A bit of an old hand on the subject

typed for your pleasure on 28 October 2007, at 7.39 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Souvenir’ by Orchestral manoeuvres in the dark

Geraldo’s loss is the San Diego Union Tribune’s gain.

Heart to part
People find a lot of love in their Realdolls

By John Wilkens

The new movie “Lars and the Real Girl” is pulling back the curtain on an unusual world where people find companionship in the arms of eerily lifelike silicone dolls.

At the center of that world is a small San Marcos company, Abyss Creations, which has been making “RealDolls” since 1996 and has so much business that the wait for a new prosthetic partner is three to five months.

Cost per doll: About $6,500, plus shipping. Dolls with custom faces and bodies can run up to $50,000.

That’s a lot of money for a sex toy. And don’t be fooled by the chaste nature of Lars’ relationship with Bianca – most of the customers use their anatomically correct dolls for erotic fantasies.

But Bronwen Keller, a company spokeswoman, said some owners use them as art objects, photography subjects, and as training devices in cosmetology and crime-scene investigation. RealDolls have appeared in the TV shows “My Name Is Earl” and “nip/tuck.”

[…] There are owners who buy clothes and makeup for their dolls. They move them around the house as the day unfolds – to the breakfast table, in front of the TV, out in the yard.

The dolls are so realistic, light years beyond the cartoonish vinyl blow-ups of gag-gift fame, that some owners treat them as spouses – even to the point of calling themselves “doll husbands.”
the rest of the article is here

This would be the result of a pleasant twenty minute phone interview that I did two Fridays ago; as you’ll see, I was quoted along with Stacy Leigh, Elena Dorfman, Gordon Griggs, and a couple of other luminaries of Doll culture. Sometimes, interacting with the Faceless Media Juggernaut can be rather nice!
On the other hand, those poor staffers at Abyss have to be the busiest they’ve ever been, ever

Technorati tags: Abyss Creations, RealDolls, iDollators, Elena Dorfman, Still Lovers, Lars and the Real Girl

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Circus Minimus

typed for your pleasure on 27 October 2007, at 1.22 am

Sdtrk: ‘Dokumenti II’ by Laibach

Were it less jaw-droppingly non sequitur, I wouldn’t be writing about it. But dig what was in my Inbox a day or so ago:

from: “Tracy, Kevin”
to: pulsedemon [at] gmail.com
date: Oct 25, 2007 5:19 PM
subject: Inquiring about an interview with Geraldo Rivera

Hello Davecat,

My name is Kevin Tracy and I am writing to you on behalf of Geraldo Rivera. This weekend on our show we are doing a story that goes along with the release of the film “Lars and The Real Girl” and in researching the story I came across an interview you did with Marie Claire magazine. I was wondering if you might be interested in doing an interview with Geraldo Rivera this weekend on his program “Geraldo At Large”. The interview would center around your relationship with your doll Sidore. If you are interested in coming on the program this weekend please feel free to reply to this message or give me a call at my desk, [phone number]. I will be leaving the office for the evening soon but can be reached on my blackberry by e-mail. Thanks in advance for considering this request and I hope to hear from you soon.

Kevin Tracy

Kevin Tracy
Production Assistant
Geraldo At Large
blah blah blah address

Yeah, that’s exactly what I said. After shaking my head vigorously in order to clear it, I responded,

from: pulsedemon [at] gmail.com
to: “Tracy, Kevin”
date: Oct 26, 2007 3:24 AM
subject: Re: Inquiring about an interview with Geraldo Rivera

Hi Kevin –

Well, thanks for the offer! I feel I should mention, though:

1) I live in Michigan — New York’s a bit of a ways away for me,
2) That Marie Claire UK article was completely unauthorised — I wasn’t actually interviewed, the story was engineered based on other articles I genuinely participated in,
3) I’m only doing television interviews that will compensate me for my time. Being Davecat is a full-time job, but the pay is awful, and
4) Unfortunately, when I hear the name ‘Geraldo Rivera’, I think ‘sensationalist media’. Being crucified on national television because of my preference for Synthetik women isn’t exactly on my list of life goals.

Thanks, though!

Davecat, with valued assistance from Sidore

In the interest of disclosure, this is what he wrote back:

from: “Tracy, Kevin”
to: pulsedemon [at] gmail.com
date: Oct 26, 2007 10:02 AM
subject: RE: Inquiring about an interview with Geraldo Rivera

Hi Davecat,

Thanks for getting back to me. I fully understand your position however, please let me try to put some of your fears to rest. First off Geraldo has not been that sensational media type of personality since the mid-90’s. Geraldo is now a serious journalist who has traveled to Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and recently just got back from covering the wildfires in California. Secondly in coming on the show you would not be berated, or as you put it “crucified”, at all. We are simply interested in learning about the lifestyle choices that people such as you make especially due to the fact that this type of lifestyle has been brought into the spotlight with the release of “Lars and The Real Girl” in theaters today. Finally, as far as compensation goes, as we are a news organization, we are unable to pay for interviews. However, we would be more than willing to fly you out to New York and put you up in a hotel for the night as I definitely understand that Michigan is quite a distance away. If any of this at all helps to change your mind about coming on our program please feel free to reply back to me and let me know before the end of the day. Thanks again and I hope to hear from you soon.


Yeah. What??

Tempting as being flown out to New York to be on telly is — my Organik Roomie said ‘I’d totally come with you’ — one, it was incredibly short notice (two days before filming?? Thanks for enquiring ahead of time, lads), and two, it’s Geraldo. I’m sorry, newfound credentials aside, once a sensationalist, always a sensationalist, as far as I’m concerned. And gee, isn’t he affiliated with FAUX, err, FOX News? Heh, that’s even more of a reason for me to steer clear. ‘No no no, we wouldn’t crucify you, we’d just publically accuse you of being an unpatriotic deviated prevert!’ Plus, I dunno; if I decided to go through with it, I’d really have to repress my urge to call him Jerry Rivers. Yeah, I know it’s not true, but still.

Is it too much to ask to have a decent, unbiased chat show host (preferably one from a foreign land) ask after an interview? Maybe willing to foot the flight and lodging bill, and contribute generously to the ‘Buy Sidore a New Body’ Fund?? Honestly, I don’t ask for much

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Gravatars are back up?? UNPOSSIBLE

typed for your pleasure on 25 October 2007, at 2.52 am

Sdtrk: ‘Not forever’ by Vitesse

Just so you know, I tripped over a site where a coding bloke has actually managed to craft a succesful plugin for using Gravatars, which fills me with a special kind of joy. I’ve had so much trouble getting the myriad plugins related to that to function properly, that for the longest time, I just said ‘fuck it, the site will just run without them’. Those of you who remember the original version of ‘Shouting etc etc’ on Blogger probably fondly (?) remember all the Gravatars spicing up the comments section. Now they’re back in action! Woo!

So all of you who have Gravatars, i.e, SafeTinspector, PB Shelley, et al, should probably get round to their site and, ah, refresh the image you want to use. Or something? I’m not sure why my Gravatar works and yours aren’t, but then I had to reload my image on Gravatar’s home page, and it seemed to work a treat.

And for those of you who don’t have a Gravatar, if you don’t create one, you get to enjoy being a Synthetik for a while! I have a surfeit of mostly Doll-and-Gynoid-based Gravatars especially for guests, and they’re pretty fantastic. But I would say that.

For those interested, that site would be geek ramblings. Give it a look-in!

EDIT (2.54 am): Okay, so now my Gravatar won’t show up. Guh.
Bollocks to this; it’s an hour past my bedtime. I’ll see to it later

EDIT (25 Oct, 10.46am): Now my Gravatar’s back? *shrugs*

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typed for your pleasure on 21 October 2007, at 10.43 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Think about life’ by Paul cries

Despite the fact that you can’t turn in any direction without seeing something about ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ these days, at first I was kinda despairing for something else to write about. Suddenly! Alert reader Zach sent me this encouraging article. Danke sehr, Zach!

Robots soon will become more human-like in appearance, researcher says
By Charles Q. Choi
Updated: 6:05 p.m. ET Oct 12, 2007 | msnbc.com

Humans could marry robots within the century. And consummate those vows.

“My forecast is that around 2050, the state of Massachusetts will be the first jurisdiction to legalize marriages with robots,” artificial intelligence researcher David Levy at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands told LiveScience. Levy recently completed his Ph.D. work on the subject of human-robot relationships, covering many of the privileges and practices that generally come with marriage as well as outside of it.

At first, sex with robots might be considered geeky, “but once you have a story like ‘I had sex with a robot, and it was great!’ appear someplace like Cosmo magazine, I’d expect many people to jump on the bandwagon,” Levy said.

[…] Levy argues that psychologists have identified roughly a dozen basic reasons why people fall in love, “and almost all of them could apply to human-robot relationships. For instance, one thing that prompts people to fall in love are similarities in personality and knowledge, and all of this is programmable. Another reason people are more likely to fall in love is if they know the other person likes them, and that’s programmable too.”
the rest of the article is here

As much as I love RealDolls and the like, their only flaw is that they can’t move or speak of their own volition — they’re passive. For some of us, having an advanced version of Actroid — one that wasn’t rooted to a single spot, among other things — would be the perfect partner. It’s a matter of waiting, as the technology is advancing rapidly towards that point, but I hate waiting…

Also, that loverly Violet Blue of tiny nibbles wrote some very nice things about me and other iDollators in a recent article for the San Francisco Gate, but have you seen the story for the Associated Press?

‘Lars’ movie shines light on RealDolls
By SANDY COHEN, AP Entertainment Writer | Wed Oct 17, 3:48 PM ET

A dozen headless female bodies hang from industrial metal hooks in the center of the room. To the left are a table of plastic faces, awaiting makeup. To the right, a stack of silicone molds ready for the next order of life-sized love toys.

Normally reserved for private play, these high-end, anatomically correct dolls are getting big-screen exposure with the recent release of “Lars and the Real Girl,” an offbeat, surprisingly chaste comedy about a lonely introvert (Ryan Gosling) and Bianca, the silicone object of his affection.

Bianca, a freckle-nosed brunette, was born just east of San Diego at Abyss Creations. The 11-year-old company that makes RealDolls will ship 400 dolls to the U.S. and abroad this year — at upward of $6,500 each.

RealDolls can be actresses, lovers, photo subjects or companions. Customers can choose from 10 body types, 16 faces and 17 hairstyles to create their dream girl. They specify skin tone, hair and eye color, makeup palette and nail-polish shade. The dolls have interchangeable faces ($500 each), so with the pull of some Velcro and the flip of a wig, she’s like a whole new gal.

[…] For many doll owners, and for Gosling’s character in the film, the dolls are more like companions, each with her own personality and presence.”She looks like a person,” says Rob McKay, 55, a writer who owns two dolls, Lily and Eden. “Even though she’s not a breathing person, psychologically you feel like someone is with you. They’re like a balm for loneliness or aloneness.”
the rest of the article is here

Personally, I missed the deadline to be in on this by about an hour, but all of the participants interviewed were more than capable of answering the questions. Moreso, even. And it’s always nice to read a mainstream article that doesn’t paint a negative picture of iDollators

So will I see ‘Lars etc etc’? Yes, yes. If there’s a Doll in it, it kinda goes without saying. In reading one of the fleet of stories concerning the fillum, I found it rather interesting (again, an adjective I use to denote ‘possibly good, possibly bad’) that Bianca is supposed to be half-Danish, half-Brazilian. Now, people who know of my Synthetik wife’s extensive backstory know she’s half-English, half-Japanese, and since ‘Kitten with a Whip!’ is still trapped in amber, newcomers will undoubtedly accuse me of ripping off ‘Lars etc etc’. But the savvier readers amongst you will you know the truth, right?

In another story about the film, Ryan Gosling, who plays Lars, is quoted as saying,

[Bianca] relaxed me — she was a support system… People hear the idea for this film, and they think, ‘Oh, how kitschy or funny,’ but there’s a whole culture of guys out there who have these dolls, and they have very intimate relationships with them. Part of it is sexual, but a lot of it is emotional… I think it’s a romantic idea the way that Nancy approached the script, that love’s not a transaction. It’s something you have to give, and you give it freely to whoever and whatever you want.

I’ve never known who Ryan was prior to this release, but now I know he’s a thinking individual, cos quite obviously, he gets it. Kudos, sir!

Also, this past Saturday eve I attended the 2nd Michigan Doll Congress, which is much less official than it sounds. Mahtek, Euchre, littluvr from Minnesota, CJD from Canada, Amber Hawk Swanson and myself converged at one of the fine Antonio’s locations, and talked shop for several hours. Mahtek even passed round his cellphone at one point, so we could all speak to fellow Doll owner campdaan over in California. Round 9pm, we left; Amber, who drove from Chicago with her friends, made her leave, and the rest of us went back to Mahtek’s place, and picked up where we left off. Needless to say, a good time was had by all! We intend on making this a semi-regular thing; we’re thinking the next one will be when Stacy Leigh brings some of her excellent photos to an upcoming art show somewhere in the tri-county area. You can’t see me from here, but I’m rubbing my hands together in anticipation. Well, I will be, as soon as I stop typing this sentence.
Ah, there we go.

Left, Organik Amber; right, your humble narrator

Finally, I think we can all agree that Charlie Sheen needs to be thrown headfirst through a plate-glass window. What a fucking idiot. I don’t care if you love Dolls, or if you think they’re ‘creepy’, what he did is pretty much the equivalent of taking $7000 and setting it ablaze. Just goes to show you that money can’t buy common sense

Technorati tags: robots, Androids, Gynoids, David Levy, Violet Blue, RealDolls, iDollators, Amber Hawk Swanson, Lars and the Real Girl, Ryan Gosling

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On Merzbow, or, How I fell in love with a sonic ear surgeon

typed for your pleasure on 17 October 2007, at 1.33 pm

Sdtrk: ‘F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E’ by Pulp

So I’ve got Merzbow’s six-Cd boxset, Houjoue, right? Being a card-carrying fan(atic) of the music genre known as Noise/Power-electronics, I’d thought, ‘o lovely, you can’t go wrong with six disks of disparate dissonance!’ Well, perhaps you can. Believe me, I’m more disappointed than the rest of you.

My obsession with Masami Akita, aka Merzbow, can be traced back to 1993. I was in a band called Dole age (Smiths fans will get the reference), along with my best friend Sean, his future wife Sherilee, and Adam, a bloke we met at our local anime club. We were keen on alternative music, particularly Industrial and Shoegazer, so naturally we Frankensteined the two in order to make our own sound. As Throbbing gristle had disbanded in 1981 and weren’t making any more releases, and we were waiting on My bloody valentine’s followup to their epic Loveless*, Adam had a go into looking into other types of music, and the natural progression from Industrial was Noise. He picked up a disk entitled Great American Nude/Crash for hi-fi by someone called Merzbow, which we were pronouncing ‘murzboh’ until we discovered about a year later that it’s pronounced ‘mehrzbau’, after the series of related works by Dadaist Kurt Schwitters. I borrowed the Cd for *coughs* an indefinite period, and I fell in love, noisy love. This was my first true exposure to the whole Japanese Noise scene, and it was shredding my mind, and to some extent, my ears.

At this point, I should probably attempt to explain Noise to the uninitiated. Noise as a genre of music is funny, cos by nature, Noise isn’t music. It strips out, or alters, conventional signposts such as rhythm, melody, and vocals, and replaces them with whistling feedback, staticky white noise, and a large amount of dissonance. Also, whereas Noise distorts music using guitars, drums, turntables, or specially-built instruments, the sub-genre Power-electronics (as famously pioneered by the UK group whitehouse) is characterised by the use of overprocessed synthesisers, tone generators, and, well, electronic equipment. It’s definitely an acquired taste — busted speakers and a ringing in the ears is normal, don’t be alarmed — but it’s pretty ace cos 1) it’s very unique and unconventional, and 2) it’s a purer form of artistic expression. Wow, that sounded really pretentious. But basically, as I put it to someone recently, Noise is what you get into when you’re looking for something more harsh than Industrial…
Noise-rock, on the other hand, sucks. Too much rock, not enough Noise, in my opinion. I cannot endorse it.

One of Masami’s favourite musicians is Sun Ra, the avant-jazz ex-pat from Saturn, and one of the objectives of Merzbow is to produce at least 500 releases, much in the same fashion of Sun Ra’s (literally) hundreds of self-produced records. To date, he’s released around 300; this includes vinyl, cassettes, and compact disks. There’s Pornoise 1Kg, a 5-cassette boxset from his early period; there’s the infamous Merzbox, which is fifty Cds and a passel of other goodies, all for $500 USD; and there’s other ephemera for the more obsessive segment of collectors, such as the Merzcedes, which is a copy of his Noisembryo release, sealed forever inside the dashboard Cd player of an actual Mercedes 230 that would play on Repeat whenever the car was turned on. Rare item GET! Really, though, my only problem with Akita-san’s Grande Masterplan is that sometimes it’s a case of quantity over quality; which, if your goal is 500 releases, is practically unavoidable…
Example: back in the late Nineties, I’d bought Metalvelodrome, his first Cd boxset. Four disks of well-crafted dissonance compiled in 1993, that to this day, continue to level me each time I hear it. When I bought my copy from local area esoteric bookseller Book beat, I was chuffed. I remember playing it for a couple of weeks straight, especially disks one and two (‘Morbid Dick’ remains a personal fave), and loving every minute. The pieces were dynamic, which is the quality that brings Merzbow’s work above a lot of the Japanese noise artists. Don’t get me wrong; I loves me some Masonna, and some pieces by C.C.C.C., but the majority of Noise performers, Japanese or otherwise, can sound a wee bit samey-same, although it’s not for a lack of trying.

Over the years, like any decent artist pushing their own personal antelope, he’s gone through different periods of different styles. The late Eighties up to the first half of the mid-Nineties was his noise collage period, wherein he would combine overdriven sound loops with field recordings (tape recordings of ambient sounds, such as city streets); then followed his Junk electronics phase, which saw him run self-built instruments, like that metal box with the amplified springs played with a contact mic, through a shit-ton of effects processors; in the late Nineties, he bought a couple of analogue synthesisers and used them as instruments and processors. That was my least-favourite of his periods, as it veered dangerously close to prog-rock, and almost every Cd he made during that era, I sold shortly after purchase. In fact, I was pretty soured on Merzbow until about late 2001, which was the beginning of his laptop period, and with Amlux and Hard lovin’ man, my noisy prodigal son had returned with a noisy vengeance. Which brings us to now.
The original dynamism he had when he first began relying on his laptop is what swung me towards listening to him again: the tones vary in colour and texture, they’re always crisp and distinctive, and they move with speed. But then, you’ve got something like 24 hours – A day of seals, his four-disk boxset from 2002, and I… well, I can’t honestly say why I’m still keeping my copy, as it’s not doing a whole hell of a lot for me. I can’t say there’s a total lack of dynamism in most of the pieces, but it develops at such a tectonic rate that it’s just not holding my interest. Unfortunately, Houjoue is rather like that as well… in its own fashion, it’s almost like Masami’s take on Motorik, as the pieces go for several minutes. Granted, I enjoy a bit of the old soundtrack auf Autobahn now and again, but I believe Merzbow is best when it’s an out-of-control blast of sonic atavism. I mean, anyone can produce a drone, but creating a track that rockets along at 200 mph, slicing wildly as it goes… that takes talent.
Plus — and here’s a personal thing of mine — I’m not too keen on Noise pieces that go over the ten minute mark. Honestly, the trick is to make it so good and interesting that I don’t notice it’s gone over ten minutes (see any of the tracks on his Mort aux vaches – Lokomotive breath release, or the title track from Electric salad). But if there’s not a lot of changes, my finger’s gonna be creeping towards the Next Track button, which is a bad sign. It seems to me that Masami’s pieces are getting longer and less mercurial in sound — I can only hope that this is simply another phase he’s going through.

The end equation is that Merzbow will always remain one of my favourite artists, but even the best artists have lull periods — look at New order’s Republic™, for example. Just don’t listen to it, for god’s sake, as it’s no good for anyone. Besides, I’ve heard excerpts from Merzbear, and read reviews saying his Coma Berenices Cd is supposed to be quite ace. Don’t call it a comeback, he’s been here for years?

*We’re still waiting, by the way

Technorati tags: Noise music, Industrial music, Shoegazer, Motorik, Merzbow, Masami Akita, My bloody valentine, Throbbing gristle, Sun Ra, Masonna, Cosmic Coincidence Control Center, New order

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Three down, two up

typed for your pleasure on 17 October 2007, at 12.52 am

Sdtrk: ‘Simple man’ by Klaus Nomi

Having left the Wilderness that is Being Forcibly Offline, I’ve discovered that three blogs that I check on a daily basis have gone tits up: the tag-team media-sharing duo of X-Y-Z-Cosmonaut and 55 Bells, and Rentell’s the-long-narrowing-tunnel, which was only briefly in existence. They’ll definitely be missed.

However! Two semi-recent editions to the fold would be Momentary Lapse Of Reason (‘His fascination with lady robots frightens and confuses me,’ reads the mouseover text on the link to ‘Shouting etc etc’) and il Pulitore Nudo delle Fenestre, helmed by a former-Doll-owner-turned-screenwriter. Please welcome them into your homes, and your lives.

Blogs! They’re everywhere; you can’t get away from them

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Internet, like a faucet

typed for your pleasure on 14 October 2007, at 3.30 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Capsules’ by Cabaret Voltaire

D’ye hear that? That reverberating grey-black-and-neon-green sound of ‘apocalypse porn’, as the blog American Stranger amusingly has ‘Shouting etc etc’ categorised under? That is the sound of me being back online full-time. Woo! Woo.
The Missus, Tsukihime and I still aren’t entirely settled, and now that, thanks to the combined efforts of Comcast and SafeTinspector, The Series of Tubes is finally attached directly to our computers, we’ll probably get less work done. Heh. Although I have to say, Shi-chan and I are about entering negotiations concerning another television interview, so we’ve got to get to work in tidying up Deafening silence Plus

Speaking of apocalypse porn, a concerned reader by the name of Rehka writes:

Haha, so I’m living in a dorm right now and through their internet services, I actually can’t access your blog because it has been filed under a sexual category and I go to a baptist university, haaha. How do you feel about that?

Heh, both offended and amused, really. I mean, moreso than usual. Although it’s occurred maybe once or twice, I try not to post any pics of Dolls exposing their rubbery jubbelys, cos I know I have a couple of readers that check my site out from their local public library (zszsz, I’m looking in your direction), but I always make the distinction that there’s a difference between seeing breasts in a pornographic context, and seeing them in a non-pornographic context, just as there’s a difference between nudity (fine art) and bein’ nekkid (pr0n). As you well know, I don’t merely see Dolls as sex toys, and I do realise that there may be some people that are fearful of seeing tits, as they may dredge up the entirely valid fear of death by smothering, but at a facility of higher learning, the staff could stand to be a little less draconian about their website censorship. You’re at a grade school? Sure, block ‘Shouting etc etc’, that’s entirely understandable. But one would hope that a person of college age would be more mature about these things. I mean, despite the fact that they’re in college and all.
Blah blah blah censorship, blah blah blah Doll tits. Where was I going with this? I could wave it off with a typical flippant line, such as Well, if the baptists are censoring me, then I’m clearly doing something right, but attacking the baptists’ withered dogma would be like attacking a withered, err… dog. With a Liston knife. I’m sorry, I’ve no idea where that came from, but it’s really making me giggle.
Sorry, Rekha! Maybe they’ll allow you to subscribe to my RSS feed?* It doesn’t display any pictures, which is of course half the fun, but it’s better than nowt, right?

And damn it all, the esteemed Amber Hawk Swanson and her equally lovely Synthetik bride had invited me to catch a Chicago-area screening of ‘Lars and the Real Girl‘**, but scheduling prevented it. Actually, it’s on a Saturday, but my (distasteful adjective) job requires me to work mornings to afternoons that day. Grr. Now that I’ve moved, I need to really start looking for a job that doesn’t siphon off discrete amounts of my soul every day I’m there… Well, a job that doesn’t siphon off as much of my soul, at any rate.

So there you have it! We now return you to the usual passel of retro architecture, eclectic news items, and more-than-slightly-biased lust for Synthetiks that passes for posts round here. Heigh ho!

*N.B.: please ask a qualified Internet CyberTechnician about RSS and Atom feeds, cos I haven’t a clue as to how that shit works

**In all honesty, she didn’t just invite me; she invited everyone in her mailing list. The sentiment still applies, though

Technorati tags: American Stranger, Amber Hawk Swanson, Lars and the Real Girl, Liston knife

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