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frameacloud: A stylized green dragon person reading a book. (A stylized green dragon person reading a)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Some highlights of what I posted to the Otherkin News Twitter (@otherkinnews) during the last few months.

About otherkin

Vice magazine ran an article about otherkin.

Journal of Language Works published an article on nounself pronouns. Cites the Nonbinary.org wiki and mentions otherkin.

Published in March, the book Youth Cultures in America briefly mentions otherkin.

A review of Danielle Kirby's book Fantasy and Belief, which writes about otherkin.

Due to the anti-transgender bathroom bills in the US during these months, newspapers ran anti-transgender opinion articles. As usual, some tried to undermine transgender people by comparing them to "trans-species." Some writers knew about otherkin, others didn’t. Cissexist hate speech isn’t worth featuring here.

Transhumanism

Cyborg artist Neil Harbisson said at a transhumanist event, "I consider myself a transspecies because I’m adding senses and organs that other species have."

Art and glamourbombs

You know the intro scene in FernGully, with the cave wall covered in handprints from humans and tiny fairies? It's based on some actual cave art, which does feature handprints just like that. The tinier prints weren't human hands. Not fairies, either, though.

The Merrylin Cryptid Museum featured preserved remains of dragons, fairies, and other beings, all created by artist Alex CF. Since it's a hoax-like exhibit, Snopes explained it.

Snopes also had to address a viral photo of baby dragons being reintroduced to Wales, which originated as a Photoshop contest winner.
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Trigger warnings: a skull, but it’s fake. Video shown above has loud melodramatic music.

July: A forty foot dragon skull appears to have washed ashore on a beach in Dorset, England. “In reality, it's a sculpture put together by Blinkbox to promote the third season of Game of Thrones […] It took a team of three sculptors over two months to design, construct, and paint.” The video shown above shows how the artists made the statue.



Source

George Dvorsky, “Did a massive dragon just wash ashore along England’s Jurassic coast?” 2013-07-18. io9. http://io9.com/did-a-massive-dragon-just-wash-ashore-along-englands-j-824242790
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[Video description: live action. Illuminated by spotlight in darkness, a flying dragon circles a castle, spitting a firework. It looks pretty realistic.]

Trigger warnings: Fire, mildly spooky imagery.

Excerpt from article about this dragon on io9: “Disney World constructed a life-size, fire-breathing dragon and flew it around the Magic Kingdom.” The io9 article shows the patent illustrations for the dragon-shaped flying machine. See the DisneyDragons Tumblr blog associated with the dragon project, where they presented the performance as a hoax, complete with footprints and eggshells, which the more in-depth article by Gizmag explains was part of “a small viral marketing campaign” to promote the ultralight aircraft in question.

- O. Scribner
(Originally posted by O. Scribner (frameacloud) on Tumblr on 2012-12-16.)
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings: Bad publicity, derision, hoax, harassment, heterosexism, racism, social drama.

On Thursday, The New York Observer ran an opinion article about how on Wednesday, a blogger on Tumblr.com revealed themself as actually a sock puppet (hoax) account. A trio had run the blog. They had pretended to be a person who had several  unusual identifications, including being otherkin.

Source )

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Cover image for the magazine.
Trigger warnings: nothing that I can think of.

The Forest Voice, an independent magazine “for those among us who are nonhuman in nature,” has today released its first issue, “Walking Man's Road,” as a free downloadable computer file (PDF) designed to be printed out on letter-size paper. It's listed on ZineLibrary,1 and the file itself is hosted on Mediafire.2

The editor of the magazine, a winged person named Tsu, is accepting art, articles, and other media for the next issue. The submission deadline for the upcoming Spring issue is on 2012-03-01. See this post for details.3

See also this related article, shown earlier on Otherkin News: Last chance to submit articles to zine glamourbomb (2011-11-30).

- O. Scribner

Sources )
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Magazine cover adorned with an old-fashioned illustration of a stag and a unicorn.
Trigger warnings: nothing that I can think of.

The Forest Voice, an independent magazine “for those among us who are nonhuman in nature,” will publish its first issue this winter. The editor, a winged person named Tsu, called for people to submit art and articles of various kinds for in the magazine:

“stories, poetry, art, quotes, essays, glamourbombs, recipes, anything you like. … Anything that blurs fantasy and reality (making it seem like you are writing as a physical nonhuman in this world) is particularly welcome, as I hope this zine will also be a glamourbomb, for people who don’t know about nonhumans.”


Are you interested in seeing your work in this magazine? Send it in, but hurry: submissions for this issue will close on the afternoon of December 1, 2011, after which the editor will begin accepting submissions for the spring issue.

- O. Scribner
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
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Trigger warnings for this article: human mortal remains, animal mortal remains, links to photos of clean skeletons, art made in questionable taste.

Edit: I found some more information, so I've partially re-written a significant part of this article. I've changed the title of this article to reflect the change. The first sources I found indicated that the event in question happened during this year. However, it turned out to have taken place several years ago. I apologize for presenting this as "news."

In 2008, Skulls Unlimited, a supplier of authentic and replica bones of all kinds, artist Bill Willers commissioned a custom skeletal centaur mount by mixing real skeletons of a human and a zebra.1 During that year, Skulls Unlimited displayed a photo of the finished skeleton on the front page of their web-site. (That page also says that the animal portion is a zebra, not a horse.) You can still see the photo in the 2008 archive of the Skulls Unlimited site. It has long since vanished off of their current site.
2

This is not Willers's first synthesized centaur skeleton. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville has long displayed a different centaur skeleton, which cames with a fabricated backstory about the "Centaur Excavations at Volos." (The link includes a photo of it.) It was created not as a hoax, but as a work of fiction in museum format. In the 1980s, Bill Willers assembled the centaur of Volos

"from the tea stained bones of a pony and a deteriorating human skeleton. [...] The human portions of the centaur were acquired by Willers from his department at the University of Wisconsin. For many years the department had a human skeleton from India which had been used for class exercises and was starting to deteriorate."3

So we see that the centaur of Volos is made from real human remains, but those remains came from somebody who did not agree to be turned into a centaur. Was this also the case with the real human remains used in the Skulls Unlimited centaur? I have not been able to find out.

In the case of both the Skulls Unlimited centaur, and the centaur of Volos, the human and animal remains are by themselves authentic. However, the centaur skeleton altogether is artificial. They are "synthetic," in the sense of being a combination of different things to create a new thing. A synthesized centaur skeleton occupies a position between real and unreal. This resembles the status of more common staples of curiosity shops, such as "Fiji mermaids," which are assembled from mummified monkeys and fish, or "jackalopes," stuffed rabbits with antlers added. More examples abound in curiosity shops, ranging in their requirements for skill and questionable taste.

The second and newer centaur, the one assembled by Skulls Unlimited in 2008, is named the centaur of Tymfi.

"In 2009 [sic, this probably refers to the completion of the museum installation, after the skeleton was synthesized], Willers completed an even more ambitious creation: a full-size 'Centaur' skeleton (made from zebra and human bones) mounted in a glass museum case. The marvelous new Centaur of Tymfi is permanently displayed in the Wildlife Museum, Tucson, Arizona."4


The comments on the BoingBoing post about the Skulls Unlimited centaur point out some interesting ideas, regarding problems of centaur anatomy (such as the right-angle bend in the spine, and the placement or duplication of internal organs), and the ethics of using mortal remains in art.5

Wouldn’t it be interesting if someday the real human skeleton used to synthesize a centaur skeleton came from a donor who specifically requested an “afterlife” as a centaur? We do not have the means to physically transform living people into fantasy creatures, but we do have the means to reshape mortal remains.

Spot illustration drawn by Orion Sandstorrm. Depicts a centaur reading a newspaper.


Sources )
frameacloud: A stylized green dragon person reading a book. (Default)
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Trigger warnings for this article: dead creature, ostensibly. Work-safe.

Earlier this month in Guadalajara, Mexico, unemployed bricklayer Jose Maldonado, 22, claims to have captured a tiny fairy, which he says was alive at the time. He then preserved it in a jar of formaldehyde. He charges admission for people to look at it, and purportedly thousands have done so. His family also sells souvenirs depicting the fairy, and he has been featured on television. Skeptics note that the fairy is identical to a particular two centimeter tall rubber doll, a commonly-sold toy.

Sources )
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings for this article: voluntary surgical body modification, links to web-pages that include photos of the gross stages of the process.

In the past few years, at least five people have had a kind of body modification or cosmetic surgery called “ear pointing” to make their ears have a pointed shape, like an elf.

In October 2007,1 Kimberleigh “Kimmie” R., had her ears pointed by a professional body modification artist, Russ Foxx. They took a couple of weeks to heal, and she posted photos of it in various stages of healing.2 With Kimmie’s permission, her friend “Laminterious” posted some of photos of Kimmie’s ear-pointing on Instructables.com a few months later, with commentary explaining the importance of taking time to decide and do research before getting any kind of body modification.3

Also during the time of October 2007, a website purportedly that of a cosmetic surgeon named Dr. Lajos Nagy claimed that Nagy had performed over a thousand ear-pointings, but Nagy’s site appears to be a hoax.4

In January 2010, Russ Foxx posted before-and-after photos of more ear pointing on at least two unnamed people,5 and put out a request for other people who wanted ear-pointing surgery.6 He hasn’t posted anything about it since then, so I don’t know if he’s done more ear-pointing.

On the seventh of this month, the ABC Good Morning America show talked about ear pointing.7 They showed two more people who’d had ear-pointing: Jordan H., who explains that she contemplated the surgery for eighteen months before having it done, and an unnamed woman with a Mohawk. Both of them had their ears done not by Foxx, but by another body modification artist, Steve H. of Phoenix, Arizona. (If the above video is no longer available, the Daily Mail wrote a summary of some of the key traits of the episode.)8

The commentary provided by ABC includes some exaggerations that could create confusion. They claim that ear-pointing is a craze sweeping the nation, the latest fad popular among the kids.

However, as far as I can see, five adults constitute neither a craze, nor kids. The two ear-pointed people who have publicly talked about their ear-pointing have said that they thought about their decision for over a year before they did it, and that they were well aware of the risks involved. All five of them had their ear-pointing performed by expert body modification artists. The five ear-pointings happened over several years. So long as ear-pointing is not an impulsive choice performed on minors by unskilled people—as ABC was trying to suggest—then I don’t see anything to worry about.

I have not seen any articles where these ear-pointed people openly say that they are otherkin. Surprisingly, despite our unusual self-identifications, extreme body modification seems very rare in our community. Over the years, I’ve seen the topic come up for discussion many times, and I’ve often heard otherkin musing about or making plans for such things, but I’m not aware of a single otherkin who has written publicly about any extreme body modifications they’ve had, including ear-pointing. (That is, not counting tattoos or piercings. Those aren’t rare among otherkin.) I’d like to be proven wrong about this, but I’m also not interested in outing anybody’s private life.

- O. Scribner, 2011-04-08

Sources )
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings for these articles: disillusionment, ghosts. Work-safe.


Unicorn hoax revealed

The Ontario Science Center revealed that it ran a hoax in order to promote its new exhibit on “Mythic Creatures.” The hoax consisted of a video of a white horse posted on YouTube, encouraging people to debate whether it was real. The science center had also created a unicorn sighting hotline before letting people know that it was a publicity prank. Read more about the science center's unicorn hoax and see the video for yourself.


In UK, 755 friendly supernatural entities reported in past 25 years

Rev. Fanthorpe, “one [of] the UK’s leading authorities on the paranormal,” concluded research on the Supernatural Angel Report, having “found that in the past 25 years there have been a staggering 755 official reports [of friendly supernatural sightings] to police and councils in the UK.” These reports are of sightings or interactions with helpful or benign supernatural entities, and the numbers break down like this: “192 sighting of benign entities - ghosts which just appear and vanish without scaring viewers - 127 friendly entities, which smile or wave at people, 104 angelic visions, 99 helpful entities which actively help people who see them, 69 animal spirits, 44 sightings of fairies, 41 visions of saints, 32 of white witches, 24 guardian angels and 23 healing entities. Last month it was revealed in a study by the same organisation that there had been 227 ‘evil’ paranormal reports in the past 12 months in the UK.” It's a pleasant surprise to hear that pleasant ones are several times more frequent than malevolent ones.

- O. Scribner

Sources )

frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings for this article: none that I can think of. Work-safe.


Note: I found out about a dragon-related seasonal event that I’d never heard of before. I wrote this article last year, but the research took so long that I couldn’t post it in time for that October. I decided to wait until this October to post it. Another thing… despite all the tourism this event attracts, I couldn’t find any satisfactory photos or drawings of it anywhere! So I drew it based on the descriptions.

Every year around this time, on the last night of Buddhist Lent, hundreds of glowing fireballs float up from part of the Mekong River in Thailand. According to legend, these are the fiery breath of the Naga, the supernatural serpents who live underwater. In mythology, the Naga are shape-shifters who have much wealth and magic. Stories about the Naga influenced the development of stories about dragons in Chinese mythology. Other explanations for the fireballs are being sought, but so far, the event’s cause is still a mystery. 

The fireballs happen yearly, and they have done so for over a century, which is confirmed by the writings of contemporary monks.1

Location: Along a 100-kilometer stretch of the Mekong River, near the ancient Wat Paa Luang temple and the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, in the Nong Khai province in the Issan region of Thailand.2 Sometimes, the fireballs appear simultaneously in ponds in a neighboring province, where they had various colors: red, yellow, and green.3 “[S]cientists found that 90 percent of the fireballs appear near the confluence of the Mekong River and estuaries of secondary streams, while ten percent of the fireballs appear at inland water ponds.”4

The fireballs are called bung fai paya nak (Naga fireballs) because the locals believe that the fireballs are breathed out by supernatural water-serpents called Nagas. Because the fireballs coincide with the end of Buddhist Lent, it’s thought that the Nagas are celebrating the return of Buddha from heaven.5

The fireballs happen like this: they are luminous orbs, usually red or pink in color. One by one, they float above the water, moving straight up into the air, and then disappear high up. The fireballs are silent, odorless, and leave no debris; they range in size from grapefruits to basketballs.6 They appear on the last night of Buddhist Lent in October, on the full moon of the 11th lunar month.7 The fireballs appear again in May.8 They begin to appear starting at 6 pm.9 There are usually hundreds of them. In 2002, “at least 1,000 balls of light were spotted despite clouds and rain.”10 In 2007, there were only 67 fireballs in total, the majority of which were in the Ratana Wapi sub-district.11 Read more... )

frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings for this article: description of trolling, harassment, hoaxes. Work-safe.

After James Cameron’s film Avatar came out, there was a sudden appearance of people saying they are otherkin who identify as Na’vi in spirit.  It’s difficult to tell which of the people involved sincerely believe what they say, or whether they’re just playing a prank to see what might be stirred up.

            The first mention of Na’vi otherkin appears to have been on the first of the month, in the thread “Hello, Na’vi Otherkin here” on the Otherkin.com forum.1  The newcomer, with the user-name Tirea Na’vi, mentioned having formerly identified as an elf with a tail.  Some of the reactions from the regulars were incredulous or hostile.  It made for a long thread, but I’d recommend reading it. It has some intelligent discussion about the issues that were being raised, which are better read in full than summarized.  There was also some ordinary flaming, common to most Internet forums.  Less than a week after the thread began, Tirea Na’vi was banned from that forum, along with a few other thread participants.2  

Also on the first of the month, Tirea Na’vi had created a Twitter account, a personal blog, and a community for Na’vi otherkin on Livejournal.com.  New Year’s Day was busy.  All of these sites have been quite active throughout January.

On the sixteenth, a blog was started that called itself the Na’vi Anti-Defamation League, which was ostensibly a defense of Na’vi otherkin, going over the top.  That blog admitted itself to be a prank on the eighteenth.3  

There has continued to be much discussion about Na’vi otherkin in various forums and blogs, including on sites that don’t ordinarily talk about otherkin.  

Identifying with fictional beings has been a controversial subject among otherkin for years.  When “fiction-kin” enter an otherkin forum, an unfriendly or mixed reaction to them is not unusual.  In the otherkin communities, the presence of Na’vi otherkin (whether sincere or not) has brought a few questions to the forefront of the conversations, especially this:  If we can accept identifying as creatures from myth, legend, and folktale, can we also accept people who identify with creatures or characters from fiction?  This isn’t a new question to the otherkin community, but it’s worthwhile for each of us to consider and come to their own opinion.

- O. Scribner

Sources )

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