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I figured out a couple of weeks ago that air circulates through my apartment just as well with the front door open a crack as it does with it wide open, so go me, I can sit at my computer naked without filling the neighbors with fear.
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Streets blessedly free of traffic. Summer vacation has begun. I just want to say, parents ruin everything. Everything's got to be made safe for their precious little crystal chandeliers, except, apparently, for the bicycle lane.
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All right. I may have to adjust my assessment of where current alternative fashion is. It seems Hot Topic does in fact still carry weird, fetishy clothes; they just don't carry them in the location I visited. I want to say this is because Valley Fair is the rich yuppie bastard mall, but that's problematic, since currently it's the only mall around here. Vallco Cupertino Square Vallco isn't really a mall anymore, it's more a giant lobby for a movie theater; and the Sunnyvale Town Center has been in remodeling for the past eight years. Oh, and Santana Row is even more yuppie bastard than Valley Fair is, but they aren't a 'mall,' they're a 'European-style shopping and entertainment complex.' Actually they're a Disney-fake pseudo-downtown built on the former site of a Chevrolet dealership... they'd never have anything as slummy as a Hot Topic in their midst.

In all fairness, there's not really a shortage of weird clothing places in the San Francisco bay area, but I like to use Hot Topic as an indicator of where freak fashion in the US is generally, and I don't need boring rich kids screwing up my data.
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Today I told myself that I'd buy some kind of little trinket to please myself, as I've been kind of down lately. So I rode my bike down to the mall.

It was strange how crowded the mall itself was, yet many of the actual stores had very few visitors. There was a certain desperation to some of the clerks, like they would have been happy if I'd bought anything, no matter how trivial, just to let them convince themselves they weren't on a sinking ship. Frankly there just wasn't much out there that amazed me. I think making my own clothing has spoiled me for the whole fashion business, though I was never wholly satisfied by it anyway.

Visited Claire's and their mountain of overpriced tacky jewelry; the only thing which caught my eye were these little pill boxes which they called a 'mint box.' Oh yes, my 'mint box,' where I keep my 'mints.' My mints that make me need to drink ten bottles of water and hug everyone. But they were crummy, in the Claire's tradition, so I bought none. I really should hit the antique stores and get a legitimate pill box which once held some inadvisable medication like Valium or benzedrine. I find myself living in an age which simply does not purvey the products I require. Capitalism fails me on a regular basis.

I didn't buy much at Hot Topic, just a bottle of medical teal-colored nail polish (this isn't what the manufacturer calls the color... they don't know any better). I'm waiting for them to roll around to another crazy batshit fashion trend... right now they aren't thrilling me. Apparently the current edgy fashion is to dress like people did in the 80s, except in kind of a weak, watered-down way. It was all lightweight New Wave, rainbow punk, and whatever that style was which was feathered hair, plaid shirts and gray jeans. It was all just so disappointingly staid and boring. I mean, it's nice that suspenders are fashionable again, but such a price to pay for it. Why don't we bring back Reagan while we're at it? Actually, that got me thinking... we had George Bush, then George W. Bush-- why don't we elect Ron Reagan, Jr. as president?

At some point between now and the last time I went to Hot Topic, they switched their bonus program over to scan cards. I had to fill out a quick form for it. The 'roll your birthdate ahead a decade' wheeze is starting to wear thin; even that level of cheating still made me appear uncomfortably ancient. I'm regularly mistaken for somebody in their twenties, a state of affairs I'd be quite happy to have continue, thank you very much... it's getting embarrassing how far off my chronological age is from my appearance. But I shall persevere. :) Mind you, I am aging, slowly.

After that I got some fried clams, which I ate out of a brown paper bag while walking around the mall, like a slob or an undercover cop, before I went to Beverages & More and bought a hundred dollars worth of booze. Not that I really need that much liquor, but I do like to entertain guests occasionally, and it's good to keep certain things on hand. I didn't consider this a treat for myself; it's just a necessity. Later on I bought one of those sunbeam-in-a-jar things off a clearance shelf at the drug store, for about a third of what ThinkGeek wants for it. I looked to see how difficult it would be to change the LED to a more interesting color, and discovered it was soldered about as indifferently as it would be if I'd already modified it.
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(click for larger image)

This is what I waste my precious weekend time doing. The original is here for comparison.

I really think I missed my calling... I should have been part of some government disinformation agency or something.
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So how does one become unrepentantly self-absorbed? That seems like a convenient skill and I'd really like to learn it.
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Was subjected to the awful, awful cover of Jim Croce's "Operator" while shopping just now. It's not like I'm a massive fan of the original song, but it has a certain soulful plaintiveness to it which I can respect, and I like Croce generally. The cover sounds like it's sung by a bad lounge singer on Valium. Seriously, it's like being in a dive bar which is just pretentious enough and hates its customers enough to hire some off-duty office worker with his own guitar. After a stressful day of telling customers where the 'any' key is, he pops a few pills and slurs his way down to 'The Lounge.' "But that's not the way it feels"... I'm surprised you feel anything with that much diazepam in you. Apparently the cover is by someone named Jesse Malin, who normally is a punk rocker... I have to imagine he's appalled that this, out of all his material, is what gets airplay.
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I have a question for any bicyclists who read this. Do any of you stop to remove nails and screws and sharp things from the road, because you might not remember they're there the next time you pass that way? Today is bike to work day, so I think I may have saved a number of tourists in poncey bike gear from having their tires punctured.

hey, cake!

May. 2nd, 2010 01:39 pm
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I made a cake for DV_Girl's birthday. (Happy birthday, DV_Girl. :) )

The cake and the frosting are pre-made mixes, but I augmented them a bit in order to produce what you see here. Aside from the obvious color modification to the white cake mix, I added vanilla to both it and the icing, and melted a bar of white chocolate into the cake mix. I also dissolved and condensed the colored sugar crystals on top of the cake (I have tons of these left over).

The icing coloration was a last-minute decision; I made half of it pink, half light blue, and just spread it on randomly. I imagined it would go purple where it mixed, but the colors seem to clash with each other without actually blending, in an interesting way.

There isn't any trick to getting the swirls and stuff in the cake. You just mix up different colors of cake batter, and drop them into the pans and let them settle wherever they care to. It's thick enough that the colors don't mix. I feel I went too dark on the purple batter, so that it ended up a kind of wine color (the blue coloring isn't the most vivid, I'm afraid) , but otherwise I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

I figured it would take a couple of hours, but between fine-tuning it and having to do everything by hand, I ended up spending about seven hours on it.

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I've been holding off on this particular rant for a while, because it seems like there are more vital issues in the world today, but now I'm going to talk about the stadium.

There's this effort to bring the San Francisco '49ers' to Santa Clara. The people who are conducting this particular propaganda campaign are, shall we say, a little too enthusiastic, in a manner disproportionate to their minimal imagination. I get their slickly-printed literature in the mail. I think that by the third identical flier, I or any other sapient being will have made up their mind about the issue. I've received at least half a dozen by now. Now, my only mission in life is to torpedo this stadium in any way that I can. I'll burn the thing to the ground if I have to. Put a briefcase nuke in the football during kickoff. There's a tipping point where if you pester somebody long enough about something, they will become hostile to your point of view, simply because you're such a pest. And I was already hostile to it before I started getting the fliers.

Let me tell you about Santa Clara. In bay area terms it's a miniscule little place-- maybe not as tiny as Atherton or something, but pretty small –and the proposition is for it to host a nationally popular football team.

I bike down the street and I see sign after sign after sign supporting this nonsense. The way they try to sell this thing to sane human beings is that it will bring in all kinds of tax revenue which will leave Santa Clara swimming in gold doubloons, but nobody seriously believes or cares about that... they just think it would be super-awesome to have the Niners here in town because it would be so rad, dood. Let me put this to such individuals as delicately and succinctly as possible: SPORTS DO NOT FUCKING MATTER, YOU MORONS. It isn't worth trashing the entire economy of our city just so you can wave your little flags and have your Santa Clara 49ers bumper stickers.

But the supporting literature protests that the cost of stadium construction will be paid for entirely by the franchise. At least we'd get that much out of them. What about the cost of the infrastructure improvements we'll need to host a major sports team? Who's paying for that? Do you think we can soak up a hundred thousand temporary residents the way we are now? And you'll need a police presence at the venue, and emergency services, and you can't short the rest of the city while games are going on, so that's a staff increase, and the resources to support that staff... and you can just go on and on from there, about all the costs to the city which no one is talking about because they're just too psyched about having their favorite retards in butt pads play in their very own city. And you know the franchise is getting some sort of tax break to come here. There are certainly deep pockets involved, when there's so much promo material going around that its sheer volume is counterproductive.

If the stadium is approved, let me tell you how this is going to go down. Everything will seem fine for the first year or two; and then the team owners are going to go to the city and say that they really need more tax breaks in order to operate, with the implicit or explicit threat that they will move to another city if they don't get what they want; and Santa Clara will be too far in the hole after building the infrastructure and everything else to do anything other than keep the team here and hope it pays off later; and this will go on for a few years with concession after concession, until the city simply can't afford to bribe the Niners any further, and then suddenly the team will start making noises about how Santa Clara just isn't a suitable venue for them, and they'll end up going to Fresno or someplace. We'll be stuck with a huge debt, and all kinds of public and private facilities built to accommodate a demand which abruptly dries up.

On the other hand, the whole thing could just be a colossal scheme to trick the Niners' jealous lover San Francisco into giving them what they really want.
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Now I really hate the Sci-Fi Network. 'Imagine Greaterer.' The name change was bad enough. The slogan sounds like the title of a bad shoujo manga. It's just so vapid and inarticulate. We want our audience to be as stupid as our movies! It's like 'SyFy' is trying to sell a turd by sculpting it into something even more turdlike than the original turd.

I was considering the use of yellow ribbons for 'supporting our troops.' The practice actually began in the 70s during the Iranian hostage crisis, as a sign of solidarity with the hostages. Are we then saying that American soldiers are being held hostage by their military? The concept came from the song 'Tie A Yellow Ribbon' by Tony Orlando, a big hit back then, which shows just how sad and desperate a time the 70s really were.

I've finally seen clips from Avatar and I have a couple of questions. One, so what? It just looks like another CG movie. Two, I myself don't have depth perception, and I refuse to take part in my own discrimination by you binocular faggots.
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Even as I was finishing up last year's black tailcoat, I had an idea for something even more outrageous and over the top, inspired by some gold lame' brocade I found... rather than something relatively tasteful, I decided to give the next outfit the full Versailles treatment, with everything gold and gleaming and too much.

I wore this outfit to a downtown gathering not too far in the recent past; the epithets I can recall were "The Thin Gold Duke," "the Golden Boy," and "the white Prince," but nevertheless I came away with just a single photograph, so eventually was made to face the unpleasant task of taking pictures of myself.

The coat is all mine; the blouse is the one [profile] dv_girl was kind enough to make for me last year. Everything else is more or less off the rack. I have a more obscenely tight pair of gold pants, but I need to drop another few pounds before I can stuff myself into them again. :)

As always, my poor photography doesn't do it justice, it's better in person, etc., and I could stand to be more spontaneous (i.e. on drugs) and not running back and forth between the set and the camera. I started drinking cognac near the end, and I think it helped. n.n

more self-indulgent foppery... )
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(watches an infomercial) I'm going to have to say that 'Battle Hair Loss' is the worst Iron Chef ingredient challenge ever...
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Sigil: (puts herself through hunt for red october., :) )
me: Russia's sort of near Scotland, I suppose
Sigil: (snickers)
Sigil: Helicopter in the author surrogate
me: I think Tom Clancy will require a cargo helicopter. And a Hercules to bring in all his bullshit
Sigil: (snickers) And it did blot out the sun.
me: (giggles)
Sigil: instead, the movie concludes with lovecraftian apocolypse when the experimental engine rouses cthulhu from its eternal slumber.
me: Fortunately Cthulhu is cosseted with an enormous deep fried Mars bar, and the resulting sugar crash puts him back to sleep for another aeon
Sigil: (snickers)
Sigil: "Mother of god."
me: Good thing the captain was Russian!
me: Actually, he wasn't Russian, was he? He was Ukrainian or something.
Sigil: I think so :)
me: Well, so much for that joke. :)
Sigil: After all, ukraine is to russia like scotland is to england, so it like totally makes sense
me: It does!
Sigil: He should have spent the movie strutting around the submarine in the costume he wore for zardoz.
me: (snickers a lot) oh, god
me: Or his armor from Time Bandits
Sigil: erk :)
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I was told I ought to put my commentary from this post into my journal, so for the sake of once again preaching to the converted, here it is.

* * *

This is little different from the attitudes at the time of the Great Depression; it was seen as a personal failing if one couldn't find work, even in the face of economic collapse. It's not really commented upon much, that there was a major shift in attitude at the time, in that the unemployment level came to be regarded as a function of economic health, rather than a moral failing or Darwinistic inferiority.

But I think the emphasis on polishing resumes and such represents a twofold philosophical reaction to the current economic state. One, that there really isn't anything you can do to win jobs which aren't there, short of indenturing yourself or offering some extralegal arrangement which makes your labor temptingly cheap, so all anyone can offer is platitutes and busywork so people feel like they're accomplishing something. Two, which is a subtext of point one, is that blame must be deflected from the wealthy and powerful who actually control the economy; if this isn't via direct acquittal, by claiming the economy is an unknowable force of nature, or blaming a few 'bad apples,' etc., then you have to get people to just not think about the rich. The best people to act as apologists for the rich are those who are already pretty well off, but want to do even better... this was understood years ago, in Victorian times, that the growing middle class was even more reactionary than the actual wealthy. Their economic status is in transition, and they have an agenda to improve and preserve it from any socialist notion of equalization. So, I mean, journalists are at that stratum; they aren't rich people but they're doing all right. You don't even have to order them to engage in class warfare... it is in their personal interests and fits their existing biases to do so, and like any other bias with any other person, they are generally not aware that they're engaging in it.

Read more... )
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So I was looking at this gallery on Flickr made up of photos of misspelled Teabagger protest signs. I like a good spelling error as much as the next grammar Nazi, but I found myself disturbed by what I felt was the persistent closed-mindedness of the commenters.

These people aren't out there for their own amusement... they are desperate, worried people. A lot of them are unemployed. This isn't a game to them... they've been told by political action groups, by leaders in their community, that their already tenuous way of life is threatened, that what little they have is going to be taken away, and they don't know what else to do but to protest. When we on the left protest, we regard it as an admirable thing, the very essence of democracy; but when the right protests, we consider it contemptible and laughable.

If they seem poorly served by their education, it's not an indictment of them, it's of the educational system we all know is in such poor shape. And there are plenty of reasons people don't finish school; frequently people drop out because their family needs them to work, because they need the money. I have to wonder how many of the commenters are acquainted with such a situation.

I mean, fine, perhaps some of them are bigoted, many of them are ignorant or deluded, but you have to respect the fact that they are justifiably worried about their future, and that they are working within the democratic system in order to be heard. They have concerns, and these really ought to be addressed, even if the way they voice them is a little funky.

Look, the Republicans don't envision turning the extreme right into a force of storm troopers-- if these people get too out of hand, the Republicans will be happy to call the dogs on them, because ultimately they want what any politician wants, a kind of stable tension between opposing forces which maintains the status quo. But the fringe right (like the fringe left) has utility as a way of putting people in conflict with each other, and preventing them from coming to some sort of mutual agreement and understanding...

Having said that, there are many people who would pull a Dennis Miller at this point and switch sides, because many people just have to believe in something and have to pick a side; but I'm better than that! I will continue to sneer at everybody equally. :)

[note- this is not an April 1st joke]
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Dmitry Medvedev messes up Negativland song; film at 11.
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See? It's just like I said. Everyone loves escaped primates!
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"Kevin Spacey and Kevin Pollak can't appear in the same movie... the entire space-time continuum would implode! It would be like having Anthony Hopkins and Ian Holm in the same film... disaster! The moon turning to blood!"
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