anthropomorphic cars

hello yes stay tuned for my thesis paper titled, “Anthropomorphism in Cartoons and the Fetishization of Vehicles Through The Ages” in which I examine the evolution of anthropomorphic cars from Herbie to Pixar’s Cars and from Transformers to Dinotrux, and how human characteristics and sex appeal is shown through these very clearly non-human entities and what that means to us as a species

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“Cutting Edge Travel.”

Birthday painting for @thesunsetempire depicting them as an otter, based on a photo I took during our July 4th trip to the Nevada State Railroad Museum. The knife-edge nose, brass porthole windows, and art-noveau vector art of this McKeen Motor Car provided a regal experience for passengers, though the finicky and unreliable mechanical setup doomed the McKeens to an early scrapping, their duties passed pack to more conventional passenger trains hauled by steam locomotives within a few years.

If you would like to order a painting in this style, I am currently open for commissions of portraiture, landscapes, critters, and industrial tech!

More info available at wings-and-strings.tumblr.com/commissions;

Inquiries can be sent to WingsAndStringsCommissions@gmail.com

–Wings & Strings

On role models, and what makes a hero.

Unless you’ve been marooned in a different dimension all this week, you’ll have heard about the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor. The ripples of outrage among certain groups; the cries of triumph among others. It sparked a discussion on Twitter, which escalated gradually into a heated debate about male and female role models, during which a group of (mostly) men asked me repeatedly why girls couldn’t be satisfied with Wonder Woman, Cagney & Lacey, Minnie Mouse and Miss Marple, rather than trying to muscle in on the Dr Who clubhouse.

Well, it’s a fair question. Why do we need specifically female role models? My daughter spent her childhood playing at Harry Potter, wearing my old academic gown, liberally splashed with fake blood. I myself spent much of my own childhood pretending to be Kwai Chang Caine, or the Doctor (mine was Jon Pertwee), or Marine Boy, or the Six Million Dollar Man. It never occurred to either of us to feel that we were missing out on heroes of our own gender. But here’s the thing. Over the centuries, girls have become used to the fact that most of their favourite heroes are male. As a child, I wanted to be a boy, because boys seemed to get all the best parts in the stories I liked to read. My daughter was the same; after all, who wouldn’t rather be Harry than Ginny or Hermione?

Boys have no such problem. Even now, children of both sexes tend to assume that the lead role in any story will be taken by a boy. Boys have twelve Doctors of their own gender, but still manage to feel threatened when girls claim just one for themselves. Boys have hundreds of superheroes; detectives, action heroes, spies, wizards, knights and cool villains. And yes, girls do have those things too, but in far smaller numbers, and with the unspoken assumption that female heroes are somehow less interesting to boys than they would be to girls. Girls are happy to dress up as characters of both genders, from Captain America to James Bond, but how many little boys would dare to dress up as Wonder Woman?

Let’s face it: most little boys (with the help of the toy and game industry) find it easier to identify with a cartoon dog, or a robot, or an anthropomorphic car, or a two-headed alien, or a villain who wants to blow up the world than a female human being. Why? Because they’ve been taught from the earliest age that behaving like a girl is the most shameful thing a boy can do. If a boy cries, he’s being a girl. If he shows vulnerability, he’s being a girl. If he’s afraid, he’s being a girl. No boy wants to run like a girl, it means not being able to run properly. Same with fighting like a girl: it means not knowing how to fight. And by dint of being told that being like a girl means being silly, and weak, and afraid, those boys will grow up into men who look down on women, and who find it impossible to believe that a woman could be their equal in any way.

And yet, you could argue that this is precisely why little boys need female role models. Boys need female role models to teach them how to identify with women, rather than just see them in terms of attractiveness or unattractiveness. And there’s no reason that a boy shouldn’t be able to identify with a female character as easily as a male one – as long as that character displays qualities to aspire to.

Which brings us to the crux of the thing. What qualities make a hero?

Opinions differ, but most agree that courage is essential. And courage comes in many forms, none of which are restricted to a single gender. One man on Twitter, sneering at the thought that women could ever show real heroism, implied that giving birth was the closest a woman could get. Well, childbirth is certainly painful and hard, especially in those parts of the world in which women are more likely to die in childbirth than from any other cause; where women are forced into marriages at the age of twelve or thirteen, and forced to give birth time and time again. Yes, that takes courage. And so does enduring rape, or FGM, or war, or displacement, or the kind of oppression forced upon women in countries all around the world. But courage and heroism aren’t the same thing. The courage of the oppressed and downtrodden, though real, is not a courage young boys are encouraged to aspire to. It’s a passive kind of courage, a courage based on endurance, rather than action. And to dwell upon the courage of oppressed women is to feed into a narrative that says: women are weak, women are helpless, women need the protection of men. In short, it’s a narrative that casts the men as heroes, and the women as those in need of rescuing. Casting women as heroes challenges that narrative. It suggests that, in some cases, at least, women can be their own saviours – or even save men from oppression, instead of it being the other way round.

But the idea that courage, like Lego, comes in two colours – the passive, “feminine” courage of childbirth and bringing up kids on a shoestring, and the active, “masculine” heroism of going to war, driving fighter planes or risking your life working with power cables – is ultimately toxic, feeding the idea that men and women’s bodies and minds are radically different. They’re not: and courage, like human beings, is a complex and personal thing, spanning a whole spectrum of colours. Here are just a few of them, challenging the narratives of what makes a woman and what makes a man, but all of them showing courage:

The all-women Kurdish groups of soldiers fighting ISIS

The Nigerian girls, risking their lives to go to school in defiance of Boko Haram

Those who challenge the stigma of mental illness

Those who come out as gay or trans

Those who find the courage to leave their abusive partners

Those who stand up for their beliefs in the face of their peer group

Those who fight for justice against brutal or oppressive regimes

Those who fight to overcome fear, anxiety or depression

The aid workers and peacemakers who risk their lives in war zones

But action isn’t the only way to show courage. It is also:

That time you thought you couldn’t go on, but did

That time you stood up for yourself when you didn’t know you could

That time you intervened when someone was bullying somebody else

That time you faced your deepest fear

That time you dared to be yourself

That time you were brave enough to apologize, or admit you were wrong

All the times you kept going in the face of failure

All those times, whatever your gender, you were a hero. Remember that. You were a fucking hero.

November 2016: A Summary
  • evil kermit the frog
  • #boycotthamilton and the subsequent failure of said boycott
  • devastation over the death of an anthropomorphic race car… 
  • …but equal devastation from an unexplained rise of bee movie memes 
  • a racist soggy cheeto was elected president of these united states
  • fantastic beasts and where to find salvation through the HP fandom
  • “i am forcibly removed from the premises meme” clarifying what is unacceptable for us to do in public spaces 
  • yuri on ice saving us all
  • i accidentally projected a slideshow of my cats to a classroom full of people and it is still haunting me to this day 
  • Gilmore Girls ?!?!? aka in which four words can mess up an entire fandom
  • the samsung galaxy note 7 possibly being even more self-destructive than myself 
  • pokemon: sun and moon 
  • speaking of moons, we also apparently had another supermoon?? 
  • moana <3

In sum: November was a wild ride from start to finish. I’m kind of nervous what December will bring lol omg please save us

How Cars changed my life

Gonna gush a little about personal stuff here…

Let’s see, I was 11 when Cars first came out. I didn’t get to watch it before it came out on DVD, but when I did, hoooo boy did I watch it every. single. day. I loved it from the beginning. And at that age, you know kids are super impressionable. I felt so connected to the characters, and the more I learned about the American car culture, the more I appreciated the little details in the movie that perfectly paralleled real world automotive culture. I would spend hours watching the Barrett-Jackson auctions on TV, practically drooling over all the pristine classics. I grew to love the muscle cars of the late 60s and early 70s more and more (especially the Mopars). I knew I had to get closer to the culture instead of just viewing it through a screen. I started asking to go to car shows, which my parents agreed to, as they’ve always been car people. The Carl Casper Custom Auto Show was always the closest to where I lived, so I went to several of those and met a lot of really great, friendly people that were just as passionate about automotive culture as I was and still am. I had to be a part of this.

Fast forward 3 or 4 years. I think I was 14 (15 maybe?). I had the opportunity to invest in a car. Some dude wanted to sell his 1986 Pontiac Fiero for $300. I’d previously taken apart an old motorcycle and sold the parts on eBay, so I had the money. The car didn’t run when I got it, and it had water damage. Pretty rough. After a month or so of working on it in the dead of a Midwestern winter, my dad and I got it running. And it was fast. It had the 6 cylinder engine, which was hella impressive for a two-seater fiberglass-bodied car. Too fast for little ol me, according to dad. So I sold it and made a profit. I began looking for something else.

A year later, I was able to buy a reliable Ford Escort for $300. Nothing fancy, but I was able to complete my driver’s ed training in it. A fun little car, but again, nothing special. And I needed something that was gonna set me apart and exclaim to the world that I was a car enthusiast and belonged with the culture.

In the beginning of the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school, my prayers had been answered. It wasn’t a muscle car, it wasn’t even a Mopar. It was an old rusted 1983 Chevy pickup truck. The fenders were pretty far gone, but mechanically, it was in pretty good shape. I spent 3 months in my garage with my dad’s assistance replacing rusted panels, installing a new carburetor (the old one had the butterflies being held open by a paperclip – not the best of solutions), adjusting the timing, and doing more body work. 

I was having bouts of depression along this same time, so it helped a lot to get out of bed and have something to do, and keep my mind occupied as I fought against it. I would talk to this truck, sing it songs, just anything to feel like someone cared and knew what I was going through. It became more than a project, my Scotty became a friend (he’s a Scottsdale, get it?). A place I could go to and get away from the things I needed to run from.

Here’s what it looked like at the beginning of all this (I can’t find the picture before I stripped the grill and trim off) - 

Three months. Midwestern summertime (90+ degrees and humidity you can practically swim in). I was a 16 year old girl who wanted nothing more than to have something of her own to be proud of. I was still watching Cars nearly every night (trying to hide it from my parents because I didn’t want them to know I was/am so obsessed with it) and still noticing new details I’d never noticed before. Every day I’d go work on this truck. For 3 months. 

Piece by piece it came together. Every day he looked a little better. And every day I would feel better. There would be relapses occasionally, where I just couldn’t bring myself to go outside, but every time I was able to pull through. Because he was there, and he was my purpose.

And, boy let me tell you, was all that work worth it. This was the finished product, and I have never been more proud of anything.

Yep, that’s the same truck. No professional help whatsoever. You should have seen the look on the boys’ faces when I pulled up to school in this! I finally had my classic truck. It might not be a 60s or 70s classic, but it was mine and mine alone. 

I didn’t beat the depression for another 3 years or so, but Scotty was right there with me the whole time. And maybe it’s weird to find solace in an inanimate object, I don’t know. Occasionally he’d bust a line or something, and I’d have to fix that piece of him, and occasionally I’d have a break down and choose to go for a drive to try and feel better. He never let me down when I needed him most. And he looked good doing it.

Throughout all of this, I learned a lot. 

- First, automotive work like this is not easy and it takes a long time without the proper tools (especially if you have no idea what you’re doing to begin with). Still, it is incredibly rewarding.

- Second, if you want something bad enough, you will work harder than you thought possible to attain it. And it might take a long time and have its ups and downs, but don’t lose sight of your goal. 

- Third, a single event, no matter how small it may seem to others, can change your life (for the better!). Pixar decided to release a movie in 2006 about anthropomorphic cars. One kid saw it, and was able to save a vehicle like this from rusting away. One kid saw this movie, and loved it so much they adopted a life time love for something they previously held no interest in. One kid saw it, and used its inspiration to defeat a mental illness.

Now it’s 2017. Cars 3 just came out and was the sequel I’d been hoping for since 2007. And you can bet I drug my adult self to the theaters to see it all by myself. It’s 2017, and I still have my Scotty sitting at home, well taken care of, with just a few more miles on him than when I bought him and fixed him.

All because I saw a movie when I was 11 years old.

RFA+Saeran+V and their ridiculous dakimakuras

Zen:

  • Obviously he has a dakimakura of himself
  • Actually, scratch that, he has an entire collection
  • Each one of them is like, scented too
  • They each have their own unique scent from Zen’s upcoming perfume line
  • Since they’re dakis of himself, he got them all for free, so they’re made from like, silk or Egyptian cotton or some other fancy pillow fabric
  • One of them has 3D muscles and buttcheeks
  • How many are nudes? I have not asked and I don’t plan to.

Jumin:

  • It’s probably a cat
  • ….It’s definitely a cat
  • And I don’t mean like a cat girl from like Nekopara or something
  • I mean a literal cat
  • (Thankfully not a cat in a “sexy pose”)
  • The cat looks just like Elizabeth 3rd
  • The daki is most definitely the most expensive and highest quality pillow fabric in existence
  • The cat on the pillow has fur fabric and 3D jewel eyes
  • Jumin tried to request one made from Elizabeth’s shed cat hairs but the manufacturers told him that was unreasonable

Jaehee:

  • She clearly owns a Zen daki herself
  • She doesn’t have quite the collection that Zen has but all her other Zen fan merch makes up for that anyway
  • Tends to put it away when she has guests over… especially if it’s Jumin
  • But then she pulls it right back out to snuggle it while watching one of Zen’s musicals
  • Not gonna lie, she secretly envies Zen’s own collection
  • She has considered stealing some of them sometimes

Yoosung… wait, actually, Yoosung went missing. I’ll go ahead and take care of Seven and then go find him.

707:

  • It’s honestly going to be the most ridiculous daki in existence
  • I can guarantee that
  • …Seems to be a “sexy” anthropomorphic car…
  • …Wearing cat ears and a cat tail… and a maid outfit.
  • And you like to share Honey Buddha Chips and PhD Pepper with it?
  • Okay then.
  • I certainly was right.
  • Like… just… how Seven. How.
  • Where did you even find something like this?
  • …Oh, you got it custom made. I see.
  • I see how you like to invest your money.
  • It’ll be interesting to hear about Vanderwood’s reaction.

And now to find Yoo–oh he just got away from me again! Crap!

Change of plans. Saeran and V next, then to go find Yoosung again. I can’t wait all day for him.

Saeran:

  • “Get a dakimakura Saeraaaaaaaaaaaaan,” Seven said.
  • “It’ll be fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun,“ Seven said.
  • Saeran was not interested at all in getting a dakimakura… but Seven surprised him with one anyway.
  • Saeran didn’t look forward to what Seven bought him after seeing the cat girl car maid Seven got.
  • Thankfully, Seven gave him a simple, cute, safe for work ice cream girl.
  • Like a girl wearing an ice cream themed outfit while holding ice cream.
  • Saeran graciously accepted this pillow, on behalf of it not being strange and actually being cute and nicely drawn and colored!

V:

  • Let’s be real, V owns a daki of a cactus
  • There’s no doubt about this
  • It’s not prickly, per se, but it certainly has a picture of a cactus on it.
  • It’s not even like a sexy cactus themed character or anything
  • But an actual cactus
  • With more than two “arms” (I know nothing about cactus anatomy)
  • V got the cactus daki for two reasons: 1. he likes cacti and 2. most people would think it was just a normal cactus body pillow.
  • V has definitely taken many pictures of this cactus daki though.

Now for Yoosung again…. where is he anyway?

…There he is!

MY: So, Yoosung, tell me about your dakimakura.

Yoosung: … Huh? What’s a dakimakura?

MY: A body pillow with a picture of a fictional character.

Yoosung: I have nothing like that.

MY: Oh, why not?! They’re fun! I have one of yo—-Oops.

MY: But anyway you should buy one!

Yoosung: But I spent all my money on LOLOL!

MY: Then I’ll buy one for you!

Yoosung: I DON’T WANT ONE THANKS

MY: But—

Yoosung: ISN’T MY NORMAL AF TEDDY BEAR ENOUGH

MY: Nope. Let’s go pick one out.

Yoosung was not happy that day.

Yoosung:

  • After dragging his feet all day, he finally chose a daki of a female LOLOL character he likes.
  • But shortly after bringing home the pillow case, he shoved it into a cardboard box on a high shelf in his closet
  • He still refuses to use it like a proper dakimakura
  • How could he… I spent good money on it!
  • He talks about how he’s the most “normal” one in the group… sniff…
  • He won’t be having a good time at RFA sleepovers when everyone else brings their dakis and he just bring his teddy bear and bunny plush
  • He’s just going to be SURROUNDED by dakimakuras
  • And when he sees all those potentially lewd Zen ones and Seven’s questionable one…
  • Yeah
  • ‘Nuff said