Friday, February 29, 2008

a game with arms

so i have this bag of 144 plastic doll arms. they smell terrible. i bought them at st. vinnie’s for $3, along with a bag full of doll heads (mostly generic baby heads, but also some diverse figures like Pinocchio, an elephant head, and a horse head that’s very godfather-meets-bubble). the hands are more interesting to me, though. they’re all lefties, and all identical, except one—there’s one that stands out due to an unusual pink coloration. i’ve decided she’s the leader.

anyway, i haven’t determined what to do with these things yet. i have to decide carefully, because i feel so richly endowed by these doll arm resources, they cannot be put to waste. i thought of attaching them all to my bike—athena, the cruiser, who is not yet very well ornamented compared to my other bikes. i imagined lining them up, tiny plastic fingers pointing to the air, covering the back fender. and one arm sticking out of either handlebar grip, just for balance. that wouldn’t be terribly practical, though; i can’t think of a good way to attach them that they wouldn’t pop off easily. i also thought of stringing them together to make a necklace, like an arm-lei; but i don’t have many clothes that go with doll arm, and it would be too much of a special-occasion sort of accessory. reed suggested attaching them to a hat or helmet, and i love the idea, but before i do anything permanent i think i’ll have some photo fun with them.

i’ve been wanting to make a stop motion short film for some time now. last fall i wanted to go down by the river, after all the leaves dropped, and animate the leaves—have a pile of them morph into the shape of a snake and slither around, back and forth across the path, make it eat its own tail and then disintegrate. but i never had the time or the motivation. not that i have much of either now, but maybe i can get myself to do something with these hands.

i love stop motion, and i’m obsessed with the animation of huge groups of things—like, rather than moving a couple objects around, moving tons of objects around and making them into unified figures. i absolutely adore jan svankmajer’s short films “a game with stones,” and “dimensions of a dialogue”—i wish there was a better copy of “dimensions (part 1)” on youtube, because the one i just linked to doesn’t do it justice. anyway, those are my favorite, but i’ll generally watch anything that’s done in stop motion, because it fucking fascinates me. doll arms are practically the perfect medium to do something crazy and surreal like that.

i’ll probably have to donate some of the arms to performing little shenanigans that very few people would find funny. for instance, painting one with blood-red paint (as though it was severed from a body), attaching it to the end of a helium balloon string, and letting it drift away to find someone (hopefully a child). or carving a hole in the pages of a hardcover book, putting an arm in the hole and leaving it in public for someone to find. or leaving an arm stuck in the handle of someone’s car door. or just leaving a whole pile of arms on the hood of a random person’s car. the more peculiar and meaningless the prank, the more hilarious it becomes.

glinting so sharply/from mirrors

i took a lovely walk with my puppy dog today. it was warm! i’m so happy it’s almost spring.

last weekend i went to the vagina monologues, and it was slightly disappointing. first off, there was no mob of protesters like there was last year. i brought a camera expressly so that i could have my friend laura take a silly picture of me standing in front of those assholes, pointing at my “i (heart) female orgasm” tshirt. my gender/media professor offered extra credit if we went to the monologues and hectored the protesters; in jest, of course, but i thought it would be amusing to share the picture anyway. oh well. i wonder why it was such a big deal last year, with brandy swindell and jonathan sawmiller and their uptight christians brigade all up in arms, and this year no one even cared. strange to be disappointed by something like that.

the play itself was just not as awesome as it was last year. it seemed shorter, and it wasn’t as well-acted; the women who delivered the monologues were excellent, but nearly every member of the group who narrated was second-rate. laura and i both felt like it was a bit of a let-down, but maybe that’s because last year’s performance was so fabulous.

it gave me a craving for chocolate vaginas, regardless. i’ll have to pull out my sheet of vagina candy molds one of these days. i ruined my first plastic sheet of vagina molds by pouring melted-down crayons into them; but not before i got some sweet vagina crayons out of the endeavor. “vagina molds” sounds kind of gross. especially if one is to be eating out of them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008


this is something i’ve been wanting to write about, in some form, for a while now. but up until about a month ago it hurt too much to even look at pictures of bellybuttin, and writing was out of the question.

belly was a baby orphan mouse i found by the side of the road. i was riding my bike down parkcenter when i saw his sibling—a tiny, lifeless body in the middle of the sidewalk. i stopped to move it to the shrubbery out of respect. thank goodness i did that, because there in the mulch was bellybuttin, blindly stumbling his way toward the pavement. i didn't see the mother or any other babies anywhere nearby. it was a hot summer day, and the sibling almost certainly died of exposure, probably only a few minutes before i rode by. in other words, it was a foregone conclusion that this little mouse was coming home with me.

i emptied one of my bags, except for some knitting i was working on, and then scooped up the baby mouse and snuggled him in with the yarn. i rode home so carefully you’d think i had a crystal vase balanced on the front fender of my bike. once home, i found a much more suitable ball of yarn for bellybuttin to crawl into—it was the softest, warmest yarn i could find, and the skein was about half gone, so it was nice and loose, good for burrowing.

belly loved that yarn. the only thing that could get him out of it was if i put my warm hand on the underside of the skein, then he would quickly push and shove the strands away until he was in the palm of my hand. he bonded with my hands very quickly. i did a bunch of research about how to take care of orphan mice, what to feed them and all that. it was depressing, because basically everything i read said it was nearly impossible to raise a mouse without its mother if its eyes hadn’t opened yet. belly’s hadn’t. based on some of the pictures i saw online, i guessed that he was around a week old; not a pink, he had hair, but just barely.

i started out feeding him half and half. many of the articles i read suggested feeding esbilac, a puppy milk formula, so i bought a can of that from zamzow’s, but belly wasn’t having it. i don’t blame him, it smelled terrible. but i mixed a bit of it in with the half and half, and he was appeased. later on i started grinding rice crispies into a fine dust and adding that to the mix. it was so adorable watching him eat. he lapped up the mixture from little pools on my hand. he would sometimes get really excited about the prospect of eating and would start scratching and pushing at my hand, as if fending off siblings. he was a messy eater.

bathtime usually came after each meal, which was every 3-4 hours, because he was so messy and also because it aids digestion. i used a damp, soft paintbrush to simulate his mother’s tongue. at first he would always get really pissed off about getting bathed. he’d be like “fuck this noise! i intend to make this process as difficult as possible!” and try to escape. but the protests only lasted a minute or so, and then he’d get really into it. he would start helping me bathe him by pulling his ears forward and doing that cute face-rubbing motion that rodents do. then he’d get really, really into it and roll over on his back, exposing his cute little pink tummy, and start licking his tail and back paws. i could see his big pink tongue and tiny little mousey teeth forming in his mouth. once i stopped brushing him with the paintbrush he would roll back over, and climb back into his little yarn ball.

for exercise i let him out to run around the floor. at first he could barely teeter a few steps; he would sort of sway back and forth on those long, gangly legs, then his hindquarters would fall to one side. he’d get up and repeat that over and over again, turning in all different directions and never moving substantially forward in any of them, until i put my hand down and he would climb up and cuddle into my palm. he got stronger, though. every day he would go a little farther and a little faster, until he could practically shoot across the room—he hardly fell over anymore, and he had so much energy.

that was around the time he started teething. he teethed on my hands, and i know that sounds kinda painful, but he was so very small, and his teeth were so tiny that it was like being scratched with a toothpick. things seemed to be going really well. after those first couple days i thought the poor creature really had a chance, and when almost a week had gone by i thought we were in the clear.

bellybuttin lived with me for one week. i still can’t talk about the circumstances of his death, out of tremendous guilt. he relied on me for everything, his life was in my hands and i failed. it’s amazing what an impression that little mouse made on me. i’ve started crying three or four times just writing this sketch, and i haven’t even gotten to the part that makes me cry the hardest, no matter how many times i think of it. for some reason, one of the things that upset me the most about belly dying was that he never opened his eyes. he never got to see me, or anything around him. all i could think about when i found him was that he never opened his eyes.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

photoshop is my heroine

i should be so asleep right now, but instead i’m screwing around on this glorious new computer, as i have been for the last four days. it is so wonderful having photoshop. i’d forgotten all that i was missing, using simplistic freeware to do photo editing. never again. this is going to make such a huge difference in my photos, once i get really familiar with it.

this new monitor has a built-in webcam that has proved itself more entertaining than i could have ever guessed. there’s this program where you can record videos of yourself and apply voice alteration filters; there are about 15 of them, some that make my voice deeper, some higher, some crazy accents, etc. there’s one that makes me totally sound like a man, and it is by far my favorite. the night i discovered these things i spent about two hours creating ridiculous little monologues for each of the voices. it was such a beautiful waste of time, but i paid the price when i then had to stay up until 4.30am doing homework. worth it!

i went down to parkcenter pond around sunset today to take some pictures. the light was disappointing, but i met a few old friends—bianca, the white duck, and dorian, the gray duck. bianca’s been frequenting that pond for a few years now…she must be getting old in duck years. dorian just came on the scene around last summer. normally both bianca and dorian are paired with males, which leads me to believe they’re both female, but today when i saw them they were pretty much just hanging out with each other. i seriously hope that they have decided to be duck lesbians with each other. seriously. they are the coolest ducks in the world, and if they were a couple it would blow my mind.

there were huge groups of wood ducks on the pond, which was sweet cuz they’re usually so sheepish and difficult to photograph. also, i saw a weird type of bird i’ve never seen before. a pair of solid charcoal-colored, stout little things, with red eyes and oddly shaped white beaks that come to a black point. it was too dark to get a proper picture of them, since they’re so darkly-colored.