20 August, 2009

Ready, Kafka?

"...you will need to contact an attorney...various forms that are necessary for you to fill out...there are copyright issues, consent forms, building codes you must meet...there is a need to contact OHSA..there are regulations...contact the IRS...contact an attorney...many laws and restrictions..."

Reason #2563 why I am a NEET. The details for any one profession are irrelevant. It's the concept that matters.

15 August, 2009

Social Anxiety is the Psychological Version of AIDS

Michael Crichton's Sphere, which I recently read during a power outage, spends a good amount of time discussing the implications of human contact with an intelligent extraterrestrial life form - including how that life form would communicate, and the effects its presence/existence may have (intended or accidental) upon humans. For example, it might naturally emit a gas that's poisonous to humans, thus potentially killing us without realizing it (although hopefully if the life form is intelligent, it would be smart enough to anticipate that and prevent it from happening). Communication-wise, it's interesting to speculate that the alien life form may view the world in such a completely unique way as to make communication between us virtually impossible.

All of this is very interesting, but the point I wish to make today regards a statement in the book that was made about AIDS. AIDS was described as a particularly troubling disease because it transcends the "accepted" manner in which diseases interact - it is caused by a virus that attacks the way the body defends against viruses. That's got to be some form of breaking the fourth wall. Anyway, in a flash of inspiration, I applied that same exact idea to what I've been saying about social anxiety all along - it's a disorder that attacks a person's ability to ask for help. Thus, social anxiety is the psychological version of AIDS.


Simply put, Jung's "anima" is the feminine inner personality that exists within the unconscious mind of the male (the female's male equivalent being the animus). Disregarding all the subtle details, I am thoroughly intrigued with this idea of a feminine personality existing within the male. Because, to a certain extent, I am also intrigued by the idea of being a girl - and as a guy, this concept allows a certain justified outlet for those feelings.

The bottom line is, girls interest me far more than guys, to the extent that even when thinking about myself, I, on occasion, prefer to envision myself as a girl rather than a guy - it's just more interesting that way. For example, when I play video games, given a choice, I prefer to be a female character. Whether I actually identify with the feminine spirit, or if I simply idolize it (perhaps to an unhealthy extent), is up for debate.

Regardless, I find it interesting to think about what life would be like if I were a girl, and the process of depicting myself in a feminine manner fascinates me. So I was working on more of those eLouai dolls (speaking of endless fascination), and I decided to take a break from creating random girls to do another "selfportrait" doll depicting myself (the last one I did was the naked photographer).

So I thought about creating a doll that I could update through the seasons, and as my appearance/wardrobe changes (not that it does, much). I got started on it, but I was rather disappointed in the fashion choices for guy dolls (no plain white t-shirts?). So I switched it to a girl doll, and kept at the same theme - depicting myself. Except, I had to make some adjustments for cuteness (else it would be a wasted doll). So I totally ended up with an "anima" version of myself - how I would look if I were a cute girl instead of a guy. (And also the background assumes that I actually go outside, in daylight, more often than I actually do - so I kind of assume it's not just girl-me, but a repressed part of me, who is a girl, and goes outside more often than conscious-me does :p). Anyway, I couldn't be happier with how the experiment turned out, so I think I'll just go with it, and try to remember to update it, in whatever ways are possible (at the very least, changing the background to reflect the seasons). I think it sounds like fun.

I'm gonna put it over in the dedicated eLouai spot on the right "shelf" of this blog, where my forest fairy has hitherto been situated (farewell, Lamina!), so you can periodically check it for changes, if you are at all inclined.

07 August, 2009

Shark Week 2009

Not to say that it hasn't been exciting, but I think this year's Shark Week is a little too focused on the "shark attack" angle. It could use a few more "mysteries of the deep" type episodes to round out the action. Plus, it's been a little Great White-centric. Great Whites are undoubtedly fascinating, but there are certainly a lot of other interesting species among sharkdom. Perhaps of notice is the fact that this year there doesn't seem to be an official Shark Week host, as there have been in some previous years (Survivorman Les Stroud, Mike Rowe of 'Dirty Jobs', The Mythbusters, Nigel Marvin, etc.). Let's take a look at this year's premiere episodes:

Blood in the Water (2 hour opening premiere)

This is a special based on the story that inspired Jaws (yeah, I know the jokes I made about that story elsewhere). It occurred in the summer of 1916 when a rogue shark (believed to be a Great White) went on a killing spree near the beaches of New Jersey, marking a precursor to the modern day shark hysteria (in America, at least).

You'd be surprised how much the narrative of this special feels like one of those A&E serial killer specials or something. It's a pretty remarkable story, with the rogue shark navigating up a semi-freshwater channel (inviting unverified speculation that the culprit may have been a Bull Shark) to attack swimming kids, resulting in a grimly humorous scene depicting the villagers in a "torches and pitchforks" style mob tossing dynamite into the river (I kid you not). And amusing though it sounds, the story is pretty harrowing at times.

The pseudo-documentary style of the special, with the same actors in the interviews as those playing the parts in the dramatizations, was a little bit disorienting at first - since in most cases of shark attack shows like this, the interviews are with the real people involved, and then the dramatizations feature actors, since most of the time actual footage of the incident is lacking. But of course, considering that this event occurred in 1916, I doubt any of the involved parties are still living...

Anyway, the suspected shark was eventually captured and killed - not by one of the enraged shark hunters, interestingly, but by a local fisherman/taxonomist who just happened to encounter it in his net. They discovered bones in its stomach, but without DNA profiling (the bones were later lost), they couldn't be 100% sure it was their killer.

Deadly Waters

Survivorman Les Stroud counts down the 5 deadliest waters (with regards to shark attacks) in the world. The basic formula is sharks + humans = deadly waters (clearly, this is not rocket science), but this is moreso the case in places which have lots of tourists (more humans), and nutrient-rich waters with lots of sea life (more food, thus more sharks, as well as more aggressive sharks). The Caribbean (and its Caribbean Reef Sharks) and the South Pacific (with its aggressive Bulls - they have the highest level of testosterone of any animal) come in at numbers 5 and 4, respectively, for just those reasons. The Great White swims into the spotlight for the number 3 and 2 spots - South Africa (including False Bay and Seal Island, described in more detail below) and Australia. The number one deadliest waters in the world goes to the murky vacationer-rich waters of Florida, with more shark attacks than the previous four locations combined!

Day of the Shark 2

More harrowing tales of gruesome shark attacks (viewer discretion advised), including one in which a Great White unbelievably manages to get trapped inside a shark cage with two divers! D: I also seem to recall a story about an arm that got bitten off, was retrieved from the mouth of the shark (after it was dragged onto the beach and shot), and subsequently reattached (successfully and functionally) to the unfortunate victim, who miraculously survived. (Actually, that was in Sharkbite Summer - see how all these shark attack shows blend together?)

Sharkbite Summer

This episode recounts the events of the summer of 2001, which was dubbed the "Summer of the Shark" in America, due to the media surrounding a spate of violent shark attacks. Ironically, data indicates that it was an average summer - actually a few shark attacks fewer than the previous summer, but the media and public consciousness blew it out of proportion (surprise, surprise). There's a humorous scene where a bunch of news choppers are flying about over a sea swarming with sharks, describing it as the sharks amassing an army for an invasion to take back the beaches. XD

Great White Appetite

In this episode, the appetite of one of the largest apex predators on the planet is singled out for study. An all-you-can-eat tuna buffet is set up to determine how much a Great White can eat before becoming full (the answer: as much as a quarter of its body weight). The White's eating habits and patterns are also studied, including (unsurprisingly) a visit to the infamous Seal Island in False Bay, located at the southern tip of Africa - the home of "Air Jaws", a phenomenon where Great Whites launch themselves out of the water in a torpedo-like attack on the seals swimming at the surface (technical term: polaris breach). There are also *two* humorous occasions of a Great White biting into a boat - in the first one, the shark takes a chunk out of the inflatable bumper of a large raft, while the host is sitting in it. :o

Shark After Dark

Shark After Dark is as close as this year's episodes get to a "mysteries of the deep" theme, despite their first stop being Seal Island (yet again) - although the night time footage of Great Whites performing polaris breaches (in the dark!) is pretty exciting. Luckily, the episode moves on to some more unique species, as the crew studies the behavior of the prehistoric Six Gill Shark in the Puget Sound near Seattle, which lives deep in the ocean by day and comes up to the "shallows" to feed at night. The crew then explores an atmospheric sunken ship populated by Sand Tigers, who are more plentiful and aggressive at night, much like the Lemons who swarm the crew by night in the last segment.

My one significant complaint about Shark Week in general is that they don't air shark programming 24 hours a day. Saturday is the day where they do sharks all day long, but the rest of the week it's only during certain hours (premieres air at 9pm). I know they have other shows to air and they probably want to pull in customers not interested in Shark Week and whatnot, but it just kind of seems like, while it's Shark Week, you should be able to switch on the TV any time of day and see sharks on your screen. Am I right? Also, repeats of certain episodes throughout the week is obviously nice for those who might miss it here or there, but it'd be nice if they had more variety of episodes (interestingly, 24 hour shark programming would provide that opportunity). Anyhow, it's still Shark Week, and Shark Week is one of the greatest weeks in TV programming (perhaps second only to the scary movie blocks that air during October), that's kept me coming back year after year for over a decade. It's a tradition I intend to uphold for as long as I can. :D

28 Months Later

Seeing commercials for The Colony while watching Shark Week has got me thinking about 28 Months Later, the expected sequel to round out the 28 Days Later trilogy of neo-zombie films. (As for The Colony, I caught most of an episode - a fascinating concept, but still about as interesting as any reality show is). Speculation about 28 Months Later abounds, and I have no idea what its official progress is, or even if it's yet been officially decided that it will be made, but, I just thought of an idea of what kind of a movie I would like to see it be, and I want to offer that up to the digital seas of the information superhighway.

28 Days Later was about the immediate post-apocalypse. A man wakes up in the immediate wake of a society-wide breakdown, and must learn to cope. Everything is abandoned, as if the entire population just up and vanished, and the city is overrun with what can best be described as zombies.

28 Weeks Later was cleverly able to take a two-fold approach - by introducing a second breakout, it was able to both portray the rebuilding of society after the apocalypse, as well as introduce the actual apocalypse itself (in the form of a second occurrence).

Clearly, the success (if cult) of the 28 films lies on its "zombie apocalypse" angle. One angle that I would like to see the films explore, and would be a perfect setting for 28 Months Later, is the long-term post-apocalypse. After the world has been reduced to a wasteland, when enough time has passed for things to decay and really fall apart.

That's the basics of what I'd like to see. Regardless of the specifics, if 28 Months Later takes that approach, I will be pleased. Some other ideas I have: it would make sense to utilize the idea of the "carriers" introduced in 28 Weeks Later. Since the zombies can't really survive longer than a couple months (at most) without feeding, it wouldn't really work to populate the world with undying zombies. Rather, the threat for the surviving pocket communities among the ruins could be the carriers. For if a carrier were to enter a community, it would inevitably pass on the virus, thus destroying the entire community. So I could foresee a paranoia/fear of strangers type of atmosphere among one or more of these pocket communities trying to survive. I think that would make for a good film. Of course, you can't have a zombie apocalypse without any zombies, so naturally, things are going to get bad. As far as wrapping up the trilogy and offering some kind of closure to the series, I'm not sure. Maybe that's another thing to think about.

05 August, 2009

David Hamilton

Photography has really only been a side-interest for me, and since my formal photography education is nonexistent, I'm not really familiar with a lot of the popular or "classical" photographers that are (or were) out there. So if somebody were to ask me who my favorite photographers are, I wouldn't really have much of an answer. But there are a couple that I've caught notice of, whose work has impressed and inspired me. And one of those is a man by the name of David Hamilton, known for his reputation for shooting gorgeous young models often minimally clothed (if at all), and for the romantic soft blur effect that characterizes his photographic style. What matters most to me is the fact that Hamilton's aesthetic sense of beauty, as it relates to the budding eroticism of adolescent femininity, overlaps to a not insignificant extent with my own; hence, in viewing his photos, I can sense a sort of kindred artistic spirit (in addition to the sheer wow factor that his best images elicit, of course).

Due to the controversy in some modern cultures surrounding the erotic portrayal of "pre-adults", there is unfortunately no lack of criticism leveled against the quality of (likely a result of simple ignorance) or intentions behind (cue moral hysteria) Hamilton's work. Even beyond that, there are those in the artistic community who seem to be of the (elitist) opinion that naked girls can not be art (to which I say, what is art without naked girls?), or that erotica itself is independent of the "true" or "pure" artistic disciplines (which is clearly a delusion). It is secondarily for the sake of those who may have something to learn from some exposure to his work (at the inevitable risk of inciting the opposite effect) that I present [only] a handful of my favorite David Hamilton prints in brief to you here, but I do so primarily because these are simply beautiful artistic works - the kind of objet d'art that, once discovered, compels an art lover to share that wonder and amazement with others!

"A distinction must be made between eroticism and pornography; the media have blurred the disparity to an unforgivable degree. For those intelligent enough to recognize the difference, erotica will continue to hold a unique fascination. Social evils should not be confused with the pursuit of true beauty." ~David Hamilton

Note: If viewing these images makes you feel uncomfortable, might I suggest you read this?