Absurdly Profound or Profoundly Absurd

My musings on meaningful matters and mischievous mechanisms.

Find here: Art, writing and other creative resources. Life philosophy and positive self worth. Craziness and fandorking galore. My other blogging topics vary, see my Tags Directory linked above for specifics. I probably like coffee, Transformers and Dragon Age a little too much.

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Posts tagged "gender binary"
catrobotorama:

nellasaur:

catrobotorama:

nellasaur:


“The people who say that Cybertronians don’t have genders, are just trying to justify their yaoi love. I mean, seriously. The female characters, such as Arcee and Elita-1, are referred to by the others as ‘she’ and ‘her.’ Besides, Look at TFP Arcee. She has curves and boobs that only a girl could have. And if they had no genders, the females wouldn’t sound so girly either. now, can we just drop this whole dumb debate? It only starts fights.”



Allow me to offer a resounding YES to all of this, especially the very last line. I don’t have nearly the education I need to point out just how constructed modern concepts like gender and sexuality are, so thank you for stepping up with some examples.
And to add a little bit more on fridging… I certainly didn’t mean to gloss over it and how problematic it is in my initial response, whoops. I guess I have a tendency to skate right by fridging as a problem in TF canon because I’m so used to the sex/gender debate being only tangentially related to shipping. Then again, I suppose a lot of the debate is generated by people who either want to defend their het ships/the sancitified masculinity of their favorite male characters, or possibly by people who want to preserve the exoticized titillation of their zomg yaoi/slash pairings? Hm. I guess I’m so used to coming at this from the “canon is fundamentally problemtic re: sexism and I want to fix it metatextually” angle that I forget that people might have other, entirely in-universe stakes in the debate.
Regardless, I definitely can’t deny that the fridging of female characters is a problem in TF fandom just like in other fandoms, if possibly a less prevalent one if only because of the utter dearth of female characters. But hell, you could argue that canon itself fridged Mikaela in DotM with its “she was a total bitch and a pussy who couldn’t handle the manly life and adventures of Sam and the Autobots” bullshit, and it really doesn’t get more blatant than that, huh?

Cutting my own blahbity blah.
Oh Fridging is a secondary issue: that’s when canon acknowledges that females exist, but fanon refuses to.  If that were OP’s gripe, I’d be in agreement.It’s especially upsetting when the fridging is done by women who claim to follow left wing politics and feminist agendas.  
And oh Mikaela got such a raw deal, though honestly I was so disappointed with what they’d turned her into in ROTF that getting rid of her in DOTM was almost a mercy.  I don’t mind fanservice eyecandy females (*cough cough* Verity) but I do mind when they’re not allowed to kick ass or contribute anything to the narrative.
But Bay’s raging misogyny doesn’t justify fans doing the same. Not all canon’s misogynistic: Mowry’s Arcee is great, and Roche’s Verity is fantastic.  It’s a sign of hope, but also sad that fandom does…nearly nothing with these characters. 
BACK ON TOPIC, kinda. :P
I am old, so I grew up with the ‘universal he’ as a grammatical construct. So we’d say, and I still slip and say it ‘every student will hand in HIS paper’, regardless of the gender of the students (you see this grammatically in French as well: if you have a bunch of people, even if only ONE of them is male, the ‘they’ you use is ‘ils’ not ‘elles’).  And as a little kid watching G1, I remembered it being cool that they were also, in a sense, genderless, or at least pre-gender. 
I still view them as pre-gender, honestly. It’s why I resist the ‘yaoi’ label, and view them as monogendered (which is why I cling to IDW with prehensile toes), something that defies our notion of gender, but that we still, out of our limitation and ignorance, keep trying to shove into our binary model.  Many fandom authors  (including you and me) have written multiple genders: I think I came up with 8 for Bayverse?  with the idea being gender meant *function* and not just who was curvy and who was boxy. 
Because, after all, Strika. :D

And as someone pointed out, in sheer moobage, Prowl and Jazz have Arcee beat in ANY continuity XD 

So many excellent points here, and I can’t comment on them as thoroughly as I’d like given my current situation so Imhope both you ladies are still interested when I can get to a real computer. This conversation is particularly timely because I’ve been thinking a lot about how to address other femme type frames or fem genders in IDW ‘verse and the idea that Arcee’s procedure might become an avaliable upgrade/frame reformat for a willing mech.

And to the OP… “Yaoi” is a very specific cultural media genre, NOT a sexual orientation. It’s not synonymous with “gay/gay sex” or even “slash” and it drives me crazy the way people use it in that fashion. It also makes very little sense that people who want to validate gay relationships would also want to invalidate gender, aka, the ‘maleness’ of those characters. Perhaps this confession needs to undergo some semantic triage?

catrobotorama:

nellasaur:

catrobotorama:

nellasaur:

“The people who say that Cybertronians don’t have genders, are just trying to justify their yaoi love. I mean, seriously. The female characters, such as Arcee and Elita-1, are referred to by the others as ‘she’ and ‘her.’ Besides, Look at TFP Arcee. She has curves and boobs that only a girl could have. And if they had no genders, the females wouldn’t sound so girly either. now, can we just drop this whole dumb debate? It only starts fights.”

Allow me to offer a resounding YES to all of this, especially the very last line. I don’t have nearly the education I need to point out just how constructed modern concepts like gender and sexuality are, so thank you for stepping up with some examples.

And to add a little bit more on fridging… I certainly didn’t mean to gloss over it and how problematic it is in my initial response, whoops. I guess I have a tendency to skate right by fridging as a problem in TF canon because I’m so used to the sex/gender debate being only tangentially related to shipping. Then again, I suppose a lot of the debate is generated by people who either want to defend their het ships/the sancitified masculinity of their favorite male characters, or possibly by people who want to preserve the exoticized titillation of their zomg yaoi/slash pairings? Hm. I guess I’m so used to coming at this from the “canon is fundamentally problemtic re: sexism and I want to fix it metatextually” angle that I forget that people might have other, entirely in-universe stakes in the debate.

Regardless, I definitely can’t deny that the fridging of female characters is a problem in TF fandom just like in other fandoms, if possibly a less prevalent one if only because of the utter dearth of female characters. But hell, you could argue that canon itself fridged Mikaela in DotM with its “she was a total bitch and a pussy who couldn’t handle the manly life and adventures of Sam and the Autobots” bullshit, and it really doesn’t get more blatant than that, huh?

Cutting my own blahbity blah.

Oh Fridging is a secondary issue: that’s when canon acknowledges that females exist, but fanon refuses to.  If that were OP’s gripe, I’d be in agreement.It’s especially upsetting when the fridging is done by women who claim to follow left wing politics and feminist agendas. 

And oh Mikaela got such a raw deal, though honestly I was so disappointed with what they’d turned her into in ROTF that getting rid of her in DOTM was almost a mercy.  I don’t mind fanservice eyecandy females (*cough cough* Verity) but I do mind when they’re not allowed to kick ass or contribute anything to the narrative.

But Bay’s raging misogyny doesn’t justify fans doing the same. Not all canon’s misogynistic: Mowry’s Arcee is great, and Roche’s Verity is fantastic.  It’s a sign of hope, but also sad that fandom does…nearly nothing with these characters.


BACK ON TOPIC, kinda. :P

I am old, so I grew up with the ‘universal he’ as a grammatical construct. So we’d say, and I still slip and say it ‘every student will hand in HIS paper’, regardless of the gender of the students (you see this grammatically in French as well: if you have a bunch of people, even if only ONE of them is male, the ‘they’ you use is ‘ils’ not ‘elles’).  And as a little kid watching G1, I remembered it being cool that they were also, in a sense, genderless, or at least pre-gender. 

I still view them as pre-gender, honestly. It’s why I resist the ‘yaoi’ label, and view them as monogendered (which is why I cling to IDW with prehensile toes), something that defies our notion of gender, but that we still, out of our limitation and ignorance, keep trying to shove into our binary model.  Many fandom authors  (including you and me) have written multiple genders: I think I came up with 8 for Bayverse?  with the idea being gender meant *function* and not just who was curvy and who was boxy. 

Because, after all, Strika. :D

And as someone pointed out, in sheer moobage, Prowl and Jazz have Arcee beat in ANY continuity XD

So many excellent points here, and I can’t comment on them as thoroughly as I’d like given my current situation so Imhope both you ladies are still interested when I can get to a real computer. This conversation is particularly timely because I’ve been thinking a lot about how to address other femme type frames or fem genders in IDW ‘verse and the idea that Arcee’s procedure might become an avaliable upgrade/frame reformat for a willing mech.

And to the OP… “Yaoi” is a very specific cultural media genre, NOT a sexual orientation. It’s not synonymous with “gay/gay sex” or even “slash” and it drives me crazy the way people use it in that fashion. It also makes very little sense that people who want to validate gay relationships would also want to invalidate gender, aka, the ‘maleness’ of those characters. Perhaps this confession needs to undergo some semantic triage?

(via sentimental-mercenary)

driftsmybitch:

axelait:

driftsmybitch:

unfortunately for Anon… “Mech” in Transformers femdom reffers to “male” looking mechanoids while the term “femme” or “femmebot” is used to reffer to “female” looking mechanoids. So the debate can go on as much as anyone pleases while these two terms exist.
Then again as I usually say, they’re gender-neutral. It’s only a matter of chassis design. :3

they are robots why they need a Gender?

Exactly. I still don’t get the whole male/female debate. If I’m not wrong, Hasbro started to include “women” in an attempt to not make the franchise seem too sexist by alienating them. Looks like it all became a chaos when they said Optimus had a girlfriend and we, fans, began to pair characters and give them “love interests”. Not that the creators, writers or authors care about that. Given as how little we’ve seen regarding romance in canon.
I just hope they could come up with a final solution in canon (Hopefully one that doesn’t include gender and possible pregnancy x.x)

They don’t “need” a gender so much as some people want them to have it. I want more strong female characters period. And since Hasbro went and established a precedence with a few femme mechs then frankly I feel justified in my want. 
It’s just been handled so very poorly, but I could go on about that for days…
I’ve also blogged extensively about the difference between physical/reproductive and sociological gender, the latter of which there is no reason why Cybertronians could not have. 
And I actually use “mech” as synonymous with “person” and use it for both genders in my fanon. “Femme” is more a frame or model type for me than a gender, and not all feminine characters have to fit that frame type, (Arcee, Elita-1, etc). 
I also wholeheartedly support mechs with all the same interfacing equipment. If you’ve going to give them equipment in the first place, there is literally no reason to make them different. >_<

driftsmybitch:

axelait:

driftsmybitch:

unfortunately for Anon… “Mech” in Transformers femdom reffers to “male” looking mechanoids while the term “femme” or “femmebot” is used to reffer to “female” looking mechanoids. So the debate can go on as much as anyone pleases while these two terms exist.

Then again as I usually say, they’re gender-neutral. It’s only a matter of chassis design. :3

they are robots why they need a Gender?

Exactly. I still don’t get the whole male/female debate. If I’m not wrong, Hasbro started to include “women” in an attempt to not make the franchise seem too sexist by alienating them. Looks like it all became a chaos when they said Optimus had a girlfriend and we, fans, began to pair characters and give them “love interests”. Not that the creators, writers or authors care about that. Given as how little we’ve seen regarding romance in canon.

I just hope they could come up with a final solution in canon (Hopefully one that doesn’t include gender and possible pregnancy x.x)

They don’t “need” a gender so much as some people want them to have it. I want more strong female characters period. And since Hasbro went and established a precedence with a few femme mechs then frankly I feel justified in my want. 

It’s just been handled so very poorly, but I could go on about that for days…

I’ve also blogged extensively about the difference between physical/reproductive and sociological gender, the latter of which there is no reason why Cybertronians could not have. 

And I actually use “mech” as synonymous with “person” and use it for both genders in my fanon. “Femme” is more a frame or model type for me than a gender, and not all feminine characters have to fit that frame type, (Arcee, Elita-1, etc). 

I also wholeheartedly support mechs with all the same interfacing equipment. If you’ve going to give them equipment in the first place, there is literally no reason to make them different. >_<

(via the-wardens-vermin)

nellasaur:

xarratha:

nellasaur:


“Why are femmes even important? They’re machines, they shouldn’t HAVE genders FORCED onto them.”

Yeah pretty much this.  It seems so self-evident to me that Cybertronians don’t have an intrinsic gender—or if they do it’s not qualified in a way that human gender is— that I mentally stumble when I come across people who treat them like they do.

Crap, accidentally deleted what I was saying. Okay… shorter this time.
I agree with OP, we shouldn’t force gender on them. Gender is societal, and Cybertronians undoubtedly have a rather different society than we do. The problem with this is: humans write the show, humans watch the show, and humans INTERPRET the show in terms of human experience. Argh, wording. Anyways, the point is that you can’t sidestep an issue by pretending it’s not there. The Cybertronians are written to have primarily masculine traits and most respond to masculine pronouns. Theoretically, a genderless species would seem either a mixture of masculine and feminine to us, or else seem so completely alien that “he” and “she” don’t apply. Ack, sidetracked again.
The point: humans are writing the show with genderless MASCULINE robots, reinforcing the flawed idea that masculinity is the default and feminity is the aberration. Argh wording. But… here, let me point you to someone who said it better: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/05/24/male-as-the-neutral-default/

I promise you, this isn’t really something I need explained to me.  XD
My statement that, within the context of the fiction, it makes no sense for TF characters to be gendered as (predominantly) male in terms of the human gender binary is by no means meant to sidestep the fact that the metatext of the TF franchise of the whole is incredibly problematic when it comes to gender.  As I’ve discussed multiple times, on Tumblr and elsewhere, it’s pretty clear that Hasbro and many of the creators still consider Transformers a boy’s club— females are marginalized as characters and generally ignored as fans.  We ladies are not reflected well in TF fiction, partly because Hasbro continues to insist that TF is made by boys for boys.  The way that TF fiction reinforces maleness/stereotyped masculinity as the norm and femaleness/stereotyped femininity as the (inferior) exception via the Cybertronian characters identifying primarily as males is only one symptom of a much bigger illness.
In fact, I would argue that it’s misleading to say that TF is about genderless robots at all.  It’s very, very obvious that it’s about boy robots doing boy things with boy humans (and occasional females thrown into the mix as tokens).  Hasbro as a rule tends to sidestep the issue of either physical sexes or genders in Transformers as a species, and when they do address it, it’s often very glib (the “built to appease human feminists” origin for Arcee in the Marvel comics or the “it’s just a model type” word-of-god for Aligned continuity) or downright problematic (the “genderfucked against his will by Jhiaxus” origin for Arcee in the IDW comics).
Personally, I think it’s totally possible for human writers to produce human-interpreted fiction presented to a human audience and still write the Cybertronians as genderless (or possessing of a non-human gender system).  The fact that it doesn’t happen in TF is, frankly, because TF is lazy sci-fi from an internal consistency/wordbuilding perspective, not because it can’t or shouldn’t be done.   Hasbro is toeing the line by characterizing their TFs firmly within the lines of the stereotypical Western/European gender binary, and making their Cybertronians primarily male is pandering to their perception of their primary audience.
If Hasbro was willing to take a risk, or let its writers take a risk— or hell, let its writers write some real goddamn sci-fi— I daresay we might see a Cybertronian species where the aliens are actually alien and not just people in giant robot suits who sometimes talk using a peculiar lexicon of robotty terms.  It could be done in a way that’s totally comprehensible to its audience, and if a particularly deft hand were allowed to do it, it could also be done in a way that illuminates and challenges the gender hegemony instead of playing along with it.
Wouldn’t that be cool?

It&#8217;s a beautiful dream. ;______;
And yup, boy stuff sells better. Parents don&#8217;t want to explain non-binary genders to their kids. I&#8217;ll just be sobbing in my corner again.
Honestly though, the comics at least are targeted at older audiences who could explore exactly what you describe. Yet in a lot ways the writing seems worse in places. Arg. It&#8217;s such a missed opportunity. I just want to find someone and SHAKE THEM until their head pops off&#8230; X\ Though I suppose that would be counter productive.
I wonder&#8230; if we wanted to make notions and feelings like this known, who would we turn to?

nellasaur:

xarratha:

nellasaur:

“Why are femmes even important? They’re machines, they shouldn’t HAVE genders FORCED onto them.”

Yeah pretty much this. It seems so self-evident to me that Cybertronians don’t have an intrinsic gender—or if they do it’s not qualified in a way that human gender is— that I mentally stumble when I come across people who treat them like they do.

Crap, accidentally deleted what I was saying. Okay… shorter this time.

I agree with OP, we shouldn’t force gender on them. Gender is societal, and Cybertronians undoubtedly have a rather different society than we do. The problem with this is: humans write the show, humans watch the show, and humans INTERPRET the show in terms of human experience. Argh, wording. Anyways, the point is that you can’t sidestep an issue by pretending it’s not there. The Cybertronians are written to have primarily masculine traits and most respond to masculine pronouns. Theoretically, a genderless species would seem either a mixture of masculine and feminine to us, or else seem so completely alien that “he” and “she” don’t apply. Ack, sidetracked again.

The point: humans are writing the show with genderless MASCULINE robots, reinforcing the flawed idea that masculinity is the default and feminity is the aberration. Argh wording. But… here, let me point you to someone who said it better: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/05/24/male-as-the-neutral-default/

I promise you, this isn’t really something I need explained to me. XD

My statement that, within the context of the fiction, it makes no sense for TF characters to be gendered as (predominantly) male in terms of the human gender binary is by no means meant to sidestep the fact that the metatext of the TF franchise of the whole is incredibly problematic when it comes to gender. As I’ve discussed multiple times, on Tumblr and elsewhere, it’s pretty clear that Hasbro and many of the creators still consider Transformers a boy’s club— females are marginalized as characters and generally ignored as fans. We ladies are not reflected well in TF fiction, partly because Hasbro continues to insist that TF is made by boys for boys. The way that TF fiction reinforces maleness/stereotyped masculinity as the norm and femaleness/stereotyped femininity as the (inferior) exception via the Cybertronian characters identifying primarily as males is only one symptom of a much bigger illness.

In fact, I would argue that it’s misleading to say that TF is about genderless robots at all. It’s very, very obvious that it’s about boy robots doing boy things with boy humans (and occasional females thrown into the mix as tokens). Hasbro as a rule tends to sidestep the issue of either physical sexes or genders in Transformers as a species, and when they do address it, it’s often very glib (the “built to appease human feminists” origin for Arcee in the Marvel comics or the “it’s just a model type” word-of-god for Aligned continuity) or downright problematic (the “genderfucked against his will by Jhiaxus” origin for Arcee in the IDW comics).

Personally, I think it’s totally possible for human writers to produce human-interpreted fiction presented to a human audience and still write the Cybertronians as genderless (or possessing of a non-human gender system). The fact that it doesn’t happen in TF is, frankly, because TF is lazy sci-fi from an internal consistency/wordbuilding perspective, not because it can’t or shouldn’t be done. Hasbro is toeing the line by characterizing their TFs firmly within the lines of the stereotypical Western/European gender binary, and making their Cybertronians primarily male is pandering to their perception of their primary audience.

If Hasbro was willing to take a risk, or let its writers take a risk— or hell, let its writers write some real goddamn sci-fi— I daresay we might see a Cybertronian species where the aliens are actually alien and not just people in giant robot suits who sometimes talk using a peculiar lexicon of robotty terms. It could be done in a way that’s totally comprehensible to its audience, and if a particularly deft hand were allowed to do it, it could also be done in a way that illuminates and challenges the gender hegemony instead of playing along with it.

Wouldn’t that be cool?

It’s a beautiful dream. ;______;

And yup, boy stuff sells better. Parents don’t want to explain non-binary genders to their kids. I’ll just be sobbing in my corner again.

Honestly though, the comics at least are targeted at older audiences who could explore exactly what you describe. Yet in a lot ways the writing seems worse in places. Arg. It’s such a missed opportunity. I just want to find someone and SHAKE THEM until their head pops off… X\ Though I suppose that would be counter productive.

I wonder… if we wanted to make notions and feelings like this known, who would we turn to?

nellasaur:

Photobucket

Ladyofdragons asked me this really wonderful question, which I am answering both publicly and as a text post because both of us would love to see some discussion on this topic.

Because this is a big one, people. How do you write female characters without resorting to stereotypes or cliches?

Read More

Oh, so much wonderful input here and food for thought, thank you! You hit on several of the challenges I’ve come up against and provide some really insightful thoughts I definitely want to keep in mind during my process. I’ve been a lover of story and character development for many, many years, both as audience and craftsperson, but there are always new challenges and things to learn!

I have definitely caught myself falling into the trap of coming dangerously close to making a female character too masculine in the process of avoiding feminine tropes and stereotypes, same as I often flirt with the danger of turning her into a mary sue in the process of trying to make her strong. 

I suppose the key to the latter is making her strong despite her weaknesses (or perhaps because of them), to give her real challenges—ones that are not trivial—to overcome in an effort to portray the source of her strength in context. I think I have a pretty good handle on this (I am a terrible sadist to my characters, I do like breaking them and putting them back together again via story), though it’s always been a challenge to portray a strong character whose weakness are not external or obvious and not have them come off as a mary sue in the initial stages of establishment, before development can kick in.

But I digress! 

Well, it helps to remember that in most cases, it’s not necessarily the cliches themselves that are bad. It is not an intrinsically inferior thing to be emotional, or nurturing, or even to own your own sexuality. It is only when these traits are consistently shown to be inferior, and when women are consistently shown to have only these “inferior” traits, that they become harmful to gender equality here in the real world.

An excellent point. Having other characters in the story validate those traits is a step in the right direction. I realize I’ve used a not uncommon trope of rejecting emotional attachment out of fear of the repercussions in the new OC I’m developing. Even the character herself considers emotional attachment as a negative and unwanted thing. This gave me some momentary concern in light of your feedback, but after some consideration I think it works but only because as it’s one of her primary points of development. As an old war hero (antihero actually) who’s been seasoned by war in some of the worst ways, much of the story is about her learning to live again. Regaining her ‘humanity’, metaphorically speaking.
 
For me, I’ve found the trick is really to just be aware of the metatextual implications of what I’m writing. I try to give my female characters, even secondary and side ones, at least some complexity. I don’t let them be static, or embody only a single stereotypical trait. For minor characters, this can be as simple as picking a “male” trait to pair with a “female” one; for major characters, obviously this process is more involved. It’s important to remember that it’s not the stereotypes themselves that are bad, it’s how you use them and present them in the context of your story.
Bolded the best for reference later! This is a great tactic I shall have to remember.

To that end, it’s just as important to be aware of the way that other characters react to your female character. For example, if I write gentle female character A who doesn’t want to fight, and then write gruff male character B deriding her as weak or useless, well, that’s not intrinsically a bad thing. You don’t want to— nor should you have to— sanitize the opinions of all your characters to be ‘politically correct’. But I always try to make sure to qualify misogynist (or racist or heterosexist or ableist) assertions in the text— to make it clear that even though character B thinks character A is weak, he’s not right. Having another character defend her choices or otherwise making it metatextually clear that character B’s opinion is nothing more than just that, an opinion, is paramount to dodging the stereotypes and writing female characters that are equal to males.
Another fantastic point! I often get torn between portraying what I know to be in-character for different individuals and trying to keep topics somewhat safe/unoffensive.  Often the result is watered-down characterization that is distinctly unsatisfying all around. What you describe seems so very simple I can’t believe I didn’t consider it before.  Again we seem to come back to the validation of those traits as a positive thing, so we can override stereotypes and challenge common/default perceptions.

It’s not easy, and there’s no foolproof way to write “good” female characters, I’m afraid. All you can really do, if it’s important to you to write female characters well, is to be aware. Educate yourself on what portrayals are harmful and why, and how they’re used in a text. Build female characters who are more than just stereotypes and write them into a story that doesn’t minimize or shame them, or paint them as plot objects instead of plot participants. Be aware of the harmful attitudes in your characters and be careful that your metatext doesn’t turn those individual harmful attitudes into a more generally problematic statement. Remember that women make up 50% of the population on Earth— don’t just include one or two female characters because you need a token woman to do womanly things.

Definitely the biggest challenge I find is not being aware of the harmful attitudes but being consistent with that awareness and having a wide enough perspective on how the attitudes interact. It’s the classic artist’s issue where you spend so long looking at a piece you’re working that you stop seeing things that are right in front of you. Often I don’t see mistakes I’ve made until I put the art away and come back to it the next day and see it with fresh eyes.  I’m not sure how you tackle that issue as a writer (which I am distinctly inexperienced at, I’m more accomplished at art, but I can’t tell the stories I want to tell with it—and comics take me too long—so fiction it is) but at the very least that’s what beta readers are for I suppose? It’d be nice to see those mistakes earlier in the process though.

Ahh, damnit, I’m so excited now. I just want to go home and get crazy with this. Silly day job! D: