“So, I’ll see you tomorrow for breakfast at the guildhall?”
“Sure, sounds good,” Lucy answered, for the fifth morning in
a row. The exchange had become a nightly
ritual, and Lucy couldn’t quite decide if that was a good thing or not.
Each of them had finally decided that enough was enough, so
last month, in January, exactly eighteen days ago (although nobody was
counting), each of them had managed to blurt out a shy but sincere confession
to the other. Of course, neither of them
had been able to hear the other person, since they were talking at the same
time, but eventually it had gotten sorted out.
They had spent most of their free time together ever since, as if making
up for lost time, and Lucy was surprised by how much happier and relaxed she
felt just knowing that Gray was there for her and finally knew how she felt.
Although Gray wasn’t the most demonstrative boyfriend—at least,
not in public—he was very considerate.
Lucy felt genuinely cared for, which was wonderful. For example, Gray made sure that Lucy got to
walk on the smoothest part of the path when they were outside. If they were
sitting with a big group of people, he would make sure that she had a
comfortable seat and wasn’t perched precariously on the edge of a bench. If they’d been placed at a table that had a
chair with wobbly legs, Gray would fix the problem and take the wobbly chair just in case.
Unfortunately, Lucy was beginning to realize that there was
something wrong. They’d been going out
together for less than three weeks, but something was missing. Worse, she had a feeling that Gray felt the
same way. As embarrassing as it was,
Lucy decided to seek expert advice.
Please do enlighten us...how DID you come to be hit in the face with a severed leg?
I can honestly only laugh about this because it was like six years ago. At the time it fucking sucked but in retrospect it’s as hilarious as it is intense, so strap yourself in, friend.
When I was in high school I worked on pretty much every production we did–if I wasn’t in the show, I did tech, and since I’m not much of a singer (for reals I sound like I’ve got a mouth full of gravel and only Tom Waits can pull that shit off), when we did musicals I was in the wings. Or, as in the case of Little Shop of Horrors, inside a giant fucking plant puppet.
Now, we were a little ambitious and decided to build our own Audreys instead of renting them from New York for a small fortune. The first two were hand puppets but the third one weighed a over a hundred pounds and required a full body harness and the last one was roughly the size of a VW Bug. (I’m not fucking exaggerating–this thing was engineered to swallow live actors, one of whom was wearing a fucking fat suit. ‘Epic proportions’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.)
I don’t know how familiar you are with the plot of Little Shop, so here’s a breakdown: nerdy botanist grows man-eating space plant in order to impress girlfriend of sadistic dentist. (I shit you not. Broadway is fuckin’ wild.) So this was my junior year and because my school was brand spankin’ new I had departmental seniority and for some jolly reason this meant that the ridiculously awesome title of ‘Puppet Master’ was levied upon me. The less glamorous reality meant sitting in a fucking box for most of Act One to sing to the twit playing Seymour and then getting strapped into some kind of mental bondage harness attached to a giant fucking flytrap made of felt and foam and PVC and trying to match the articulated mouth to the words of a voice actor standing fifty feet away on the stage right wing. This shit was a fucking job, let me tell you.
So Audrey 2.3 (as we called the third puppet) is supported by two long ‘crutches’ that are meant to take some of the weight so not all 100+ pounds of it is just hanging on my back. I’ve got my hips braced against a giant ceramic pot and my arms in these like fucking alligator jaws and I can’t see a fucking thing because the mesh is too dense and I’m sweating like absolute hell because BEING IN A GIANT FUCKING COCOON OF FOAM AND FELT UNDER THOUSAND-DEGREE STAGE LIGHTS WHILE HOLDING THE EQUIVALENT WEIGHT OF BILBO FUCKING BAGGINS ON YOUR BACK IS HARD FUCKING WORK.
Right, anyway, it’s a long story but the dentist dies and Seymour chops him up into little Dentist McNuggets to feed to Audrey 2.3, who isn’t big enough yet to be swallowing people whole (we save that shit for Act 2). Our second night of show Seymour is like kind of high on success from the night before and getting really overzealous with the feeding. He’s got a chum bucket of ‘body parts’–most of them are like intestines made of pantyhose and cotton wadding (tech people are ingenious) and that sort of shit–soft and harmless–but at the bottom of the bucket is the piece de resistance, this fucking stupidly realistic severed leg with a giant bone sticking out which was used on a film set for some kind of war movie and honestly I have no idea how we ended up with it, but it was gruesome and horrible and made out of hard fucking industrial plastic.
Anyway we’re like halfway through the song and it’s the big bombastic Act 1 finale and Seymour is absolutely fucking losing his shit and flinging intestines and kidneys and fingers into the puppet mouth and I’m like frantically grabbing them as fast as I can before they can go dribbling out again–if you’ve never seen this show you absolutely do not understand how fucking gross it is–and one of the intestines gets away from me. I need one hand for the jaw and one to grab the snacks and I’m like shit shit shit this intestine is sticking out of my mouth like a goddamn Cuban cigar and I’m leaning forward to grab it and WHAM. I get kicked full in the face by a severed fucking foot and honestly, I can’t even explain, it felt like getting a roundhouse to the jaw from a fucking kangaroo.
So I go reeling backwards–and bear in mind this freakin’ giant plant is in no way anchored to the floor, just my body–and I knock one of the ‘crutches’ off the back of the platform. Seymour is still belting his fucking lungs out, totally oblivious to the fact that Audrey is like imploding behind him–and 100+ pounds of man-eating plant suddenly drops off the back of the platform, drags me down with it and crunch crunch snap the weight cracks three of my ribs like fucking matchsticks. The song ends, the crowd goes wild, the lights go out and I’m falling halfway off the back platform, all the dead Audrey weight still strapped on and hanging on my shoulders and it literally hurt so fucking badly I couldn’t even breathe to start swearing.
Anyway thank God someone (unlike Seymour) was paying attention, and as soon as the drape closes Mushnik comes thundering onstage and stars tearing the plant open like it’s a deleted scene from Jaws or some shit, going “OH MY GOD HOLY SHIT ARE YOU OKAY” and I’m like “NO I’M FUCKING NOT I’M SUFFOCATING AND MY RIBS ARE BROKEN AND I’M PRETTY SURE I HAVE A FAT LIP FROM GETTING KICKED IN THE MOUTH BY A DISEMBODIED FUCKING FOOT.”
I spent intermission lying shirtless on the floor with a sack of ice on my back and enough tape around my ribs to stick a walrus to the ceiling and you know what? We finished the fucking show and did four more after that. Don’t even fucking tell me theatre people are not hardcore.
And that is the story of the time I got kicked in the face by a severed leg and a carnivorous alien plant broke three of my ribs.
Crazy paving: Rotterdam to consider trialling plastic roads
Dutch city could be first to pave its streets with recycled plastic bottles, a surface claimed to be greener, quicker to lay and more reliable than asphalt
Gordon Darroch in The Hague
The Netherlands could become the first country to pave its streetswith plastic bottles after Rotterdam city council said it was considering piloting a new type of road surface touted by its creators as a greener alternative to asphalt.
The construction firm VolkerWessels unveiled plans on Friday for a surface made entirely from recycled plastic, which it said required less maintenance than asphalt and could withstand greater extremes of temperature– between -40C and 80C. Roads could be laid in a matter of weeks rather than months and last about three times as long, it claimed.
The company said the environmental argument was also strong as asphalt is responsible for 1.6m tons of CO2 emissions a year globally – 2% of all road transport emissions.
Rolf Mars, the director of VolkerWessels’ roads subdivision, KWS Infra, said: “Plastic offers all kinds of advantages compared to current road construction, both in laying the roads and maintenance.”
The plastic roads are lighter, reducing the load on the ground, and hollow, making it easier to install cables and utility pipelines below the surface.
Sections can be prefabricated in a factory and transported to where they are needed, reducing on-site construction, while the shorter construction time and low maintenance will mean less congestion caused by roadworks. Lighter materials can also be transported more efficiently.
Mars said the PlasticRoad project was still at the conceptual stage, but the company hopes to be able to put down the first fully recycled thoroughfare within three years. Rotterdam, a keen supporter of sustainable technology, has already signalled its interest in running a trial.
Jaap Peters, from the city council’s engineering bureau, said: “We’re very positive towards the developments around PlasticRoad. Rotterdam is a city that is open to experiments and innovative adaptations in practice. We have a ‘street lab’ available where innovations like this can be tested.”
Mars said the idea had huge potential for future development, such as heated roads or ultra-quiet surfaces. He said: “As far as I know we’re the first in the world [to try this].
“It’s still an idea on paper at the moment; the next stage is to build it and test it in a laboratory to make sure it’s safe in wet and slippery conditions and so on. We’re looking for partners who want to collaborate on a pilot – as well as manufacturers in the plastics industry, we’re thinking of the recycling sector, universities and other knowledge institutions.
“Rotterdam is a very innovative city and has embraced the idea. It fits very well within its sustainability policy and it has said it is keen to work on a pilot.”
So I’ve mentioned before about South Korea’s superficialness (if that’s even a word) but I’ve never went into detail about it even though it’s the answer to close to everything related to why Koreans act and/or think a certain way. Ideal type, ideal weight, image, and even plastic surgery. Since this blog is mostly about kpop, it’s best to keep this confession on topic.
Now the essential question is this: How does the superficial aspect of their culture affect idol life/the entertainment industry?
1.) Plastic Surgery
Everyone already knows about South Korea and their fetish for plastic surgery. One of South Korea’s priorities is looking good, considering 1/5 of the population has had it(probably more if they could afford it). They even have to send a photo of themselves when they send in resumes for either schools or jobs. You can probably have a great resume but if you’re face isn’t that great, that could affect your chances of getting the job.
Of course as idols, they have to look good since people look up to them, usually for their physical aspects. I honestly do believe 95% of idols looked great without plastic surgery but since they have to fit into the beauty standards that Korea has, they feel pressured to get what considers them beautiful. They usually get the double eyelid surgery, nose job, forehead implants(yes, they’re real), and a jaw shave. Sometimes, they probably don’t even want it but some companies refuse to let some trainees debut if they believe they need it but won’t get it.
There’s many ways to become a trainee. Being street-casted(usually a representative from a company comes up to you and tries to persuade you to audition for the company), actually just go and audition, or win singing, modeling or dancing contests and get signed as a trainee. During trainee life, you train to become the “perfect” idol. Usually, trainees tend to specialize on one thing, which is probably why there are positions such as main vocal, lead dancer, etc. That’s probably why there’s usually only groups that debut more than solo artists. All of the members come together to form one big “perfect” idol group since none of the individuals are “perfect” themselves. “Yea, he’s a great dancer, but his vocals aren’t that great.” And the “perfect” idols among groups tend to get solo debuts while still promoting with their group (ex. Hyorin of SISTAR, Amber of f(x), and CL of 2NE1).
3.) Artificial Grouping
According to Google, the definition of artificial is “made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally, typically as a copy of something natural" with synonyms such as "insincere, forced”, and my favorite one,“put-on”. Because that’s exactly what they’re there for– to put on a show so their company makes money. They even change lineups or disband the group(sometimes even before debut) if the company feels as if they won’t bring enough profit or as much as it would if something were to change. There’s a obvious reason why so many idols are friends with each other. They’ve either went to school together or trained at the same company for some time before going to another for some reason. Some were even supposed to debut in some groups but either dropped out or were kicked out. For example, most of BESTie’s members were supposed to be in EXID. Sounds crazy right? But no, they were dropped right before debut but luckily they came together with Dahye (who was a former SM trainee) and formed BESTie, my favorite rookie group. That’s why a lot of idols have “a former insert company name here trainee” on their profiles.Companies form groups based on what can bring in the most income based off their singing, dancing, rapping, variety skills, or good looks. Which brings us to our next topic:
4.) Positions in groups
Main/Lead Vocalist, Main/Lead Dancer, Main/Lead Rapper, Visual, Face. In western pop and music, we don’t have these positions. If we do, they’re really subtle and not official. I think all groups regardless of it being from Korea or England has a face of the group. While they have Yoona from SNSD or Suzy from miss A, us westerners have Justin Timberlake, who was the face of NSYNC or Beyoncé, who was the face of Destiny’s Child. And now these recent bands like Fifth Harmony whose face is Camilla and One Direction whose face is Harry Styles. Everyone knows it’s a smart idea to put the most popular and/or prettiest member in the middle and give them the spotlight. But these positions in groups make them look even more business-like. “You sing and stuff, he’ll dance, and I’ll make cute winky faces at the camera so the fangirls die. Teamwork on three.”
As an American, I was a little confused by the positions at first. I didn’t understand why they needed them since they were a music group. All I really cared about at first was the voices and quality of the songs, not how good-looking they were. I had many questions. “Since everyone danced, did there really need to be a main/lead dancer? And if you’re not that great at singing and is just pretty, why don’t you just go be a model? I can’t hear you be pretty on an album.” But the deeper I got into kpop, the more I saw how necessary it was. A kpop group only needs four to five members:
Someone with a powerful voice (ex. Hyorin of SISTAR, Uji of BESTie, Taeyeon of SNSD, Chen of EXO)
Another who also has a nice, strong voice who could compliment the other’s voice(Soyu of SISTAR, Onew of SHINee, Yenny of Wonder Girls)
Someone who dances really good to make performances more entertaining(Hyoyeon of SNSD, Kai of EXO, Min of miss A, and Victoria of f(x))
An above-average looking person to make the group look more visually appealing(Yoona of SNSD, Dara of 2NE1, Minho of SHINee, and Hyejeong of AOA)
And if your group has a more “hip” feel, a rapper as well(Amber of f(x), G-Dragon of BIGBANG, CL of 2NE1, and Yubin of Wonder Girls).
So on average, a kpop group only really needs about five members. Although, other members can contribute by doing other things like acting, variety shows, and modeling.
5.) Emphasis on certain parts of their music career
Everyone knows kpop is inspired by the western pop but mostly, the American entertainment industry. They take the important parts and form it to their standards. And I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with these parts: Debut, Title Track, Comeback, and Concepts.
DEBUT- This is the moment. The big break. The time they get to shine. A lot of companies go through a lot of work to build hype for their new solo artist/group. EXO is probably the best example for this. The amount of teasers they had were ridiculous and Kai were in most of them, giving him the nickname Teaser King. Although a lot of debuts are well thought out and cool(Ladies’ Code’s “Bad Girl”), some are rushed(Red Velvet with “Happiness” to cover up Kris’ lawsuit). And a lot of newer groups look up to their sunbaes and their debut is inspired by it. A big example this year is GFRIEND’s “Glass Bead”. A lot of people argued and said it was too much like SNSD’s “Into the New World” from the song, to the dancing, and too the concept(but it didn’t actually sound like it though).
TITLE TRACK- Let’s be honest: the only people who care about the other songs on the albums are actual fans of the group and not general fans of kpop. There’s proof in the fact that groups only perform their title track(s) and that ONE other really good song on the album(ex. “Gimme” by GOT7, “Exodus” by EXO, and “Adrenaline” by SNSD-TTS). Other than that, they usually just do covers of American songs. Because no one really pays that much attention to the albums, companies tend to only focus on making the two types of songs I’ve mentioned before and making the rest of the album okay.
COMEBACK- You know that moment where your favorite artist releases an album or single, promotes it, then drops off the face of the earth for 8 months, then comes back out of no where with a new album? Well, in kpop, we have a word for it–COMEBACK. It’s hyped up just as much, if not more than the debut. Especially if the group is more popular.
And with each new comeback, there’s a new:
CONCEPT- The image the solo artist or group is trying to portray. Some might think innocent or sexy or manly and yes, even though those are technically concepts, some concepts are usually just concept based. In the previous gif, girl group AOA portrays a female sports team. This is a concept. SNSD has done a school girl concept for their debut(as did so many other girl groups), a cheerleader concept for “Oh!”, a navy concept for “Genie”, and a bad girl concept for “Run Devil Run”. Concepts change every time to make the artists look fresh and new so the fans won’t get bored and usually to target another, or more audiences. Girls’ Day went from a cute-based concept group to one of the sexiest girl groups known today starting with “Expectation” in 2013. Yet, there’s still girl groups that have a cute concept and are still popular, like APINK. Some concepts stand out so much, they get recognized for it. Prime example: 2NE1’s “I Am the Best”. They have an edgier concept and look than most girl groups so they were bound to get attention for it.
6.) Music Shows
Ever heard of Music Bank? Show Champion? How about Mnet Countdown? Those silly shows they have every week where they put groups and solo artists against each other? Yea, I hate them. Not because of the artists, but because of those stupid trophies they give to the winner of each week. Superficial Level=Broke my scale. They’re honestly cheap imitation of American award shows. The worst part is no matter how great your group’s comeback was, the most popular groups are going to win anyway. I mean, look at SNSD. I don’t want to offend any SONEs out there but “Party” was HORRIBLE. Yet, it won 7 trophies.
If music shows were based off how talented, genuine, and great a comeback was, I think the trophies would be made out of gold or something, not plastic. Although I’m not a big fan of the award ceremonies, I am impressed when some groups or artists win awards because 1) they’re up against bigger idol groups and 2)there are hundreds of artists in the Korean entertainment industry so to win is a somewhat a big deal. Also like American award shows, these music shows tend to have celebrity MCs and tend to change them every now and then when they get bored of ‘em.
Do you have any insight to why cis radfems have been saying that all women have dyslexia lately? Do you think that holds water or are they just full of it?
I’m assuming you mean ‘dysphoria’ as opposed to ‘dyslesxia’ but correct me if I’m wrong. Ok, so I have seen this a couple of times, and roughly falls into that camp of radical feminists who have considered transition (or detransitioned) in the past.
I think there are multiple things that are wrong with this argument. One of which is simply qualitative: having spent a lot of time with cis women and with trans men and trans masculine people with dysphoria, I would say that these sensations are not the same, or at the very least not to nearly the same degree. Intuitively it does not check out. Beyond that, it still doesn’t really explain dysphoria in trans women? But I’m not really clamoring for a TERF etiology of trans women’s dysphoria so I should probably be grateful.
Secondly, usually this is brought up in the context of sexual assault and dehumanization. Being both a trans person and a sexual assault survivor (both child and adult), the dissociation that one experiences and the disconnect or mistrust in the body that it creates is very real, in certain ways very similar to trans peoples dysphoria, but at the same time not the same. This is why you have trans people who have dysphoria but who have no sexual assault background. I think my abuse/sexual assault has informed but did not create my dysphoria.
This sort of argument is from a more general radical feminist ideological point which is the argument against any sort of surgery that modifies the body which is ‘cosmetic’; for TERFs this includes transsexual surgeries. They claim that people only want these cosmetic surgeries because of the patriarchy and sexism, and therefore are unfeminist.
I think that even in the case that transsexual surgeries and cosmetic surgeries were only because of the way patriarchy affects us, that attacking people who are getting those surgeries is 1) bad feminism and 2) not a very good praxis politically in the first place. Like, people getting surgeries should be incidental to your larger goal of taking away the social ills that create the need for these surgeries in the first place. My personal opinion is that cosmetic surgery is value neutral, and I’m always in favor of expanding our autonomy over ourselves and our bodies, rather than diminishing it. Honestly if there were more cis women who would feel better if they had top surgery due to trauma, I would be supportive of that, even if I would be working towards a society where those traumas didn’t happen.
But the meat of this is actually kinda interesting.
I actually think that this argument has kinda taken off recently because there has been a growth of truscum/transmedicalist cafab trans TERFs in the TERF-o-sphere, and I think they have brought with them an emphasis on dysphoria as the end-all-be-all of trans identity. Therefore, in the TERF imaginary, if you can show that being with dysphoria (say, a ‘dysphoric female’) is possible without transition, then you have shown up all the transgenders and they shouldn’t have any access to medicine or autonomy or humanity!
The thing is, that dysphoria does not define the trans experience. There are trans people who do not experience dysphoria, and they are clearly still trans in a meaningful societal sense. So even in an instance where you would accept the argument that all women have dysphoria (and by that they mean ‘complicated relationships with embodiment’ which to be fair we all have), that would still not really make all those women ‘trans’, because trans-ness is about how certain genders and bodies are rendered illegitimate and punished/restricted within our society (in ways exceeding those that cis peopel are subject to).