The Question of Content

The muse for this post was this Veritasium video – I started to share/ comment on Facebook, but quickly realized I was writing a small novel.

While I certainly don’t have the kind of subscriber or viewer numbers to really matter at this point anyway (and the shift in my time and attentions once grad school started slumped down what numbers I did have as I simply wasn’t making anything at that point), but this is something I have been seeing as well: The rise in time-sensitive video topics and click bait.
 
I haven’t posted anything myself in some months – either here or on Youtube. I’ve been working on some doll unboxing videos here and there since the start of the year, nothing to upload yet, just a number of them in various states of completion. And I have been hesitant to post what I have done, as many of those videos would now be considered “old news”.
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The Moana doll that I got for Christmas? I haven’t even seen her for sale for over a month. Those Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice collector dolls from Mattel were only big right after that movie came out. Is it even worth the time at this point to finish editing the unboxing of the Batman doll I got? The big thing in the doll-world at this moment is the new Ken dolls. My most viewed blog post was from Feb 2016 when I wrote that comparison between all the new Barbies and Lammily. I’ve considered doing a companion for these new guys, but I would need to go buy the short Ken and there are already dozens of other blogs and videos at this point. So is it worth it? And even if I could manage to stay on top of every new release and quickly turn out new content for every new hot item, I certainly don’t have the income to buy every hot doll that comes out the moment it comes out. I really need to re-assess what kind of content I’m creating.
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Readership has been steadily decreasing – I deeply appreciate those of you who stick around despite the periods of lull. 

Although the Spring semester ended nearly 2 months ago, I’ve not yet produced what I had hoped to. I’ve taken some of that time to just relax and allow myself to de-stress rather than quickly switch gears and just keep pushing myself. It’s been worth it. My creativity has started to flow again. I have ideas again. That urge to make things has come back — If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve already seen some of these results. (Sorry, Twitter people, I always mean to post there as well, I just don’t always remember).
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I made this little bodhran and tipper just the other day.

I have roughly another month and a half left before the Fall semester begins. Let’s see what I can churn out in that time.

The Smell of Melted Plastic in the Morning…

On a day when my energy is all but drained and my uterus is waging war on me, this is how I manage to maintain some semblance of productivity. Hello again, long abandoned reader! Tell me in the comments how you’ve managed to survive without me over the past month – I promise I’ll read it, but I’ll likely make one of the dolls respond. Let me know who your favorite dolly is and I’ll tape them to the laptop with the hair dryer pointed at them until they write back to you.

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Now… updates. I survived my first semester of grad school – I even aced both of the courses I took. I don’t really feel the least bit celebratory about it, though. I’ve been out of school for some years and I’ve never held a 4.0 before. You’d think I’d be ecstatic. I think I’m too busy looking at the 5 classes I’ll have to juggle starting a week from tomorrow. If I come out of that in December with the same success, then I’ll let myself acknowledge it.

I’ve been doing my best to make the most use of these two weeks between semesters: I took a trip to visit friends and family for a couple of days last week, I spent another couple of days doing a major purge of clothes I’ve been hoarding in my closet for 6 years, and I’ve been working on filming videos for Youtube that I can hold onto for when I inevitably get too bogged down with homework to create during the coming semester.

I recently collaborated with the Volunteer Superviser from the Books to Prisoners program I’m involved with to create a couple of videos. The first of these videos serves to break down how the Books to Prisoners program works overall and how to go about connecting inmates to them. The second of these videos, which I’ve just publicly released today, discusses what volunteers do and how to get involved.

Despite having been working with them for over a year, this was a learning experience for me as well. For the most part, the role I play, important as it is, can sometimes feel disconnected from the everyday workings of the organization.

I don’t have a coherent ending to this, so, here are some photos of dolls:

Photographer Lammily is Here!!!

After roughly a year of waiting from the time she was available for pre-order, my new photographer Lammily finally came home this weekend! It was very hard for me to not immediately take her out of the box to introduce her to the rest of the dolly family. But I was good and I waited until I had the time to film her unboxing:

Here are some close-up shots of her. I really like how her feet and hands are a lighter shade:

I’ve still not decided upon a name for her, but I like the idea that she grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. I had the pleasure of going to New Orleans in October of 2015. I really enjoyed myself there and would like to go back someday.

After filming her unboxing and taking close-ups yesterday, I introduced her to some of my other dolls. A group of them – Aideen, Mitsuko, TJ, and Morrígan (with her bağlama in hand) – took a ride out to a local park in my backpack with our newest friend. Morrígan played and sang for us while the photographer and I took a bunch of photos.

It would also seem that our new lady and TJ are pretty cozy together…

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Introducing the Misty Copeland Barbie

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     If you haven’t heard yet, Mattel’s newest collector doll and part of their “Shero” initiative, is the Misty Copeland doll. I was fortunate enough to get one of these dolls and she’s absolutely beautiful. I actually felt bad about unboxing her because her display was so pretty. I did manage to film her unboxing, and I’ve put up a Youtube video for you all that I’ll embed at the bottom of this post.

Before I get into the doll, I want to take a minute to talk about how awe-inspiring this woman is. If you’re aware of who Misty Copeland is at all, you likely know that she’s a ballerina with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. You’re also likely aware that she’s the first African-American woman to be the principal dancer at ABT or that she used to collaborate with Prince some years ago. But, did you know that she grew up poor? Like, spent-her-childhood-moving-around-with-her-single-mother-and-6-siblings-including-time-spent-living-in-a-motel poor. Misty didn’t start dancing until age 13 – which is generally considered too old – and she took her first lessons through her local Boys and Girls Club. She’s also tougher than I could be, dancing through her first major performance as the Firebird with a stress fracture in her tibia so severe the bone had nearly broken all the way through. I’ve broken some bones in my day – I can’t even imagine working through that kind of pain. If you’re interested in learning more about her, here is a link to an interview CBS did with her in May of 2015. Her entire story gives me hope.

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There was a bit of a kerfluffle just after the Misty doll was released, as the photos for the ad on Amazon showed the doll with extremely light skin tone. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how she would look when she arrived, but I’m happy to say that in-person, her skin tone is much more true to life to match the real Misty. Although, I still wish this were reflected in the ad photo rather than showing a whitewashed doll.

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You can see very clearly that Misty’s calf muscles are much larger that those of a standard Barbie. Misty herself has very muscular legs and strong calves to do all of those jumps and dancing on her toes.

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You can also see how her bust is larger than that of a more recent Barbie (this is the Asian Made-to-Move doll). Of course, so many of the older dolls already had enormous busts, but Misty herself actually is fairly busty.

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Not surprisingly, because she is a collector doll which Mattel seems to  assume will be for display only, her outfit is sewn shut. However, all it takes are a few snips to these strings. You could easily add your own hook and eye closures, snaps, or a small zipper. I don’t think velcro would work well with the way the outfit is made.

I did remove her dance outfit, though I did not want to mess with her hairstyle, as you can see. She has more articulation than the typical articulated dolls, but not nearly as much as a Made-to-Move. However, I can deal with this because those calves are pretty sweet.

To see her being unboxed and for a more in-depth look at how she moves, check out the Unboxing Misty video I’ve posted over on Youtube. While I’m posting the video here, please be sure to go to Youtube to like and subscribe there and maybe even send me a WordPress shoutout in the comments 🙂

No More Excuses/ Garden of Doll Heads

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I am not above using scare tactics to keep my dolls in line. “This is what happens when you use my fabric scissors to cut paper”

I feel like I should be writing something. I also feel like I should be getting around to actually making some videos. I’ve been saying for awhile (over a year, while not necessarily always in this blog) that I want to start making Youtube videos.
-I invested the time and the money into decorating the walls in my craft room because I felt like I couldn’t start doing it unless I had a good background.

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$75+ and over a week invested in decorating these walls.

-Then I needed a camera, because I felt my point and shoot wasn’t good enough.
-Then I needed a tripod.
Then I needed quality editing software.
-Then I needed a computer.

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The new computer. I have yet to justify buying it.

-Lately I’ve been concerned because of an acne flare up and not wanting to be ugly on camera. (Seriously, how am I still getting acne in my 30s? This is not fair)

Enough excuses. I will be making a Youtube debut before the end of the day on Friday of next week (4/15/2016). Maybe it will be crappy. But I need to stop talking about it and just *do it already*.

I’m also fully aware that I really need to finish the next segment of The Mission as well. I’m going to make sure I get that done before April is over. No more excuses. The start of grad school is only 2 months away. I need to utilize this time while I still have it.

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Earlier this weekend, I went out to ACME Elfworks – my friend Melissa Mitchell’s studio -for the Annual Boneyard Arts festival. She’s a super cool re-use artist that uses a lot of found objects in her artwork. Many of her pieces incorporate dolls or various doll body parts. Her artwork is often whimsical, but can also be kind of creepy – and I love that. I first met her whilst I was involved with the HATCH art show about 3 years ago. I just happened to have my camera with me and have decided to share some of these photos with you all.

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❤ the cart full of rats

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Reminds me of Sid’s creation from the original Toy Story movie.

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In case you were curious what became of Charlie Horse. He couldn’t cope after Lamb Chop’s Play Along ended – his heart was broken after he caught Lamb in bed with Hush Puppy and turned to drugs and gambling. Sherry Lewis attempted an intervention once before her death, but Charlie refused rehab. Unable to pay his debts one night, he was taken into a back alley where he was beaten to death. His lifeless body was thrown into a dumpster. I believe this is where Melissa found his little pony corpse. Not entirely sure what she did with the rest of the body. It’s possible her cats ate it.

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A lush garden of doll heads. Melissa hacks off their scalps and uses them as macabre planters. This is a thing I shall someday do when I have a garden of my own.

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I love the way her lifeless eyes are glazed over. Even in death, Barbie continues to smile.

Doll Surgery

 

 

 

Lately I have been trying my best to quell my wanting for new dolls. As it is, I do have a fair amount and rather than just to continue amassing more of them, it’s best that I try to focus on the ones I currently have. Though, I *did* pick up some recent acquisitions that I didn’t really even pay anything for. Yay free dollies!

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Wait? FREE?? Yeah, free. Ok, $3 and some change. But practically free. Some months back I signed up for a Toys R Us credit card. Basically, the card accumulates points for dollar that I spend. Those points add up to money back that I can spend at Toys R Us. This haul was the result of earning $50 worth of points. There are probably better options out there for cash back or rewards and certainly lower interest rates. But this post isn’t so much about the card, as this is really my first foray into credit cards. I avoided them like the plague through college and even now they scare me just a bit. I have personally known too many people get hurt by them. I do not advise getting a credit card unless you have enough income to not be struggling from paycheck to paycheck and/or have very strong will power. It is very easy to think that a line of credit is like an emergency fund. IT IS NOT. I spend my credit the way I would spend my debit card – on stuff I would normally buy that I have the funds for in the bank. Then I pay it off in full (not the minimum) and as soon as what I’ve spent posts to the account.  All of that said, let’s get into the dolls.

So, if you look at the above photo, you’ll see that I got myself three of the Made to Move (MtM)dolls and two Fashionistas. I’d had the brunette and Asian MtM dolls already. I got two more of them for the sole purpose of rebodying.

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Miss Candy Jumper (I haven’t yet given her an identity) didn’t quite match up with the brunette’s color. As you can see, she was a closer match to one of the Liv dolls I had laying around.

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Livs aren’t as wondrously articulate as MtMs, but, before MtMs came on the market, Livs were about the best that could be had in play line articulation. Unfortunately, Liv heads are

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Oops!

a much harder and less malleable material than Barbie heads. I had quite a bit of trouble. This doll did not wish to be decapitated. It was like I could almost hear her screaming. In the end, I pulled too hard and the little internal neck piece popped out and is now rattling inside the Liv head. But, I still want to use that Liv body, so, what do I do? I had to perform a trickier transplant…

 

Now, what you’re about to see may be gruesome. I extracted the part I needed from an older body in my dolly morgue. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

It took some intense skill and precision on my part, but the transplant was successful! Let’s just hope these new parts aren’t rejected down the road. I don’t think Miss Candy Jumper wants to go through this ordeal again!

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¡Gracias! Puedo doblar mis rodillas!

Here are all the new dollies, out of the boxes and post-op (I’m still working on the 5th):

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So far, the only one I have a name for is the blonde curvy one. I’ve chosen to name her Diane, after my mother. I don’t really know why, she just reminds me of my mom. I’ll have to make her a new outfit (Mom was never one for dresses) and a little bandana.

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My mother being radiant. The tiny one is me, around 3 years old. Gonna say this was 1988.

 

 

50 Years of Influence

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In 1996, Mattel released this Barbie and Ken set to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Star Trek. These were the first dolls I remember longing for.

This past weekend, my boyfriend and I went to see Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the show and this production was, essentially, an array of selected clips from the shows and movies projected on a giant theater screen while a live orchestra played iconic Trek music. For me, this was a very moving experience. For an idea of what this was, I’d like to share this video put together by benandbarry on Youtube (I’m very impressed by the smooth transition in editing here, this is actually multiple pieces of the production spliced together):

Star Trek was something that I grew up with. My father was a Trekkie and would always watch it, pointing out the ways in which science fiction has a habit of becoming science fact. The Next Generation (TNG) first aired in 1987, when I was only 2 years old. With the quick succession of TNG, Deep Space Nine (DS9), and Voyager, you could say I literally grew up with it. While the major drawing factor for my father was the technology, I was drawn in and deeply affected by the rich social and philosophical lessons the episodes and films had to offer. These lessons helped to guide me and shape my worldview. There were two characters in particular that I looked up to:

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Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Mr. Spock. Picard’s words of wisdom and diplomacy modeled the kind of person, the kind of leader I longed, still long to be. He was firm and fair. He took his commanding role seriously but without being power driven. He lead by example, respected order and law but did not falter in instances where that order and law worked to the detriment of the populace. In his words, “the claim ‘I was only following orders’ has been used to justify too many tragedies in our history. Starfleet doesn’t want officers who will blindly follow orders without analyzing the situation” (Redemption II, 1991). There was an excellent piece written by Alex Knapp in Forbes in 2012 that does a great job capturing the ways in which Picard was a great leader.

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Mr. Spock’s intellect, logic, and, most importantly, control over his emotions, were characteristics that I wanted for myself. During the often turbulent years of my childhood, and even during trying times of my adulthood, I would have given anything to maintain the calm and emotion-free state of a Vulcan. But Spock was not fully Vulcan, he was half Human. Because of this, there are times during which you can see him grappling with emotions that, I wager, present themselves more strongly within him than within a full Vulcan. “I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half… I survive it because my intelligence wins out over both…” (The Enemy Within, 1966).

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Halloween 1997. Seeking to emulate both of these role models as a TNG era Vulcan Captain.

With a nod to the roots of this blog, I feel I would be remiss if I neglected the wardrobe. Yes, I own an array of Star Trek tshirts (you can read a previous bit about tshirts here) and I also own a uniform inspired hoodie complete with insignia and rank pips. In the film, First Contact, Picard says to Data, “…touch can connect you to an object in a very personal way. It makes it seem more real.”  Indeed, in a similar way, wearing that uniform-hoodie does make me feel a certain connection to these characters and those traits that I admire. And is it any surprise that one of the first outfits I made for my Lammily doll was a Starfleet uniform?

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