Saturday, May 4, 2019

How Elements Affect Your Zodiac Sign, Part Two: Relationships

In PartOne of this piece on zodiac elements, we learned why the four elements—earth, air, fire and water—were assigned to the different zodiac signs and what that means for each sign, as far as characteristics unto themselves. But what happens when you combine elements in different kinds of relationships, such as friends, family, coworkers or lovers? Can you predict how well you will get along with others based on your relative signs?

Earth Signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)—as we found in Part One, earth signs are very stable, faithful, stubborn, secure and fairly bossy. How does the element of earth mix with other elements?

Earth Earth= not bad, as you might expect; as long as the two earth signs share the same fundamental opinions of things, the stubborn side will be more of a bonding element than an obstacle. Earth signs can build a wall around, rather than between, themselves. Earth signs can make the best friends with other earth signs, although it is best if they are not the same sign (Taurus and Virgo work better than Virgo and Virgo, for example).

Earth Air (Gemini, Aquarius, Libra) = not a very good match. Earth is the most stable element and air is the most changeable, so as you might expect, the air signs are always making the earth signs feel off balance, and the earth signs strike the air signs as boring and stifling.

Earth Fire (Sagittarius, Aries, Leo) = also not great; fire signs like to be popular and are very outgoing, where earth signs can be homebodies, and when that stubborn side comes up against the natural instigator that is the fire sign, there’s going to be some scorched earth and some smothered flame.

Earth Water (Scorpio, Cancer, Pisces) = an excellent match, especially good for romantic partners, as the elements are not too much the same, but complementary. After all, if you mix earth and earth, you just have more of the same, but if you mix earth and water, you can get some lovely mud. Water signs are adaptable but crave stability, which is exactly what earth signs offer. Water signs can offer a more sensitive and intuitive nature, which helps earth signs get in touch with their emotional side.

Air Signs (Gemini, Aquarius, Libra)—just as in real life, we have seen that air doesn’t mix at all with earth. What is the compatibility with the other elements for these playful, enthusiastic, irresponsible and impetuous sprites?

Air Air = good matches, as they are both spontaneous, fun-loving and go-with-the-flow. The best friend matches, especially because air signs love to analyze, and who better to do that with than a friend who loves to hash things over as well?

Air Fire (Sagittarius, Aries, Leo) = excellent match in friendship, even better in love; fire signs love spontaneity and excitement, like air signs, but they are more driven, and will therefore give the air sign some focus. A fire sign would make a great boss for an air sign.

Air Water (Scorpio, Cancer, Pisces) = ah, well, you know water and air don’t ever really mix in nature—the air just bubbles up and out, which is likely to happen in relationships. Water wants a stable and predictable mate, not putting much stock in last-minute plans and rescheduling or in dreamy promises for the future that get countermanded by one of air’s typical mind-changes.

Fire Signs (Sagittarius, Aries, Leo) – We have noted that fire signs get on poorly with earth and well with air. Is this popular sign friendly with itself, or does it combust? Does water dampen its spirits?

Fire Fire = there’s combustion, but it’s good. I would recommend air as a romantic partner, but another fire sign makes a great friend, although there is some chance that their naturally competitive and show-off-y aspects could lead to some extremes. Bosses, if you really want to see some production spikes at work, make your fire signs captains of opposing teams!

Fire Water (Scorpio, Cancer, Pisces) = as you might guess, water can dampen fire’s crackling little flame, and fire can get water pretty steamed. This combination can be extremely good for a casual sex relationship, though, so if you can go into it with open eyes and keep emotions out of it (very difficult for the water sign), it will be great…for the short term.

Water Signs (Scorpio, Cancer, Pisces) – Water likes to make mud with earth, can’t hold on to air, and things can get steamy with fire, in good ways and bad. So how does this intuitive, emotional sign wash with others of the same element?

Water Water = very well, actually. Although as usual it is recommended that two of the exact same sign do not pair up (dreamy Pisces, fussy Cancers and intense Scorpios need a little break from themselves, not a double dose), two water signs are a lovely match, adapting to each other and developing an intimate bond on their shared emotional level. A breakup between two water signs is a devastating thing, but the relationship is always worth having. As coworkers, water signs can be great because of their intuitive bond, but if there is a conflict at work, they have to be careful not to fan the flames because of their sensitivity.

Image from Pixabay

Friday, March 8, 2019

How Elements Affect Your Zodiac Sign, Part One: The Basics

What’s your zodiac sign? Aquarius, maybe? Okay, do you know what element that is? Water, right? Well, nope; the sign of the water-bearer is actually associated with the element of air. So what’s Pisces, the fish, you say, cynically, earth? No, Pisces is a water sign, but the desert-dweller, Scorpio, is also a water sign. Maybe these don’t seem too logical, but trust me, the element associated with your zodiac sign is there for a good reason, and finding out more about the characteristics of your element will help quite a bit in understanding your motivations and in dealing with other people.

Earth Signs – The earth signs of the zodiac are Capricorn (December 22 - January 20), Taurus (April 21 – May 21), and Virgo (August 24 – September 22). As you might expect, earth is the most stable element, and these signs are steady, reliable and loyal. On the other hand, you have the downside of stability: People born under these signs may have unwavering convictions, but they do have an awfully hard time seeing other points of view because of that. They tend to be quite stubborn and frequently set in their ways. Earth signs dwell in their bodies, tending to enjoy pleasures of the flesh, like eating and sex.

Air Signs – The air signs of the zodiac are Aquarius (January 21 –February 18), Gemini (May 22 – June 21), and Libra (September 23 – October 23). The ever-changing element of air governs these signs, so these folks have a tendency to change things—plans, ideas, even feelings—without a lot of notice. Air blows hot and cold, sometimes in the same day or even the same moment. Air signs dwell in their minds, constantly analyzing situations, frequently second-guessing themselves and others.

Water Signs – The water signs of the zodiac are Pisces (February 19 – March 20), Cancer (June 22 - July 22) and Scorpio (October 24 – November 22). The adaptive element of water governs people born under these signs. Water signs are very intuitive, often sensing when a situation is right or wrong well before finding out the facts. Incredibly sensitive (often TOO sensitive), water signs dwell in their hearts and are ruled by their emotions, however much they may try to resist that.

Fire Signs – The fire signs of the zodiac are Aries (March 21 - April 20), Leo (July 23 – August 23), and Sagittarius (November 23 – December 21). Like a brightly burning flame, fire signs are exciting, extroverted and love being the life of the party. They are very friend-oriented and enjoy being popular, but also tend to be self-centered (not necessarily with any intention of doing so) and are frequently incorrigible instigators, always trying to see what they can get other people to do (that, they do on purpose). Attracted to fine possessions and successful friends, fire signs dwell in the world.

Now that you are more familiar with the element that governs your sign, think about the people you know. Are there some folks you just don’t “get”? Others who seem to share your feelings to a tee? Elements play a great role in compatibility in any relationships, whether friendships, love matches or just coworker relations. You will find out more about how the elements interact in Part Two of my article. 

Image from Pixabay

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, ) , 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  -
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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

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

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!

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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! 

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