Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Numbered post: Music, Men, and LDTK

1. I found this via Mosellegreen, an internet friend, and I love it: All My Internet Friends.
There are those who say I spend a little too much time online
Sometimes I agree, but on the whole I think I’m doing fine
Click, buzz
I feel strong because
All my internet friends are here with me

2. I've had an interesting suggestion that I set up an author page at CoverDoll, which probably does make sense.

3. Also, the 2009 Men on a Mission Calendar is on sale, for anyone who might be interested.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I am having a sudden craving for zombies (that came out wrong--I don't mean as canapes or anything; I'm just in the mood to watch zombie movies and read zombie fiction). This must be a side effect of missing North American Halloween.

So, dear people, I will be immeasurably grateful for zombie commentfic, even if it is only a sentence or two long. I particularly like real person zombies: Ayn Rand, Vladimir Putin, Sarah Palin. Okay, it is admittedly difficult to picture Sarah Palin as a zombie, but I can totally picture as the plucky heroine defending her Alaskan town from, say, zombie!Putin. SOMEONE WRITE THAT.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I've started looking for vintage medical ads, and covers from vintage romances featuring doctors and nurses. No, this isn't just because I'm hopped up on pain pills as I try to wean myself off caffeine, although I can't deny that that might be a factor.

LJ's vintage_ads community posts these from time to time. Like this post, full of pharmaceutical goodness. I'm particularly intrigued by Placidyl; from what I can tell, it made you dress funny and then knocked you flat-out unconscious.

And Mornidine, a drug so powerful it caused you to cook breakfast.

Oh, and vintage ads featuring doctors, though advertising non-medical products, would also suit my purposes. Like those Camel Cigarette ads.

(The probable source of most of the vintage ads seems to be Whispering Ibis' collections on Flickr: set two doesn't have exactly what I need, but is still entertaining; set one is just perfect.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Further links found while browsing

1. Mormon Depression in Marriage. It's actually mildly depressing just reading that, honestly, especially the description of the utter misery that two well-intentioned people can so easily create for themselves...
For an example of how this might play out, consider a not-so-rare scenario of a somewhat undersexed husband who loves his wife, but also looks at pornography against his wife's wishes. He is probably attracted to the fantasy of sexuality that is offered by the porn, rather than lusting after the women or actually wanting sex with them. He may actually be trying desperately to fight the conscious or unconscious urge to find a new mate, attempting to use pornography to keep that urge from becoming irresistible. The wife, who has also suppressed her own sexuality, will usually interpret this in some personally demeaning way that justifies a deep feeling of being wronged by her husband. She might see her husband's behavior as tantamount to cheating, that she's "not enough", that she "can't compete with those perfect bodies". She will probably naturally settle into a pattern of punishing her husband by further reducing sex or sexuality. This forces him to hide his behavior from his wife, further relying on porn or some other activity to satisfy his needs, ultimately disassociating his wife even further from his sexuality.

2. Remember Todd Bentley? Tattooed across his sternum are military dog tags that read "Joel's Army." They're evidence of Bentley's generalship in a rapidly growing apocalyptic movement that's gone largely unnoticed by watchdogs of the theocratic right." "Joel's Army" shows up a lot when you're googling Christian Fundamentalist blogs--most of the references I saw on CF blogs, I should add, were warning against the movement, not promoting it.
[This is, oddly, topical, as now "Joel's Army" is showing up in the Daily Kos with reference to Sarah Palin, although I haven't had time to sort out WTF the DK is saying, exactly.]

Which brings me to 3. The Call.
Two years after the inception of this dream, a woman approached Lou Engle and asked if he had ever considered putting young people on the Mall like the Promise Keepers did in 1997. Taken back and amazed, Lou replied that two years prior he had been burdened with a dream to see the youth of our nation gathering at the National Mall. He confessed he actually prophesied this coming gathering would be a sign from God that there was still hope for our nation. The woman promptly wrote a check for $100,000, setting into action a whole chain of supernatural events that would eventually result in the TheCall DC on September 2nd, 2000. God’s blessing was clearly manifest throughout the day as the presence of the Holy Spirit infused the prayer, worship and intermittent words of encouragement from our nations spiritual leaders. The result of one man's obedience to the God-given dream was an attendance of over 400,000 young people.

And also 4. The JCC.
ground//zero is not a place, it's not a time, but it is a movement transported by people that will impact this generation with a message that instills hope and a purpose. The movement meets Wednesday nights.
Why can't I find something like that only for some movement comprising the best bits of Fogeyism, etiquette manuals, retro fashion, and Aristasia? Le sigh.

5. Higher Love: What Women Gain from Christian Romance Novels.
Simply, women know the difference between what they read and what they want in real life. They do, however, use the books to change their individual realities. Critics do not measure this, though, because they do not grant readers agency, seeing them as passive consumers, swallowing novels without intelligent processing.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Further Mormon Romance Links

Those of you who haven't seen my last post are probably wondering about that "further."

Eugene Woodbury's Angel Falling Softly is a romantic vampire story written by a vampire, but one which wasn't actually marketed as LDS fiction, which I learned from Moriah Jovan's post.

And this is Moriah Jovan on genre. I seriously want to read her book now, even though it sounds VERY Mormon and I may miss some references because of that: "The story takes place over the course of 5 years and oh, by the way, they’re all in their late 30s and early 40s and wow is that so not part of genre romance." I mean, yes, that's her blog so obviously that's a self-promotional post, since SELLING her book is part of her job and all, but I think it sounds like a potentially interesting read. I want it. (Also found via her blog, though it has nothing to do with anything I'm trying to find right now: there is a Conservative blog called Absinthe and Cookies.)

And a blog post that suggests a purpose for LDS erotica.

I'm still seeking pre-existence/Mormon romance novel links, so if you find any and care to hand them along, I'd be delighted.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Eternal Love

Okay, I was going to post about the Visionary Daughters today, but then Tharain and Amy Star linked me to an informative post about Twilight, and I fell down a rabbithole, and so instead you're getting links about Pre-Existence. I'll get back to the Daughters next time.

1. First up, Saturday's Warrior, a musical which begins...oh, let me just quote Wikipedia: While waiting to be born in the pre-existence, a family of seven promises each other that they will always be there for each other ("Pullin' Together"). The youngest, Emily, is afraid when her turn to be born comes around, their parents will be tired of having kids, and she won't be born into their family. But moving swiftly along, there's also romance: Julie, the second-oldest daughter, and Todd, another spirit in the pre-existence, promise each other that, while on earth, they will somehow find each other and get married. (You guys, at this point I would basically give a limb to hear the soundtrack to this. Or, okay, not a limb, but something.)

LDS romance novels, if they exist, must have a great time using this "love in the pre-existence" idea. Don't you think? I am obviously not the only one to wonder about this; I wonder if certain aspects of Mormon theology and history (polygamy, agency, eternal marriage, pre-existence) lead to any interesting and/or significant differences between the Mormon and the mainstream novels (and how those markets developed). (That's from the comments, not the main post.)

2. Okay, googling this ("lds pre-existence romance") brought me to a semi-coherent Harmonian LDS blogpost: Some people have a flesh romance. The other person's body appeals to them, and the relationship is mostly built on that focus. Others feel that looking at the person's face and eyes appeals to them, and the body being a reasonable shape is sufficient. It is a pleasing to the eye experience. But then there are those who's relationship doesn't focus on either of these aspects. They feel a mental oneness with the person, and couldn't care less what they look like. Actually, that does perfectly explain some aspects of Harmonianism as well. Coincidence? I think not.

3. But back to LDS romance novels: In Your Place is pre-existence-y. As is The Path of Dreams, reviewed here.

C'mon, there have to be more than that. Links, anyone? Recommendations? There are fascinating things a romance novelist could do with that whole pre-existence thing. Deseret have a romance novel section, but I can't tell which ones meet my specific criteria of being based on the idea of pre-existence being a factor in romance and marriage.

4. Somewhat off-topic, but funny: Seriously, So Blessed! is a parody of LDS "mommy blogs."
Also, a Mormon Dating Horror Story: He attempted the yawn and stretch to get his arm around her, made it PAINFULLY obvious he wanted to hold her hand by putting his and palm up on his knee and then opening and closing it repeatedly, and so forth and so on. The retelling is hilarious.

5. And this post wouldn't be complete without at least one thing you wish you hadn't seen, so here, have some Mormons Exposed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Romance Covers: Special Careers Edition

I freely admit I'm cheating with this first cover. It doesn't depict a "career girl," or even a working girl (or a stripper--more about that later). I just wanted to stick it in as an early version of "The Runaway Bride."
Bride in Flight

She looks overjoyed, doesn't she? Heartwarming, really.

Moving right along. This next cover is clipped, but I love it anyway. Partly for the title, which not only calls to mind girls' books of the "Cherry Ames, Army Nurse" variety, but is also defiantly capslocked and stubbornly devoid of dash or a colon. It's CAROL TRENT AIR STEWARDESS, damn it, she doesn't need punctuation!
Carol Trent Air Stewardess

You have to love the way he's staring directly at her chest. I mean, he's not merely casually checking her out, there. He has an expression of intense concentration such as you or I might wear when doing calculus.

I've come to the conclusion that it used to be considered very romantic to depict people--or, really, just their heads--staring off into space and not noticing one another at all.
Fly Away, Love

I was going to comment on the attractions of pilots and uniforms, but I hardly need to. Even in disconnected cover art which looks like it was drawn with crayons, he looks good. Damn.

You know what else is awesome about pilots in romance novels? They're responsible and manly and yet don't have quite the same duty of care towards their passengers as, say, doctors do towards patients. Why am I bringing that up? You'll see.
Cobweb Morning

Sorry, but yes, the cover really is JUST THAT YELLOW. And you're not going to understand why this made the list without a quotation from the back cover.
Alexandra Dobbs knew just how she felt about the inscrutable doctor, Taro van Dresselhuys--but their young patient, Penny, seemed to feel that way about him too. Unfortunately all the cards were stacked in Penny's favor.
And by "all the cards were stacked in Penny's favor," the author apparently means "Penny is not only pretty and possibly under-aged, but an amnesiac!" I'm imagining an inscrutable Ethics Committee probably had to get involved to sort that out.

In contrast, the Doctor and Nurse on this next cover positively exude professionalism.
The Mercy Heroes

...professionalism and heavy makeup.
I'm not entirely sure this is a romance novel, really, because in addition to the standard "brilliant surgeon, devoted to his calling" and "a competent and beautiful nurse, in love and afraid to show it," we have action, and lots of it:
Together they brave a night of blinding snow to pick up an accident case suffering from severe head injuries. They fly through the storm-tossed sky, subdue the crazed patient, race against time...all to save the life of a destitute tramp.
Notice how he has to be brilliant, while she merely has to be competent (and, not coincidentally, beautiful; if she'd been plain, would she have had to be brilliant too? How does the scoring system work in romance novels, does anyone know?).

The bar is lower for our next hero.
Gregor Lotharian Surgeon

Not "brilliant surgeon" or "dedicated surgeon;" it's enough that he's a surgeon. That alone makes him sufficiently desirable, or it did back in 1962, anyway. Nowadays women would probably expect him to have an adequate personality or to dress well or something, God, WHAT DO WOMEN WANT? It was much easier when the rules were clear: go to med school, get chicks.
I also keep misreading that title as "Gregor Lothario," but that's because I'm confusing him with Doctor Woodward, below.

You know, the title of this one made me expect it to be about a nun, which, yes, I know doesn't make any sense for a romance novel.
Heaven is Gentle

It didn't help that the back cover refers to "Sister Eliza Proudfoot," which I stared at in complete confusion for several minutes before the phrase "nursing sister" surfaced from somewhere deep within my memory, dispelling my horrible suspicion that someone had written a romance novel featuring a nun.
I should have guessed, though, from the stethoscope around the man's neck; clearly he is a doctor, so of course the heroine is a nurse. Or an amnesiac. I DON'T EVEN CARE, as long as she's not a nun.

But that's nothing to the misreadings this next cover lends itself to.
Sister Pussycat

Back in the days when there were no helpful websites to generate your stripper name, it was completely possible to read that title with a straight face.
Bonus: the unattractive hero in the vest made from a tablecloth is, of course, a doctor. "Doctor David Jasper," to be precise.

The aforementioned Lothario:
Doctor Woodward's Ambition

From the front cover, you'd guess that Dr. Woodward's ambition consisted of marrying a nurse, and living happily ever after on a diet of fruit and pep pills. Seriously, no one looks as perky as these two without the aid of medication.
But then you read the back cover, and suddenly it all seems so much more sordid.

Why yes: I could resist him. I'm resisting him RIGHT NOW, aided by the nausea induced by his sleeziness and his cartoon moustache.

And I can't end this without something more recent, something from an era which offers something new:
A Doctor in her Stocking

Yes, I know: another damned doctor. That wasn't the "something new" I meant.
What I meant is, the heroine is a pregnant waitress (not a nurse!) with a dead (and formerly deadbeat) husband, and there are explicit sex scenes between her and "Reed Atchison, M.D.," who offers to let her live at his place because he's lost a bet. The sex scenes are especially special since the entire book spans less than two weeks, not to mention the whole "hugely pregnant" thing. Sex during pregnancy, imho, takes more trust than can be established in two weeks.
Also it all takes place at Christmas. And "it all" includes the heroine giving birth, right before the requisite proposal. *facepalm* I don't even know where to start with explaining why I find this all profoundly unromantic...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ghost Fandom

You know what else I like? Ghost-entertainment schlock.

I like ghost stories, and haunted hikes, and Ouija boards. I like creepy movies, especially that whole based-on-a-true-story genre, wherein 'based on' usually means, as far as I can tell, that someone associated with the film heard of an incident that led them to write a really creepy fictional work. I like the poorly-lit ghost hunt television shows, the ones where various groups of people wander around in the dark screaming at cobwebs and flickering lightbulbs.
Shot with the ubiquitous paranormal night vision camera -- which means you can't actually see anything -- the episode shows the investigative team wandering about in the woods at 3 a.m.[1]
I mean, c'mon, how could I not love Girly Ghost Hunters? It has cute young people, scenes so dark I can't see anything, and, as far as I can tell, nothing ever happens, but there's a lot of shrieking. It's like they filmed a series of sleepovers. And they drive around in a Winnebago.

Something I like way, way less than entertaining ghost schlock? Half-assed scepticism. I don't want anyone to convert to a belief in ghosts; I just wish adult people would stop acting like edgy twelve-year-old atheists showing off their newfound cynicism. Seriously, watching adults trot out the 'anyone who believes this stuff must be stupid' argument bores me. Be as sceptical as you want, but, you know: chill. Unless you're the fraud squad or Harry Houdini or a character from the classic Scooby Doo eps.,* chances are you're just poking the bereaved (or, even less productively, the genuine crazies) while you fail to entertain or enlighten the rest of us, however much you claim to be helping the ignorant. Seriously, we know already that belief, proof, and entertainment are different categories. No, honestly, we do. And we heard you the first time.

Besides, if all the sceptics were as bright as they want us to pat them on the back for being, they'd move on to other questions: what purpose do these beliefs serve? Why do people believe this stuff? Wait, do people even believe this stuff, or is it a kind of shared social activity, a gleeful willing suspension of disbelief?

Because my own scepticism jacks right through the freaking roof when I see people lazily equating watching these shows, or joining paranormal groups, with actual belief.
Following the airing of television shows like “Ghost Whisperer,” “Medium,” “Paranormal State,” and “Ghost Hunters,” many Americans have been organizing their own ghost hunting groups. As reported in a recent article on, ratings for “Ghost Hunters” have doubled in the last four years, as have memberships to local chapters of paranormal investigation clubs. ...1. Are ghost investigation programs making believers out of viewers, or have the believers always been there?[2]
I'm not even convinced everyone sitting in their church-or-temple believes what they say they believe; I sure as hell don't automatically think everyone on a ghost hunt is serious.

*Actually, if you think you're a fraud investigator, Harry Houdini, or someone off Scooby Doo?** Consult a trusted medical professional.

** Helpful hint: one of them is dead, one is a cartoon, and quite honestly I doubt you're the other one either.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

That post I've been threatening to do.

Last weekend I found myself temporarily in the Slough of Despair, and driven by some instinct I didn't know I possessed, I turned on the Country Music channel and wallowed in depression for a while. The depressive funk lifted, as such things usually do, leaving only slight existential anxiety (which should lift in turn once I start taking steps to deal with the Underlying Issues. My Underlying Issues: don't worry, this post isn't about showing you them).

It's about country music.

I'll just state up front: my people don't do country music. The number of family members that have wandered through my livingroom in the past three days and gone, "What are you watching?" is beginning to amuse me, and is doing nothing to make me switch channels--not that I choose programming just to irritate passersby or anything, but nothing makes me want to check something out faster than a universally held belief that I wouldn't like it. How do they know I won't like it? I've never tried it. I don't even know I won't like it.

I have the distinct impression that if I'd answered "hardcore porn," that would have been less perplexing to my family than when I confessed to watching CMT. That's the Canadian webpage, there.

But here's the thing: I'm enjoying it. Well, some of it. I admit some of the twanging twanginess twangs my nerves, and the sitcom portion of the channel does nothing for me whatsoever. But the channel is slickly put together and pretty to look at; the online fanspace is likewise pretty; and some of the music has grown on me. Fast. Like a really quick-moving fungus.

I don't know why I hadn't realized country music videos were so stylized and visually appealing. I mean, I hadn't ever actually seen any, but I've seen music videos for other genres, so why did I think these would be different? I suppose having only heard country music on the radio, and some godawful pieces at that, I'd thought the homegrown style would translate into unappealing videos. It clearly doesn't: some of what I've seen in the past few days has been gorgeous. A lot of it strikes me as slightly downscale in its appeal--too many overly-made-up women for my taste--but then, a lot of the lyrics deal directly with financial hardship and the struggle to survive and find joy on a budget, so...fair enough, then.

And they aren't all caked in make-up by a long shot--or, to be slightly more accurate, they probably are, but with the kind of skill and taste that ends up looking subtle rather than garish. Let's take Sugarland, who have a video called "All I Want to Do" that, as of the moment of posting, you can listen to at their website. The lead singer has a fresh-faced look that probably took forever to achieve, but I don't care, because I don't have to do her makeup or wear her makeup: I just get to admire the end result, and I think she looks lovely.

(Her bandmate is less gorgeous, which brings me to a curious observation: while there's no lack of male eye candy on CMT, there are definitely a lot of...well, very ordinary looking guys. I don't mean to disparage ordinary looking people, as I'm certainly one of them, but the contrast between the unfailingly beautiful women and the often-near-fug men is perplexing. Although I will in fairness add that a black cowboy hat goes a long way towards improving anyone's looks. I'm starting to covet one of those hats myself.)

Anyway. Sugarland. Definitely on my things I like list, despite one beloved family member recoiling in horror from "that twangy voice." It's like we're hearing completely different things. I mean, I hear the twang, but I think it's kind of cute.

Also on my "wait, I think I like this" list is Lisa Brokop, who has song out now called Break It that I love everything about--the lyrics, her voice, every single item of clothes she wears in the video. And I can't find the video, sorry, but the CMT page on her has the song up, so you can at least listen to it.

Country music, aside from being the music of depression and financial hardship, is also the go-to place for kickass breakup songs, and Taylor Swift's Picture to Burn is one of those.

Lest you think I was slagging off all the guys who do country music, let me throw you some hot male talent.

Exhibit A: Shane Yellowbird. His music is slightly too something for my tastes (too "traditional country," maybe?), but his voice is lovely, and he's pretty damned easy on the eyes.

And the video for I Wanna Be In The Cavalry by Corb Lund may actually be the single most gorgeous thing I've seen in months. Seriously: if I could have a custom-designed RealDoll, it would look--and just as importantly, dress--like this.

A couple of driveby complaints:
1. It's a very largely white genre, this.
2. And on a related note, about 99% of the women seem to be blonde. Seriously: other hair colours are okay, you know?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Who's in charge?

It's t_w's fault I'm posting this. Just for the record.

So. Once v handed me the Taken in Hand URL, I did some looking around the website, and I think t_b_c is right: for all that it's a defiantly men-in-charge concept, there's something about the tone that suggests otherwise.

[I shouldn't even have to tell you this, but the quotes that follow are not suitable for work, for children, for the easily squicked, and according to at least one friend of mine, it's possibly not good reading for abuse survivors. Or people who are just enraged by anti-feminist quotes.]

For instance, the author of My Treasure is clearly fighting a rearguard action.
"The one nestling in my arms is mine and she belongs to me. She approaches reality in different roles; when tackling the world, she is Woman, a link in the chain of Women. And when not in my arms, I will be the wind beneath her wings, or her loudest cheerleader, or simply get out of her way. But when at the end of the day, when she snuggles into my arms, when I bury my face in her hair, she is my treasure and mine to cherish and use, mine to compel and deny."[1]
Yeah, so you're All Man and totally The Boss of Her except when you're cheerleading or singing Bette Midler songs at her. Got it.

And the annoyingly titled Watch what she does, not what she says has a similar sort of bluster. It starts out compliant (When I was in college, I was trying to make myself into a man who values equality in all spheres of his life, as women kept saying that they wanted men who agreed with their political views), makes a brief jab at arguing with those Radical Feminists (Eventually the language of radical feminism disappears or diminishes as the relationship progresses, because the woman is in fact mistaken in thinking that she wants an egalitarian relationship in which man and woman provide precisely the same input financially and in every other way), and when we get to his own marriage, we find that his TiH victory consists of getting a woman to marry him:
On a personal note, I am married to the finest taken-in-hand woman in the world. Yes, she made me breakfast in bed this very morning!
Although she was never a feminist, she used be very opposed to marriage and even living in a couple relationship, and she used to say that men should not be in charge of a family, etc. etc.[2]
So his aggressive campaign of door-opening and gallantry has got him married--and, presuming he got what he wanted there, married to a woman who doesn't "provide precisely the same input financially,"--and all she has to do is sometimes make breakfast in bed for a guy she presumably loves anyway? SWEET. Seriously, sign me up: he sounds like an absolute darling, that man, and I'm willing to bet his wife adores him. In fact, once you get past the aggressive titles of some of their posts, a lot of these men--not all, but many--sound sweetly gallant and gentle.

Of course some of them are, ahem, stricter adherents to the whole Domestic Discipline thing, but luckily for my purposes they're also unintentionally hilarious. Like this guy, who obviously failed both Anatomy and Metaphor:
But it wasn’t just her behind that was exposed. It was also her heart. And I considered it the greatest gift that a woman could give to her man. And that’s exactly what I told her. And as I gently caressed her ‘heart’ I told her how much I love her. [3]
And to think I didn't expect to find anything to laugh about in that essay--its title was ominous (She may not know it yet, but I'm taking her in hand), and it opened with serious creepiness: "We have just begun our Taken In Hand relationship, my wife and I. She doesn’t yet know she’s in a Taken In Hand relationship." Uh. Yeah. Creepy.

But turns out even that guy, a practitioner of the full-blown over-the-knee spanking kind of Domestic Discipline, is a pussycat at heart, waiting for permission before he proceeds.
My wife had asked me to spank her about a year ago so that was running through my mind as I surfed. But when I spanked her last year it was so against the grain of everything that I had been taught at home and in society, that I was very uncomfortable with it....I was beginning to again appreciate my masculinity. I’d wanted to make a move on the first day but was a little too nervous.[4]
Say it with me: AWWWWWWWWW. He's just an absolute lamb, no? He's stepped up to his masculinity and taken control of their relationship by doing the thing she asked him to do in the first place. Seriously, I am probably more threatening than that guy.

Which lead us to Loving Female Authority, which in direct contrast to the overwhelming vibe of "Must shore up traditional male authority, if she'll let me" of the consensual spanking the TiH people go in for, boldly claims:
I have studied men, women, sexuality, and societal roles in great detail. I have come to understand submissive men and it is my goal to challenge the female to rise up and to assume her proper place in her relationship, which is to be in charge. [5]
While we're on the subject of FemDommes, there's also Around Her Finger, a word choice I Cannot. Even. Begin. to share my glee at, SRSLY, DYING OF LOLS NOW. To quote tlgn, "Also, AHF is totally about a submissive husband's needs, which his wife is supposed to accommodate. This seems a little...contrary to the point. And there's surprisingly little anal sex on that site."

Although honestly, the TiH wives, some of whom choose not to work outside the home and who get spanked if that's okay with them sound pretty firmly in control and empowered as well, if you think about it. I mean, they certainly don't sound as if they've been forced into a lifestyle they hate or anything. Plus, unlike the Loving Female Authority, there's no suggestion most of them end up dressed in leather lingerie and high heels. I don't know about you, but the minute someone tells me I should be wearing high heels to assert my authority, I start to be suspicious of their desire to empower me.
Wear high heel shoes whenever you can. A lot of men have foot and leg fetishes and seeing an attractive woman wearing high heel shoes can make them weak and submissive. Now, I understand about how uncomfortable they can be at times so you don't have to wear them all of the time but whenever you are going out somewhere and you want to feel extra sexy, don't forget about your shoes.[6, How To Unleash Your Female Power]
Yeah, no. The promised trade-off of "a man that would not only do all of his chores like cutting the grass and washing the cars, but would also do housework, the laundry, the grocery shopping, and even the cooking" is not worth the implied trade-off of spending the day in heels and PVC. If I'm going to be in charge, I'm also in charge of costuming. Not to mention, I don't think I could live with someone doing everything for me like that.

You know what's interesting, though? The Loving Female Authority site reaches for the Bible to reinforce its authority.
God also made you to be in authority over men. God created Eve to be Adam's "helper". The word helper in the Bible is translated from the Hebrew word "ezer". That word means one who helps from a position of authority. It is the same word that is used to describe God in many scriptures that declare how God will help us. It is always from a position of strength and authority. That is the position the female has over the male. [7, How To Unleash Your Female Power]
Which, of course, the Domestic Discipline people do too. Just the other way around.
A Christian Domestic Discipline marriage is one that is set up according to Biblical standards; that is, the husband is the authority in the household. The wife is submissive to her husband as is fit in the Lord and her husband loves her as himself. He has the ultimate authority in his household, but it is tempered with the knowledge that he must answer to God for his actions and decisions. He has the authority to spank his wife for punishment....In CDD, the husband has authority to spank the wife. The wife does not have authority to spank her husband.[8]
And since I've mentioned religion: the prize for Most New Age-y Site Calling Itself Christian goes to The Christian FemDomme.
Ok, so you've looked into yourself to make sure that you are coming at this from the right angle. Now you want to know how on earth can you fit being a female dominant with being a Christian. First off, be thankful for the way God made you. Don't allow people who may be very traditional make you feel bad because you aren't a meek mild submissive. Accept that its ok if they don't understand. Many won't understand how you can reconcile being a FemDomme with being a Christian. As long as you are right with God and not disobeying Him, you are ok.[9]

That last sentence makes me grind my teeth in irritation, for some reason. But it's worth clicking just to check out the convoluted reasoning, whereby it's okay to be a Christian FemDomme because you aren't usurping your husband's spiritual authority, you're just spanking him and stuff.

I hate to be cynical, but in the end--no pun intended--I can't help thinking these people are bringing out awfully big guns to try to justify a little power-exchange and spanking. I mean, do they really have to construct an elaborate "philosophy," complete with Biblical quotes, just to work out how to divvy up the housework and who gets to spank whom? I'm the first to agree sexuality is important, but it isn't the only, or even the most, important thing in life. And these sites keep seeming to try to say something more profound about male-female relationships and personal growth, but at the end of the day, the content is mostly just housework and sex (kudos to Taken in Hand for trying to have some deeper discussions than that). Depressing, really.

Though I will, in fairness, add the following insight from a wise friend: "The only thing is, there is a general impression that any idea of sexual specificity or difference has been really wiped out. I imagine these people think that they must start again from the ground up." He could well be right there; the parts I find tedious, the reiteration of who does what household chores, could indeed be because there are no shared cultural assumptions to fall back on. That would also explain why it reminds me of a rulebook for an elaborate game (like the instruction books that used to come with D&D kits): they can't assume any of their ideas and nuances will be "givens," so they have to spell them out over and over. Oddly, one of the clearest statements of the traditional division of labour comes from the LFD site: "his chores" are carwashing and lawnmowing, "her chores" (even if she does get him to do them) are laundry and cooking. Interesting.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Links found whilst Googling "Christian Erotica."

There are perfectly good, rational reasons why I'm looking up erotica and romance and Christianity and...okay, there's no good reason for the dolls. But for MOST of it, there's a rational explanation. It's just the RESULTS that are irrational.

1. A Little Leaven bills itself as "A Museum of Idolatry," and bears the not-quite-informative subtitle, "This Is What Happens When the Church Fails to Remain Faithful to the Correct Preaching and Teaching of God's Word." The "this" of that statement, oddly enough, includes Evangelical Sex, which is one of the things the blog monitors. Until I saw that blog, I'd never heard of churches that use sex as a means of attracting or maintaining members. I swear I meant "members" in the non-euphemistic way there, though the other meaning seems to be equally true of those churches. It's not all sex at A Little Leaven--recent posts include a Crucifix whistle and Astronaut Jesus--but there is, yeah, a fair lot of sex. Enough so that you can fetch up at the blog by googling "Christian Erotica," anyway.

A few examples, found via A Little Leaven:
i. Time Magazine: And God Said, "Just Do It." Nike might want to speak to God, or, if He was misquoted, to Time, about that.
ii. Intimate Issues, where, in the words of an unnamed couple, "We discovered that God’s Word is holy and hot..."
iii. Relevant Church (as distinct from all those irrelevant ones) hosts the 30-Day Sex Challenge.

2. Next up, KinkyChristians dot com: "It is the controversial viewpoint that a loving Christian husband will use his authority and headship in a marriage in a very proactive, non-passive way to help his wife grow and mature. She is expected to submit, and he is to love and protect her – both following the roles that conservative Christians often at least in general agree upon." I'll just interrupting the quoting for a moment to mention that, while the concept of a wife being unquestionably less mature than her husband is annoying, it's not a lot more annoying than the opposite assumption, that all men are like children at best--wanting toys, needing supervision, unable to dress themselves or relate in any emotionally sophisticated way--or at worst like teenagers in some sort of perpetual heat. That sort of casual reduction of men happens all the time in mainstream media, and it's just as dehumanizing and wrong. I know treating people as idiots based on their sex/gender is wrong, okay? I'm not condoning that. Just thought I'd point that out: VIEWS QUOTED HERE ARE NOT NECESSARILY MY OWN.

"This leads to a belief in limited physical discipline (God's chastising, such as in Hebrews 12 and Proverbs) to lovingly keep his wife accountable to his authority under God. In these relationships, the wife at times wants the relationship to be this way, feeling that the husband is showing practical love when he corrects her for sinful habits or other things." And then they very very very carefully state that this isn't BDSM, not at all, no sir, nothing like it. Because they wouldn't want you to have the wrong impression or think this was just for pleasure or anything. Although seriously, a different URL might go a long way towards image management there, guys. "Kinky Christians dot com" creates a certain impression.

"Keep in mind that this is all in the context of a Christian Marriage. In fact, pastors are involved with this concept. It is hard to judge how common this is, given the fear of being laughed at or judged if others find out that this is your conviction." A legitimate fear if I ever heard one, especially when you say things like "Passivity in a man is a denial of manhood - he is called to love her like Christ loves the church," a phrase which, although Biblical-ish, has regrettably left me with some rather unforgettable Good News: Christ tops.

3. But less hilariously, although arguably more erotically, that page is part of a whole larger....thing. I hesitate to use the word "movement," and I don't know if "trend" fits. It's a blending of Fundamentalist Christianity and BDSM, and it calls itself Domestic Discipline, and I've known about it for ages for reasons too convoluted to go into here. Anyway. The site I'm linking to there is Leah Kelly's Christian Domestic Discipline, all about spanking in a Christian context. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it, I guess. DISCLAIMER: THAT WAS NOT MEANT TO READ AS IF I WAS NECESSARILY PLANNING TO TRY IT.

It's difficult to pick just one thing to quote from their essays, but I've settled on this gem, from the section on introducing your spouse to the idea of CDD: "1. Husbands, you are in a stickier situation. It is one thing to tell your husband you need correction, but it is quite another to tell your wife she needs discipline. Take it slowly. Maybe consider introducing it to her a bit at a time." I think we can all agree with the (inadvertently graphic--at least, I hope that was inadvertent) soundness of that bit of advice.

4. I am going to assume that "Sex in Christ" is some sort of satire. It can't be real. I mean (and if you haven't turned back already, seriously, you might want to bail NOW):

Anal Sex in Accordance with God's Will has to be a joke, right? There is no way this was written to be taken seriously: "Are you saving yourself for your wedding night? The Devil wants you to fail, that’s why he puts stumbling blocks in your way. But God wants you to succeed, and that’s why he has given us an alternative to intercourse before marriage: anal sex. Through anal sex, you can satisfy your body’s needs, while you avoid the risk of unwanted pregnancy and still keep yourself pure for marriage." It has to be some ghastly parody.
And I can't even bring myself to quote their page about fisting.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Quotation, to re-humanize us all a bit.

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. ~C. S. Lewis

I don't often quote Lewis, but that, right there, pretty much nails what's so off-putting about those 'extreme outliers' who don't merely use RealDolls as playthings, but overinvest in them as an alternative to relationships with people--or who earnestly or angrily explain that they don't need a relationship, they have a vibrator/sleeve/really great porn.

(Though I confess I still believe Data, were he real and exactly as written, would have a soul. And so would Night.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Watching myself watch Absolute Boyfriend

So I've watched the first two episodes of Absolute Boyfriend, and aside from the cloying overblown 'cuteness' of the heroine, my immediate first reaction was to think her heartless for failing to appreciate Night--I mean, I teared up, embarrassingly enough, over his selflessly working to earn money he knew she wanted (when in fact she wanted it so she could settle the bill and send him back to the factory to be dismembered). Such pathos. I felt all sorry for him and angry at her (just as the show quite obviously intended).

And then, of course, close on the heels of that reaction I felt a surge of annoyance with myself, for being so easily jerked around by pop culture--and for being so pathetically nice that I'm disliking a character for failing to be kind enough to a robot. I mean really. Honestly, self: that chronic case of Nice Girl Syndrome may need treatment. They probably make a pill for this, or a cream.

But why do I react that way? Either it's a basic part of my nature, or possibly of human nature, to be kind to and take pity on the creatures like Night: selfless Nice Guy, doomed to be in love and also to be a giant clueless nuisance. Or perhaps that isn't nature at all, it's insidious indoctrination, and what I need is to reject it or recover from it or something, while achieving a thicker skin and a little more self-protective Ability To Not Care.

And I have friend-sets on both sides of that argument, willing to step up and praise me for kindness or else tell me I'm too kind, as they see fit.

Although now that I've blithered about it at length, I think there's a third interpretation: both the 'be kind to Nice Guys' and 'stomp on Nice Guys and be kind to yourself' messages are culturally conditioned exaggerations of natural impulses. Which explains why I (and I cannot be alone here) have such a bad case of Nice Girl Syndrome--I got that message earliest, I think, and most often--but which doesn't, really, help with finding a balance between the two.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Still not a Real Doll post.

Sasha Bunny doesn't count as a RealDoll, because it's clearly not real.
What's not clear is who that's being marketed at. Yes, I can guess at uses for it, but...probably none you want me elaborating on.

How about a Virtual Boyfriend to text message you? No?

Okay, how about SergioBoyfriend to...I don't even know what that thing is for. It does make every real man you'll ever meet in your life look more attractive by comparison, though, so there's that.

Ooh, Absolute Boyfriend. Okay, I have to say it: Night is popular enough that again I'm left wondering, why are the RealDolls and up-and-coming robotics all aimed at men? Is it just that women have less disposable income, or have the manufacturers never noticed how many women adored Data, or what?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

This doesn't count as another RealDoll post.

It's just that Invidereliana linked me to something gloriously awful in the comments to the last one, and I wanted to make sure everyone saw this: ALW is making a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera.

From the NYPost (bolding mine):
As for "Phantom . . . Once Upon Another Time": It's set in 1906 in Coney Island. The Phantom, having fled Paris, is running a freak show. At night, he crawls into his lair and makes love to an automaton that looks like Christine.
Christine, meanwhile, has become a famous opera singer. But she's fallen on hard times because her husband, Raoul, has squandered their fortune. So she's accepted a high-paying gig from a mysterious impresario to open a new amusement park. On her first night in New York, she draws back the curtain in her hotel suite and comes face to face with her new employer - flash of lightning, crash of chords - the Phantom!

See, no RealDolls; just an automaton. I have almost sort of kind of kept my promise.

I swear, after this post I will try to shut up about Real Dolls for a while.

Of course, those of you with strong sanity-preservation instincts will know to immediately start worrying about what I might post next. >:D

So I've been reading the feministing discussion of ages past about whether Real Doll usage can be compared to vibrators. And I do understand that most vibrators don't look exactly like a penis, but...well, leaving aside the men who pretend their dolls are their girlfriends (and I agree that that's more than a little maladjusted), surely most of the doll-users are, more or less, just using them as sex toys or for imaginative play? I mean, the guys in the documentaries are probably on the far end of a bell curve--there could easily be lots of men who've used these toys as toys and who were also sane enough not to want to discuss that on film. And even the guys in the docs could have been edited for maximum effect; maybe there were clear statements of, "I like to pretend that..." which got edited out.

I know the dolls are meant to look human, and vibrators aren't, but to me that mostly just suggests one of two things:

1) The people using the dolls lack the imagination required to use, say, a vibrator, so they need more verisimilitude in their sex toys (and if you don't believe that's possible, go talk to anyone with experience as a phone-sex operator; they'll tell you, straight out, that some people are genuinely too unimaginative/uncreative to fantasize without help),

or else

2) Men simply have larger disposable incomes than women, so they can afford bigger and more elaborate toys. I mean, seriously: these things* cost around seven thousand USD each. You'd have to have a significant amount of cash in your entertainment budget to be able to afford that. Absolute Boyfriends don't come cheap.

I just don't see a significant difference in behaviour between using one 'thing' for sexual gratification instead of another. And while I agree completely that there is something hideously and alarmingly sexist about some of the remarks made by the iDollators, well: I've heard some pretty damned dehumanizing, sexist remarks made by women, in the context of comparing men and vibrators, too.

*I've read a rumour (and no, you don't want to know WHERE I've read it) that Abyss are taking suggestions for the name of the new male RealDoll. My favourite suggestion: Gerard. Seriously.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Archives & Androids & Dolls, Oh My

Those of you on my friendslist have probably already seen all of these links; I apologize for the repost, but I wanted all of these in one public post so I can find them easily.
Some of these links may not be suitable for work. Or for children. Or for the easily offended, or people who're afraid of dolls.

'But why would you WANT to find these links easily, or at all?' you ask. I just do.

The Legacy of Timeless Beauty Archive

The Mind-Control Archive

Living Doll House

Doll Stories dot net

Grant Stoddard’s article: The initial pleasure of Karen's tightness was tempered by the feeling that I was humping a cadaver and was about to experience my first morgueasm. The sound of her wig rubbing against the back of the sofa was chilling.

I know, I know: my willingness to be amused by fake personal ads is pathological. We’ve discussed this before. Possibly I am mildly sociopathic or something. Whatever, this was somewhat entertaining. One night, because I was really bored, I decided to find out what kind of individual would actively pursue a RealDoll for any sort of relationship. What better way of doing that then creating a profile on an online dating website? So I checked out OkCupid, which claims to be the fastest, most effective dating site ever, powered by a matching system I invent.

The Salon article is less funny and more depressing. "There are some minuses," he admits. "You're dealing with a 100 pounds of dead weight. But at least you've got loyalty." Don't kid yourself, bro. What you've got is a hunk of silicone with three holes.

And then there’s this, which somehow reminds me of the attachments children form for their dolls, more than anything. It’s sort of sweet, in a twisted way. Before they shared a bed, Wanda had trouble sleeping and relied heavily on sleeping pills. Now she sleeps soundly. But Roxanne will never know how important she is to Wanda. Why? Because Roxanne is a life-sized plastic doll made entirely of silicone.

Sidore is as real to me as a human woman,' explains Davecat, right, 28, a lab technician from Detroit in the US, as he gazes lovingly at the slim, raven-haired creature beside him. 'I imagine most people think anyone who loves dolls is a pervert, but I feel normal,' he says. 'And with my silicone girlfriend, I'm part of a couple who are infinitely healthier and happier than most couples.' The disapproving tsk-tskness of this article SRSLY reinforces my pledge to spend a teensy fraction of ill-gotten millions, should I ever ill-get them, on RealDolls. It's all blah blah abnormal, blah blah unhealthy, and I ended up being more on the side of the doll-owners than the schoolmarmish disapprovers.

Meghan Laslocky’s Real Dolls: Love in the Age of Silicone is an utterly fascinating glimpse into the thoughts of a few RealDoll owners, including Davecat again. I'm starting to feel like I know him. Ask Davecat about Sidore – pronounced She-doh-ray -- and he’ll tell you she’s everything that turns him on: beautiful, loyal, and a great listener. Si-chan, as he affectionately calls her, is half British, half Japanese, which works out nicely because he’s always had a thing for both British and Japanese culture. Even their clothing style and taste in music is simpatico – she’s a Goth, and he’s a Bohemian Industro-Goth. ETA: And here's Davecat's blog.

The Doll Coffeeshop is difficult to explain.

This next thing is FICTION, and I’m capsing that because when I first read it, I didn’t realize it was fictional right away, and I want to spare you the trauma I experienced. (Only...the poll in the corner: is that fake too? It’s fake, right? Right? Please?)
And I’m going, for my own peace of mind, to assume the comments are fiction too, because if somebody wrote I have consulted the Bible on this matter, but I have not been able to find any verses that refer to the practise of having relations with dolls. Nor could I find any reference to Christian morals in the RealDoll FAQ with a straight face, I don’t want to know.

The Realdolls made by Abyss Creations look very, very realistic and many of their owners feel a sort of Attachment for them, Yahoo clubs are created for them, websites and of course photo shoots and photo galleries displaying the dolls wearing the latest fashions are in abundance. As a Realdoll owner, I know how this attachment goes. Um, okay then.

In Japan, sex doll collectors seem to have their own magazine.

Which brings us to the inevitable article on Otaku culture and dolls:
Masa's dolls are well-cared for. Their clothes take up more room in his closet than his do: a Chinese-style dress with deep side-slits, blouses with bows, outfits of all kinds. He has also bought lace-up boots, sneakers and other footwear for the dolls when he goes driving with them in his van, mainly to take pictures. There’s a picture here.

Levy is currently writing a paper on the ethical treatment of robots. When it comes to sex and love with robots, "the ethical issues on how to treat them are something we'll have to consider very seriously, and they're very complicated issues," Levy said.

And while you're recovering from that, here, have some Charlie Sheen gossip: Sheen tried to get two female party companions interested in a foursome with the bouncy cheerleader.
"They couldn't stop laughing at him," says the snitch. "Charlie got so mad that he ran the girls out of his house. Then he took a meat cleaver and chopped one of the doll's hands off. He and his bodyguard tried to dispose of it, like it was a real body. They wrapped it in a blanket and drove around in the middle of the night till they found a Dumpster."

And there's Lars and the Real Girl, of course.

Honey Dolls, which are like Real Dolls, sort of.

Rubber Doll World Rendezvous

You should thank me, really: I didn't include the vacubed picture. I have nightmares about that thing.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Romance Covers: Historical

A Georgian Romance:


Originally released as, "How Gold My Highlights." No, actually, I like this cover. There people have Really Good Hair--the colour, anyway; his cut's a little too 80s for my taste. But hey, what do I know about Georgian hair? Maybe it's supposed to look like that.
I'm struggling to remember how I came to acquire a Georgian Romance. Has anyone else even heard of a Georgian Romance? Where did I get this thing?

A Byronic Hero:


I almost like this cover, too, mostly for the Byronic brooding hero. See the brooding Byronicness, there? It's only slightly spoiled by the sallow skin tone, but at least he has a skin tone: the woman gazing longingly at his neck has been entirely drained of blood.



Sticking with the Byronic theme for a moment, look: it's Claire Claremont! I love how the artist has chosen to take the title literally, and has given her a befuddled, none-too-bright pout.

A Taxonomic Error:


Speaking of dumb heroines, Miss Cayley seems a tad confused as to what a unicorn looks like. That, you poor dumb child, is clearly a Vampire. Stop smirking at it and run.
(That tagline kind of reminds you to be grateful Stonewall happened, doesn't it?)

Insert Kitten A:

Nothing says insipid quite like a gamboling kitten. Bonus points for matching the kitten to her hair--I bet she dyes them both.

Crumbs of Nothing:


Wait, I lied. Daintily pretending to feed swans says insipid in pretty much precisely the same way fawning over a kitten does. I'm not the only one who thinks she's just doing that for show, either--check out the "Are you fucking kidding me?" expression on the hero's face.

Detachable Peen: Non-Fandom Edition:


I bet on first glance you made the same mistake I did, and assumed that for some reason this heroine is gazing adoringly at a short male veterinarian with an incredibly unconvincing mustache. Thanks to fandom, I've learned to reassess: every unconvincing male is, in fact, a woman.

You Could Maybe Shave That:


Is that a Sporran, or are you just...oh, forget it. The guy with the revolting smirky leer isn't half so eye-catching as the heroine's 'Carmen Miranda: Now Playing the Regency!' dress.

Mister Fluffy: the Early Years:


Nice hair. Shame about his face.
...c'mon, I was not the only one who thought that.
He's obviously very proud of his hair, since he's cleverly drawing attention to it by displaying a huge cat to match it. Is this a known Regency trend? Did people used to be required by law to own a cat that matched their hair?

How Deep My Innuendo:


"All right, how much if you don't use the riding crop?" she asked, jingling her purse.

I was going to joke that this had originally been titled, "Jack on the Game" but the title was censored.
And then I realized that the actual title? Is approximately 1000x filthier. And now I can't stop smirking horribly, sort of like the 'Beastie' of a couple of covers back.