Friday, February 24, 2012

It's Not Easy Being Green

A recent article on Jezebel drew a comparison between Nicki Minaj's bizarre blue-skinned photoshoot for Vogue and the afterlife receptionist from Beetlejuice. I admit, I squeaked a little bit when I saw it first, for I have long harboured a love for that undead Miss Argentina and I think the picture of Nicki is brilliant, if completely bonkers.

I've posted about the beautiful turquoise Beetlejuice character here before, but I felt she merited a post all of her own, because I LOVE HER.

Hers was only a small role in the film, but for a character with a tiny amount of screen time, she makes a huge impression. She's just so MYSTERIOUS. Why is she bright turquoise? It's not a corpsey colour, it's too vibrant and lovely. There's another blue-tinged character in the afterlife waiting room - another favourite of mine - the showgirl who's been sawn in two. She's a lighter and slightly more corpsey colour (I'm determined to make corpsey a real word now) and has a great look of her own, but still doesn't come close to Miss Argentina in terms of general amazingness.

I love every bit of this character, the costume, the dark sense of humour, the bright red hair, the sparkley sixties sci-fi cape - OH MY GOD, I've just realised! SHE'S THE DESCENDANT OF AN ORION SLAVE GIRL!

I've cracked it! This explains the skin colour and the sci-fi outfit and the beehive! You guys, I'm a GENIUS! I talked about Orion slave girls in this Star Trek post and never made the connection until right this second. I am so delighted with myself right now, I just did a little dance in my chair.

ANYWAY. Now that I've solved that mystery completely by accident, the actual point of this post was to declare that THIS is going to be the year that I'm officially committing to the challenge of dressing up like her for Halloween. Now that I've said it here I have to do it. And now that I've gone and figured out her heritage, well, it'd be rude not to.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

They Whip Their Hair

While I was jogging my memory for the recent She Ra post and perusing the lists of Adora's friends and foes, I came upon Entrapta. Another example of the She Ra creators' complete lack of imagination when it came to naming characters (Castaspella surely being the worst offender), her speciality was designing complex traps. However, Entrapta also has a special ability to mentally control her giant hair.

It's just as well really, there's so much of it that under normal circumstances the sheer weight of it would surely cause her to tip over.

There she is now, using her super-hair to pull levers that are RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER. Lazy cow.

As weird a superpower as prehensile hair is, the more I thought about it, the more I realised it's actually a recurring thing in loads of stuff. A trope, if you will. Reading about Entrapta's abilities reminded me of the character of Sindel from Mortal Kombat 3, who I LOVED when I was an eleven year old.

This is Sindel as I remember her. Pixellated and fearsome, with cat's eye flicks that out-Winehouse Winehouse.

She wore purple, which was already a bonus to me, but she was also a female character that looked completely different to the other lady denizens of Mortal Kombat. Kitana, Mileena and Jade were all essentially the same character, apart from the colours they wore, and Sonya Blade was boring (she wasn't even a ninja or anything - just go home, Sonya).

Sindel's special powers included levitation, a sonic banshee-type scream and BADASS KILLER HAIR. She could whip her hair around her opponent and slam them over to the other side of the screen, because you DO NOT fuck with the Queen of Edenia. Funnily enough, the day I decided to write this post and told the Bear about my idea, what was on telly that night? Only flipping Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, the film which features QUEEN BLOODY SINDEL. Which is great fun to watch. And by great fun, I obviously mean terrible.

The film version of Sindel and a recent videogame incarnation of her. She must have discovered bikini waxing in the meantime. Actually, and not to be gross, but I wonder if her ladygarden is prehensile too? How WEIRD would that be?

There's another scary-haired lady that I'm a fan of and that's Sedusa from the excellent cartoon The Powerpuff Girls. Sedusa is a mistress of disguise and generally scheming villain dedicated to making life difficult for the people of Townsville, USA. 

She also uses the best name ever while in disguise as a kindly sort in a Jackie O style suit. Ima Goodlady. Totally amazing.

It seems there's something of a pattern when it comes to prehensile hair, in that it's a decidedly villainous trait, reserved for the bad girls of the cartoon and videogame world. They're all quite sexy ladies too, even though Sindel has the look of a woman who eats souls for breakfast. None of these ladies seem like the type to rescue your cat from a tree with their tresses and would be far more likely to pick the cat up and fling it into your face for the hell of it. But they'd look SUPER COOL doing it.

(Speaking of things that aren't real, I recently wrote a guest post for the brilliant, about things that I wish WERE real. I'm jealous of Hermione Granger and the secretary from Total Recall and you can read all about it HERE!)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Quelque Chose #17

Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were the soundtrack to my childhood, thanks to my parents and their musical tastes. Dad was always a huge Whitney fan. Mam loved Jacko, she even got to see him live twice. Twice! My brother and I never quite forgave her for telling us she was at a Civil Defence meeting when she was actually going to the Dublin date of the Dangerous World Tour in 1992 without us. Such betrayal!

Anyway, the cover of Whitney's eponymous debut album is one of my strongest memories from rifling through my Dad's vinyl collection. I loved looking at the picture of her on it, all regal and gorgeous in her peach dress with her hair slicked back.

Poor Whitney. R.I.P.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Double Love

Just to keep things confusing, the second part of my Sweet Valley High Revisited series deals with the first book. Like I said before, I'm doing this as I get the books, so the order isn't going to make any sense at all, m'kay? Let's do this!

Sweet Valley High #1: Double Love

The story begins with Jessica Wakefield whinging into the mirror about how fat and disgusting she is. But FEAR NOT fellow mortals, for we are immediately reassured that Jessica is in fact preternaturally beautiful. This being the first book of the entire series, the descriptions of the soon-to-be-legendary Wakefield hotness are particularly heavy handed. For example, we are informed that Jessica's reflection is actually that of "the most adorable, most dazzling sixteen-year-old girl imaginable". Those are the actual words used. She's just SO RELATABLE. When all her moaning causes her twin sister Elizabeth to doubt her looks, a glance in the mirror quickly sets everything to rights again. "If Jessica were such a hopeless case, she might be in trouble, too. But the image she saw reflected in the mirror was hardly cause for alarm." PHEW. Bullet. Dodged.

Anyway, the school's superhot basketball star Todd Wilkins rings the house looking for Elizabeth. But Jessica answers the phone and immediately proceeds to cockblock the fuck out of Liz by lying about her being in the shower so she can't come to the phone and gloats to Liz afterwards that Todd wanted to wish her luck with getting into some sorority that day. Now, I thought that sororities were a college thing in the States, but then again, Sweet Valley doesn't exactly adhere to reality at the best of times. So Elizabeth gets all quietly upset because she fancies Todd but now she thinks Todd likes Jessica and not her. "And why not? What girl could possibly compete with the dazzling Jessica Wakefield?" Hmm, well let's see...HER IDENTICAL TWIN, PERHAPS? Elizabeth is already being an infuriating pushover and it's only page eleven.

Look! It's the EXQUISITE LAVALIERE NECKLACES! They're just boring gold pendants. What a non-event. Also, note that Jessica is quite clearly the slutty, wayward twin with her edgy stonewashed denim jacket, while Elizabeth is being all sensible and sincere in her wooly jumper. Jumpers = Sincerity

The twins go about their day at school and Todd arranges to meet (not meet meet, just actually meet) Elizabeth that evening after class. However, Elizabeth is running late and by the time she gets there, she sees Todd getting into the car with Jessica. So instead of being furious with Jessica for abandoning her, leaving her to walk home and OBVIOUSLY hijacking her hook-up with Todd, her heart sinks and she gets all emo about it, instead of strapping on a pair, telling Jessica to cop the fuck on and asking Todd why he bailed on her. The next day at school, the place is abuzz with the news that Jessica and Todd are Sweet Valley's hottest new couple, causing Elizabeth to cry like, ALL THE TIME and mope about how she won't stand in their way and "do the decent thing. Die." Oh my GOD, Liz. Meanwhile, Jessica repeatedly hints to Todd with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer that she wants him to take her to the upcoming dance, but Todd keeps asking if Elizabeth has a date. To deter him from her sister, Jessica makes her out to be a cock hungry skank, saying she's always rushing off to meet guys and she can't keep up with her trampy schedule. When he still doesn't get the hint and ask her to the dance, Jessica storms off home and decides to walk there, swinging her hips so creepy guys will pay her attention from their cars and she'll feel validated. Insert facepalm.

Enter Rick Andover. He's cool and dangerous, he dropped out of school and has an eagle tattoo, so you KNOW he's bad news. She gets into his car after this dynamite chat up line: "Pardon me, Heaven - which way to Mars?” Be still my beating knickers! Nothing gets a girl going like astrally inclined direction requests. Am I right, ladies? He drives her home, saying that he makes a habit of "knowing where all the foxiest chicks in Sweet Valley live". Which doesn't at all sound like something a sex offender might say. The next night he takes her out to a scuzzy roadhouse bar called Kelly's, gets shitfaced after ONE shot of whiskey and starts a bar fight. The cops show up and an officer takes Jessica home, but mistakes her for Elizabeth. I sense a classic mix-up here, folks.

The school gossip overhears the cop calling her Elizabeth when she gets out of the car, so the big scandal in school the next day is that Elizabeth Wakefield was arrested for starting a riot at Kelly's. Rather than seeing that it might make her kind of a badass, the school's population act like she murdered someone and unquestioningly buy that it was the boring, sensible sister that did it, rather than her CARBON COPY who is always pulling shit like this. Elizabeth confronts Jessica who then does precisely fuck all to dispel the rumour, while Elizabeth just bends over and takes it, even hugs her all tearful later, telling her how wonderful she is. Are you KIDDING ME Elizabeth? These girls are MESSED. UP.

Meanwhile, the twins think their lawyer father is screwing his work colleague, Marianne, who they keep referring to as a "divorcée", because you just know that being a "divorcée" makes her a no-good, sex-crazed, Ned-stealing homewrecker. Also, the Patman and Fowler dynasties are scrapping over the school's football field because the school is run by incompetent halfwits who allowed the lease to run out and now both families want to buy the land and build a decorative garden or a factory on it, respectively.

Anyway, while everyone at school is giving Elizabeth a hard time and banging on about how "unforgivable" the whole thing was (Sweet Valley High students are a big self-righteous pint of no craic), Jessica eventually starts to show some signs of a guilty conscience, rather than acting like a remorseless sociopath, and breaks down in front of Todd, telling him it was her that went to Kelly's with Rick. Todd thinks she's being noble and taking the blame for Elizabeth, so he proceeds to shift the face off her and ask her to the dance. Also, he's an idiot. After hearing about Jessica and Todd scoring each other in the middle of the school, Elizabeth cries a bit more and agrees to go to the dance with resident class clown, Winston Egbert. Who, by the way, sounds terrifying in this book. When they decide on a time for him to pick her up, he "turned and raced madly across campus, screaming like a deranged chimpanzee." I'm sorry, WHAT? Does that sound like normal behaviour to anyone else? Yeah. DIDN'T THINK SO.

So on the night of the dance, Todd keeps eyeing up Elizabeth, which winds Jessica up no end. When he takes her home and pecks her on the cheek, she decides that he's humiliated her beyond reason and tells Elizabeth that he tried "just about everything" and that she had to beg him to stop groping her. Guys, Jessica is an actual psychopath. Her boyfriend-stealing attempt doesn't pay off so instead of dealing with it and getting on with her ridiculously charmed life, she cries rape. She's just the WORST kind of person.

Back in school, Todd tries to talk to Liz and tells her that he forgives her for going out with Rick. FORGIVES HER! Who the HELL does he think he is? Asshat. Anyway, Elizabeth keeps ignoring him because she thinks he assaulted Jessica, so suck on that, Toddface.

In subplot-land, the fight over the football field goes to court, with the twins' father representing the school or whatever, along with sexy divorced Marianna. The school wins the case so they get to keep their football field. Yay! Ned announces at dinner that night that Marianna is being made a partner in the law firm, which explains that all the time he's been spending with her was work-related and not sexy divorcée sex after all. Yay! Case closed.

A few days later, Elizabeth and Jessica are driving home from Dairi Burger (what kind of a name is that though? A dairy burger sounds weird. Like a burger of yoghurt. Or cheese. Cheese. Maybe they're on to something, actually) and they notice a car following them. When they stop at a light, they realise it's Rick, who somehow manages to jump into the car and start driving it, because the Wakefields have never heard of door locks. He's drunk and tries to drive them to Kelly's, careening through the Dairi Burger (someone bring me some CHEESE) car park on the way, where Todd happens to be and he sees that the twins are terrified. He drives after Rick and beats the shit out of him outside Kelly's. Elizabeth, who at this point, remember, still thinks Todd tried to rape her sister, is all "whatevs, that was totally hot, Todd" and lobs the gob. Back at the Wakefield house (it's split-level, you know) Todd and Elizabeth work out through brilliant reasoning that Jessica has been lying her ass off to the pair of them, Elizabeth is not actually a dirty whore and Todd did not actually get all grabby with Jess.

Elizabeth then concocts a tremendous revenge scheme against Jessica, where she basically tricks the school into throwing Jessica into the swimming pool fully clothed. That's it. That's her big payback for her psychotic sister who tried to take her boyfriend for herself, lied about him trying to rape her, let the entire school think Elizabeth was a hobag and generally acted like a spoiled, selfish brat the entire time. Yeah, wet hair TOTALLY evens everything out. Elizabeth would be the worst vigilante ever. Murdered someone, eh? Well how do you like it when your ICE TRAYS ARE EMPTY!

Ugh. They both suck.

Notable outfit:
“This sounds like a job for my new tuxedo shirt,” Elizabeth offered. “Could I wear the pants, too?...And the little bow tie?”

*dies laughing*

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 159
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 8
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 8
References to Elizabeth's tears/the fact that she's crying: 19
Amount of times people blush:15

Monday, February 06, 2012

Adora Borealis

On a recent night out, a conversation between The Incredible Mulq and I turned to She-Ra. What immediately followed was a spate of frantic Googling on iPhones in an effort to remind ourselves of character names and the fact that She-Ra was actually He-Man's twin sister and not his cousin, as we both originally thought for some reason. Halfway through the conversation I excitedly (read: slightly drunkenly) proclaimed that I would write a blog post about She-Ra. So here we go!

Princess Adora is She-Ra's real identity. She was given the Sword of Protection, which enables her to transform into She-Ra, via the powers of the mystical Castle Grayskull. Interestingly, while He-Man used to shout "By the power of Grayskull!", She-Ra's battle cry was "For the honour of Grayskull!" So her brother might have the power, but she'll honour the fuck out of that castle. Which is fine, I guess.

Part of Adora's transformation into She-Ra included her horse, Spirit, who was upgraded to talking super-steed Swift Wind whenever she changed. When we were talking about her horse in the pub that night, I was recounting the fact that he had wings. When we looked it up, it transpired that not only was Swift Wind a talking flying horse, he was a GODDAMN TALKING FLYING UNICORN. I had completely forgotten that he was a unicorn. A UNICORN!

Another great part of the She-Ra cartoon was the vast array of friends and allies that Adora had, each with their own brightly coloured leotard, awesome hair and a handy special power of some sort. Kind of like Jem and the Holograms crossed with X Men. WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE? First up are mother and daughter duo, Queen Angella and Glimmer.

Angella has wings for some reason, but it appears that her daughter was genetically screwed out of an ability to fly. She does have lovely pink hair though and both of them have the ability to manipulate light, so they can fire lasers and shit (not actual shit - that would be horrible) out of their hands which is pretty cool.

Frosta is a blue haired ice queen with a deadly pointy cape. She's immune to cold temperatures (which is just as well, seeing as she lives in a snowy kingdom and her costume is a boob tube onesie) and she can freeze things at will with jets of ice. She also fancies the furry red knickers off He-Man. Castaspella is a sorceress with shiny gold bracelets that help her to focus her magic powers. The clue is kind of in the name with these characters.

Netossa doesn't really have a superpower, but she...erm...throws nets really well, which appears to be enough to help in the crusade against the Evil Horde. That and a costume that looks like you have wings on the side of your head. Mermista is a (guess, go on, guess!) mermaid (yaay!) who can turn herself into a human, can control water and has a telepathic connection to sea creatures. Not someone you'd bring to a sushi restaurant.

Scraping the bottom of the superpower barrel, we have Peekablue, who has a peacock tail that supposedly gives her enhanced sight, Perfuma, who can control plants, Sweet Bee, who is dressed like an Eighties club kid and is an intergalactic Bee Person (I don't even want to think about how that honey-making process works) and Flutterina, who has butterfly wings and may or may not get trapped behind windows.

The main villain was the gloriously wicked Catra. Captain of the Evil Horde, she can turn herself into a purple panther by pulling her cat mask over her eyes and has telepathic control over felines. She would eat those last four birds for breakfast given half a chance.

She's also sexy as hell.

As a child and without The Channels (i.e. anything other than RTE 1 and 2 - unless I was in my Nanny's house), my main source of reference in terms of She-Ra was a Ladybird book called Catra's Ice Palace. I'm sure it's since been given away, but during my hunt for She-Ra images, I happened upon scans of each page of that very book. EXCITEMENT SHE WROTE.

It's filled with all these gorgeous illustrations of Adora and her ridey friends, just look at Frosta being all brilliant with her magic sceptre and look at all that giant hair!

Castaspella puts in a brief appearance, although she looks nothing like she did in the cartoon, because continuity is for SQUARES. It also features Catra shaking her fist a lot.


There she is, all giant hair, spectacular cheekbones and fury. The big pink lion is her pet, Clawdeen, who is referred to as a she, even though she has a mane. It's all either a) a bit confusing or b) tremendously progressive and Clawdeen is actually a transgender character, which would be amazing. When I was small and in love with this book, I thought Clawdeen was the most fantastic name in the world and decided that if I ever had a daughter, that's what I'd name her.

Clawdeen, come in for your dinner!

Yeah, that totally works.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Stop SOPA Ireland

An Open Letter to Sean Sherlock TD 
Courtesy of and Pop Culture Monster

Dear Mr Sherlock,

Further to the recent debate on January 31st at Dáil Éireann, we are presenting to you this letter as an appeal for you to reconsider your Statutory Instrument on Copyright in Ireland.

Before we go any further we are not what you have deemed us to be. We are not “keyboard warriors”, shouting blindly that any new proposed copyright law goes straight to the bin, because we don’t feel that way. We are concerned citizens of Ireland. And we feel we are not being treated as such.

Stating that the Statutory Instrument would be signed regardless of the 80,000 signatures from the general public in opposition and regardless of the issues and concerns voiced by your peers in office at today’s debate is demoralising. It forces us to believe that our voices, the voices of the people who put you where you are today, are not being heard. It forces us to believe that we are being ignored. It forces us to believe that you simply do not care. Surely the outcome of a Dáil debate, and subsequent vote, should determine whether or not the subject either goes forward for signing, back to the drawing board, or into the bin.

Let me assure you that we are all for protecting copyrighted material. We believe that all copyright holders should be compensated for the work and effort put into making their material. What we don’t believe in, however, is the manner in which this law is being proposed and put through. It’s undemocratic to believe using secondary legislation loopholes to push through a bill that is the best way to go about this.

We are not opposed to changing legislation. What we are opposed to is the vague wording of the legislation, leaving the net cast far too wide for interpretation and abuse.

As Junior Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, Innovation and Research it might be advisable, Mr Sherlock, to put some real research into a new law. Find out how to narrow it, so that situations where it is open to abuse cannot arise. You assured us today that despite the vague wording, it would not be abused. My question to you is, why word it so that it can be abused, and therefore have to assure us it will not? Why not rather reword it so that it cannot and therefore will not be abused?

And by doing so you might just implement a law that can be followed, enforced and adhered to in the manner for which it was intended. If that is achieved then perhaps it would help, instead of hinder (or indeed terminate) the creation of employment in this country. Particularly in a sector that is world renowned in providing highly qualified and innovative people.

There’s the word, Minister. Innovation. Let’s be innovative about this.

We are not calling for the copyright laws to remain the way they are, as they are presently being changed regardless of your Statutory Instrument. There is no point denying that the copyright laws currently in place have to change.

Simply stating that a party can apply for a court injunction if they feel an infringement has taken place will cause nothing more than a backlog in the courts, major costs to the tax payer and a fear that anyone with a blog, forum or website will be subject to attack from a party with deeper pockets.

Will a website be taken down for linking to a video on YouTube if the copyright holder seeks an injunction against YouTube? With this new legislation amendment, linking to copyright infringement is no less a crime than handling a stolen television set.

Will a website be blocked for using a freely available picture? If the main social players on the internet such as Google and YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter decide not to get involved in such disputes, will it block their sites from being used by anyone in Ireland? Will it block our websites, blogs, forums and other media from partnering for advertising or linking within their platforms?

Or will they just write off their investment in this country and move their headquarters to a state that isn’t run by corporate lobbyists, taking their jobs with them?

The fallout from DELL leaving under the old government was devastating. The fallout from the potentially dangerous legislation you’re proposing to implement is inconceivable. No doubt, it would end with you and your party being disgraced.

Many websites are under threat from this new legislation. Young websites that were established by people trying to make a way for themselves; people hoping to gain employment in national or international media; and people hoping to become self-employed and self-reliant. Websites that at this time do not have advertising budgets and rely on the free media of Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other social networking websites.

You mentioned a national online forum today ( who have stated that they will not be able to support themselves in legal fees should they be taken to court under your new legislation. It’s not just who could be forced to shut down, give up and walk away or start from scratch. It’s potentially millions of website owners. With your new legislation, you are affecting millions of Internet users. You are threatening millions of people’s livelihoods and sources of income.

This legislation has to have its wording tightened, because to put it bluntly Minister, it feels like this is EMI using you to push this through. After all, Eircom currently blocks its customers from using The Pirate Bay. So targeting UPC is the next way to go, we suppose.

If the law is there to protect the big companies from losing revenue due to illegal downloading, then by all means state that outright in the wording of the legislation.

We implore you bring it back to the drawing board, research it and come up with something that is concise and not so wide open to interpretation.

What we need now is for you to wait, patiently. The new copyright laws are being drawn up. Wait for them. And integrate a narrower and more focused version of your Statutory Instrument that doesn’t curb and limit freedom on the Internet; that won’t force businesses to take themselves elsewhere; that won’t limit creativity; and that won’t give rights of censorship by large bull-headed businesses.

We who operate on the internet on a daily basis understand how it works. We understand what’s frowned upon and what is downright illegal.

We understand that most of those who create original content want credit over compensation. Those lobbying you for this law are only concerned with the compensation, and that’s business, that’s fair enough. It shouldn’t however, prevent the (largely) self policing internet from doing what it does best - providing a platform for millions to express creativity and even free advertising for the big businesses in some cases. (Surely they don’t want to have their cake and eat it too?)

It’s those who do not understand the differences that this law is required for. Sad that it’s the same people who were slow to understand and grasp how much the internet would change their business. Sad that instead of embracing it and trying to understand how to integrate it into their business, they want to try and stop it altogether.

The videogame industry is constantly coming up with ways to combat piracy, and they’re beginning to work. But EMI et al, don’t need us to point that out to them. After all, their material is licensed on thousands of video game titles worldwide.

Perhaps if the record companies were proactive in their fight against piracy they might just discover an innovative way of doing so themselves.

And there that word is again, Minister.

Minister, we are a group of concerned bloggers, writers, artists, columnists and professionals who understand the need for greater copyright protection, but are fearful of the cloak and dagger way you seem to be attempting to implement it.

Protection of the people is the job of the government, something our Taoiseach has no problem telling us when there’s more bad financial news on the way. Protecting business is another, and we get that.

It just needs to be handled a lot better than it has been.

In closing, Mr Sherlock, what we’re looking for is full disclosure and due process all the way. You and your colleagues in government were elected for change and this behaviour is something that reeks of your predecessors. What we want is protection for the small operator and not just for the big business, who can afford their protection regardless of the cost or effort.

We don’t expect you to answer or even acknowledge this letter Mr Sherlock, but we do call on you to acknowledge that there are people at your disposal who can help you with this law and legislation.

Please don’t do what we fear you’re doing, and run this through thinking you know what you’re at.


Ireland’s Internet Community