but increasingly likely. The lack of and audience seemed like an offense all of its own, having so long lived observed; what use was she if not to be seen? It was a question she would return to time and again in her circuit of the bare building, her feet bare over stone and velvet, reveling in the contrasting textures and growing strong with wear. In time, her voice remade the echoing hallways, her scent replaced mildew and ashes, and her self was revealed through the thousands of different choices she made unobserved. When she returned from her hermitage, few remembered her but she knew herself.

Image Description: Close up of a woman's face; she is looking down left with a wistful expression on her face.

Partially inspired by The Toast.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Squee: Eurovision Song Contest

The Sunday Squee is when I can talk about things that make me happy and excited. The main focus will be on different things people created, from books to movies to television shows to podcasts, and my effort will be to highlight less commonly known things as a way to share what I love. If you want to join in the Sunday Squee, please link back to me so I can enjoy what you love!

N'oubliez Pas by Lisa Angell representing France

I blame you all - yes even you! - for not telling me about this sooner.

Beauty Never Lies by Bojana Stamenov representing Serbia
(Content Notes: Strobe Lights)

I'm angry! I'm really angry! Well, yes, I can't stop smiling and I keep giggling at inopportune moments - but I'm angry, really! I could have known about this years ago, and yet I found out about it last night.

Adio by Knez representing Montenegro
(Content note: flashing lights)

You were all leaving me out.

Love Injected by Aminata representing Latvia
(Content Note: Strobe lights)

Eurovision is DELIGHTFUL. Yes, the all caps is necessary - you must feel what I am feeling! It is such a divine mix of the serious, the absurd, the portentous, and a pile of giggles. Everyone takes it so seriously - as they should! - without taking it seriously at all, and I am seriously in love.

I watched the whole thing on YouTube.

De La Capat / All Over Again by Voltaj representing Romania

For people new to it like I am, the Eurovision Song Contest is a giant party Europe throws so everyone can trash talk each other, enjoy each other, come together in rage and joy. It began in the wake of World War Two, in 1956, and welcomes not just Europe proper but a small cadre of surrounding countries. The first was held in Switzerland among seven ocuntries, each submitting two songs. The contest this year began with a total of 40 countries, winnowed down to 27 for the Grand Final. A whole ton of countries come together, make a video representing their country, and then sing a song. The songs are judged by panels from each country as well as the residents of each country in a 50/50 split.

Amanecer by Edurne representing Spain
(Content Note: Flashing Lights)

There are all kinds of subtleties I'm sure I'm missing. Tumblr assures me that shade, trash talk, and critique in the form of point refusal is rampant. The videos introducing each country seem pregnant with meaning, what is shown and what is not equally important. All I know is that wonderful people come out with fantastic stage performances and whatever quality they might be on any sort of scale, the sheer dedication and enthusiasm is infectious.

Wars For Nothing by Boggie representing Hungary

I'm putting the videos I enjoyed the most (it was so difficult to pick! I just kept adding!) in between these admittedly short paragraphs. I can't really say much more than they can show - but to my eternal bliss and glory there are years of these on the internet, free to watch. I will be bouncing and giggling for a very long time, and I have you to thank for it, Europe!

Warrior by Nina Sublatti representing Georgia 
(Content Note: Flashing Lights)

The winner this year was Sweden, with Heros.

Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw representing Sweden
(Content Note - strobe lights)

Sincerely, thank you! This has been a hard year. Your party makes it much more fun.

Eurovision Grand Final 2012 in Azerbaijan (Song List)
Eurovision Grand Final 2010 in Norway (Song List)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Divergent Purpose

Pulled In Three Directions

Sometimes intent and effect end up at cross purposes. You have a goal, an image you want to share, a mood you want to capture, and you take steps you think you are appropriate... and somehow the entire world ends up watermelon and not drama - appropriate, somehow, since Torley ran across me while I was taking these shots and took a few of her own.

Grief and Rage

Intent is never perfect, and effect often has repercussions beyond your imagining.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

21 Shoe: Ingenue

Ingenue: 21 Shoe

Ingenue is breaking out the teal and tangerine this month, available for Maitreya and Slink feet, atop lightweight cork wedges with a demi-heel. I think my favorite park is the perfect Ingenue bow, though, right above the peep toe. The cork is wonderfully textured and naturalistic, which makes the fabric shoe seem light and airy - perfect for a summer evening. There is more contrast between cork and teal, but both colors are clean and bright, and would go well with a variety of casual looks. Slip them on under a pair of loose shorts or even a frilly frock and you can't go wrong!

Ingenue 21 Shoe

On the 21st of this month, both of these shoes will be available - two for the price of one. I encourage you to swing by Ingenue and pick up a pair!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

21 Shoe: Glamistry

Glamistry: 21 Shoe

This month, Glamistry is offering up two unique colors for her Anemuna heels, just recently released for Belleza, Maitreya, and SLink. The Glamistry shoe system is new to me, so I'm going to take a few minutes to lay it out - the initial shoe purchase is at one price, while subsequent colors are at another, lower price. They all get added to this amazing HUD which allows you to mix and match even if you've only bought a few colors. The Anemuna shoe, for example, has four faces to color - the main shoe, the cord tied around it, the sole of the shoe, and the metal detailing. How many of each you have depends on how many you purchase - and for 21 Shoe Glamistry is giving you the option of adding a bright yellow and a rich royal blue which can be worn all of a piece or mixed and matched to glorious effect. I love how high contrast the two colors on offer are, and so mixed them up in my pictures, but you can keep it singular if you want or even mix it up with other colors that you can purchase at Glamistry at the same time. I really love the versatility this system allows for - along with allowing one to try out a set of shoes in the singular, and add in other colors at a discount if one falls in love.

The shoes themselves are intricate and fun, bands and cords meeting and parting again to wrap snugly around the foot. The heel shape is straightforward and long, and the platform is stacked to dual layers with opportunities for coloring them in different colors. They have a fantastic edgy appeal that would jazz up any club they clack into.

Glamistry: 21 Shoe

On the 21st of this month, both of these shoes will be available - two for the price of one. I encourage you to swing by Glamistry and pick up a pair!

21 Shoe: Bliensen + MaiTai

Bliensen + MaiTai: 21 Shoe

Bliensen + MaiTai is really knocking it out of the ballpark this month with a striking spiral-designed shoe in black and white or red. I love the curve over the foot, and the way the thin bands spread out and them come together again along the edges. Along the inner sole the bands are closer together; along the outside, they stretch all the way up to the arch. The heels themselves are thin and delicate with slightly wider cap ends and an equally narrow ankle strap. I just love the curve of leather over the foot - it is such a striking shape, two sets of curves meeting and parting in symphony.

Bliensen + MaiTai: 21 Shoe

On the 21st of this month, both of these shoes will be available - two for the price of one. I encourage you to swing by Bliensen + MaiTai and pick up a pair!

21 Shoe: KC Couture

KC Couture: 21 Shoe

KC Couture has a couple of awesome shoes out this month, riffing off of the shades of black and denim blue, available for SLink, Maitreya, and Belleza feet. At first look it's a simple T-Strap with a single band across the toes. The ankle strap is actually a tear drop shape, with the rounded edge against the band up the heel. The sole and heel are both thick, heavy and solid enough to support an otherwise fragile design. The chain down the center mark and across the toe band with initials KC in the center bar. I love the color choices - one a dark black and the other a silvery blue which catches the light beautifully. I love how sleek they are in their simplicity - the teardrop motif in particular is striking - and these would work as well under a loose pair of jeans as paired with a gown.

KC Couture: 21 Shoe

On the 21st of this month, both of these shoes will be available - two for the price of one. I encourage you to swing by KC Couture and pick up a pair!

21 Shoe: YS & YS

YS & YS: 21 Shoe

Perfect for summer, YS & YS textured a pair of sunny sandals with tasty treats for SLink and Maitreya feet. Designed as cork heels that are almost wedges, the rest of the shoe is charmingly brief - a cross strap vamp and ankle straps which cross at the heel and latch with a large, oblong clasp by the Achilles tendon. I love the textures - from the strawberry on white of the red to the layered bananas over bananas over bananas of the yellow, the textures are bright and summery and the style is perfect for the beach. I can just see these with a flirty print dress and a wide brimmed hat at a garden party amongst the glitterati.

The animations I'm using in this picture and others are actually a free gift from Thirty Loop Animations - a glorious set of shoe-focused poses and stances that are perfect for photography. I really like how expressive and varying they are, from ones in full motion to gentle pauses on a pedestal. All of them are free if you're a member of the 21 Shoe group!

YS & YS: 21 Shoe

On the 21st of this month, both of these shoes will be available - two for the price of one. I encourage you to swing by YS & YS and pick up a pair!

21 Shoe: Lassitude & Ennui

Lassitude & Ennui: 21 Shoe

Lassitude & Ennui is offering up some sleek and gorgeous heels for SLink and Maitreya. A matching set of black and white, the large bow which curves high against the heel and falls almost to the base of the heel is color changeable between four colors - black, white, dark red, and lavender. The initial design is simple enough, a very high pump with a slight platform. The bow is a lovely sleek waterfall of color, though, rendered for a smooth fall and realistic hang. I love the color change, and like all Lassitude & Ennui shoes, these can be tinted. The pump and shoe are on different faces, so you can modify to your hearts' content!I especially appreciate this with a white shoe, since I can tint to match or contrast with just about anything.

My body and feet are all from SLink, the latest releases which work beautifully under the skin from Fallen Gods. It's an interesting effect - much smoother than the default mesh and helping to make close ups look more polished in a straightforward shot. Fallen Gods is matching his skin beautifully to the SLink shape, and included a ton of other appliers with his latest mermish release. The SLink applier is particularly nice - converting hands, feet, and body all with a single button.

Lassitude & Ennui: 21 Shoe

On the 21st of this month, both of these shoes will be available - two for the price of one. I encourage you to swing by Lassitude & Ennui and pick up a pair!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Genre (Anime): Scarlet Luck

Fire and Wood

I have a deep and abiding love for anime, the theme for this month's Genre. My actual favorites are the magical girl anime, where one or more girls - usually in the 12-16 range - get special powers to save the world. It is a powerful series of images at a time when girls are becoming women, stepping into a wider world, and dealing with all which that entails. My first favorite was Mysterious Thief Saint Tail, the story of a young acrobatic thief who steals form the criminal to bring justice into the world, pursued by someone who only slowly begins to see her in the chase. The eternal fan favorite was Sailor Moon, but I was always more of a Pretear or Wedding Peach sort - Pretear for it's complicated story of love and friendship, and Wedding Peach for the introductory speeches which won my heart.I've just recently tun into LaGrange, a combination of mecha and magical girls which makes me truly happy. On the twisted side of the genre, there is Princess Tutu, the story of a bird who becomes a girl who becomes a Ballet Magical Girl; it begins in a world of lightness and playfulness but rapidly evolves into a meditation on depression, pain, self-discovery, and the power of stories. And a celebration and critique of the entire genre is part of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the powerful tale of recursion, fate, and friendship.

All of these stories are about women with the will and power to change the world, but also about the challenges and glories of friendship between girls and women, and how we influence each other to grow and become better people. Sometimes, like with Pretear, the relationships between women are more tenuous, but most of the stories have a central theme of love and understanding primarily between women who may often work at cross purposes.

Light Dance

My outfit is in the style of magical girls, short and bubbly with plenty of ruffles and cuteness. I pulled largely from Genre this look but flavored it liberally with bits from katat0nik, who draws heavily from anime aesthetics. Her arm bands are one of my new favorite ways to accentuate an outfit, and I simply don't want to take my froggy cap off! I picked my eyes - gem style anime eyes from The Stringer Mausoleum - to match the bright blue froggy eyes of my cap. They come in a bunch of types and are fit for petites as well as full sized avatars; I'm wearing the mesh ones in these images. In true anime style, though, my eyes are almost completely hidden behind these astonishing bangs from the Kazama Store. I love the shape, and the cel shading, and the fact it is modify-ok so I could fit it to my fat head and around my enormous ears! It's all of a piece, so you can't resize individual parts, but since it's one piece you can make it wider without making it taller, which is almost as good! It comes in a bunch of colors from the naturalish to the entirely not, and would be especially perfect for an avatar more inspired by anime's artistic conventions than mine is.

Pretty much the rest of my outfit from shoes to collar are all from Faster Pussycat. There are very few ruffled skirts of this style and I really love the many layers and intricate curves. I also like the cut-out on the front of the scoop bodice and the delicate strings tied between them. The heels are entirely impractical - good things I have wings! - but that makes them a fun example of high, stylistic platforms. The polka dot detailing pulled the outfit together, and I really liked the skull touch - that and the rich shade of red round out what is otherwise a sweet and adorable outfit. The hint of death among the cute is definitely a recurring theme of anime and magical girl anime in particular. Under the cute and frills there are darker drives and painful experiences that gradually transform girls into women, if the girls survive the process. I accented my outfit's colors, and it's theme, with my nails, an elegant circle and stripe motif from Dark Passions, not available at Genre but definitely worth picking up oh its own. Referencing Ophelia and her destruction as a teenager, it seemed entirely appropriate.

Broad Strokes

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Squee: The Bloggess

The Sunday Squee is when I can talk about things that make me happy and excited. The main focus will be on different things people created, from books to movies to television shows to podcasts, and my effort will be to highlight less commonly known things as a way to share what I love. If you want to join in the Sunday Squee, please link back to me so I can enjoy what you love!

Sunday Squee: Jazz Hands!

The Bloggess exists at the nexus of weird, enthusiastic, terrified, and terrifying - a one woman cyclone riding the roller coaster of life's experience in all of it's glory and mess. I love her because she is gigantically, gloriously imperfect in public, and that's something I admire so much even while I'm terrified to do it myself. She's a reminder that honesty is often a quicker route to beauty than artifice, and that there are so many different forms of bravery that it's important to not discount any of them. She's also a reminder that we only see the outsides of people, and their insides are more complex and glorious and mysterious than we could ever know. I love what she represents to me - a call to be honest, to respect the power I wield, to respect and love myself even in my weakness.

I don't remember when I first became aware of her - some time in 2011 when she engaged with a Public Relations Company that pitched her and then insulted her in an accidental "reply-all." This was one of the earlier demonstrations of personal influence's effect through Twitter, an example of the shift in balance between professional, money driven communications and individual, charisma driven communications. In many ways, interactions like this were what led mainstream media to plumb Twitter for content - people were much more engaged with what could be discovered from presumed individuals whom they trusted than a media which often seemed out of touch and indifferent. We're still seeing the cultural reactions to these sorts of individual and ideal driven interactions, and in many ways the stages are virtual - through Twitter and Tumblr and Instagram. This isn't some utopia of pure individuals bringing us together to achieve wonderful things - it is another reflection of the mob mentality which has always existed with large groups of people. Interestingly - the rise and fall of this sort of thing is all contained within the Bloggess' Demonstration of Relevance in response to the insult. She led a response from the large group of people who valued her, and then called for some breathing space at the end of it, all contained in a single post.

She had real respect for the degree of power contained in her influence, and I find that inspiring.

Sunday Squee: Hugs are Free

On the lighter side, one of my enduring favorites of her shenanigans was her quest to get a picture of Wil Wheaton collating paper, a quest which both ended up being successful and ended with her becoming friends with Wil and his wife, both fans of shenanigans in general, and taking part in a calendar to raise money and save animals. She has a long history of slightly manic and entertaining interactions with celebrities like the creators of Portlandia and Nathan Fillion, as well as inspiring celebrities to take selfies holding things. Now and then she leaves notices for lost snakes and lost signs. She talks a lot about her experiences with advertising agencies, including ones where the people in question manage the weird beautifully and ones where they demonstrate they don't read the blogs they pitch to.

The weird is only hinted at in her rant about how she is the suspicious activity on her account - the purchase of the weird and taxidermied takes up a large part of her time and house. Then there is Beyonce the Metal Chicken, who remains to torment her husband and knock on various doors. The next year, she rented him a sloth. And then there are her many friends, like Totes McGoats, Copernicus the Homicidal Monkey, James Garfield (who does miracles), Beartrum Higglebottom, Juanita Weasel, and Jefferson Peabody. Rounding out the household are her pets: Rolly, Hunter S. Tomcat (who is the silent killer), Ferris Mewler (who out-vampires vampires), Blasphemy Scratchnsniff, and Dorthey Barker (who helped her heart heal). Pets memorialized in loving memory include Posey, Barnaby Jones Pickles, and Bubba.

She can also be inspiring, like when she talks about different kinds of bravery, anxiety, and depression, as well as managing your dreams when you're scared. She founded the Traveling Red Dress, which inspires all women to seek joy and self-acceptance. She's also written a couple books - Lets Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir, and Furiously Happy.

I had a ball searching through her blog for nuggets of humor and brilliance; I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!

Friday, May 15, 2015

I Gotta Be Free~!!!

LaVian&Co on Parade

LaVian&Co is having a special through May 20th - the group is free to join, and the immediate offerings are vast - an entire room of womens' clothing for all group members. I've been busily outfitting the Deoridhes as well as the Alphabet Alts, and you can see the beginnings of my haul here - arranged on a few of my closest alts. It's fun to see them all arranged here, from the center figures who all have roughly the same shape, to the more eclectic forms like Bizarre Lastchance the Unicorn and Gossamer Thistle the Harpy. I try for variety among the Alphabet Alts in particular, though even among the Deoridhes there is a Kirin. You can get a hint of the sheer variety above - from mini-skirts, to formal wear, to dressy slacks there's a little but of everything on offer at LaVian&Co.

Dilly Dolls Closeup

The shoes on the Main Deoridhe - Deoridhe Quandry - are also a special, though in this case an announcement of the return of Dilly Dolls in the form of one of her awesome Midnight Manias. These come out along with a bunch of purchases, but if you just want to get your feet wet - so to speak! - head over to Dilly Dolls' Main Store and click on the Midnight Mania. Together we can lock that baby down!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fantasy Faire: Echoes of Spires of Andolys

The Fairelands have faded, leaving behind sparkles in their wake. I had planned to do a post highlighting some of the offerings from each sim - in the absence of the lands, I'm going to share what might still be available within the creators stores and the stores themselves, so we can keep the connections between all of us strong until the Fairelands return.

Internal External

Surya, from Bite & Claw, somehow managed to escape the Fairlands before they vanished - a blessing for us all. Seven different colors are available at Bite & Claw's mainstore, though not the fern shade shown here which was lost when Spires of Andolys left us. I love this fascinating gown, though. I've always been a fan of multiple types of fabric joined to make interesting shapes, and the colored waistband and topskirt over the flowier kirtle is a lovely design that is enhanced by the combination of pale and dark fabrics. It makes me think of heavy satin set over silk, as the whole dress gleams gently in the light. It's well rigged; the poofs of silk pushing outwards even while the bands of satin hang in - a challenging effect to manage with Second Life rigging! The wraps is also well rigged for a more difficult area, stretching beautifully as arms rise while the base of each side hangs close to the hips. It only buckles when arms go too close to the body or behind the back - completely understandable given the challenges of rigging anything hanging between two areas of the body. One other detail I appreciated - the mesh folds over to the inside, making elegant shots of shoes much easier and smoothing out the edges from all angles. I know it adds to the rendering cost but I really appreciate the added detail.

Dress Shadows

My bracelet and ring are from Unrepentant, lovely openwork metal bands with blue gems worked into the design. Sadly, these vanished with the Fairelands, but Unrepentant has a store full of other metalwork - including some truly impressive masks and clothing - as well as a wide variety of well made furniture. The coiled shapes are reminiscent of vines caught in a moment of graceful stillness. I am an enormous fan of Bliensen + MaiTai's jewelry and shoes, and the Soleil set that appeared with the Fairlands is a good example of her precise, elegant work. I'm especially fond of the shoes she makes for the SLink flat feet, an often neglected shape; the ones I'm wearing are a good example of the jeweled effects she brings to all of her work. Her designs also draw heavily from nature, from Soleil's gems surrounded by a netting halo to the vines, leaves, and flowers which decorate her other lovely works at Bliensen + MaiTai's Mainstore.

Together we can keep the spirit of the Fantasy Faire alive~!


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Genre: Blown Out

Star at Heart

As I've said before, the Genre theme this month is Rockabilly - and this month is continuing for another couple of days, until the twelfth, so you have time to get your country on! I went for super saturated color and blown out highlights for this set of pictures - it seemed to fit the comic book sensibilities of my DRBC dress, now available at Genre. The dress itself comes with a ton of textures, but the second I saw this one, I knew what I wanted to wear! Look elsewhere for your vibrant red and blue, or your stylish black and white poodle skirt - I'm bringing pulp fiction to the grid! The bright colors of my skirt really stand out against the black base dress, a few white polka dots here and there to cut up the darkness. The cap sleeves of the blouse are cut and rigged well - I have a very wriggly animation set, but the sleeves always stayed in place and moved naturally. The scoop neckline is mirrored front and back, the perfect setting for a variety of necklaces, though here I selected a collar from Enfant Terrible, available as part of the TAG! Gacha event, which echoes the polka dots and brings in some stripes. The DRBC dress' skirt has nice, large folds which make it adaptable across a variety of poses; I'm always watchful for what happens to a skirt when legs cross or move together, and in this case the folds bunch naturally with very little of the "cutting" which can occur when a skirt isn't rigged as well.

Say Hello to my Little Friend

I kept with the 1950s theme with with hairstyle by Anachron which combines the best parts of Rosie the Riveter's kerchief practicality with a forward bang curl and a long chignon over the back of the head. Much to my glee, the entire hairstyle is editable - both all of it and in pieces - which means I was able to modify it to fit over and around my larger-than-average ears! It's always a blessing when a hairstyle lets me shift it around in the small ways necessary for a non-standard avatar, and in this case it was a breeze to make everything fit. Like my DRBC dress, this hair from Anachron is re-texturable via a HUD, and the kerchief has a variety of patterns; here I selected a bright red and skull pattern to match my monstrous skirts. The skulls make a subtle polka dot design, which holds the whole outfit together, even the final matching pieces - my shoes and glasses from Eclectica. Both are re-texturable via blue touch menu, but as an added bonus they are also editable - meaning I could custom tint the bow and trim on my shoes to draw out the colors of my skirt - in this case bright red and orange with a slightly duller teal. I love how Eclectica always gives options for individualization of her creations so I can add touches like this; the look would work without it, but I think it adds a bit more polish to subtly echo colors in multiple places. They're fit for medium SLink feet and available in a bunch of other polka dot colors.

Broken Lines

To finish out my look I wanted to keep the theme of historical monsters and the bright colors without introducing alpha which might conflict with the alpha of my glasses. To that end, I went with demon wings - in this case a set of chibi demon wings I picked up from Illusions a long time ago at Halloween. These have a wonderful shape and fit beautifully above the scoop neckline of my DRBC dress. I also pulled out one of the dragons from Avatar Bizarre to perch on my shoulder and add some green to my brightly colored mix. I picked up a whole bunch of these at Fantasy Faire and I'm looking forward to pairing them with a bunch of outfits! The tail and head curve are particularly fun, offering up a sense of personality and interacting in an interesting manner with the rest of my look.

The lighting was an experiment, playing with bright and shadows in a more extreme manner than I usually do. I think the effect was wonderful especially using some of the more interestingly shaped items around France Portnawak. One of the blessings and curses of photographing in the wild is a basic lack of control - it offers up chances for serendipity, like the star I found in the top picture, or the pinup pictures below. It's always an adventure on the grid!

Eclectic Interiors

Sunday Squee: Designing Worlds

The Sunday Squee is when I can talk about things that make me happy and excited. The main focus will be on different things people created, from books to movies to television shows to podcasts, and my effort will be to highlight less commonly known things as a way to share what I love. If you want to join in the Sunday Squee, please link back to me so I can enjoy what you love!

Elrick Merlin and his Army

Every Monday, there is a gathering of avatars at a single location - the Garden of Dreams - and every Monday at 2PM SLT Saffia Widdershins says: "1... 2... 3... Go!" and a room full of avatars all hit play on a video at the same time.

Several years ago this was a live taping, which had it's own fun and challenges. Once the entire audience became the backdrop for a wedding, Many times there would be difficulties or snafuus and we'd all sit around and kibbitz as behind the scenes avatars frantically worked to fix whatever had gone wrong. And even now that it's closer to a watching party, the subjects of the videos often attend and talk afterwards, and we kibbitz about the show as it's going, and talk about all kinds of other things, all while sitting in a room together.

Fairlands Junction

One of the things I love about Designing Worlds is how determinedly inclusive it is. This starts in the seating - where there are seats for every kind of avatar, and spaces for avatars which don't typically sit. It continues to the content of the videos, which cover the gamut from Petite to Colossus and all of the variety between. Every year, Designing Worlds does two Fantasy Faire shows highlighting the Fairelands, and we're in the weekend between them (Episode 1; Episode 2). Other highlights include a review of the Tinyrun Ragland Art Show, Second Life's 11th Birthday (Episode 1, Episode 2), and the 250th show where they interviewed Second Life CEO Ebbe Linden.

Even if you can't make the 2PM SLT show on Mondays, the shows are always available at to be watched and enjoyed. Definitely check them out!

Saveme Oh

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Worlds of Pink and Gray

I always set myself higher bars for Fantasy Faire... and I always fall short! This year was no different, but as always I had fun and really adored taking pictures. Towards the end, I managed to sneak in some shots of the outfit I build before the Faire began, and one I quite enjoyed wandering around in! It's very monotone, but I had fun layering blacks and grays, and was proud I managed a degree of body coverage which is nothing short of remarkable; despite this, the look - I flatter myself - still looks quite sexy.

Lost Amongst the Blossoms

It's the latest release from FATEplay and FATEstep which my whole look revolves around. There are five color options but I went with the lightest one, a soft gray with brown accents primarily in the wonderfully slung ammo belt. It may not be immediately obvious, but the outfit is four pieces - the long pants which are cut to fit into boots, the ammo belt which is slung low and rigged to stay on top of the pants, the half top with its cunning buttons, and the mask, which tucks up over the lower part of the face, and tucks into the loose cowl of the top. The mask is deceptively simple; it seems to be made of two pieces: one which is a loose hood that catches over the mouth, which quite realistic wrinkles, and the second which is a very long, narrow scarf wrapped around the neck with the long ends flying out behind.

The mask is rigged to the face, neck, and chest but the long ends remain static, and offer a nice hint of movement in an otherwise static world. The top is similarly well rigged, with wrinkles around the elbow and upper arm which make the fit seem much more natural and helps conceal the awkward elbow joint which is the bane of so many creators! My favorite part is the cowl and buttons combination, with the buckling between the buttons and the curves as the cowl falls against the top. The pants also sport these wonderful wrinkles around the calf, as if the fit wasn't quite right. I'm really struck by how the wrinkles add verisimilitude, bunching appropriately against skin and making it seem as if skin and muscle lurk right below the layers of cloth. And the ammo belt is one of the first I've seen that sits well on the hips and seamlessly rides over the hips as I move - fantastic rigging, and a whole lot of fun to wear!

Mush Rooms

The boots are also from FATE, FATEstep this time, and have the enormous wealth of options available in all of his shoes. They are fit perfectly over the bottom edge of the pants with a three-band style around most of it except for the smooth back. Like the clothes, his shoes have a wonderful attention to detail. The smooth back starts at the zipper and ends under the long three bands down the side; the bottom band makes a complete circle. The bottoms of the boots are rough textured perfect for hiking and riding across abandoned wastes, or marching around the Fantasy Faire tracking dirt through thirteen sims. The final touch are the spurs - although at a distance they look like they are built into the boots, up close you can see that they are actually built as a separate piece, with bands over the top of the foot and along the base of the heel, and the thicker metal of the spur itself.

Everything is color changeable via HUD, and the HUD also includes several pre-set slots - including the gray arrangement I'm showing in these pictures. They are also highly editable - in fact all of FATE's clothing is; you can select the entire item to tint or select faces to tint subsections of the outfit. I love the sheer versatility; this can be made into anything from the simple gray I'm showing here to the brightest combination of colors you could ever wish for.

Ready for a Long Walk

I accented the FATEplay ensemble with a few touches form a dark future, or in one case a mechanical past. The corset around my waist is from Rosal and is steampunk in design, though I thought it really worked with the overall futuristic and mechanistic effect. I have to admit I splurged on almost the entire set, even though I only showed one piece of it here; there are two types of boots, gloves, and a neck corset in the same style. The combination of metal and matte was pleasing to me, as was the pinstrip effect of the fabric texture.  I also added my new wings from C L A Vv, which are my go-to choice for rough mechanical these days. The rope-dangles work particularly well, echoing the fall of the scarf if not it's ultimate angle. On my face I pulled out the Noctis bike goggles from a past Genre; the dark color of the frame matches up with the rest of my look while the lenses offer one of the little bits of color I wore. The other bit of color is my hair, a lovely, bushy style from Underscore (a store no longer in world, but one of it's creators, Syndel Daviau, has some wonderful releases under the brands Asset and Tribal Soul Designs) which looks pleasantly windblown and wild; I liked it for how thick it was, with lose and heavy curls.

Overwhelming Cherry

Among the cherry blossoms, even an apocalypse looks beautiful.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fantasy Faire: Ravenshold

Ravenshold is sponsored by OtherSkin, Plastik, Junbug, Spyralle, The Forge, Death Row Designs, The White Armory, Safe Waters Foundation, The Muses, and the Dark Unicorns of Lovelace and it was created by Rynn Verwood.

It's the basis for the second half of the Fantasy Faire Hunt, also known as "Princesses just don't like stairs, ok?"

Ravenshold 4

Monday, May 4, 2015

Fantasy Faire Calendar

The Fantasy Faire Calendar Contest is going on again this year, ending on the sixth of May. I took the opportunity of focusing on one photo for each sim to take some extra steps with these twelve using Gimp, and I'm rather proud of the results! I tried to find the picture that I felt best exemplified the emotion of each sim, even if it showed only a fragment of it; each part of the Faireland was so unique and distinct that it was easy to end up with a diverse set of images.

I hope you enjoy!

Sylvan of Spells




Fantasy Faire: Ichi-go Ichi-e sponsored by The Looking Glass

Ichi-go Ichi-e is sponsored by The Looking Glass and was created by Sharni Azalee and Marcus Inkpen. It contains 19 stores.

Let your imagination fly you to a land where anything is possible. Walk on water among pink clouds in this surreal landscape where large Sakura flowers and other exotic flora tower over you in a beautiful dream forest of pinks and grays and fawn.

Ichi-Go Ichi-E 1