QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded

Clothing that kills


Sometime in the last year I watched Slaxx. I thought I wrote about it at the time somewhere, but I don't find it in my blog here, archives of Usenet posts, or archives of forum posts. More recently I watched In Fabric. Both movies feature an article of clothing that is cursed and kills the people who wear it. That's probably about where the similarities end, but I couldn't stop making mental comparisons to Slaxx while watching In Fabric.

Slaxx at imdb (2020 Canadian comedy horror)
In Fabric at imdb (2018 British horror comedy)

Slaxx is an obvious low budget production for younger audiences that like horror. There's a nightmarish retail store and the staff in it are the first victims of a pair of unisex trousers that look good but also thirst for blood. In this movie you can see a puppet pair of jeans dance to a Bollywood music tune.

In Fabric is an arty piece where a shop with low budget 1980s comercials lures people in to sell a very red size 36 dress that seems to fit anyone who tries it on, but they all end up dead shortly thereafter. In this movie you will see a mannequin with pubic hair and a bleeding gash.

There's probably no cast in Slaxx that you've heard of, while In Fabric has a number of people who have done things, even if they aren't huge stars. Gwendoline "Brienne of Tarth" Christie makes an appearance, does not wear the dress, but is near it and survives an attack.

The source of the curse is very clearly explained in Slaxx and it follows typical horror curse logic right at home in, say, Chucky (Child's Play). Slaxx also has as much psychological horror from the retail working conditions as it has threats to humans by the bloodthirsty pants. This aspect gives me a good idea of the target audience.

The source of the curse In Fabric is not clearly explained, and follows the hinted at horrors I associate with A24 Films, like say Heriditary. (I don't think A24 had anything to do with this, and this is further towards the "art house" end of the film spectrum than their works.) Everyone working at the store that sells the dress is supremely odd and you get the impression that the killer dress serves them in some sort of black magic sex way.

Slaxx overall rating of one Instagram influencer out of four. (Or two out of four if cheesey horror is your cheese.)

In Fabric: four hellish sewing machines out of eight. (Five or more if mannequins are your fetish. In that case, see also The Duke of Burgundy by the same director, which is much more erotic but the mannequins are more minor characters.)

Note to Self


In the communication tool Slack (app and web versions of a modern IRC type system), one can send direct messages to people or bot accounts, and also send direct messages to oneself.

Slack bills the direct messages to self as "Jot something down" and it has a little bit of use as a notepad for remembering something. Originally I mostly used it for testing formatting of messages, after which I could cut and paste a proof-read and correctly formatted message to another place.

But recently I have found that the most useful thing I get out of direct messages to myself is very fast transmission of short messages to other devices. In particular it is a great way to send a link privately from one computer to another when both sit on the same desk but on different VPNs. It's faster than email by a long shot, and faster (but perhaps because I am already logged in on both systems) than many other web storage methods, like Github Gist or similar.

For space reasons, I've found that some links are best "code" quoted using backticks like one would for inline preformatted text in markdown. Those links are clickable but do not expand with a preview pane.

Speaking of "clickable links", there's a new Unicode Toy now, the Interleave Whitespace tool. My initial use case was "easily adding zero width spaces (zws) to things to break automatic linkage. After some thought, I decided to generalize it to adding and removing whitespace. Stripping zero width characters from text is hard to do manually, and normalizing whitespace that can include non-breaking spaces, zero width spaces, special sized spaces like hair space or em quad, is marginally difficult and very tricky if you are working with just a few words for a Slack message or Tweet.

Unicode Sponsorship


Inspired by someone else's tale of "adopting" a Unicode character, I looked at the "adoption" form yesterday and decided that I could easily afford the low-end "bronze" level for U+2417 SYMBOL FOR END OF TRANSMISSION BLOCK, the icon for ASCII character 0x17 END OF TRANSMISSION BLOCK, commonly called ETB. The shared initials with "Eli the Bearded" attracted me to those pair of characters, one of which has a symbol that shows those initials.

I've had a fondness for Unicode in general for years which is how I ended up writing my Unicode Toys, first the grep tool to explore the characters and see them, then show tool to identify characters found in the wild, and after that the rest of them. The convert tool is the one that has attracted the most attention. It does real and toy shifts of characters to other parts of Unicode.

I have mixed feelings about that one. The converter is a fun toy, but also sadly somewhat overused. Because the characters have meanings besides their appearance, using them for for their appearance alone ends up being a huge accessibility barrier. The only conversions I use on a regular basis are the the fraction maker to access the super and subscripts and vulgar fractions plus the Braille converter.

I see Braille on-screen as quite ironic: non-raised dots that are only accessible to the sighted, but are quite unreadable to the sighted. The doubly unaccessible nature of that quite tickles me.