Madame Tutli-Putli’s Dress from the 2007 Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts

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Brian and I went the other day to see the 2007 Oscar nominated animated short films at the Michigan Theater. This outfit here is Madame Tutli-Putli, from the short named after her, alternately titled by Brian “the Silent Hill short” for its surreal, creepy atmosphere. The way the short was produced was stunning (and eerie, with those human eyes tracked on the puppets) but the content seemed to be trying too hard to be deep. Yes, she’s timid, yes she’s got all that “baggage,” yes, it’s depicting an acceptance of death, but the aliens removing livers was a little beyond me. (And no, I don’t think it was a literal account of an organ-harvesting ring, as I’ve read elsewhere…)

My favorite one was My Love, followed by Even Pigeons Go To Heaven.

Margaret Hale’s White Gown from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South

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This gown is based on one that Margaret Hale, main character of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, wore to a dinner party. I listened to a Librivox recording of it this month.

All we know about the gown from the book is that it is white silk and adorned with coral (two pins in her hair, her sleeves looped up with coral strings, and a coral necklace.) There’s no firm date given for the events of the book, but I’m dating this gown to 1852, based on this page, which makes it sound as if the strike in the book was based on the historical strike at Preston in 1853, a year before the book began to be serialized. Then, this was the gown that Margaret also wore for her cousin’s wedding, which was at the beginning of the book. It’s an inconvenient date — right there between the Regency gowns and the hoopskirt at its height. I used this page for reference, mostly.

It may sound like the book is some sort of Civil War drama, but it refers instead to the differences between the slow-paced farming communities of the south of England and the upstart industrial cities of the north. For this reason I found it a rather odd book somehow; it starts off with a wedding, a silly mother, a pastor father, a suitor for Margaret and a good bit of walking, gardening and drawing, and we Jane Austen fans think “Oh, I know where this is going.”

(Unrelated: while chatting with a woman working at the bookstore the other day, she told us she had been talking to someone who lamented, in all seriousness, that Jane Austen hadn’t written anything lately.)

But just as the reader is getting acquainted with Helstone and its inhabitants and charms, there’s a crisis: Margaret’s father loses his faith in some way, enough that he feels that he must renounce his living and find other employment. This revelation is never truly explored in the book, as Margaret seems rather afraid to ask for any more details, and instead throws herself into the mundane details needed to keep the family together. So they move to Milton, a factory town, and her father becomes a private tutor. And all of a sudden, this book which had seemed to promise a lightly romantic comedy of manners, brings in questions of religious faith, chapters upon chapters of class conflict, lingering illness, murder, deception, lies, grave misunderstandings and lots and lots of death. (And why the one character I would have liked to see die never quite made it there, I have no idea.) This is all separate from the story of Margaret’s love interest, which is its own little torment; they must spend thirty chapters thinking of each other, misunderstanding each other, and being miserable, before it is all finally resolved in the last page of the book.

I enjoyed it thoroughly, even with the heaps of melodrama, as Margaret herself is a fascinating and admirable heroine, and the depiction of the class conflict is easily more important than the romance. The strike, the union and the millowners are all treated evenly and sympathetically, and the inclusion of such themes makes the novel so unique.

Akatsuki Member’s Cloak from Naruto

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I’m so far outside the targeted age group that it’s rather an embarrassment to admit, but I’m fond of Naruto. (Brian calls it the “screaming ninja children anime,” and he’s really right on the mark.)

This cloak is the uniform of Akatsuki, the group of powerful, outlawed ninja whose members become the primary antagonists in the later part of the series. Even if they are ruthless and pursuing world domination, they’ve got a little more fashion sense than most of the ninjas in Konoha (where most of the protagonists are from), where the hot styles of the day involve bulky olive vests and far too much fishnet.

Black Masters Cap and Gown

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I’m back, and with a shiny new Masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language! I found it fascinating, met a lot of great people and now I’m tutoring and rating the TOEFL iBT writing section. Besides that, I’ve been moving to a great new apartment, cooking, reading, keeping my husband fed as he starts his own business and indulging my cats.

What I haven’t been doing is drawing paperdolls, and I think it’s high time that changed.

I graduated in December, and the color of the hood is just what mine was. The dress underneath is green, in honor of EMU’s colors, green and white. The wacky Masters gown sleeves are… sort of an approximation. (I can almost hear my mom telling me that the PhD gown sleeves are easier to draw.)

Anyways, I’ve missed doing paperdolls — I’ve spent far too much time thinking about doing them, and far too little time actually drawing them. I think I’m going to go back to the old Paperdoll Blog format — that is, paperdolls based on whatever I’m watching, reading, listening to or thinking about. I might shoot for one every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I’m so out of practice, though… so we’ll see. ;)