Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Amazing World of Love Dolls: Not Just for Sex

Most of us have seen a sex doll at some point or another—in a funny movie, maybe a joke at a bachelor party, or maybe while paging through a “specialty” catalog or visiting a certain type of store—and these inflatable ladies with their crude and obvious gaping mouths and cartoonish features made us wonder how anyone could stretch their imagination enough to get, um, intimate with them.

And then along came the movie Lars and the Real Girl (2007, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0805564/ ) , which enlightened us to the presence of love dolls that were far more lifelike, and for whom, protagonist Lars (played by Ryan Gosling) informs us, people pay thousands of dollars. Well, I must say, although the doll in that movie was decidedly more lifelike (in a creepy way), she was still pretty un-human. I didn't think too much about love dolls beyond that.

Recently, I saw a job posting for a writer to compose copy for a website selling these love dolls, however, and there was a link to click so that the prospective writer could check out the subject matter in order to decide if writing about high-end sex toys was their cup of tea. I'm pretty open-minded about subject matter, so I considered applying. I clicked the link, and I was amazed by what I saw. The love dolls were dressed, posed and photographed professionally to look very realistic and appealing.

But my amazement was not just that the dolls were far more realistic--gone are the strangely gaping mouths, to be replaced by a slightly open and realistic aperture made of soft, stretchable silicone--and actually very pretty, in a Barbie-doll kind of way (not to mention that the original Barbie was based on a German sex doll, which explains her originally improbable proportions). The real surprise is that there seems to be so much more to the love dolls than use as a sex toy.

Fascinated, I did more research and checked out other sex doll websites, as well. Based on the ad copy, as well as some sample FAQs, it appears that the customers for sex dolls treat them more like loved ones than sex objects; that is, the main purpose seems to be companionship, rather than physical gratification. According to the website, many customers don't even use the dolls for sex at all! Seems like a lot of men like playing dress-up with their silicone companions, and some love dolls are specifically made and advertised as having fingernails that can be painted. An episode of National Geographic's Taboo on this subject confirmed that men like to chat with their love dolls and are happy enough that their “girlfriends” don't chat back. I guess there is someone for everyone!

Image from Wikimedia Commons  -https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sandy_sex_doll_or_poseable_mannequin.jpeg
View license here  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Translation and Pronunciation Key for Japanese Lyrics from “Love Letter to Japan” by The Bird and the Bee

Those of you who have become enthralled by The Bird and The Bee’s song “Love Letter to Japan” from the second album, Ray Guns are Not Just the Future, and its accompanying adorable video (watch it here) may be frustrated by the verse in Japanese. I take pity, fans. I have a real live Japanese person who has helped me with this, and I will now tell you the Japanese lyrics from “Love Letter to Japan”, how to spell and pronounce them, and what they mean.

About two thirds of the way through the song (in the video for “Love Letter to Japan”, this corresponds to the dream sequence of the boy dancing in front of the Buddha statue), the following verse is heard:

Nishi kara higashi heto
Anata no tokoro nitondekitano
Touimishinori o anata no soba ni itakute
Kono omoi o subete
Anata ni sasagemasu

To sing along, here is the pronunciation for the Japanese:

NEE-shee KAH-rah HEE-gah-shee heh-TOH
AH-nah-tah noh TOH-koh-roh nee-TON-deh-kee-TAN-oh
TOH-oh-ee-MEE-shee-noh-ree OH
AH-nah-tah noh SOH-bah nee EE-tah-koo-TEH
KOH-noh OH-moh-ee OH soo-bee-TEH
Ah-nah-TAH nee sah-sah-GEH-mah-soo

(NOTE: This is not exactly how the words would be pronounced in an actual Japanese conversation, as the syllables in this verse are stressed in order to fit the beat of the song. The pronunciation for the individual syllables is correct, but I have followed the accents of the words the way they are heard in the song)

Now for the translation. The literal meaning of the words is as follows:

From the West to the East
I have flown to your place
I have come a long way to be near you
I will give you all my feeling

For anyone who knows the song, this is obviously the translation of the first (and oft-repeated) verse:

From the West to the East
I have flown to be near you
I have come all this way to be close, to be here with you
And now, all my heart I will lay down precisely at your feet

So, mystery solved, kids. Enjoy singing along!

Image from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/asia-ceremony-chinese-dress-1822520/

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Top Five Gift Cards for the Goth Kid: Christmas Made Easy for Teen Gift-Giving

Teenagers are hard enough to buy for in the first place (the last thing you want on Christmas morning is that all-too-familiar heavy sigh / eye roll combination), but if your kid has specialized into being a goth, what’s a mainstream parent or grandparent to do? Fear not; goth has been around long enough now that there are actually stores that cater specifically to the style. Also, there are plenty of ‘regular’ stores you may not have thought of that stock useful components of the goth style. Your black-clad existentialist will surely appreciate cards from any of these stores. Who knows, he or she might even smile!

1. Hot Topic. You might not know about this store, but your goth kid surely does. This is the vaguely scary-looking place in the mall that always plays the ‘creative’ music and appears to be some sort of neon-adorned cave. Hot Topic is the goth mecca, at least if you live in the suburbs. Your goth kid can satisfy his or her t-shirt needs, whether it be bands you’ve never heard of, twisted cartoon characters like Happy Bunny, or even superheroes. Hot Topic also carries spike-laden jewelry and accessories, temporary tattoos, stickers, cards, and some pretty cool goth clothes, including vampire chic (yes, there is such a thing). If you were trying to figure out where your son got those floppy black pants with all the straps and buckles, not to mention the fishnet shirt, now you know!

2. Spencer’s Gifts. Your mall might not have a Hot Topic, but I can’t remember ever seeing a mall with no Spencer’s, so worry not—Spencer’s will step into the goth breach with its selection of black tee shirts, creepy posters and assorted to-die-for goth bedroom accessories like black lights, “static balls” (those clear spheres with the purple lightning inside), and lava lamps. Spencer has a lot of adult-themed products, however, so this might not be appropriate for younger Goths. On the other hand, if they’ve run free at the mall at any time in the past, it’s pretty much guaranteed they’ve already seen the fuzzy handcuffs and whatnot.

3. Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million or other book store. Believe or not, your goth kid is probably very much into the reading. Goth girls will go crazy for vampire romance (yep, also a thing). There also plenty of other books that might interest a goth, from other vampire or magic lore to Marilyn Manson’s autobiography, The Long Hard Road out of Hell. Bookstores also carry plenty of fan magazines any goth would love, as well as some fairly avant garde literary and art magazines, like Juxtapoz.

4. FYE or other music store. Book stores, above, usually have a music section, but to add variety (or if your kid can’t stand the ever-present waft of mocha lattes coming from the coffee bar), give a gift card from an actual music store. There isn’t a teenager alive, goth or not, who will not find something they can’t live without in a music store. That gift card will most likely be incinerated in one visit, and frankly, how much better can you do?

5. Lowe’s or Home Depot. This may seem counterintuitive—how is your teen, who can barely drag himself out of bed, going to be interested in home improvement? Frankly, you will be amazed at the industriousness on display once you have given the okay for Little Dead Boy or Vampirella to decorate his or her own room. He or she can get jet black or hellfire red paint, dropcloths, brushes or rollers, and masking tape here, not to mention lots of chrome hardware and a rather impressive selection of chain, some of which may end up on your delighted goth kid.

So you see, it isn’t all that hard to shop for your goth teens. The secret is to let them shop for themselves, making it truly a Merry Christmas, indeed (or at least as merry as Little Dead Boy gets).

Image from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/boy-man-punk-emo-goth-grunge-414533/

Sunday, September 16, 2018

How to Get Rid of Magazine Clutter

A lot of people these days look at their news and entertainment online, but many folks, like me, still enjoy getting comfy on the couch and flipping through the pages of an actual magazine. I am subscribed to about three or four magazine titles, and I am happy to see a new issue in my mailbox. I mean seriously, with friends and family communicating via email, text, social media, and instant messaging, it's rare to see anything in the box besides bills and junk mail, so it's a welcome diversion. It can also lead to magazine clutter, though.

For example, what do you do if, after reading a magazine, you don't want to throw it out? Each issue may have several articles, recipes, or maybe some book. music, or product recommendations you think would be useful to go back to. In my case, sometimes there are good photos that I want to use for reference in my artwork or in my art classes.

So, you could save all those issues (they do sell holders to archive magazines), but they pile up, month after month, and not only does that take up space and clutter up your house, it makes it harder and harder to find those individual articles that you wanted in the first place! So here's a tip that will reduce the clutter and save you space and time: Tear out the specific stuff you want and put the rest in the recycling bin. Out of any given magazine, you will probably only want about a tenth of the pages, at most. Instead of having those thick stacks of magazines, you can have much thinner stacks of articles, which you can then organize in folders by subject matter, making them easier to find in the future.

Simple, right? Now you can get rid of pounds of unnecessary paper out of your house. Enjoy all that extra space!

Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/magazines-magazine-journalism-press-614897/

Saturday, August 11, 2018

What Does it Feel Like to Pass Out?

I have seen a lot of questions posted on forum sites asking about how it feels to faint, or "pass out". If it has never happened, to you, I'm sure it's something you would be curious about. Some people try passing out on purpose just to see what it feels like, but that's very risky, and I wouldn't recommend it. I will tell you about my own experience with unconsciousness, which I remember very clearly, and I hope that will help satisfy your curiosity. 

I have fainted twice in my life, both on the same occasion. I had broken my leg very badly and had been hospitalized. While there, I found that I could not eat very much--the food was actually very good, but after just a few bites I would feel full. Not getting enough nutrition made my blood sugar very low (hypoglycemia), and when the physical therapist came in to start helping me work on walking again after being flat on my back for a few days, I fainted as soon as I stood up from the bed.

It was a very interesting experience. I was somewhat conscious of my surroundings--I could hear the therapist and the nurses exclaim, "Whoops, we lost her", but I couldn't open my eyes or communicate with them. When they popped a vial of ammonia under my nose to revive me, the popping sound seemed extremely loud. It did the trick, and I snapped back to consciousness. We gave it another try, but as soon as I stood all the way up, down I went again. It was the same as before; I heard them talking again, heard the vial pop, and the ammonia smell jerked me right back awake. They decided to try again later after getting my blood sugar up, and eventually everything was fine.

I've never fainted since. Although it was not at all a scary experience, I am aware, and grateful, that I was in a safe, comfortable place, in the company of trained medical personnel, and that I received immediate treatment. I would certainly not want to pass out under any other circumstances. Also, while it was interesting, I certainly would not do it on purpose! 

Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/bed-person-sleeping-woman-resting-1836316/

Saturday, April 21, 2018

How to Celebrate a Green Mother’s Day for an Eco-Friendly Mom

Some Environmentally Friendly Ideas for Your Favorite ‘Earth Mother’

These days, more moms are environmentally aware, and since it comes so soon after Earth Day, Mother’s Day is an excellent opportunity to keep the green spirit alive. Here are some eco-friendly alternatives to typical Mother’s Day traditions:

BREAKFAST IN BED: We always started Mother’s Day off right with breakfast in bed for Mom. This year, make it an environmentally friendly and socially responsible meal with fair-trade coffee or tea, vegetarian bacon or sausage (meat production uses far more of our precious natural resources than vegetable production), organic orange juice and fruit, and eggs from a local farmer’s market (if they are raised locally, no fuel has to be used to truck them long distances, and they are less likely to be from ‘factory farms’). Mom will be touched by your thoughtfulness and impressed with your responsibility.

THE CARD: Everybody knows Mom appreciates a card from her family and will especially treasure a homemade card. So, why not be green about it and make a card out of recycled materials? The back panel of a cereal box makes a nice, sturdy support that can be covered with all sorts of neat stuff, from pretty pictures cut from magazines to interesting little origami shapes folded from receipts, catalog pages, and even colorful junk mail. Use your imagination and give Mom a surprise and a laugh while saving all of that stuff from going into the landfill!

FLOWERS: Moms like flowers, but the traditional bouquet of cut blooms can pose significant environmental problems: exotic blossoms may be grown out of season in energy-sucking hothouses, or inorganic fertilizers and pesticides may be used. They are usually transported long distances, burning much fuel just to get them to your neighborhood florist. If you want to present Mom with a bouquet, try to get local, organically grown flowers. Better yet, why kill flowers when you can present Mom with a healthy, living plant that she can enjoy for years to come? If you have a backyard, choose a nice shrub to plant that is suited to your local climate. You can even make your backyard more nature-friendly by choosing a plant that will provide shelter or food for wild critters. My top recommendation for this purpose would be the buddleia, known as ‘butterfly bush’. It grows about 5-6 feet tall, blooms profusely and offers shelter to plenty of little birdies and beasties. And as you might guess from the name, butterflies go crazy for it. Mom will be reminded of your thoughtfulness year after year as she watches the butterflies dance around these gorgeous shrubs.

GIFTS: There are all kinds of gifts to please a green mom’s heart, from the large (Energy-saving appliances! New low-e windows! A hybrid car!) to the medium-sized (Solar-powered outdoor lighting! Thermal window blinds!) to the small (Recycled paper stationery! Organic cookies and treats!). Here’s an idea: Get Mom a pretty canvas tote bag filled with organic and cruelty-free (no animal testing) bath and beauty products. When the products are gone, Mom can take the tote bag to do her grocery shopping instead of having to use paper or plastic bags!

ACTIVITIES: A nice stroll-and-picnic in the park sounds more green and serene than a gas-burning drive to a crowded restaurant for brunch, doesn’t it? Mom gets to relax and take in some fresh air with the family, nobody has to stress out about table manners, and everyone gets to appreciate nature and get some exercise, to boot. If Mom is more of an activist type, you might plan something like an afternoon of planting trees or cleaning up a streamside or park. These activities are more about spending time together than spending money. After all, those are the memories you’ll really appreciate, and it’s nice to know that going green doesn’t require spending much ‘green’.

Now that you’ve read these suggestions, I hope you’ll be inspired to have a wonderfully green Mother’s Day, because there’s another special mom you should always keep in your heart—Mother Nature!

Image from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/nature-park-mother-girl-mama-3089907/

Friday, March 2, 2018

Spring Forward: How to Acclimate Your Body to the Time Change

Spring brings longer days, and we get to jump the gun a little with the start of Daylight Savings Time (DST). Okay, jokes have been made about how we cut off the top of the blanket and sew it to the bottom and then act like it's a longer blanket, and it's true the day doesn't actually get longer, but it sure does feel great to have an "extra" hour of daylight in the evening.

What doesn't feel so great is losing an hour of sleep on Saturday night. But with a little advance notice and planning, you can adjust your body to the change in just one week of very small, easy steps.

Sometimes we attempt to go to bed an hour early the night of the time change, but that's usually unproductive, as you most likely will be bored and frustrated, unable to fall asleep until your normal time, and so the next day, you'll be up and annoyed because not only did you lose an hour of sleep, you lost an hour lying in bed fruitlessly.

The key to success is an incremental approach that addresses your wake time as well as your sleep time. The week before the time change, start off by going to bed 15 minutes early and waking up at the normal time. The next night, go to bed at the same time as the night before, but get up 15 minutes earlier, then repeat the pattern until you have made the full transition, which will occur the night of the time change.

In other words, if you typically go to bed at 10pm and wake up at 6am, then:

On Saturday night, go to bed at 9:45 and wake up Sunday at the normal time (6:00)
On Sunday night . go to bed at 9:45 and wake up Monday at 5:45.
On Monday night, go to bed at 9:30 and wake up Tuesday at 5:45.
On Tuesday night, go to bed at 9:30 and wake up Wednesday at 5:30.
On Wednesday, go to bed at 9:15 and wake up Thursday at 5:30.
On Thursday, go to bed at 9:15 and wake up on Friday at 5:15.
On Friday, go to bed at 9:00 and wake up at Saturday at 5:15.
On Saturday, go to bed at 9:00 and wake up on Sunday at 6:00 (which will feel like 5:00, but you got your 8 hours!)
From Sunday on, you can go back to your normal times of 10pm - 6am. 

So, always give yourself the 15 minutes first, and then make the adjustment the next night. Don't worry if you can't make yourself sleep the extra time; just getting relaxed and in bed will give your body the signals that it is bedtime and will help you adjust. The second night, you will be more used to it, and the third night, you will have gotten up early, so your body will be ready for that extra sleep! This also works to combat "jet lag" if you are planning to travel. You may want to change your sleep in larger increments, but always give yourself the extra, first; no sense in being exhausted. 

As for getting up earlier than you "need" to for a few days, use the extra time to pack lunches, iron a shirt or two, have a real breakfast instead of a cup of coffee and an energy bar, do some gentle stretches to get limbered up, or hey, just take a little extra time to enjoy not having to rush!

This year the time change will occur Sunday, March 11th at 2:00 am (that's Saturday night to most of us). So hey, live it up tonight--you have an early bedtime tomorrow!

Image from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/alarm-clock-stand-up-morning-bed-1191561/