‘If your castle really was that impressive, it’d have a shower’

typed for your pleasure on 23 November 2020, at 8.00 am

Sdtrk: ‘Sketch for summer’ by the Durutti Column

You’ll have to forgive me, as half the reason I’ve written this post is because I finally figured out, while in a state between wakefulness and sleep, the answer to a question that I’ve had for years, and was lucid enough to remember it, which really means I was more awake than asleep. What was that question, you ask? Why can’t I get into epic medieval fantasy, like, at all?

I’ve famously not played Dungeons & Dragons since probably about sixth grade. Franchises like Skyrim, Neverwinter, and Conan hold zero appeal for me. I’ve never seen a single episode of Game of Thrones, or watched anything past the first ‘Lord of the Rings’ film. Dragons make me shrug, elves kinda get on my wick. I am, by all accounts, averse to the fantasy genre of fiction. Although I was keen on The Chronicles of Narnia until I learned that CS Lewis was a god-botherer; having said that, ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ remains my favourite book out of that series. Plus John Boorman’s ‘Excalibur’ is always pretty fucking awesome. Now that I’ve mentioned that film, you’ve probably got ‘O Fortuna‘ in your head now, and rightly so. But I digress!
Really, the answer to my question made so much sense and was so #OnBrand that it makes no sense that I didn’t realise it up until now. Why am I not keen on sword and sorcery fiction? Because the world that the characters inhabit is filthy, everywhere.

As astute readers of ‘Shouting etc etc’ are already aware, I’m a semi-recovering germophobe (please refer to No.17 on my ‘85 things‘ page). I say semi-recovering, as I was doing relatively well until the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 went into Turbo mode in March. Prior to that, with the exception of vigorously wiping down any shopping trolleys before using them when buying groceries and sundries, it wasn’t an issue. But on the occasions where I absolutely can’t avoid having to leave the flat, I cram about five or so pairs of disposable rubber or latex gloves into my trouser pockets, strap my mask on, take a deep breath, and head out to do everything I have to do as quickly as I can so I can get back inside. Yep, 20fucking20. But before I go on in detail about how this year has been objectively the worst in the lifetimes of anyone with a conscience and a functioning brain, that picture I’ve painted should be enough to give you a sense of how I feel about uncleanliness. It’s gross!

Between fantasy and science fiction, it should come as no surprise that I prefer SF much, much more. For one, fantasy doesn’t have Gynoids in it, so that’s a tipoff right there. Take the prime example I always have at the front of my brain for something that approximates a futuristic Utopia: Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A space odyssey’; specifically, the space station Heywood Floyd was bumming around in.

Save for the fact that there’s a complete lack of Gynoids in it, and the populace is under threat of nuclear annihilation, that sort of environment has much greater appeal to me. Everything’s clean and shiny, the architecture, design, and fashion are smooth and modern, the temperature is regulated, there’s daily flights from Earth to Space station V and back, people wash on a regular basis… Whereas with medieval fantasy, it’s best exemplified in this image:

That’s from Aleksei German’s film adaptation of ‘Hard to be a god’ from 2013, by the way. It could be said that having that be my only example could easily be seen as a smear campaign, ah heh heh. But it’s worth considering: imagine tumbling headlong through some convenient time portal that whisks you back to, say, 1066, the year in which the culturally pivotal Battle of Hastings occurred. The French Normans invade England, English King Harold Godwinson gets shot through the eye with an arrow (disputed, but he definitely died on the battlefield), and England winds up with a dialect of French as their national language for roughly 500 years. Why do I know as much as I do about the Norman conquest? Blame an issue of National Geographic from the Sixties that my parents had containing an article that detailed the Bayeux Tapestry. It’s a comfort to know that if the bottom ever falls out of Synthetiks culture, I have my knowledge of the Battle of Hastings to fall back on! Which isn’t much.
Anyway! Back then, you were either royalty, or Peasant Scum™. If you’re the latter, your house is made of wood, thatch, or reeds, and every day, all you can smell is livestock. If you’re the former, you’re in a drafty castle, more than likely dying of gout whether you know it or not, and you don’t have indoor plumbing because outdoor plumbing doesn’t exist. No regular bathing, no deodorants of any sort, no shaving, no proper waste disposal, no proper medical treatment, nothing. Technically speaking, you’re more outside than inside! Try not to freeze to death, or die of heat stroke, or sepsis, or a thousand other murderous things! It is patently impossible to spin a romantic viewpoint on that style of day-to-day existence. Sure, you can argue that ‘medieval fantasy is fiction’, but even if I were in Darkest Mordovale or wherever wearing a full set of armour with a broadsword in hand, you couldn’t ask me to overlook the fact that the complete environment is stinky as fuck.

Right; I’ve just thought of another entry in the medieval fantasy genre that doesn’t repel me: Kentarou Miura’s long-running manga series, Berserk. In the interest of full disclosure, what attracted me to the series was the Lovecraftian aspect to a lot of the monsters and adversaries — God Hand, baybeee — but due to the fantastically insane brutality that the series portrays, the world the characters live in is not exactly hygenic. And that’s not counting all the bandit-led skirmishes, or wars between armies, or beings from an alternate plane of existence sacrificing thousands of people over a single night in order to fulfil an eldritch prophecy! Sure, you can say that after walking round day after day up to your shins in blood and corpses, that you’d simply get used to it, but… would you want to??

On the opposite end of the spectrum would be something like the telly shows produced by the creative mastermind that was Gerry Anderson. Series such as UFO, Captain Scarlet, Space: 1999, and Thunderbirds, amongst others, displayed worlds with technological advancements as well as adventure, and for the most part, they were clean. Granted, there were still pressing concerns such as disasters both natural and man-made, or a cold war with an alien race that could replicate any object or thing, or the Earth’s Moon being blasted out of orbit, or the threat of having your organs harvested by beings from another planet, but nothing’s perfect! At least things are clean, for god’s sake; that’s one less thing to worry about.

Going momentarily back to the real-life horror that is 2020, I’d seen a link in my Twitter feed months ago to a product called AIR, by a company called MicroClimate. What it is is a much-better, more futuristically-minded alternative to just donning a cloth mask over one’s face. AIR (their caps, not mine) is an acrylic helmet that covers the front half of one’s head; the back of the head is covered with a comfortable microfibre cloth that extends to the wearer’s neck. A combination of a fan and four HEPA filters keep the air (heh heh) inside the helmet fresh and fog-free. In short, wearing it makes you look as if you’re an astronaut, and that’s fucking amazing. Really, the only downsides to AIR are
+ the name (it’s lazy)
+ it doesn’t have an LED strip inside for lighting, so you can look like Sean Connery in ‘Outland’
+ the only available colour choices are black or white. Those suit my colour pallette fine, but there’s a lack of Factory grey, and
+ it’s USD$300. BOOOO.
It’s my hope that other companies will see MicroClimate’s product and make versions of their own for sale, at lower prices and with additional colour selections, ahem hem. Who wouldn’t want to be an astronaut?

A clever third-party retailer would go ahead and start designing cat ears you could pop on these bad boys

Maybe my praise of a product like AIR also exemplifies my extreme dislike of medieval fantasy. In those types of settings, physical strength will get you far, unless you’re some sort of wizard, whereas in science fiction, technology grants advantages to people across the board. Being a person who values intellectual prowess over physical ability, it’s little wonder why futuristic environments appeal much more to me. If the choice is between spending months training and working out for years, versus buckling myself into a powered exoskeleton or having my body augmented with cybernetic enhancements, I’m obviously going to spring for the quicker and much less sweat-producing option.

So that’s a revelation! You can keep your longhaired musclebound barbarians, and your shire-dwelling hairy-footed dwarves (disgusting), and your knights clad in armour that looks alright until you realise that armour is just barely containing a stench that’s enough to kill a dog. If you need me, I’ll be booking a flight from this orbiting space station to Clavius, but before that, I’m off to make a quick phonecall.

Hmm. Apparently it’s USD$1.70 for a two-minute call from an orbiting space station down to Earth. That’s $1.70 in ‘2001’ money, which was 1968 money, and this is why the economy is in the toilet

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

Looking backwards is looking forwards on February 23rd, 2013

Links kilns slink links (you can't get a lot of anagrams out of a five-letter word) on October 11th, 2010

In a world… where Chuck E. Cheese tokens are legal tender

typed for your pleasure on 9 April 2016, at 1.42 am

Sdtrk: ‘Date night’ by Will Yates

My satisfactory job excels in many ways — I often will tell anyone within earshot that it’s the best job I’ve ever had. The only downsides are that
1) the drive to and from work is lengthy (roughly 25min there and about an hour back, under normal circumstances), and
2) it doesn’t involve me closely inspecting Synthetik girlfeet for eight hours a day. But then, if we had everything we wanted, we’d be spoiled. I say that a lot, too.

However, to take my mind off the first issue, I’ve begun revisiting the distracting wonder that is the podcast. I’m not going to list my favourites here, as I intend on covering that in a future post, but I’m more than halfway through a series entitled ‘Germany: Memories of a nation‘, available from BBC Radio 4. Over the course of thirty episodes, host Neil MacGregor discusses various points concerning Deutschland’s geographical and social history, which is actually more fascinating than it sounds. True, some episodes are a bit boring (‘The Battle for Charlemagne’, for example), but others are really fascinating, like the one detailing the Bauhaus school of design, which I’ve always been intrigued with, and the one focussing on Notgeld. Now I want to buy some godforsaken Notgeld, cos obviously I need more ephemera in my life and to add to my rapidly-filling flat.

‘What’s Notgeld?? What the hell is it??’ you shriek, eyes wide, mouth frothing at the corners. Ah, I can sense that you are intrigued! First, a high-speed primer as to the situations which caused Notgeld to come into existence.
During World War I, Germany’s economy was sliding rapidly down the toilet, as the cost of the war effort was bringing about inflation. It kicked into high gear in 1922, where things were so bad that the Deutsche Mark would lose value over the course of a week. You’d have people getting their paycheques, and immediately racing to the shops to spend them before they were near-worthless. When this happened, which was often, the banks would issue new notes of higher value. Eventually it got so that the more notes there were in circulation, the less they were worth — which is where you get those anecdotes in history books of citizens literally bringing in wheelbarrows filled with Marks into shops, just to purchase groceries — and at any rate, the banks couldn’t afford to keep printing them.

The solution, then, was Notgeld, which is German for ‘necessity money’. It was defined as the currency that institutions would issue during economic or political crises, mainly when the national bank was out of regular money. These were issued not only by the national banks, but also by the banking institutions of various towns and municipalities. Of course, since metal was in short supply due to there being some sort of ‘world’ ‘war’ taking place, a lot of the denominations were printed on paper. Even then, issuers would get fancy, due to lack of overall materials, and would design notes made from silk, or leather, or postage stamps, or porcelain, or my favourite, compressed coaldust.

Zeppelins and icebergs, always awesome

‘The Hamster’s Dream’. Anything with a hamster on it is automatically great. Although he looks a bit sinister

This is one of the coal coins. I can’t imagine them doing a person’s pockets any favours. Because of the dust, not because you have money, you see. Quit your bitching, at least you have money. And stop licking your fingers

A Notgeld made of linen. Like a tea towel, that… you can use… to buy actual tea towels with

Porcelain coinage

This one, designed by Wenzel Hablik, really speaks to me. Not only does it have a very cool, Ray-Gun-magazine-filtered-through-Bauhaus look to it, it’s a document of the economic situation that created it. Part of the text lists how much average things were in Itzehoe, the town it was issued in, in 1921

Vertical Text in top right corner: “It costs in Itzeohe in 1913 / 1921 1 Kilo Butter: 2.40 Marks/60 Marks 1 Liter Milk: 16 Pfennigs/2.80 Marks 1 Kilo rye bread: 46 Pfennings/3.30 Marks 1 egg: 8 Pfennigs/1.90 Marks 1 Kilo sugar: 48 Pfennigs/ 7.60 Marks”
Text in top left corner: “1 Kilo beef: 1.90 Marks/28 Marks 1 Kilo horsemeat: 80 Pfennigs/14 Marks 1 Kilo domestic bacon: 1.5 Marks/40 Marks 1 Herring: 6 Pfennigs/1.40 Marks 1 Kilo oatmeal: 48 Pfennigs/9 Marks”

Not only were they in demand cos they were, y’know, legal tender, but the uniqueness of the designs encouraged interest and use. Many towns depicted scenes on the notes or coins related to their history, or associated with their industry.

Such as this one from Bitterfeld, showcasing a power plant…

…or this one from the town of Eberswalde, known for its delicious all-pastry tyres.

Admittedly, my super-rudimentary knowledge of German had me initially thinking Notgeld meant ‘Not money’, but unsurprisingly, I was wrong.

You’ll be pleased to know that if you really want to own examples of Notgeld, eBay has a shedload of reasonably-priced ones on offer. I mean, I’m doing my damnedest not to buy this set, as its German Expressionist design speaks to me. I’ll note that the paper ones are easiest/cheapest to find — if you’re going to aim for hardcore status and attempt to purchase some of those compressed coal ones, you’ll find that examples of those are quite rare, as a good number of those were used as fuel. Still, there are worse hobbies! You can’t make your own Notgeld to buy the vintage Notgeld with, however; it doesn’t work like that

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

Looking backwards is looking forwards on February 23rd, 2013

The Eighties are back! And THEY'RE COMING FOR YOUR EARS on February 6th, 2010

A cruise, improved

typed for your pleasure on 17 August 2014, at 7.52 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Island of birds’ by Sven Libaek

As periodic readers of ‘Shouting etc etc’ are already aware, there’s not a single thing that I like about the annual Woodward Dream cruise. I’ve mentioned why before, so I’ll not go on about it again if you’re a new visitor; you are welcome. One of the main issues that I have with it, apart from the fact that the event hampers the mobility of local non-participants, or the lack of logic of taking part in such an event when regular petrol is hovering just under $4 a gallon, is that the cars are large, ungainly, and mostly unsightly. Sorry, klassic kruisers, your cars are simply too goddamned big. The only exception to that aesthetic choice would be the 1970 Plymouth Superbird, as it is so comically overproportioned it’s awesome. And classic hearses; you can’t go wrong with those, either.

In making my way down Woodward earlier last week on the way home, I’d seen the safety orange advisory signs bolted to normal traffic signs, reminding people that the week-end of the 16th would be taken over by the Nightmare cruise. What if, I thought to myself, what if all those giant landboats were replaced with smart little classic foreign autos instead? Well, for one, I’d be out on the sidewalk every year, taking footage of the endless stream of European and Japanese cars. Cars such as

the Alpine A110

the Citroën 2CV

the BMW Isetta

the Jaguar E-type

the Toyota Sports 800

the Messerschmitt KR200

the Studebaker Avanti (yes, I’m well aware this is an American vehicle, but it gets a pass)

and the Subaru 360, amongst others. And although I’d fully expect to see both the modern and classic versions of the Fiat 500, the MINI, and the Volkswagen Beetle is that those selections are pretty much a given.
And since ‘classic’ is a loose descriptor, I’d get some automobiles from the glorious Eighties in there as well.

the Citroën Karin Concept, from 1980

the Renault Fuego (I have a soft spot for these, as it was the third car my parents ever had)

the Toyota TAC3 Concept, which looks an awful lot like the Livecougar, the jeep from Chojuu sentai Liveman

and you can’t properly represent the Eighties without some DeLoreans in there. And I’ve noticed that two of the four cars I’d just listed never made it into production. Huh.

This new, more Continental/Japanese-flavoured Cruise would also have allowances for relatively modern cars with retro styling, such as the Nissan Pao, the Nissan Figaro, or the Mazda Autozam AZ-1. In a lot of ways, modern cars with classic appearances combine the best of both worlds: they don’t have the generically bland ‘style’ of contemporary vehicles, but they possess features that older cars didn’t have, such as power steering and air conditioning.

Micro- to mid-sized cars are fantastic! They take up very little space, and more importantly, they don’t scream to the world that you’re making up for some other, more personal, shortcomings! And really, I’m not what you would describe as a ‘car guy’. Meaning, I don’t give a toss about torque, or horsepower, or technical details such as that. I like the cars that I like due almost strictly to their aesthetics.
There’s a whole bunch of cars I’d not mentioned, as I didn’t want this post to be as long as the cruise it would describe. But would you have a make and/or model of car you’d like to see in the improved Dream cruise? Why not mention it in the comments below?

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

Moderns on January 29th, 2007

Brake for disappointment on January 24th, 2009

Looking backwards is looking forwards

typed for your pleasure on 23 February 2013, at 10.35 am

Sdtrk: ‘Black holes are not completely black’ by Leyland Kirby

If there’s one thing I can be accused of indulging too much in, it’s artifice. Frankly I’ve no clue as to where people get that notion, but whatever. The other main attraction in my life would of course be design from the late Fifties to early Seventies. As the oft-neglected ‘This was the Future‘ series shows, I’m fond of architectural examples from that period, but I love the design as well. So it makes sense that I’m digging the hell out of graphic designer Julian Montague’s work.

Not only are his pieces arranged with exacting detail — the book covers alone are like a loveletter to the Marber grid, a design template that came to fame via Penguin’s paperback covers during the Sixties — but every title and every name used are completely affictitious.

In looking over his imagined covers, he seems to have a fascination with insects, particularly spiders. I don’t know what that says. Maybe set out more traps?

Not only does Julian’s work blur the lines between art and graphic design, but it also distorts things both real and imagined. We need more people like him! Go see the full website here, and Happy 23rd!

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

This was the Future, Vol.35 on August 16th, 2007

Not as fun, but certainly safer, than a fireman's axe on October 31st, 2004

Links kilns slink links (you can’t get a lot of anagrams out of a five-letter word)

typed for your pleasure on 11 October 2010, at 8.32 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Now or never’ by Polish Radio Orchestra

Been quite a while since I’ve dumped a mess of links upon you! A big sloppy bucket of links all over you, all in your hair and down your shirt. You should probably go wash that off before it dries. Don’t forget to burn those clothes as well!

+ In a way, I’m glad that Deafening silence Plus is just large enough, as if it were larger, I’d probably be indulging in my love of technological white elephants. And if I had more money, that is. ‘Technological white elephants’ is a term coined by sexy Eighties Goth siren Danielle Dax that describes obsolete technology or devices that, for whatever reason, didn’t catch on and last in the minds of the general public. Things like the RCA VideoDisc, or the ondes Martenot, or the Nintendo VirtualBoy (I own two — don’t ask, it’s a long story). I’m fairly sure the TwitterPeek will be joining you lot shortly.

Hear that? That’s the sound of Planned Obsolescence

Puts Smart Phones and Twitter Apps to Shame!

No more waiting for tweets to download or clicking the “more” button to see old tweets.

TwitterPeek’s “always on” tweet delivery makes it a snap to follow 100’s of people throughout the course of your day. Best of all, you don’t have to spend $100/month on an expensive smartphone data plan to get Twitter on-the-go.

It must be an interesting and fanciful world the creators of TwitterPeek live in. Honestly, it’s not a bad product, but 1) it’s very very specific, and 2) the masses would’ve bought these feckers by the carton back in 2006, when Twitter first started. Or maybe a year after that; some people are undoubtedly still smarting over the whole ‘Friendster‘ thing.
I just tried to search for a used TwitterPeek on the Bay of e, but came up empty-handed. There is no such thing as a consumer item that is created and isn’t resold at some point, which kinda says to me that… no-one’s buying TwitterPeeks?? *cue minor chord*

+ Speaking of social vortexes, Wil ‘sorry, can’t save the Enterprise, too busy Tweeting’ Wheaton has some very lucid things to say about that other social networking timewaster:

Now, as long as I have your attention and I’m talking about Facebook: I think that Facebook is evil, guys. I believe that Facebook is making gazillions of dollars by exploiting its users, and Facebook doesn’t give a shit about how its users feel about that. The only reason Facebook has made any changes to their laughable privacy policies recently is because the company was looking at legal action, and was in danger of losing money.

Personally, I think you should delete your Facebook account and wait for Disapora to get going. I know that’s unlikely, though, because Facebook has become a useful and convenient way to stay in touch with people you care about. But please, please consider the consequences of trading privacy for convenience, and think about this, from Newsweek:

If you really expect this company to suddenly become trustworthy, you’ve lost your mind. Over the past five years Facebook has repeatedly changed its privacy policy, always in one direction, and every time this happens, the same movie plays out. People complain. Facebook stonewalls, then spins, then pretends to be contrite, then finally walks things back—but only a little.

the entire article is here

As for me, I’ve already said my piece on Facebook and how I think it’s rubbish, so I’ll not go on about it. But what Will’s saying and what others have been saying, not using Facebook is something to consider.
And will I go see ‘The Social Network’? If it were a scenario where the proceeds from every ticket for that film went to stopping Facebook, I’d see it once a day. Apart from that, should I suddenly decide there’s absolutely nothing else more important that I need to be doing with my life, then perhaps. And more than likely, I won’t pay to do it.

+ This domicile would more than likely fit nicely into the ‘This IS the Future’ category if I had one. *checks sidebar* Just making sure. I give you: Ring House, located in Karuizawa, Nagano prefecture, Japan, and built by architects Makoto Takei and Chie Nabeshima.

Sadly, the fog is not included

The Ring House is wrapped in rings of glass and wood and has an uninterrupted 360-degree view of the forest. […] TNA designed rings around the facade so that areas of private space and utilities could be met. The height of each ring was decided by the function concealed behind it. The glass between the rings allow you to look straight into the forest, so the whole house appears to dissolve into the forest.
taken from this site

+ As I’m sure every one of you have done, I’ve lain awake at night, wondering aloud ‘when will someone write a yakuza-based Choose Your Own Adventure story??’ Well, despite the fact that it’s online only, as opposed to a printed work, this page on the site Infinite Story proves that Dreams Can Come True.

You pour the last of your now semi-warm sake from the carafe into your ceramic choko. It fills the shallow glass only halfway and you sip from it slowly, trying to draw out the time. Down the bar from you is a group of sararimen who are getting steadily drunker and louder. From their slurred speech, you gather they are celebrating the fact that their division has made its quarterly projections for the second time, or something bullshit like that. “Fucking peasants…” you grumble not too quietly between sips of sake, but the sararimen do not hear it because they are busy toasting themselves again.

Your name is Shinji Takagawa, a member of the notorious Yamashita Syndicate in Tokyo, and you’ve been sitting at this sushi bar for the last four hours silently eating, getting drunk, and watching game shows with the sound turned off on the plasma screen TV behind the bar. Usually this sushi bar is pretty quiet place to kill an evening, but these drunken sararimen are making it intolerable. When the waitress comes to see if you need another drink, you just grunt that you want your bill.
the rest of the story is here

Unfortunately midway through the story, your ability to actually make choices is halted, and it turns into a straightforward fictional narrative. But it still gets major Cool Points for the concept overall.

+ If the Missus and I had a cat — Shironeko doesn’t count, in this instance, unfortunately — if it were a male, we would totally get him one of these: a kitty necktie.

That’s something I’d wear. Good choice, little guy! That had better
not be a clip-on, though; that’s just lazy

And yes, they offer feather boas for the lady kitties as well. Pair some dapper cats up with ones wearing Kitty Wigs, have a bartender pouring Bradfords into water dishes for everyone, and you’d have a stylish little party!

So there you are! All these links are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there. Use them together. Use them in peace

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

O, don't get my hopes up on September 11th, 2008

Fusing Materialism with Esoterica on September 4th, 2007

Any Synthetiks-related news, Davecat? (Jun 2010)

typed for your pleasure on 4 June 2010, at 3.52 am

Sdtrk: ‘Riverside’ by Sandy Simpson

Man o man. What happened to the May edition, you may or may not be asking? Well, Shi-chan’s new and incredibly distracting body happened, that’s what. *loosens collar* By the by, did either of us mention that she was featured in the Spring 2010 issue of The Doll Street Journal, found on the News page of the Abyss creations website? Sidore’s got a wee bit of cache, you see. It’s true!

+ Speaking of Abyss creations, now they’re in Japan! Well, moreso than usual. It appears that now Japanese iDollators have a licenced distributor from which to purchase RealDolls and Boy Toy Dolls from, located in a modest little storefront in the Nakano ward of metropolitan Tokyo. Interesting enough as that is — at first, I was like ‘well, that’s not really news; Abyss already has a Japanese distributor‘ — but what sent my eyebrows ascending was that apparently, some sort of deal was sealed with longtime silicone companion sculptor, Natori Saito. If you’re an iDollator, you’ll know him as the bloke who designed the Mai face, aka Face 9. If you’re an old-school iDollator, you’ll remember him from the days when he was making the Photogenic Dolls line. Yep, that Natori. He’s designed two faces for Boy Toy and one for RealDoll, so I suppose he’s been busy.

photo courtesy of ‘Ta-bo’s Kisekae Dataroom’

You can check out the site here, but 95% of it is in Japanese, and if you can’t read it, you more than likely won’t be buying a Doll through them. But those obstacles probably won’t stop you, won’t they? I didn’t think so.

+ So my tall mate Wolfgang hepped me to this: I-Fairy robot weds Japanese couple. I like where this is going!

I-Fairy robot weds Japanese couple
Jay Alabaster and agencies, Tokyo | guardian.co.uk, Sunday 16 May 2010 16.30 BST

Almost everyone stood when the bride walked down the aisle in her white gown, but not the wedding conductor, because she was bolted to her chair.

The nuptials at this ceremony were led by I-Fairy, a 4ft seated robot with flashing eyes and plastic pigtails. The wedding today was the first to be led by a robot, according to the manufacturer, Kokoro.

“Please lift the bride’s veil,” the robot said in a tinny voice, waving its arms in the air as the newlyweds kissed in front of about 50 guests.

The ceremony took place at a restaurant in Hibiya Park, central Tokyo. The I-Fairy wore a wreath of flowers, and wires led out from beneath it to a black curtain nearby where a man crouched and clicked commands into a computer.

Japan has one of the most advanced robotics industries in the world, with the government actively supporting the field for future growth. Industrial models in factories are now standard, and recently companies have been making a push to inject robots into everyday life.
the rest of the article is here

Hrrm… the Missus and I want to renew our vows for our ten year anniversary in July — could we possibly rent I-Fairy to do the honours, or would we have to fly out to her? Hrrm…

+ It looks like we may be losing not one, but two, Doll manufacturers. As of this writing, the website for Axis Japan, makers of the famous Honey Dolls series, has been down for several days. Which has happened before, but when you consider their news page hasn’t been updated since 2009, it’s cause for alarm. Honey Dolls were especially noteworthy, as they were the first to have embedded touch-sensors that played back .mp3 responses, but Odhinn only knows how their sales were, as I never saw a single owner pic of any of their four model types anywhere. And I can assure you that I check the Doll sites like a hawk…
And on the front page of the My Party Doll site, the phrase ‘OWNER RETIRING Interested parties, please inquire’ can be seen. As far as I’m concerned, the loss of any group that makes artificial companions is truly a shame. Technically, I’m still not over the fact that Chestnut co. Ltd., makers of the Rare-Borg line of silicone companions, has packed it in, and that was several years ago. With any luck, both groups will rise from the ashes, as it were, but who can say…
UPDATE (12 JUNE 2010): The Honey Dolls site is back up! Undoubtedly an extended server hiccup. It can happen to any one of us! Especially if you are a server.

+ Thanks to his long-standing work in the field of robotic humanoid developments, starting with the Repliee series, all the way to the sexier-with-each-new-version Actroid series, Hiroshi Ishiguro has been illuminating a path for mankind to follow out of the dark ages. But apart from the whole Android and Gynoid thing, he seems like the sort of bloke I can identify with, particularly after reading this article from IEEE Spectrum.

‘What’s that, me? What did you just say? I mean, what did I just say??
Shit, this is confusing’

Hiroshi Ishiguro stomps on the accelerator. The black Mazda RX-8 roars onto the highway, the heavy-metal Scorpions blasting from the speakers. We’re driving to Osaka University’s Toyonaka Campus. Ishiguro is wearing aviator sunglasses, black polyester pants, a black vest on top of a black shirt, along with a black belt, socks, and shoes.

”Give me question,” he says, his eyes fixed on the road.

I ask whether he always dresses in black.

”Why do you change your clothes?” he says. ”Do you change your name? So why do you change your clothes? Name is identity. Face is identity. But the majority of your [appearance] comes from your clothes. You should not change your clothes. Do you agree?”

I meekly suggest that all-black attire might get a bit hot in the summer.

”We have air conditioners,” he says. ”Next question.”
the entire article is here

The film ‘Surrogates‘ touched upon the whole concept of telepresence, and this man is making it a reality. Not to say that he’s the only person doing so, but Ishiguro is the only one making really bold strides as regards to building telepresence robots that resemble human beings. Clearly, we need more of this man. O wait — he’s already working on that!
There’s even a microsite with a wee bit of information on Geminoid HI-1 right here. Now if only they could do the same with that luscious Geminoid F
That was a hint, by the way.

+ And as dreadfully hot as it’s been here in Michigan, I’m sure it’s not much better in Californiyay, where 85°F is considered ‘a good start’. However, being out of doors in the SoCal area gives a person the rare opportunity to catch KnightHorse out and about, taking pics of and showing off their stunning lasses. So it’s kind of a trade-off!…

Sayuri, being flirtatious/distracting

For years Matt has felt that dolls should be loved, appreciated and displayed proudly. One of his focuses in the business is to bring dolls out of the closet, demystify them, and have doll owners de-vilified! So many media outlets go for the “easy kill” and focus on the shock factor of these dolls. The only angle most journalists are interested in is the sexual function of the dolls. Well, to us, these dolls are much more than sex dolls. […] To date we have been to numerous public venues and never once had a negative encounter.

See, that’s the sort of thing I love to hear about — seeing a beautifully-sculpted work of art such as a Doll as a mere sex toy is incredibly narrow-minded. It’s ace that Matt K and crew are bringing their lovely ladies out for some fresh air and sightseeing, as well as spreading public awareness that Dolls aren’t creepy or unsettling; they are in fact wonderful and appealing. And depending on how imaginative a person you are, they can be even more than that…
Besides, did you see Sayuri’s arse up there? I mean, dayum!

Well, I do believe that’s covered the lot for now! Join us next time, for more of the same

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

Any Synthetiks-related news, Davecat? (Nov 2014): Part II on November 21st, 2014

Any Synthetiks-related news, Davecat? (Feb 2015) on February 23rd, 2015

The Eighties are back! And THEY’RE COMING FOR YOUR EARS

typed for your pleasure on 6 February 2010, at 5.15 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Do or die’ by the Human League

Spotted this on Retro to Go: this would be the Mint cube, an .mp3 player designed for the retro mind. This might be the sexiest non-Synthetik thing I’ve seen in a while.

On the top side of Mint cube lays ten buttons, and these buttons are also analog. In the past, cassette players would have this type of analog buttons where you pressed one button and then pressed another button; the first button would pop right back out. Mint cube’s employed same types of button and together with analog indicators; it completely brings out the “retro” styling. In the absence of the LED status light, moreover, users can check its status by looking at which buttons are pressed. When you use Mint cube, it will bring back your memory of childhood, although this statement only applies to people who were born in 80s and before.

The blessed thing has indicator dials, for the love of “Bob”. So sexy. Unfortunately, it appears that Mintpass is a designers’ collective, not a gadget boutique, and as such, their Cube is not for sale. At least not yet, that is.

And what headphones — headphones, not bog-standard earbuds — would do that lovely device justice? Would sir or madam be interested in these, perhaps?

Tracks Headphone Series (headphones & headphones with microphone) are on-ear headphones inspired by the function and design of the old iconic walkman headphones. […] The slider connecting the ear cup and the brace comes in three sets of different colours for customization. For disassembly you can easily slide off your ear cups and pack them securely for transportation or share your music with a friend. The headphones come with a neat carrying bag for protecting the different headphone parts and keeping the wires from entangling with other items in your bag.

Designed and created by Danish firm AIAIAI, the group seem to have a solid grasp of the Eighties aesthetic. Furthermore, you can actually purchase a pair of Tracks headphones right now, if you like. Well, maybe not right now, as all variants (except for peach) are out of stock. Ehh, peach. *waves hand dismissively*

What better combination of music accessories to listen to the Human League’s ‘Dare’ album with, I ask you??

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

This was the Future, Vol.17: supplemental on December 12th, 2009

Not as fun, but certainly safer, than a fireman's axe on October 31st, 2004

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