Category Archives: questions

Unmasking the Community – What Do You Want To Be?

Garden of Earthly Delights

I grew up on old XTC records. A multilayered experience from every side, the music is about exploration and human creativity more than anything else. To be categorized would be limiting.

The chorus of “Garden of Earthly Delights”, one of my favorite songs:

Welcome to the garden of earthly delights.
Welcome to a billion arabian nights.
This is your life and you do what you want to do,
This is your life and you spend it all.
This is your life and you do what you want to do,
Just dont hurt nobody,
And the big rewards here,
In the garden of earthly delights.

My mind runs wild on those words. It invites you open your mind completely and explore your own interest. Explore your own imagination.

The point of dressing up in a costume is to indulge this idea. To become something out of the ordinary. “Dailyness” is the prime suspect in the suppression of our most creative concepts of who we are and who we could be. Joining in the fun of dressing up is primarily driven by the desire to enter into our own garden. The meaning is different to each of us.

Enter your own garden. Around every corner you see the products of your most vivid imagination. How do you see yourself? What are you wearing? What do you look like?

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Unmasking the Community – How Much Is Too Much To Spend?

Unmasking The Community is a segment where we ask you, the readers, to give us your ideas and input on some common questions surrounding the world of costumes.

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Costume enthusiasts are like sports fans. They come from all types, have their own tastes, but typically appreciate all things costume. However, one trait they don’t all seem to mutually possess is the agreement on how much to spend on costumes.

Think about it for a second. You may be a Bob Mackie Barbie collector and may be willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a rare vintage Barbie costume to complete that piece of your costume. Or you may be a cosplayer and be adamant about completing your own collection without any sort of aid. It’s part of the culture.

It begs the question, how much is too much? If you’re doing a homemade project, is there a limit? What about a collection piece? What’s the limit? How much would you spend before you settled?

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Costumes Can Go Too Far – Elf Ears Surgery!?

Do you think you could ever be fanatical enough to actually permanently wear a costume. I mean, change the way you look “surgically” to have a costume? Well, I didn’t think it would ever go as far as this new form of plastic surgery.

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Apparently if you really like the “elf” look, you can have your ears surgically changed to have points infused in them. Perfect for Renaissance Faires, Cosplays, D&D Meetings, or anything else fantasy-esque. According to site Massively.com, the page is almost “certainly” a fake. You could have had me fooled. I can see the fanatics lining up now for a chance to be a part of this one. It’s a bit over the top in my opinion, but who ever said that mattered.

How much would you take to get this done to yourself?

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Who are you dressing up for anyway?

This weekend I was talking to a friend of mine about relationships. She told me that when it comes to fashion, women primarily dress up to impress each other, not men. The first thing to hit my mind was, “huh”?

According to her philosophy, getting “cute” for a guy isn’t that hard because men aren’t picky. But women want to be noticed for their fashion sense, and it’s other women that will notice. Of course, this probably doesn’t apply to ALL women, but it’s a new notion for me. I proceeded to explain to her that if men didn’t have to impress women, then they’d be wearing clothes until the fabrics ran thin and there was no other option. Can’t compare apples to oranges, right?

So then what about with costumes? I look back on the costumes I’ve dressed up in, and they’ve always been to get a laugh or comment from someone else. I figured, “well, Halloween is all about dressing up to get attention, right?” For the most part, this is true. BUT, not everyone dresses up only on Halloween. Then I had the question in my mind as to whether people make their costumes to impress others or just for themselves.

With a pen and paper in hand, I did a small survey of people in my local area. According to the 100 people, I found that 66% of them claimed they dress up just to impress themselves. They don’t seem to care what others think. They just like to do something that they thought would be cool, and if people like it, that’s fine. Hmm, interesting..

My resources were limited, but I did hit some forums on the Internet to ask people why they like to dress up.  I had similar results. So then what about everyone reading this blog? Who do you do it for?

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Do Virtual Communities Do More Harm Than Good?

“there are three jihadi terrorists registered and two elite jihadist terrorist groups in Second Life and they use the site for recruiting and training. This is on top of the Second Life Liberation Army. “

 

In light of the Second Life comment I made earlier, I thought I’d address this current news story that’s abuzz in the virtual world space. According to articles located in Slashdot, P2Pnet, and other techie news sources these virtual worlds like Second Life are becoming a hotbed for terrorist groups to train and enable sympathetics to become recruited.

As opinions shoot back and forth, I have to wonder what the other groups think about this. By other groups I mean people who use Second Life for profit and positive interaction. The real world implications are vast, but is there any way for people to stop this kind of open, virtual world extremism? There has already been a case of “virtual terrorism” in Second Life recently in efforts to make a point. But what happens when these issues cross over into the real world?

Real World Control over A Fake Environment

I mean no harm in saying fake, but in comparison to what life really is, Second Life is an alternate reality. As such is the case, how do you police a virtual world? As it stands, the debate over Internet governance weighs so heavily in favor of total decentralization that it would mean the same thing. Having any kind of policing in a world like Second Life would indicate that some form of government would have to exist. Who would this government be? Is Linden Labs responsible for not only governing the technological implementation and advancement, but also the social behavior of its residents?

And that’s not the end of the problem either. At this point the biggest draw to Second Life has been its free and open format. It allows people to access and do whatever they want, within the technical limitations of the environment. This culture has developed so far that any truncation of “virtual rights” would alienate the users as a whole. How would Linden Labs or anyone else ever enforce restrictions? How true are these allegations anyway?

Behind a Virtual Mask

This isn’t the first time that things like this have popped up about terrorism on the Internet. Terrorist groups have been known to assemble on the Internet as a form of cheap and effective communication. We have such a hard time cracking down on kids taking the new Avril Lavigne song, so it makes sense that extremists see this crack in the armor as a chance to exploit and promote their ideals.

So what does this say about people using the Internet to mask who they are and be something else? The virtual community provides so much positive and forward thinking but also engenders some of these large problems? Does this anonymity lend more to negativity than it does to progress and positive global thinking?

It’s a shame that there are a few that ruin it for the whole, but issues like these don’t go unnoticed. As the electronic frontier gets pushed further into unrecognizable territory, opponents speak out more in defense to the electronic community. Yet, the modern rush doesn’t slow down. Government leaders all over are petitioning for a stranglehold on these technologies in order to regulate just how much of this extreme information gets tossed around. On the other hand, the people speak out against government in defense of their rights. Techies are typically afraid that ulterior motives propel governments to seize large scale communication rights for their own gain.

As for you and I, how do we maintain the right to participate and live anonymously with strangers? Is there ever going to be a way to facilitate positive global communication with strangers without the demons inside coming out of the small minority who want to use it for negative gain?

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The best laid plans…

I’ve always been a creative type, and as such have tried to come up with some clever ideas for costumes. Last Halloween, I didn’t have much time to put anything together. As a college student, my resources of money and items to use were so limited. This being so, I just had to try whatever I could get my hands on.  The previous year, I went to a costume party as “The Front Yard” and it was a disaster. I thought it looked great, but it seems that most people just didn’t even understand what I was trying to do with it.

T-minus about 45 minutes to the party I decided to go as a “stay at home dad”. I guess it was funny in context. I got a robe, put an apron on over it, slipped on an oven mitt, and strapped a toy baby on my hip like I was carrying it around while I prepared a meal in my morning clothes. The problem is, since I didn’t have time to get things together some of the parts that I used to make up the whole were not quite in good condition. I even took a sharpie to the white apron and wrote “real men cook fantastic cassaroles” just to add to the absurdness of the costume.

Well, as you can imagine, things didn’t work out so well. I didn’t realize that the writing on the apron wasn’t centered, so it ended up hovering just below my bellybutton. That caused for some trouble. I also didn’t have the tie to the robe, so it ended up being open all night and I had some very uncharacteristic clothes on under it. To make matters worse, the method I used to hoist the baby to my hip was pretty shoddy and broke. After awhile I just looked rediculous and had to take it all off at the party I attended.

It’s no good to skimp, that’s for sure. You gotta know when to be cheap and when to spring for the best costume pieces money can buy. There’s also a lot to be said for planning ahead so that you can put things together nicely. I failed in those departments and the costume was a bit of a disaster. Come to think of it, should I even be writing this blog!?

So what about you? What kind of limits do you think are good for making a quality but affordable costume?

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