Monday, May 16, 2011

The Surname Debate - Would You (or DID you) Take Your Spouse's Last Name?

I got wrapped up in a Yahoo article yesterday that went into a discussion about women taking their husband's surname.  Apparently, according to a study, more women today are taking their husband's name than were doing so a decade or so ago. 

This is obviously a widespread tradition all over the world, but of course there are plenty of people who go a different route.  The discussion in the comments got pretty heated at times, and the two major dissenting opinions seemed to be:

You SHOULD take your husband's surname because NOT doing so is dishonoring him, showing your own lack of commitment, and proving just how much you do NOT love the man you are marrying.  If you cannot commit to doing a simple name-change, then you should reconsider getting married in the first place.  The type of woman who would KEEP her maiden/birth name is the type of woman who is looking for an easy "out" in case the marriage fails.  These women are feminists and only care about themselves.


You should NOT take your husband's surname, or should freely have the CHOICE not to do so because the practice of changing your maiden/birth name is an archaic practice dating back to the times when women were mere property, being traded from the father to the husband.  Taking on the husband's name is, in a sense, branding you as his new property, no longer the property of the father.  Changing a surname is wrought with legal complications, forms, documents, etc. and is a huge hassle for something that is essentially an antiquated, sexist practice.

I couldn't help but comment a couple of times, and I really didn't realize how much it struck a nerve with me until I really got into it.  My own personal stance is that, yes, changing the surname definitely DOES have connections with women being traded as property, but a woman shouldn't be branded as some sort of old fashioned, subservient ninny for choosing to do it.  HOWEVER, the decision to keep a maiden/birth name (or as I prefer, a hyphenation), had no bearing whatsoever on my love and commitment for my man.  NONE.  I was actually a little offended by the harsh comments from people directly saying that keeping your name is some horrible practice and a true show of selfishness and lack of devotion.  Hah...lemme tell you that NOBODY can love my man the way I can, not nobody not nowhere not noHOW.  Bet that.

There are so many important things that factor into a successful marriage -- not just a marriage, but a successful one -- than what your name is.  One commenter stated that sharing the same last name shows unity, and that having different last names essentially tells the world that you are NOT a united team.  So basically a couple who shares the same last name but rarely sleeps in the same bed and can hardly stand each other is more 'unified' than a happy loving couple with different last names?  Nice.  Several men said that they wouldn't even consider marrying a woman who didn't take on their surname fully and completely.  Many of the pro-husband's-name comments were fueled by strong religious notions (lots of Bible quotes that really didn't have much to do with the heart of the discussion) and several of the anti-husband's name/hyphenated name comments were moderately to overtly feminist. 

My last name is fairly unique (here in the States anyway I guess), and it honors my own family heritage.  It isn't lost on me that my surname is most likely the name of some sweaty slave master from hundreds of years ago, but not much can be done about that now.  It is still my late father's name, and it's important to me to honor it, especially seeing as how I'm an only child and he had no sons.  If my man and I have children, my family and heritage will be a part of them also, and I would want them to know that I treasure it as much as their father (my dude) treasures his.  I would want my kids to have his last name, however, and let them choose in the future what to do with their own names once they were old enough to take on spouses of their own.

Another commenter said that she and her husband married when she was 3 months pregnant and decided that to avoid a bunch of 'baby-daddy crap' she would marry the guy (seems she gave him the ultimatum to marry or walk) and take on his surname so that her child would always be able to look at his birth certificate and know for a FACT that he came from a "love relationship and was not a mistake" .  It would be a pretty sad state if that's the only way the kid ever knew, not in the love and affection his parents demonstrated toward one another, the mutual respect, the admiration, the devotion, the tolerance, the fidelity, the fairness.  Having nothing else to show him in the way of a good example except for a piece of paper showing that they shared the same last name...

I just feel that the name itself has NO bearing on what's inside the minds and hearts of the people involved nor the health and stability of the relationship itself.  A book cover can be torn, ragged, scorched, ripped, chewed, soiled - and still be a beautiful work of literary art on the inside.  On the contrary, a candy wrapper can be golden and shiny and brilliantly intricate with a candy inside that tastes like hog shit.  If a person feels that it is an honor to adopt a spouse's surname, be it a woman or a man, and he/she is doing so freely with a contented mind and spirit, then WONDERFUL, bless you.  That's a beautiful thing.  Conversely, if a woman wants to hold onto her given name, be it solely or hyphenated, then as long as she is doing so with a sound heart and in good conscious bearing no ill will or malice, then TERRIFIC, more power to you and bless you too.  As long as people are living their lives, contributing to society, not hurting anyone, what business is it of anyone else's what the hell they do with their name?

There are SO many reasons for taking one stance or the other, as the comments showed (many interesting personal stories).  Some people couldn't get rid of their maiden/birth names fast enough in order to cut ties with a dysfunctional family, and some men were happy with changing THEIR names to the wife's name.  What a wonderful thing -- diversity.  People doing what works for them.

So what about you guys?  For anyone that's married, what did you do, and did anything influence your decision to do it, or was it not even a thought?  And if you're not married but plan to be someday, is this anything you've given thought to?  Does your culture dictate that you MUST do one or the other, or is it tradition or choice?  I would really love to hear peoples thoughts on this, male, female, married or not.  As always, go crazy, write a 'novel', no censors.

Also, read the article (and some comments) if you get a chance - it touches on several points that I didn't get into here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Enter the Machines...4/21 and the end of life as we know it O_O

According to the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles tv show, Skynet became self-aware at 8:11pm Tuesday, 4/19/11, and will begin the global attack today (4/21/11).  There's even a FB page dedicated to it ^_^.

PhotobucketAs many others have said, I for one welcome our AI overlords, and plan to see if they can do something about this TS3 Forum business.  Maybe they'll come out with a kick ass new EP, or a reeeeeally sweet SP.  Being that yesterday was 4/20, a lot of people won't really care too much...lots of folks still in a bit of a 'foggy haze' today heh, ^_^  buuut I'm getting a few signs/posters ready for the big willkommen.  Signs and beer and yummy yummy nachos.  And gummy Nerds.  And Doritos!!  And...chocolate bars...and queso & guac.  Oh man and like one of those Edward's Key Lime pies, and piiiiizzzaaaa with Wing Stop wings & blu cheese dip.  And Wing Stop's cheese is sooo good...and my kingodom for some Now&Laters...

I need to go eat - can't welcome the overlords on an empty tummy o_O

And if you don't know what the hell I'm going on about...disregard this post but REMEMBER - resistance is futile. ;)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What is YOUR experience with the TS3 Forum?

When I got on the pc today and tried to get on the TS3 forum, of COURSE it didn't work -- I got the wonderful blunderful 404 error.  Whenever that happens I have to clear my cookies for AND in order to access the damn thing.  Not too much of a hassle per se, but annoying as all get out, especially having to do it nearly every day.

I've tried using other browsers, but it's basically same script different cast - I always have to clear caches for the site in order to get on.  I only see Liam once in a blue moon, but it seems that others get the lil' bastard all the time.  And then it seems that some people rarely have issues accessing the forums.  Funny that I neeeever have problems accessing the laughably-priced beautiful Store items.

Obviously in the grand scheme of life these forum glitches aren't the end-all-be-all, and I don't really know jack about maintaining a site as robust as the TS3 site, but's STILL that bad?  After so long, after SO many complaints, after so much frustration from the consumers?

What is YOUR experience with the site?  Do you continue to have errors, double-posts, Liam visits, and the like?  Do you have periods (not counting scheduled maintenance) where you can't get on at all, or have to pull out a bag of special tricks to access forum sections? Or have the issues actually lessened, gotten better, or even gone away completely on your end?  I know this has been discussed ad nauseum but I'm curious to know exactly what experiences other people are having with it now, good or bad.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Faerie Folk Assignments #8 & #9 Photo Spam + Outtakes

Heh, finally getting around to posting these here. *As usual, click for full-sized images*

Assignment #8:  Poem on your mind, Song in your heart

This was a more common competition theme:  choose one poem (any) and one song (any) and portray each in a picture.  Sounds easy enough, but I haven't been in any comps that featured this theme (or advanced far enough to reach it).  By far one of the toughest, most head-pounding, swear word induced situations I've been in so far with a photo.  I won't even go into took me FOR E VER to finalize a song & poem.  For 2 weeks straight pretty much EVERY song I heard was potentially "the one", and considering the song could be instrumental-only, it was almost impossible to choose just one.  I had a better idea earlier on of a possible poem:  boring story alert - one of my all-time favorite books is A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein.  I dunno, it always brings back awesome childhood memories of being in the library at school and learning about books which had received Caldecott (and other) awards.  Anyway, I thought it would be a fun idea to go more light-hearted for the poem, and A Light in the Attic has so many fun poems full of innocent (and not so innocent) imagery.  I finally decided on "The Pirate" because we have a few good CC pirate items floating around.

Oh, the blithery, blathery pirate
(His name, I believe, is Claude),
His manner is sullen and irate,
And his humor is vulgar and broad.

He has often been known to imprison
His friends in the hold dark and dank,
Or lash them up high on the mizzen,
Or force them to stroll down a plank.

He will selfishly ask you to dig up
Some barrels of ill-gotten gold,
And if you so much as just higgup,
He'll leave you to fill up the hole.

He may cast you adrift in a rowboat
(He has no reaction to tears)
Or put you ashore without NO boat
On an island and leave you for years.

He's a rotter, a wretch and a sinner,
He's foul as a fellow can be,
But if you invite him to dinner,
Oh, please sit him next to me!
--Shel Silverstein

A few shots of the extras:

Nice profiles - male extra #2 with his rugged Errol Flynn thing going on...

The second part of the assignment was representing a song, and I chose "Feather Moon" by Vienna Teng.  Definitely one of my favorite songs of hers, though I can't say there's one I DON'T like lol.  The song has this...reflective feeling to it.  A little dark, a touch somber, and a bit meditative I guess.  As usual I had no idea in the world what I would do for the picture, but, despite a few hangups here & there, I was satisfied with it. Kinda.  The only thing edited in is the sky, besides a little color filtering. I took the shot right at dusk so the purple/pink hue is very close to the in-game shot.

Feather moon
Scarlet sky
Living clouds
My blinded eye
Waters black
Wood in snow
Dead of night
How bright you glow

Breathe in breathe out
Exhale and inhale

Seven sins
God of stone
All is true
Down to the bone
Feather moon
Scarlet sky
I love you endlessly
Not knowing why

Breathe in breathe out
Exhale and inhale
--Vienna Teng

I hate that the details of the faces and costumes don't show up in the submitted picture, buuuut that's what outtakes are for I guess!

An idea that diiiiidn't quite work out...I'll use it sometime in the future


Assignment #9:  A Lil' Change O'Pace

Another assignment where each contestant had a different assignment.  For these 2 pictures I had to first show & explain Ennui's favorite childhood memory (from when she was young, innocent, & Good), and then portray her view of either the mortal world or the faerie world, and how that view has changed or remained the same.  Of course I waited til the last minute to work on them...procrastination has been my drug of choice lately for some aggravating reason o_O.

Anyway, Ennui's story is basically that she was a faerie destined to aid mankind in swallowing up mortal sorrows at the expense of her own happiness.  She was taken away from her happy home at an early age and sent to work/train/study under the tutelage of the Guardian Architect, sort of a god-like parental/guardian figure.  I hadn't done much in fleshing out the faerie world so it was a big challenge to come up with one idea.  When she is a child, Ennui knows nothing of her fate and knows little about the world of men - she lives an idyllic, innocent, sugary-sweet fairytale life.

Like 'life size' My Little Ponies...I wonder where mine are now...?

This day is imprinted into my psyche, and it is so pleasant to revisit. I can travel back to that time, in spirit of thought and with youngling eyes, and rejoice in how spectacular it was...

Oh shalhma'èh it was the most blissful day! Eiichi was finished with his meditations and training and finally had time to play with had been ages since we had been together, and brother begged to visit Fel Nyetai's outskirts by chance to catch a glimpse of wandering Chu-rhe-uen. We know them from infancy as Thunder Stallions, Druid Stags, Empyrean Moon Striders...know of them yet rarely see them. Shalhma'èh, how elusive they are! Mother speaks of creature beings, "man", who worship Chu-rhe-uen as the very sky above them, with shimmering hooves beating thunder and swift tails stirring ferocious winds on their world. What intelligent beasts these "mans" seem to be...I want to learn more about Eiichi looks at me saddened when I say such things.

However on THIS day his essence was filled with warm bright light! Fel Nyetai has a potent affect on our kind, I understand why the Moon Striders revere it so, their ancestral lands. They come here to drink and play and pass along fables and tales to one another, and teach their young. Moon Strider foals, chu-chéshis! Only in art have I seen them but what adorable things they are! How would I have ever known, or scarcely DREAMED that we would see them here, that they would of course know of our presence, and not stand ground or chomp off our heads (as they normally would with unwelcome, unlucky strangers), but invite us into their haven! A generous gathering of Chu-rhe-uen is a rare miracle indeed, at least for fae eyes to witness, fae that are not Holy Ones or fated for some greater task, greatly, out in the great great beyond.

I could take to the air just from the memory of it! They know our tongue and spoke it well, spoke it perfectly indeed. And their coats! 'Ma'èh, I have never seen so many glorious colors....they seem to change at will, changing into whatever they see, or whatever they are feeling. What a blessing....the Chu-rhe-eun matriarch and patriarch took an exceptional liking to me, these hallowed sovereigns who have traveled the great River and speak every tongue, more ancient than I can imagine. I concealed my wings and tried to bow to them, but they nuzzled me endlessly! They told us stories and asked many questions as well. Eiichi was tranquil and relaxed and not at all his usual unrestrained, raucous self. It made my soul glad to hear him say over and over and over again that *this* place was where I belonged, this place and no other. What a curious and wonderful brother I have, I adore him so! So serious in the face of something so could I ever dream of leaving my new friends?

This day is imprinted into my psyche...this memory and all that is endearing to me. How was I to know what lie ahead...?

For the second picture I was hoping for something a little darker.  I actually did this one first, then the trip to Bubblegum Junction above lol.  One of the unique things about this part of the assignment was that Ennui did not have to be the focus - Blair was more interested in seeing the world around her.  This was my backup idea -- I wasn't able to pull the original idea together the way I wanted in time.  The 'car light' lines are drawn on & brightened, and the in-game sky is edited to look like clouds, and I did some contrast & a little color editing.  Nothing is pasted on (including Ennui).  I reeeeeally disliked this picture at first, partly because I had procrastinated so long and partly because it was a last minute idea, but it's grown on me.  I dunno.

Spider Man & Where's Waldo wrapped up in a pretty blue faerie package...

I perch on a hollow structure like an avian being, midway above the city.
Looking downward gives me comfort. There is security here in the clear air above them.
Sleepless city bathed in light, moving, moving, endlessly traveling nowhere. Human mortals are so busy with their triflings, little worry of whether or not it means anything in the grander picture, on the broader scale.

They never cease to amaze me with their wandering. I peer down at their world, my world...most do not know and cannot see me, only ones that have drunk of the River in sacred ceremony. The Believers, Ail'Nàhe. Few in number, feverish in devotion. I do not understand why they are branded as witches and heretics here.

This bustling city teems with a distinct heartbeat of its own, and I hear its cries in somberness not unlike the sorrow songs of the people I am tasked to appease. Those wails echo in my fibers. In these heights there is at least an illusion of quietness, distance.

These human being mortals know EVERYTHING. What do they know of Qo? Of the river of all existence? Of any beings other than themselves? Look at hostile and ill fated. Guardian, they perpetuate their own sorrows! Ahè, must I forever watch over these mammals? In my blind youth you warned me that the burden would be massive...warned me of the treacherous ways of those they call "man". My naive faerie eyes could not see past the curiously wonderful nature of these little beings who entertained me so. If only they understood how capable they truly are! But lo, have I witnessed the truth of your words, Great Guardian, in these many mortal years, as did the ones before me, the tortured fae that absorbed men's sorrows. Woe be to these animals....for you, for *this*, I was wrenched from all that was endearing to me...

...And yet I remain here, watching over them. My thoughts are scattered and contradicting now as ominous clouds pass overhead, the clouds that look down on them as I do, and as do the beasts of their skies and even the towering steel and mortar behemoths they construct. My poor little mammal beings - rattled by even the glorious lightning. How can I despise them and live in the stream of existence that is their world, in the restraint of these silvery skies?

Curious. This must be what a 'love/hate' relationship is. They have taken so much from me....but by my burden, and for my taint, it is theirs to take. 

I thought that shooting the picture inside of the dome would create a cool effect, and it was a bitch trying to get an angle that wasn't too much or too little grid.

I love this 'caged' feeling...must be what animals feel like...being able to see, even feel and smell and hear everything around you but being trapped behind cold steel

The lighting at sunset in this game is incredible...something about sunset (in real life) makes me feel sad & isolated & reflective, ever since I was little...

Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-... That's all, folks!  :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cell Phone mAdNess...Any recommendations?

I want a new phone, dammit.  I had a Razr a few years ago and it was great, and 2 years ago I switched to my current cell, a Samsung Rant.  Don't get me wrong, the Rant is a cute lil gizmo; slide-out keyboard, PURPLE, sturdy, pretty reliable, takes ok photos, PURPLE...I've enjoyed it, but i'm itching for a Smartphone.  I've never felt like I needed one, but....wayell....there are some decent deals out there right now, yada yada.  I don't have a data plan with the Rant, so no sending pictures or checking email or any of those luxury goodies.  I've gotten along fine without them this far,'d be nice.  Our Sprint contract is up in a few weeks, and we think it might not be such a bad idea to not only switch phones (again), but also carriers.

The top-tier phones are out of my price-range now (my kindom for a Samsung Galaxy S 4G), but upgrading later is a possibility.  So far my top contender is the LG Optimus T (T-Mobile), a good entry-level Smartphone.  It has a bunch of features that I'm looking for and that seem pretty good (Android 2.2, better camera than my current one, wifi & 3G, wifi hotspot capable, blah blah blah), and the features/luxuries that are lacking aren't deal-breakers.  There's just a dizzying array of phones on the market for ALL price points, and while I can sort thru them according to what I do & do not want and need, getting reviews from real users is invaluable info, and I'm the most indecisive person I know, so that doesn't help at all.  I'm not stuck on having to have the latest & greatest & best of every new gadget out there, but a new phone is pretty appealing for some reason.

And yeah, there's iPhone....I'm not anti-Apple in any way, I've just never been very feverish about them.  An iPod Touch, maybe, phone, meh.  They're cool as crap though.

So any recommendations, maybe experience with your current phone or things you've heard?  iPhone users please weigh in too >,< - I'd like all the input I can get (novels welcome as always around here), and NOT just from Smartphone users.  Thanks guys <3

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Faerie Folk Assignment #7 Pictures

The latest crop of FF photos:

Assignment #7:  Flowers & Partners
This was our first partner assignment - there were six of us left, and each person had to choose one of six flowers (plus the flower's meaning) to represent.  We were to portray both the flower we chose and also the flower our partner chose.  Even though not everyone was happy/satisfied with their shots, these were some of the best this competition has had to offer thus far.  Definitely worth checking them out.

My partner was Sun, and she chose the Bluebell for her flower.  Bluebells represent humility, and coming up with an 'evil' spin on humility was damn hard...I didn't pull it off the way I wanted, and I don't love this shot, but I may go back and re-work it in the future.  I had a few ideas that would've taken far too long to pull of (if even possible).

Bluebells have long been symbolic of humility and gratitude. In mythic legends it is said that faeries use the bluebells to trap passersby, particularly children, or cast spells upon any who dare to pick, damage, or destroy the delicate flowers. The nickname "Dead Man's bells" originates from this tale.

Does an evil faerie, tasked with the burden of leaching the sorrow from weary mortal souls, ever truly grasp the notion of humility? Such is Ennui's province after all, and she treks the mortal lands in search of those in the most desperate and dire need. Atop her isolated altar, Ennui occasionally receives patrons - those mortals brave and despairing enough to make the impossible pilgrimage. The intrusion rattles her to the core, summoning to light the true and pure darkness of her taint, and regardless of the circumstance, the misery, the desperate hopeless pain, the Fae of Sorrows turns them away in callous, cold succession, banishing them back to the empty void from whence they came.

The flower I chose was the Yellow Hyacinth which represents jealousy.  I didn't think it would be too hard to come up with an idea for a jealousy theme, but it was much more difficult than I thought.  Even when I finalized the idea, the execution was absolute torture.  A frikkin nightmare.  I can't say that enough -- gave my hand a reeeeeeally good whacking while punching the computer desk out of frustration...o_O.  It wasn't even worth all that....the photo came out pretty well, but it was a lonnnnng time coming in a way-too-lengthy process.  Long and difficult and aggravating as absolute hell.  I really could've used some magical sim fairy dust or something...anyway....

The legend of the Hyacinth flower begins in antiquity: Hyacinthus, a beautiful young male companion of the Greek god Apollo, was murdered in a jealous rage by Zephyr, the god of the West Wind. Zephyr desired Hyacinthus for himself, and the sight of of the lovely men playing a discus game together was too much to bear. The blood that spilled from Hyacinthus turned into a flower, and in mourning Apollo named the flower after him.

The tragic young faerie Ennui lingers dolefully against her window, her weary eyes peering out of her dim quarters into the warm golden evening. In longing solitude she watches, listens to the rustling leaves and the joyous play of her sisters, all of them enchantingly beautiful with full and glorious wings. There is a peace in the quiet of it all, and a sorrow...Ennui's meager wings and disfiguring scar liken her to a hermit, outcast, receding, fading, recoiled in silent and sparse isolation. She aches to be among them, reveling in the splendor of the new yellow blossoms, kissed by the lazy sunlit air. How she reveres them, and how she resents them...the bitter sour of jealousy languishing on a parched tongue. And so she lingers until night envelops the golden evening....

Neither picture was very heavily edited, but I definitely spent more time working the Yellow Hyacinth picture (the candles are flameless, hence the lack of lighting on her face from them).  Assignment #8 will be yet another big challenge, but I'm going to try my best.  That's all I can do.  And I'm aiming for very little or no editing...we'll see how it goes.  Thanks for lookin'. :)

*and Sun, thank you for being so cool and being a great partner.  both of your shots were beautiful*

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Recent Competition Pictures

I'm really behind in posting these, BUT here are my latest photos from Faerie Folk.  I'm still hanging in there, but our current assignment is a mutha -- lol I'm horrible at making more than one pic at a time (which is required for this assignment), so we'll see what happens...o_O....anyway.......feel free to check out the actual comp threads to see all of the amazing shots from the competitors (well worth the time, kid you not) and read my accompanying stories - I linked each in the titles below.

Assignment #3:  Fairy Tales
We had to come up with our own fairy tale, and adjust it to be a Good or Evil story depending on the orientation of our model.  Ennui is evil and she has an Asian-inspired background, so I chose a Japanese-influenced setting for the photo and story.  I never was completely happy with this pic and I swear I'm going to re-shoot it someday.  It was a lot of fun to work with though, the setting in particular.

So often we make extras for our pictures, and many times they are barely seen in the shots.  That was the case with Queen Sen - I spent a good amount of time (read = forfrikkinever) creating her in CAS, but she doesn't show up very well in my submitted picture.  This was an outtake shot of her that was sharpened a little in Photoshop


Assignment #4:  The Five Senses
This theme has been done in a few other comps, and it always seems easy from the start, but coming up with something really good or unusual is really difficult.  Again, this wasn't any sort of spectacular pic -- and oh GAWD was my real life a mess during that time -- but I love the soft glow on the male model.  Much of that effect was with in-game lighting.  This is another photo that I wanted to do over again SO badly, and some of my outtake/unused shots were better than what I submitted, so I really want to work with some of those in the future. And oh yeah - I chose Sense of Touch.

...wish my hair was that doggone shiny...

An outtake picture that I edited a bit in Photoshop...I had waaaayyyyhayyhayyyy too much fun working with this guy... ;)


Assignment #5:  Switching Roles!
The concept for this assignment seemed easy enough:  our faerie models had to switch their orientation, so Good faeries had to be Evil, and vice-versa.  I had intended for Ennui to be 'Good' in the first place, but the Good Faerie slots filled up fast and she went eeeeevil.  The execution of the assignment was another story -- there were nearly limitless possibilities of what we could do with our models and pictures, so focusing in on one idea was a huge challenge.  After the previous picture, I wanted something a little more lighthearted, so I thought 'hey, why not go to jail!' or something along those lines.

The rails, ceiling, and top half of the right-hand wall are edited in, and also the "stripe" on the ground, made to look grungy


Assignment #6:  Chakras
Yee-haw -- there were several comments all around about how difficult this theme was in Blair's last cycle of Faerie Folk, and boy were they right.  The research was absolutely fascinating and I came away from it learning a great deal; coming up with the right image, however, was absolutely INSANE.  I had no idea what in the world I would do for this one.

We were allowed to choose from the seven Chakras, and by the time I saw the assignment thread there were only 3 left:  Manipura (fire/navel), Anahata (air/heart), and Vishuddha (ether/throat).  A couple of Chakras that I would've wanted to try were taken, and I wasn't sure I could do much of anything with what was left.  I decided to go with Anahata because of the air element, and by the time I made my decision and tried to reply, someone had taken it.  Vishuddha sounded a little more difficult, but also pretty intriguing....the element of ether particularly.  After reading a quick bit about it, I knew that's what I wanted to go with.  It was a pain in the ass to get just the right angles and have no idea....but I was actually (for once) pretty happy with the final result, and I got a good avatar picture from the outtakes also.  I think my total time working on this from start to finish was around....17 hours or so?  Give or take a couple of hours (and over the course of three days).  That's pretty normal for me -- anywhere from, say, 12 to 20+ hours per shot.  Takes a long time when you barely know what the hell you're doing, no joke.

I laughed out loud when I finally found the right (and very unlikely) pose for's hard to see, but I added the Vishuddha symbol into the vapor coming from Ennui's mouth. Also, the animal symbol for Vishuddha is the elephant, hence the tiny, almost invisible elephant statue in the bottom right corner.

I ended up with a great forum avatar from an outtake face shot

Two more plays a tweaking the coloring; the color for Vishuddha is blue so I experimented with a few other color options (too many to post now, heh)

Midsummer Night's Trance

Hypnotic Stardust


Annnd I guess that's all for now.  We're on Assignment #7 currently (pictures representing two flowers of our choosing), and I'm literally shaking in my Cat in the Hat slippers -- I'm clueless as to what to do for these shots, and not in a good 'meh, I'll get a burst of inspiration at the last minute' sort of's pretty scary.  BUT hopefully they'll be good enough to survive another round.  There are absolutely no guarantees with competitions.

If you made it this far, thanks so much for browsing!  There are so many more pictures I want to post....I think I'll end up making a companion blog to showcase outtakes, CAS pictures, and the like.  I usually take a couple or few hundred shots per project/assignment, and there's pretty much always something funny or cool that results from the masses.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tribute to my Mean Little Pleco

Thursday night my Pleco was acting like a madfish -- he was thrashing all over the aquarium and swimming around like crazy.  It's not completely unusual for him to do that, but those little 'episodes' usually last 5 or 10 minutes or so.  Not this time -- the poor guy thrashed around like that for HOURS, pretty much all night long.

He's always been a bit of a character.  I bought him over 7 years ago as a tiny little thing not much longer than my thumb.  I had just purchased and set up a 20 gallon tank a few weeks prior, and he was a perfect little addition.  I've had that dude longer than any fish I've ever kept, and he sort of grew into the role of grandpappy of the tank.  Plecos are bottom feeders (related to catfish) and are mostly put in aquariums to eat algae.  They're pretty notorious for abandoning the algae-eating when they get older, and that's what this guy did, favoring veggies and fish flake food over the fuzzy green stuff.  In the beginning he was shy like all Plecos, only coming out at night and darting into the first cave or bush of plants he could get to when anyone walked by the tank.

 Chillin with my Gouramis Cotton and Candy

As he got older, I guess he got used to us.  And he outgrew his two favorite hiding spots.  After a while, he just started hanging out on the bottom of the aquarium and would stick himself (via his sucker mouth) to the glass.  Over the past few years he started getting fairly aggressive when it was time to eat, sometimes knocking my other fish out of the way just to get to a pinchful of tasty flakes (or at least I imagine that stuff must be tasty - they all go to war over it at feeding time).  But he liked to float partially on his back at the top of the water and let me drop food directly into his mouth.  He was barely spooked by people anymore and seemed to like having his picture taken.  Vain son-of-a-gun....

Whenever we visit pet stores, particularly our favorite, I like to look at the Plecos and compare their size to my guy.  At last measurement (a couple of weeks ago) he was right around 12 inches long and meaty as hell -- he's always had a good weight to him; I know this from the time we had to transfer him in to the larger aquarium, and one time when I accidentally netted him - he displayed his catfish heritage BEAUTIFULLY, splashing water frikkin EVERYWHERE and thrashing around like a real trooper.  Strong as hell.

  Waiting for food with Candy

I blogged about him back in April of last year, and he really enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame (har har)!  He's always had him moments -- seemingly loving to be gawked at, then going all diva and refusing any attention.  It's crazy, but we never could come up with a name for him; his personality wasn't as well-rounded and obvious as all of the other fish I've had (you'd be surprised how much personality fish can have o_O), and we just never could come up with anything that seemed suitable.  It didn't really matter...we've still always loved the guy.

  Taking a breather from playing in the bubble curtain...they LOVE that thing....

So it really bothered me Thursday when he seemed so agitated...he's been moving around a bit slower lately, but he's no spring chicken (those guys can live 10 to 15 years in captivity, and even up to 20 in extraordinary conditions).  One of his eyes was a little cloudy, but we decided to change & test the water the next day and monitor it to see if he would need meds.  I took some pics and video of his thrashing around because it was so bizarre....

Unfortunately, that would be his last moment in the spotlight.  We woke up Friday late-morning to find him dead in one of his favorite spots in a corner.  He's always still (when he isn't swimming around like his tail is on fire), but looking at him, you could tell it just wasn't...right.  My hubby prodded him gently with a net, and sure enough, he was gone.

We had been going back & forth for a while over what to do with him because he was simply outgrowing our 55 gallon aquarium.  He deserved to have a nice big open space to swim and nice nooks to hide in.  Even Friday night we discussed it because his wild behavior that evening was terrifying my other fish.

He was much much MUCH too big to dispose of down the porcelain throne (has been for a long time), so we gave him a proper aquatic 'burial at sea', setting him in the pond out back.  I think he would have LOVED it out there when he was living, so it's the most befitting place for him to make the journey to fishy heaven.

It was shocking at first, and then really sad.  It's still strange going up to the aquarium and not seeing him lounging around, sucking on some gravel, or shooting up to the front with his mouth wide open for food.  He was an excellent pet, beautiful, strong, hardy, sometimes quirky, and a real conversation piece -- not one person that has ever come in here and seen him has walked away without gawking at his size.

I'm really gonna miss ol' grandpappy.  May he rest in fishy peace....

The pic I uploaded in my April blog post - awesome blue lighting on the Pleco one night

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dusting off the cobwebs II

Yikes -- this place is more cobwebby than ever!  I'm planning on redesigning the blog again (something lighter..?) and making some hopefully halfway decent posts.  Thank you guys for bearing with me!  And if I haven't visited your blog & commented in a while, I owe you a huge apology.  I haven't forgotten you!!

And also, I have to say:  My name is Cel, and I am a Wholly Guacamole addict.  Had to get that off my chest....very freeing.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a joyous New Year.  Stay safe, have as good of a time as you can possibly muster, and try to do at least one generous, unselfish thing for someone else.  Reach out to someone less fortunate, or someone who you don't normally think much of, and try to shine at least a little bit of a bright light in someone else's life.

Take care, God bless, and be well!

**giant hugs & noogies**

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sending Yaz Heartfelt Prayers & Good JuJu

By now a lot of people know that Yazzie is in the hospital.  As of now she seems to be doing well, out of surgery (which went well) and hopefully on the road to a speedy recovery.  Her fiancee Chris has been very diligent in sending us all information as he gets it, and so far so good!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two Competition Pictures

So far, Faerie Folk is going along really well. There's a ton of talent in this competition, and I think the next (3rd) assignment will be even MORE of a challenge. It's really helped me to begin shaking off the photo/Photoshop cobwebs. 

Assignment #1: Showing how or character became evil (or good if she's on the less dark side)
It is an age when Chaos rules the world of mortals; this brother of Order, not wholly evil yet a brazen assassin of balance. By his maxim he is not only important, but critical to the resplendent flow of Qo Nàhe, the boundless immeasurable stream of existence. The Guardian Architect spoke of this to me once, and once again in twilight's somber song.

"...Discord navigates the waves of Qo Nàhe...with impulse and hollow regard he sows the seeds of disarray, of anarchy...the radiant blade will lie in wait. His dominion bears down on all, the drowning weight liken to a thousand storms...and from bedlam skies will toy with mortal fate..."

In the era of my innocence the words mean nothing. Even as the heavy burden was laid on my shoulders, my fate to suffer for the misery of Man, these lines of prose pass through unconcerned ears and an infantile heart. I neither comprehend nor give fretted thought to the beautiful aria dissipating through my memory, fading like effervescent si'lescàya petals on a waiting tongue...

...and so he chooses me.

The breath of Chaos Architect enveloped me as I emerged from a bathing spring, and its brisk unsteady wind was unfamiliar, curious. I closed my eyes and suffocated in its caress, all about me slicing, permeating, penetrating, almost salacious in pained pleasure.

With numb weary I weep bitter tears, and the jade poison seeps past my lips snaking the same trail -- I understand now, and my defiled heart surges rapidly within.

He has tainted my essence, made corrupt my sacred burden, and his unyielding grip asphyxiates. My duty abound, I am called to relieve another mortal soul besieged in darkness...and to my everlasting despair I come to realize my role as an instrument of the Architect; as my song of lament draws the pain of melancholy from one tortured being, so too does it draw the Architect himself to me and to my task, and he comes swiftly. With gleaming blade in hand he mirrors my benevolence with his bitterness, piercing a mortal spirit with jade venom and untold, undeserved misery. I linger helpless.

By his edict I can do no right without bringing ruin. I am consolation, and also catastrophe, forever a pawn in the game of Chaos, and an agent of ill will.

...Mankind forgive me...

Assignment #2: We were each assigned a word that symbolizes faeries in some way, and had to represent that word in a pic. I was given "Rebirth"
Ennui, the mournfully beautiful Fae of Sorrows, has endured two births: the first as she passed into the world as a delicate infant, and the second as the weary song of the Guardian Architect pierced her innocent soul.

The wax and wane of the Nie hala Lûn, or Indigo Moon, foretold her rebirth as the sorrow-filled fae, and since that time Ennui has faithfully carried out her tasks. If not for the baneful Chaos Architect, she would live a blessed, albeit melancholy life. Her heart aches for the mortal souls who carry heavy burdens because of her taint, her body soiled with the viscous misery of those she inadvertently hurts.

Though anguish stains her now, Ennui dreams of the age when she can cleanse herself under the Ériol soah Lûn, or purifying Azure Moon, emerging from a glowing cerulean pool and washing away the tarnished shades of her spirit. On this ethereal night, Ennui will cast off her ruin and bask in the sparkling essence of her final birth, reclaiming her true, pure task as the Fae of Sorrows.

I'm loving this sim so much...I wish I knew how to make CC so we could have more fantasy-style items!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Faerie Folk Cycle 3 Entry and Recent Sim Pics

The last competition I joined was Evie's awesome Unique: Kawaii comp back in August, and before that it was Akasha's Gothique Beauty Cycle 1 (which finished in June). I'm so rusty! But I'm took a leap and signed up for Faerie Folk. Some of the best sim artists in the community have gone through that competition, and it sounds like a blast...I'm just really nervous! But hopefully it'll be a lot of fun.

The sim I submitted is a fae that I named Ennui Sorrowsong. Ennui (pronounced "ahn-WEE") is actually a term used to describe feelings of weariness, boredom, or discontent, but can also refer to general melancholy. I dunno, for some reason I've always liked the word, so my poor faerie got stuck with the name.

This Cycle of Faerie Folk centers around Good and Evil faeries: our sim could either be Good or Evil (Ennui is evil, though I had initially planned for her to be Good. We were over the limit on Goods), and for Assignment #1 we'll have to show how she/he became that way. I have no earthly idea how I'll portray mine just yet, but the brainstorming is a trip!

Ennui's Bio:
On the seventh night of the Nie hala Lûn (the hallowed Indigo Moon), the Guardian Architect whispered a mournful song into Ennui's heart, one that beat delicately within her, untainted by the horrors of suffering. The beautiful pale little fae opened her sorrowful crystalline eyes and stepped out into the stillness of the frigid night, hair burned dark by the glimmering low-hung Indigo Moon above. Its wax and wane foretold her rebirth, and also hope for the world of men; for it would be her charge to seek out those with weary hearts pained in weighted hopelessness and anguish.

From that eve and onward, Ennui has existed as the Fae of Sorrows. With a Dusk of Dying rose between her trembling lips, its thorns ever drawing fresh cold blood, she would sing a beautifully somber lamenting aria of misery and of mercy. The eternal burden placed upon Ennui is a great one: to absorb the grim despair of woe that afflicts the mortal soul, to swallow his grief, relieve him of worry and draw it deep within her own essence. For her sacrifice, she bears the scar of empathy for every crestfallen tear that becomes her own.

Though Ennui bears her burden with genuine grace, there are those that seek to use her for their divine will. The Architect of Chaos blew turbulent, silent winds of discourse and tainted Ennui's spirit; for every grief-stricken tear she draws into herself, she inadvertently causes a tear to fall. For every ravaged heart and besieged soul she frees of torment, she causes a parallel, unforeseen heartache someplace in the mortal world. She is viewed as an evil soul, but Ennui's most tortured desire is to restore Order and reclaim her unsullied birthtask.

Until then, she continues her dreary song, made more melancholy and desperately beautiful with tiny thorn-drawn blood droplets...

When I installed LN last week, one of the first things I did was to go around and check out some of the Bridgeport character. It was late, so I played around with making over Morrigan and Wogan Hemlock. Nothing dramatic - just adjusting a few features and adding some CC. I think they still look similar to their original vampy selves. You can check them out HERE at Sim Exhibition if ya want.

Finally, I have to say that dressing up a sim for my blog banner was cool as hell. I guess she's the current 'Bijou Sweeney', or something like that. I was testing out some backgrounds and other shtuff a couple of weeks ago and ended up editing one of those shots in Photoshop. It's only a test shot, so the poses suck -- BUT the editing came out okay (just a few filters). If the background looks at all familiar, it is: it's the set from one of my Gothique Beauty pictures (Arabesque as a black swan). The sexxy vamp dude is a dark version of my Cristobel Mourningstar sim, and now that I have LN, he's next on my list to be legitimately vampified:
Click to enlarge!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Wishes and Old Sim Art

"Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, voices whisper in the trees, 'Tonight is Halloween!'" --Dexter Kozen


Happy Halloween to everyone! If you're going out tonight and celebrating, please be safe, smart, and at least a *little* responsible! ^_^ No new Halloween sim-art to share, so I'll just post an old competition pic from 'America's Next Top Non Mortal' (much better enlarged):

                   *My cat-doll sim Motley and her beau Cristobel Mourningstar*


Take care guys, and have a wild & wacky Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Anyone Ever Completely Overhaul Their CC?

I cannot WAIT to get my mitts on Late Night.  I've really been wanting to reorganize my CC and mods and junk before getting it and installing it, but my god, every time I look up there are ten thousand new pieces of custom content that I "must" have.