Why not hang some pretty fractals on your walls?

You know those fancy fractal flames I sometimes share as wallpapers?

I’m still making the fractal flames.

Only now, they’re at Society 6 as physical items you can carry around or mount on the walls!

This is my first item:

abalonewormhole

You can download this and use it as a wallpaper. You can also visit my Society 6 store and get it as a poster or framed print. 

Go see more of my pretty things! Tell your friends.

Making stuff: Teal stained glass

Image

While I am still not ready to stop running predictions on Game of Thrones, I have decided not to post anything new until we see some new information, and then, only if my predictions are compliant with the new information. I was going to say I’m waiting for the S5 DVD set, but then I realized we’re expecting to get a trailer or two before then. So I might post something in response to the trailer(s) before I get to watch the DVDs with audio commentaries. Until then, though? I need to post on other topics and with other materials.

For instance: I have a new graphic design app on my iPad, and I’m learning how to use it. For now, here’s a little something I made in that new app, and cleaned up in Pixelmator. While it is not quite 100% pixel-perfect, it tiles well enough and it looks pretty. Enjoy.

stainedglass1

We need to create.

Fellow white female creatives? Step up your game. Time to start actually making stuff that isn’t stolen from people of color, built on their backs or ripped from their psychological hides. This shit, for example? Not cool.

Peggy Noland, a white designer from Kansas City who’s worked with stars like Rihanna and Miley Cyrus, has a deeply problematic new project out: a ridiculous line of t-shirts and dresses featuring Oprah’s head photoshopped onto nude bodies.

[…]

The dress is anything but “lighthearted.” She chose to use Oprah’s image — as the most powerful black woman in entertainment  who’s waged a very public battle over her weight throughout her career— instead of, say, an actual designer, because it’s something that will create a spectacle.

Yeah, that designer called her Naked Oprah line “light-hearted.”

Visit that link, look at the pictures of some of the dresses, and ask yourself: What is really being held up for ridicule, here? How does using Oprah’s face on nude bodies nod to the ridiculousness of the fashion industry? How is Oprah even a part of the fashion industry, beyond the ways that all celebrities help designers sell overpriced clothes?

I don’t even give Peggy Noland the benefit of assuming she actually believes she’s doing anything edgy and subversive at the fashion industry. She’s appropriating the image of an extremely (possibly uniquely) successful black woman for a ridiculous thing we can wear on t-shirts and turtleneck dresses. There’s plenty to criticize about Oprah, but this is freaking juvenile.

We need to push ourselves, find our voices, take risks, and generally build our own shit. Do not use exploitation as a substitute for edginess, do not use “ally” as a shield, and do not rely on prepackaged coolness as a crutch against the hard work of artistic integrity. Never assume you should be exempt from criticism because you’ve done enough. If you want to be subversive, be strong enough to punch up. It doesn’t need to be brilliant right away, but fucking make it yours.

I shall conquer the world of fractal flames.

While you all were watching the Oscars last night, I was attempting to force Fractal Architect into submission. The point of contention was in the Final Transform settings. I was trying to recreate this fierce cave-like shape I’d somehow achieved before, and eventually, I succeeded.

Since it appears that the 2013 Oscars were an occasion for Seth MacFarlane to confuse his white male heterosexual privilege with a sense of humor and broadcast it on national television, I think my evening was better spent.

The fractal effect in question is potential book cover material, so I won’t put it on display here just yet. HOWEVER, if you’re a new Fractal Architect (or Serendipity) user, I suggest you go into Final Transform and find the following shapes: bubble, butterfly, cross, loonie and scry. Apply them in different combinations. See what comes out.

You’re welcome.

 

This is arguably the greatest thing ever.

Cracked brings us tales of Mind-Blowing Structures Built in Secret, and in my entirely humble opinion, the guy who came up with #2 not only wins at life, but in fact he wins the entire universe, and the buddies who helped him build the thing pretty much win at life simply for having been close enough to him in the first place to get in on the act.

According to Oberto Airaudi — who prefers to go by Falco — since the age of 10 he has experienced paranormal visions from “a past life” of amazingly intricate temples. While that might just sound like the ramblings of someone who smoked whatever Coleridge was on when he wrote “Kubla Khan,” Falco has made it his lifelong goal to recreate his visions.

One night in August of 1978, Falco and some like-minded companions started digging into the mountainside. Over the next 14 years, they worked in four-hour shifts, using simple hand tools and sketches Falco had made of his vision. Rumors began circulating that something was going on under the house, and in 1992, police showed up at Falco’s front door. When he wouldn’t let them in, they threatened to use dynamite. Realizing that the cops were either serious or villains from a Disney movie, Falco and his fellow “Damanhurians” complied, leading the police through their secret door and into the mountain.

Witness Exhibit A, motherfuckers:
While you were building log cabins out of popsicle sticks...
This is the part where I differ from R. Jason Benson:
While Falco is clearly inspired by something higher, the truly baffling part of this is that he did all this with friends working for free, out of the kindness of their own hearts, to make a grown-up’s childhood vision a reality. We’re all for lending a helping hand to our friends, but we’re pretty sure we would have thrown down our tools after the first four-hour shift.
I don’t think it takes an especially trusting person to examine Falco’s artwork and figure out that this is possibly the most brilliantly creative madman in the world. It’s not terribly difficult to imagine how this guy’s faithful friends, with nothing better to do with their afternoons, said “Why not?” to the first handful of four-hour shifts. And then they figured out that not only is he serious, but he is actually clever enough to make this shit happen, and they realized that they had the power to be a part of the coolest secret hobby on Earth. How many people can say they bond with their buddies by participating in THAT?
I’m telling you, Disney could make a movie based on Falco & Co.’s lives, and they could make it fanatically true to life, and nobody would believe it was even loosely based on a true story. Why haven’t they made a movie about this already? Disney, if you’re not on this like a cheap shirt, then WHAT ARE YOU FOR?!

O RLY, Mr. I-Have-No-EReader?

John C Abell lodges suggestions for the improvement of ebooks, which is all good and fine, but I would like to point one thing out:

It’s not enough to be able to highlight something. A careful reader wants to argue with the author, or amplify a point, or jot down an insight inspired by something freshly read. And it has to be proximate to the original — a separate notebook is ridiculous, even with a clever indexing system that seems inventable but is yet to be invented.

Books don’t offer much white space for readers to riff in, but e-books offer none. And what about the serendipity of sharing your thoughts, and being informed by the thoughts of others, from the messages in shared books?

Replicating this experience will take a new standard, adopted universally, among competitors whose book tech, unlike paper, is proprietary. For a notion of what this might look like, check out OpenMargin.

Perhaps the iPad lacks a note-jotting feature in its ebook app, but my Kindle lets me note and nitpick to my heart’s content. I used this facility for the last round of revision on my novel before I showed it to an editor. For this to be doable, you need either an e-reader with a built-in keyboard, or a Notes & Highlights program that can be accessed through a computer, but the Kindle, at least, has the former. I guess that’s the advantage of a single-purpose device.

#4 is true of traditionally published books, particularly from the larger houses, but far less applicable to self-published and digital-first titles, with a far simpler balance of costs. #5 is a concern if you’re well-off enough to have a house with room for shelves. Since I’m about to move house for the fourth time in three years, and my new place will most likely be an efficiency which I do not hope to occupy for more than a year or two, I appreciate the ability to read books that don’t double as furniture. Not all of us have the privilege of spacious domiciliary stability.

All that said, I appreciate his pointedly avoiding the ostensible sensory advantages of dead-tree format. We like the smell, texture and weight of print books because we associate those sensory experiences with the pleasure of reading. The pleasure of reading comes from the content in the books, not because paper smells so nice. In twenty years, I expect no one will care and hardly anyone will remember the tactile or olfactory associations with the written word, and our culture will not be any less for it.

No, Scientology, you are not the underdog.

*blinks*

Your blogger just got finished with several hours of reading Lawrence Wright’s article on the Church of Scientology in the New Yorker, told mainly through the experiences of recent apostate Paul Haggis. (Note to self: trying to read a piece of that length all in one go just shows how pathetic my attention span really is. Where’s that online Adderall I keep hearing about?)

This is my favorite part:

I asked Haggis why he had aligned himself with a religion that so many have disparaged. “I identify with the underdog,” he said. “I have a perverse pride in being a member of a group that people shun.” For Haggis, who likes to see himself as a man of the people, his affiliation with Scientology felt like a way of standing with the marginalized and the oppressed. The church itself often hits this note, making frequent statements in support of human rights and religious freedom. Haggis’s experience in Scientology, though, was hardly egalitarian: he accepted the privileges of the Celebrity Centre, which offers notables a private entrance, a V.I.P. lounge, separate facilities for auditing, and other perks. Indeed, much of the appeal of Scientology is the overt élitism that it promotes among its members, especially celebrities. Haggis was struck by another paradox: “Here I was in this very structured organization, but I always thought of myself as a freethinker and an iconoclast.”

Church of Scientology, the underdog?

No. Just…no.

We could sit around in our armchairs and talk until we’re all blue in the face over whether Scientology’s belief system is more absurd than that of any older, more accepted religion. I am not interested in having that conversation. What I will point out is that one of Scientology’s most effective strategies—perhaps the organization’s central act of genius—is that it is so happy to be the new religion of the rich and famous. If we want to talk about its adherents being marginalized and oppressed, we can surely look at Sea Org volunteers, who are systematically controlled, abused and enslaved by the Church of Scientology. I’ll give y’all a hint: you don’t get to be the religion of the marginalized and oppressed when it’s the leadership of the Church that’s doing the marginalizing and oppressing.

Being a Scientologist in Los Angeles doesn’t make you an underdog. It just makes you another one of Those Assholes.

What I find most entertaining (and by entertaining I mean frightening) about the history of a group like this (see also: Mormonism) is that it takes so little substance to create a new religion. No miracles, no good works, no ancient relics, just come up with a weird story, put it out there, and wait for folks to start latching on. Once you get a critical mass of followers, they take care of the hard work of recruitment, indoctrination, and enforcement. It’s a perpetual feedback loop; a brilliant system. If I published Charlinder’s Walk as anything other than fiction, how many people would think I was a Prophet, and how would they determine who would be among the select few to survive the coming pandemic and start the world over again?

Low threshold for misery

Some of these are indeed miserable and uncomfortable, but some of them are just bland. Are the pickings really that slim on the Internet for awkward back-to-school pictures? Okay, there are some funny-looking kids, and there are some hilarious clothes, but these people can’t help having oddly-shaped heads and they can’t help having grown up in times of unflattering children’s fashions. They can’t help having parents who dress them badly, either.

There’s miserable and uncomfortable, and then there’s just an unflattering piece of photography.

Maybe I just don’t get it.

Instant Scented Candles

Stuff needed:

  • Unused tealights.
  • Fragrance oils.

Instructions:

  1. Remove tealight from tin.
  2. Apply modest amount of fragrance oil to inside of tin.
  3. Replace tealight in tin.
  4. Light it up!

As the wax melts, it will blend with the oil and the room will smell nice.

I don’t know if this is cheaper than buying scented candles, but it gives you more control over the type and amount of scent used.

(Plus, I’m bored and I happen to have these supplies around the house.)

I just can’t think of a non-ridiculing headline for this.

Jezebel brings me news of this gorgeous snow sculpture in New Jersey, and how it got censored:

Among the visitors was a patrolman dispatched to the Conneran household after Rahway police received an anonymous complaint “of a naked snow woman,” said Sgt. Dominick Sforza.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Look at what they did to this gorgeous artwork!
Oh noes! There is a naked lady in the snow!

She does look more objectified with the bikini on!

They made this beautiful sculpture, and all it took was one pearls-clutching prude to ruin it. Here was an example not only of creativity but of a family working together, and the cops had to treat it like porn because someone’s sensibilities were offended.

I hope that next time New Jersey gets a heavy snowfall, Elisa Gonzalez and her kids sculpt their own David in their front yard. And when some asshole complains, they should dress him up in a bright pink g-string and rollerblades.