There is still hope but we the consumer are key to that hope. In a day and age where, at least in the U.S., we see more and more cities change; the small shop areas close their doors, board up their windows and become ghost towns.
There are still entrepreneurs out there willing to take the bold move to open up their own small shops to bring the personal investment back to their communities. The catch is that we as consumers need to help them by creating an environment that will allow them to thrive. Take this story out of the UK as an example of this.
Jessica Stockton-Bangnulo has hopes to open up her own bookshop in Brooklyn. Imagine how cool would it be to shop at a bookshop that is "...a small bookstore with a cafe, a wine bar, lots of wood and lots of brick." She wants to open up this shop but one of the things holding her back is that "I want to go to a neighborhood that needs a bookstore and can support one," she said. That does not mean that she is afraid of big box stores , "It's not impossible for an independent bookstore to survive, even when large chains are nearby," as she said. It just requires a neighborhood that would support a small bookstore shop.
So remember dashPunks out there, support that which you want to see more of. If you are fortunate enough to still have small shops in your neighborhood than talk with the owners, let them know what you like about their shop and support them. If they are no good than talk with the owner, tastefully let them know what you don't like and offer ideas as to how they can make it better you may be surprised to learn how willing most small shop owners are to reasonable change. If we as consumers make our neighborhoods better environments for the indi-shops they will come!
(via NY Daily News )
There is still hope but we the consumer are key to that hope. In a day and age where, at least in the U.S., we see more and more cities change; the small shop areas close their doors, board up their windows and become ghost towns.
Manga Review: Dolls by Yumiko Kawahara
This is a manga full of short tales about a doll shop owner and his beautiful “plant dolls”. The artist creates a haunting atmosphere accompanied by the intricate lacing and curls of the dolls. At times, the doll renderings are so lifelike, you might feel like one of the clients, tricked or lured into buying a doll you cannot afford.
In the first installment, Milk at Mealtimes, you might think you’re reading a fan comic of Lestat, Louis, and Claudia. However, although the characters look like our favorite trio, they act quite different. A man is lured into the shop by the dolls beauty. He is conned into purchasing her by the shop owner and finds his doll has been spoiled by a previous owner. She will only sleep on luxury sheets, drink from the finest china, and eat premium sweets.
Doll’s care instructions: Milk three times a day Sugar cookies once a week Change into fresh clothes daily. No direct sunlight. Nothing more that milk & sugar cookies. Lots of love from owner.
As the weeks wear on and the owner realizes he can not make the doll content with what he has, he begins feeding her brandy. A few months later, we see the owner poor, destitute and the doll fat and spoiled.
These cautionary tales must come from some desire to teach businessmen a lesson, for in each one there is a horrible outcome when the doll enters their homes. One man buys a plant doll for his daughter and they become so close, he cannot tell them apart. He ends up giving his daughter away instead of the doll. Another story tells of a greedy jeweler who wishes for a special gem that is only created from the tears of a certain doll. Unfortunately, he ends up going mad because he is unable to make her cry. There is another tale of an artist who will not paint people because everyone he paints, dies. I’ll let you find out what trickery the dolls have in store for him!
This manga reminds me of the old Twilight Zone episode, "The After Hours", where all the mannequins come alive in the store after dark. While reading, you will feel as if you are in a store with wall-to wall dolls… and as you turn to go, you could swear one of them reached to strangle you!
Beware of the Dolls.
Ethical Pondering The Dollhouse In Real Life
What if the Dollhouse were real? Where would you fall in the debate of is it a good idea. In Japan there is a growing business called Hagemashi Tai. clients can rent someone for a scenario like being best man at a wedding or playing an uncle for a school event. At face value this sounds really cool, what a way to avoid awkward or embarrassing situations at social events, but is it ethical? Part of me loves the idea of a real Dollhouse. To be able to rent someone for a short period of time to help out with whatever is kind of cool. But then there are the ethical questions we as SF fans must address. Is it Prostitution? When does it become inhumane to rent someone? Where do we draw the line?
Renting Someone: Prostitution?
Renting someone is prostitution if the renting is to have sexual relations with them. The Dollhouse definitely engages in prostitution one could also argue even rape since the dolls do not have the free will to chose whether they want to engage in the act.
Is prostitution unethical? That is a fun debate because there is data that supports prostitution lowering the quality of life for a society mainly through the tertiary criminal acts around it and the spiritual / self-esteem loss from being used and treated as a tool. There is data to support that it raises the quality of life by allowing the "Johns" an outlet that they may not normally have and providing a means for the prostitutes to pay their bills. To me it seems that prostitution could be ethical but there are too many pitfalls that lead most situations to be unethical.
Renting Someone: Ethical?
Renting someone is an uncomfortable concept for me at times. We rent people to collect our trash, wait on our tables, drive us around the city, and for many other tasks. The service industry is all about paying someone money to provide that service and most never even stop to think it wrong or even think that they are renting the person.
Why does the dynamic change slightly when it is renting a maid, or a chief for a weekend party? I would not think twice about renting a maid or a chief but then there is still a clear social delineation amongst my piers that the maid and chief is staff. For others they get uncomfortable renting a maid or chief and it may be just because we use the words rent instead of hiring a maid or chief.
How about upping the ante. Are you comfortable renting someone to give you a massage or to take you shopping and give social interaction while shopping? I always thought it would be cool to be a professional shopper so I never really looked at it as uncomfortable. It is still ethical because all parties are having their quality of life improved.
What if you are a working professional, haven't had time to persue relations with another and have a school reunion coming up. Is it unethical to hire someone to act as a significant other at the reunion so that you can avoid the social awkwardness? On one hand it's lie which is unethical to do but it is a small lie in order to not hurt another's feelings which is a white lie. Society has said it is alright to do.
When does renting another human being become unethical?
The Humanity Factor
To me it would be unethical if renting someone would lower their quality of life or took some of their humanity away. Part of being human is having free will. People should have the freedom to choose. This is where the Dollhouse dances a fine line and I haven't decided which side it falls under.
In the Dollhouse every one of the dolls have the free choice not to go in. Yet the alternative choice is not a good one either. How free is the choice to become a doll knowing that the alternate one is so bad? Is that a coerced choice?
Then once you are a doll you no longer have any free choice. That is a part I definitely take issue with. All dolls are programed with the desired personality to say yes to the scenario that the client paid for. There is no free choice there. A false choice is not a free choice.
With the Hagemashi Tai in Japan the staff have the choice to join, the choice to leave and I hope the choice to turn down assignments so it isn't as bad as the Dollhouse yet. There still exists the possibility of coercion to get staff to sign up but since they have free will to get away that is less likely. There is also the possibility of coersion to encourage the staff to not use their free will in taking assignments with the threat of being fired, I also hope that is not the real case.
Where do we draw the line?
Mainly for me I draw the line with when hiring another violates their free will and / or the scenario perpetuates an unhealthy lie. I think the Dollhouse is a dangerous idea but it is mainly for the removal of the dolls free will to chose and change their minds. Does that mean we abandon the whole thing? Heck no!
There is still value in providing that kind of service and I'm very intrigued by the Hagemashi Tai. I can only hope that they have a strict ethical guideline to keep them from going wrong.
New Clips for 9 and A Letter From a Fan
There are two new clips out for the movie 9. Watch them at the bottom of the post. Do we really care? Maybe, but more importantly: when does movie promotion go too far? Movie promotion should be like a good burlesque show. Tantalize us. Show us a little here... Show us a little there... We the fans love getting to watch trailers and to see clips for movies. Watching them excites us and makes us desire to watch the movie. It allows us to run to our friends and say hey have you seen this trailer or clip? You have to check out this little teaser show!
Make sure it is relevant. Show us a little arm or leg, we don't care if you feature the floor boards that your standing on. We the fans don't like to waste our time watching clips or trailers that feature moments from the movie that don't stimulate our imagination, draw our attention to what is the competitive advantage of your film and why we should watch it. Like in these clips they show us the dolls in action but that was better served in a trailer. They show us another creature of the setting but that was not the focus of the clip and they show how it is defeated making it irrelevant in context and showing too much at the same time. The last thing was the scene of awakening the machine which left me wondering if they showed too much. But in either case those moments should be saved for when we go for the full movie experience.
Please don't show too much it will ruin the moment when we get the full show. Burlesque is the art of teasing, and tantalizing the audience's imagination with promises of great things to come. If they show too much then there is nothing left to get excited about and nothing left to look forward too. G.I. Joe had a problem with this with the Eiffel Tower scene, their burlesque dance turned into pornography showing too much. Sure it made the trailers more exciting but it robbed the actual movie of the impact that it should have had and robbed me of the full movie experience. Good burlesque would have featured moments of the chase and the tension building up to the actual Eiffel Tower scene but cut away at the last moment leaving the audience guessing.
Movie promotion goes too far when it shows too much robbing us of the full movie experience or if it wastes our time with stuff that should be saved for when we watch the movie. I've put in the two clips below for those who are curious and as a good case study. The only interesting parts are the creatures featured in the clips which would have been better featured in a trailer with shorter quicker exposure of those creatures allowing us to wonder more about them and not seeing how they get defeated.
Awakening the Machine Clip
9 saves 7 clip
My Top 10 Favorite Television Series, I Didn’t Watch On The TV Box.
You know how it is. You see the ads for a new TV show and then never catch it. Or the network pulls it before you can really get a grip on the characters. Or they keep changing times and you can never figure out when it’s on. Or you like it, watch the first or even second episodes, and then one night you miss it and bam… you’re out of the loop. Now with places like Hulu.com and Netflix streaming online, you can catch a lot of your favorites online. Here are my top ten favorite television shows I didn’t watch on the TV box, in alphabetical order:
- Cleopatra 2525 - Complete Series, 2000 Ok, so I know this is a little corny, but I love it. An exotic dancer in for plastic surgery in 2001, wakes up in the year 2525 to find the world has been taken over by evil robots. This show brings you scantily clad beauties with arm bands that shoot lasers and help them repel down giant elevator shafts and a freaky bad guy in clown makeup and extensions. It doesn’t get better than that. Watch it streaming online on Hulu
- Dead Like Me, 2003 A college dropout is killed by a toilet seat that falls from a space station on her first day at a temp agency. Upon death, she finds out she is has been chosen to be a grim reaper and take people's souls just before they die. The bad news? She still has to work for a living! Some of these scenes are so close to real office life, it's scary. Can anyone say collate?
- Eureka, 2006 The best minds in the US are tucked away in a remote town where they build futuristic inventions for the government's benefit. A US Marshal gets stranded there and decides to becomes the next Sheriff after the old one is injured from a science project gone wrong. Quirky, fun. Watch it streaming online on Hulu.
- Firefly, 2002 In the distant future, Captain Malcolm 'Mal' Reynolds a former soldier for the independents, is now a smuggler and commander of a small spacecraft with a loyal hand-picked crew. They travel the far reaches of space in search of food, money, and anything to live on. Along the way, they encounter life-threatening missions and a cast of interesting characters. Must see. Watch it streaming online on Hulu.
- Jericho, 2006 When bad boy Jake returns to his Kansas small-town home, Jericho, everyone is preoccupied with petty private business and family matters, but that changes drastically after an unexpected explosion hits. It soon becomes clear there has been a nuclear attack, but no one knows by whom or to what scale. Jericho inhabitants gradually discover the USA is disintegrating. Life becomes complicated for these small town folk when needs such as food, fuel, and self-defense against invaders become the main task. Jake proves extremely resourceful and a smart hero saving the town many times and changing the resident views of him. Watch it streaming online on CBS.
- Kindred the Embraced, 1996 Julian Luna, prince of the kindred (vampire), clans in San Francisco, has his job cut out for him as he must try to keep peace among them while not being afraid to apply ruthless justice against those who would break kindred rules. Infractions that merit "final death" include the taking of human life and changing humans into vampires who have not volunteered for the transformation. This show was an exciting and perplexing moment for all of us hard core vampire LARP'ers. We were thrilled at the fact that mainstream took notice of something we enjoyed, puzzled the changes they made, and disappointed when it was cancelled just as the series started heating up! I remember being upset that my favorite clan, Tremere, was not represented and hoped that season 2 might have brought them out of the woodwork. The tragic death of Mark Frankel (Julian) after Season one, caused all of us Masquerade RPG'ers to lose faith in another season.
- Moonlight, 2007 A vampire is a private investigator and falls for mortal woman who he saved from dying as a child. This show has been ridiculed by fans of the 1980's series Forever Knight. It does seem like some of the shots used in Moonlight are very familiar to us Forever Knight fans and even some of the themes they use are very close to the other show. However, I feel that Moonlight brings a sexier, up-to-date feel to our favorite "do-good" vampire role. I'm not saying it's better, it's just more vampire fun.
- My Own Worst Enemy, 2008 As an agent for a top-secret government agency, Edward agrees to let the government insert a chip in his brain that can be turned on and off. When he is turned off, he is Henry, an efficiency expert, who lives a typical suburban life right down to the wife, two kids, dog, and minivan. In contrast, Edward is a lethal, multilingual operative. Somehow the chip breaks, making it impossible for the government to control when Henry is "on" or Edward is "on". I caught this on Hulu.com and loved it so much, I bought the DVD. This is sort of a 24 meets Alias meets Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. TV aficionados will recognize many members of the cast and Christian Slater does a brilliant job of playing the innocent family man who could never harm a soul trying to come to grips with the fact his life is a sham and the lethal killer who will do anything to stay alive. Watch it streaming online on Hulu.
- Red Dwarf, 1988 Three million years ago, a radiation leak killed the crew of the mining ship, Red Dwarf. The only survivor was Dave Lister, the chicken soup machine repairman. He spends his time on the ship with a holographic projection of Arnold Rimmer (his dead bunk mate), Cat (a life-form that evolved from Dave's cat), Holly (the ship's senile computer), and Kryten (a service mechanoid). BBC comedy good for hours of fun. If you haven't heard of this one, you've been under a smegging rock.
- Sanctuary, 2007 Amanda Tapping stars as a unique woman (possibly immortal?) who runs a Sanctuary for all kinds of creatures and monsters. This show follows her and her team as they find new species and try to help them. They also have their enemies. I'm anxious to see what this show becomes... if it's renewed. Watch it streaming online on Hulu.
You can check out a lot of these gems at Hulu.com. If you'd like to purchase them, you can do as I do and shop Amazon.com.
So, now that I've given you some to catch up on, what are your favorites?
A Second Life Location: Magic Of Oz
For awhile now, Second Life has amazed me with its very realistic settings and endless options. There are writers, poets, artists, and voice actors there that astonish me with their level of talent. Recently, my friend Dream teleported me to a place I thought could never be recreated. The Magic of Oz SIM is a themed build based on the books and movie "The Wizard of Oz". I was fortunate enough to be able to chat with one of the creators Candy Cerveau.
Emz: Candy, thank you for taking time out of your busy launch weekend to speak with me. This place is awesome. How many people did it take to build this place?
Candy: A great deal of the SIM’s incredible look is due to the builder, Jenne Dibou. She took our ideas and thoughts and turned them into something more magical than we ever dreamed possible. Yet she never sacrificed utility for beauty or performance for flash. The buildings are all fantastical, but they are not mere decoration. Each area was carefully planned to be a useful space. She is really incredibly talented.
Emz: Very talented indeed. What inspired you to build this SIM?
Candy: Malkavyn Eldritch and I were looking to create a SIM for our main store locations and we wanted a theme build. I have always loved the Oz books and the movie as well, so it seemed a perfect match. We found Jenne and we worked with her to get the concept of what we wanted. Our goal with the SIM was to interpret the world of Oz differently than had been done before, while still keeping to the spirit of the books. We also wanted to put our own unique spin on the parts of the build that would be the main stores for the two of us. The Witch's Castle was given a Steampunk/Tim Burtonesque feel, while the Emerald City drew more upon natural and elven themes. Our overriding dream for Magic of Oz was to create a place where people could go and be taken out of the realm of the ordinary in Second Life. A place to explore and to experience, to shop and to relax, to dream and to love. A place that is magic. We think we achieved that and hope visitors think so as well.
Emz: Well I for one, definitely admire your vision. For those who don't know what your Second Life stores are about, can you tell me the name and what you specialize in?
Candy: Eye Candy and Treasured Visions. Malkavyn does hand drawn eyes and textures. He is graphic artist, so he works only from scratch. No photosourcing. I make jewelry and accessories. I tend to specialize more in the "elegantly casual" style of jewelry, but I do have some more whimsical type of work as well.
Emz: Your stuff is really crafted well. I just found a free box with “Halloween Eyes” that I can’t wait to try on. Magic Of Oz is amazing. How long did it take you guys from concept to finish date to do this?
Candy: Jenne is a super fast builder and we did it in 3 phases. Basically we got the SIM the first of August 2008 and began plans. So the entire thing only took two months start to finish.
Emz: That is fast for a build of this magnitude.
Candy: Yes indeed. Jenne is in Europe and so each morning we would wake up and a huge portion would magically appear!
Emz: Sounds very exciting.
Candy: It really was so much fun. The story of Oz is such a rich one and there are so many wonderful parts to it that it was hard to choose what to feature.
Emz: I like all the dark features you have here with the flying monkeys and the large skull on the hill. Is there any little secret or feature that you find particularly interesting?
Candy: The secret lab in the Witch's Castle is fantastic! Very "mad scientist". It’s hidden in the right side of the Witch's Castle
Emz: Congratulations on completing this. It's really awesome. Thank you so much for your time.
Candy: My pleasure, Emz. Thank you.
I was able to explore the area for some time and found many hidden gems here. If the pictures don’t amaze you, the features will. Right now there are tons of little shoes around the SIM that when clicked, give you free things. There are also a number of boxes, pumpkins etc… Keep an eye open and click things.
The Witch’s Castle Features: Steampunk architecture, hammock to lie in, perches to see the whole valley, skeleton fountain, elevator, flying monkeys ride.
Scary Tree / Graveyard Features: laying dead pose and sinking in lava pose.
Munchkin Land Features: Shops, park benches, a nice promenade.
Emerald City Features: Emerald throne, many little meeting or discussion areas, Oz’s curtain, 3 levels of fun activity, beautiful emerald gems.
Center of town Features: Watch The Wizard Of Oz by clicking the sign on the giant tree, follow the yellow brick road to Munchkin land, tree attack, stairs to Witches Castle.
Cool things to buy: Jewelry, specialty eyes, clothes, bodies, hair, and these gear tattoos inspired by the designs of Da Vinci.
Magic of Oz launched on October 3rd, 2008. If you would like to visit Magic Of Oz, click here: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Magic%20of%20Oz/130/152/0