His name is Fowl. Artemis Fowl.

All that and he’s twelve years old.

Fowl is the evil hero of Eoin Colfer’s series of children’s novels.

I have written before about my overall dislike of the unlikeable protagonist and anti-hero, however I confess I make an exception for Fowl. He is the classic brainy villain that is dangerously simple to romanticize. Sort of a Dr. Evil for the middle school set.

In truth then, I dislike reading about characters who wallow pathetically in their unhappy, unsatisfying lives or crushing ignorance. Both of these problems are best exemplified in my utter loathing of William Faulkner’s writing.

I can enjoy, even relate too, a reprehensible person like Artemis. While he is “differently moralled” to say the least, he is not intentionally cruel. What he does is not always legal or moral, but I can understand someone who goes after what they want with all their resources. Think of the story if Richie Rich or Johnny Quest had sociopathic tendencies.

While I am fond of young Fowl, I see myself in Captain Holly Short. She’s a fairy, one of the “People” who are basically all the mythical creatures that humans don’t realize are real and living underground. Short is a member of the elite law enforcement group LEPrecon. As the first female LEPrecon officer, she has much to prove.

Fowl manages to kidnap Holly and plans to ransom her for gold.

I love how clever this book is with all the mythology and campy humor. Get this: the LEPrecon techie guy is a centaur named Foaly. Punny, very Punny.

There are five novels in this fun series, plus a companion book with two short stories and extras, and a graphic novel adaption. Much thanks to Kate for recommending the book. Now I’m hooked on them.

Originally published October 3, 2007 on my old blog.


Sunday Stealing: The Authentic Meme

1. How long have you been blogging? I started in late 2006 on MySpace, moved to my first domain in 2007 and registered NerdBliss in December 2010.

2. Did you go to college? I look several classes through University of Phoenix Online many years ago, but otherwise, no.

3. Where have you traveled? Throughout much of the contentious United States, three of the Hawaiian Islands and several parts of Canada.

4. Which celebrity do you get mistaken for? I do not strongly resemble any celebrity.

5. What are your three biggest pet peeves? Lack of professionalism, people who project the assumption the world revolves around them and no one else matters, and being treated like I don’t know what I’m doing by someone who has asked for my help. You can’t tell I work with the public from those answers, can you?

6. What is your favorite movie? If I had to pick one (today): Office Space.

7. What is your drink of choice; wine, beer, or liquor. Or Water, Soda, Tea? Of the first set: liquor. Of the second: tea. The only one of the six I’ll always pass on is beer. I’ve yet to find one that’s not icky.

8. What is something you enjoy to do when you have me time? Reading or sewing.

9. What is your biggest phobia? I don’t believe I have any fears which qualify for the strict definition of phobia, however, I do have anxieties and neurosis. The biggest ones all really come down to a fear of loosing what I hold dear or being trapped, physically or in circumstance.

10. Share with us an embarrassing moment of your past?

11. What day would you love to relive again? Why? Any given day during the summer between my seventh and eighth grade years. Those days spent with my best friend Kate in Hawaii were pure gold.

12. If your life was turned into a movie… what actor would your best friend think should play you? Someone pretty, but shorter than the actress playing her. Years ago, I would have said Drew Barrymore, but I don’t know if that’s still a relevant pick.

13. What are the jobs you had in high school/college/the early years? I worked for Payless Shoe from the beginning of my senior year of high school until the week I turned 25.

14. Show us a picture from high school or college. If you insist. I don’t have many, but my friend Amy sent me this one a few years back. I know it was taken the week I graduated high school because Kate had flown out to attend.

15. If you could travel anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go? With all the Doctor Who I’ve been watching lately, I’d love a grand tour of the British Isles.

16. Where do you see your life 6 and 1/2 years from now? Where will I be – assuming my math is correct – the 13th of January 2019? Let’s see. I’ll be 38 years old. Chris and I will feel like we’ve been married forever. We’d have either moved to a house in the Greenville area or moved to Atlanta, but either way, settled in for the long haul. We’ll either have one child and be deciding if a second is in the cards or already had two children. I’ll be busy with family and juggling employment of some sort with creative endeavors, some of which will hopefully be adding to the household income. I might be taking my sweet time earning some sort of college degree, one or two classes at a time, or I might have finally decided what I learn on my own is more than enough education.

17. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be and why? Now isn’t bad. I’m old enough to be generally respected but still young enough to be considered youthful.

18. What 5 songs are included on the soundtrack to your life? (You can pick “Middle School”, “High School”, “College”, “Post College” or any format you like.)
1. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” – A gift from my Uncle Danny on 45 and the first piece of music I ever owned.

2. “You’re My Best Friend” – Queen always deserves recognition, for Kate and because Queen and Kate are intertwined in my life.

3. “When I’m Sixty-Four” – My favorite Beatles song which isn’t nothing and a good representation of my ideal romance.

4. “Who Needs Sleep?” – To represent my late teens, insomnia and sleep apnea along with Barenaked Ladies’ Stunt which I’ve listened to a billion times.

5. Art of the Dress (Trance remix) – For MLP:FiM and learning to push past the frustrations in sewing.

19. Romney picked Paul Ryan to run as his veep. Any thoughts? Nope. I’ve stayed out of political discussions as much as possible for a very long time.

20. Your chance: Pick a meme you’ve done for us to steal. Bud and Judd will visit EVERY post today. Feel free to say, “Bugger off”, or anything like that. How about the Employment Enjoyment Meme?


This post was originally published August 27, 2007 on my old blog. I’ve made some small changes and additions before presenting it here.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, first published in 1943, takes place in the years before the first world war. It is the story of Francie Nolan’s childhood as a poor child in a poor neighborhood. Her mother, Katie Nolen, is a true hard worker struggling to keep food on the table. Her father, Johnny Nolan, is a charming alcoholic singing waiter who everyone loves, but cannot be counted on by the family. Francie has a younger brother, Neeley, who is not as sensitive or smart as she is, but their relationship is mostly good.

I read my mother’s copy for the first time around fifth or sixth grade. While the novel follow Francie well into her adult life, I credit the book with beginning my passion for coming of age stories.

I related to Francie, because books are her best friends, and she doesn’t have an easy time making friends in school. She loves writing, is thoughtful and melancholy. My life might never have been tough life Francie’s, but I still felt like she did inside some of the time.

The other thing that brought me back many times over is the imagery of Betty Smith’s story telling. Everything is so vivid: the people, the places, the ideas. It’s the details that have stuck with me. Little things like Francie’s mom teaching her to order a piece of meat at the butcher shop then ask the butcher to grind it fresh, rather than letting him sell her the inferior pre-ground meat. Yet Katie Nolan also believes in a little bit of waste being good for the soul, so she makes coffee each day for each family member to have a cup. If the children just enjoy the warmth of the cup and the aroma, then so be it. It is their cup to enjoy and pour the rest down the drain if it comes to that.

I do believe that much of my understanding of compassion and human nature came from the books I read. Francie’s family is loving, but imperfect. Hardworking mom Katie can often be just plan hard toward Francie, partly because although she has always loved her husband, she wants Francie to have an easier time in life. She drives her away from boys and frivolity towards education and employment. My favorite of the extended family is Aunt Sissy who has lots of boyfriends and husbands. She’s buxom, passionate and plays with the kids with gusto. She is much frowned on in the neighborhood, and is in no way considered a good lady in that time period. I love her exuberance while knowing I am not a Sissy type of person. I worry about the consequences of my actions and endeavor not to make the same mistakes twice more like Katie. Of course, as a kid, I could only see myself in Francie, but that is the beauty of reading the same book throughout a lifetime.

Does anyone else have a favorite coming of age novel they’ve loved forever?


The Queen’s Meme: All Over the Place

1. Pretend you are making a passion quilt. What would be on the center square? If not the Enterprise, the whole quilt would be book spines featuring my favorite novels.

2. One of those traffic cameras catches you running a red light and you get a ticket in the mail. What else did the camera catch inside your vehicle that you might not want everyone to see? Empty Starbucks cups on the floor.

3. When is the last time you had to cancel plans? I’m in the process of canceling plans for Dragon*Con 2012, but still squarely in the denial phase of mourning. It’s Labor Day weekend and I haven’t been able to set even a single day off approved.

4. What is your favorite magazine? National Geographic. I haven’t had a subscription since my early teens, but it’s the only magazine besides Highlights for Children for which I have nostalgic longings.

5. What is the riskiest thing you have ever done? Moving to South Carolina without ever having set foot in the state with a year lease on an apartment. Nearly two years later, I can safely say my risk paid off in all sorts of ways I never could have predicted.

6. Have you ever worked in an office with someone who drove you crazy? What did they do and how did you handle it? Yes. The type of stuff that drives me crazy is usually one end of the spectrum or the other. Blatant lack of professionalism drives me crazy. Swearing, dressing nice for the club or stealing co-worker’s lunches out of the break room fridge. Not cool people. Act like a grown-up. Just as annoying, however, as I find unprofessional people, I can’t standing being micromanaged or people who get all uptight about pointless details. The bottom line of what I have to do to satisfy the client(s) and keep my boss from being annoyed with me is pretty much all I want to hear about, then leave me be to do my job. The example I can give of this is an old team lead of mine. I worked in a third party call center for a telecommunications company. Sometimes accounts would require credits for various reasons and we agents would fill out paper tickets with all the information for a team lead to review. This guy would come back hours or days later to let me know about my tickets, explaining in great detail, why he elected to approve or decline the credit. It was not in the form of coaching, but a follow up on my request. Now, to those who have never worked in a call center, it sounds rather nice to hear back on an issue you’re working. But, in a call center for a national company, you’re never going to see the account again and if you do, you can read the notes. I would have taken dozens or hundreds of other calls since I wrote out the ticket. Bless his heart (as they say here in the South), I never found a diplomatic way to say, “Once the call disconnects, I don’t care. Note the account with what you did to cover both our butts and forget about it.” I don’t know how people who sweat every transaction and maintain their sanity, but I know it doesn’t help anything.

7. What is the weirdest or most unusual thing you’ve ever done in an elevator? I once took a picture of a Wookie with a disassembled robot on his back in an packed to the brim elevator.


I love Amazon.

Since I got my Kindle for Christmas, I’ve spent more time shopping on Amazon and ordered more items from them than ever before. Note, I did not say I’ve spent more money with them than before. After Christmases 2011 and 2012 alone, I can safely say my book downloading hasn’t yet come close to my physical orders in cost.

I am, rather, as thrifty in my ebook habits as I ever was in acquiring physical books. Used books, hand-me-downs and, occasionally, PaperBackSwap were the main ways I grew my paper library. For Kindle, it’s Pixel of Ink for scoops on free books on Amazon and Project Gutenberg for all kinds of classics, plus Kindle Daily Deals and other promotions. I’ll buy a book at list price if it’s really important, but I begrudge anything over $10 as publishers hanging onto the last bit of extra cash they can garner before the market corrects for the fact the physical product costs more to produce and deliver. I am all about writers, editors and (please hire one, people) copy editors getting paid. Even in the digital age, marketing a major author takes some cash. I’m not cool with seeing the Kindle edition go for the same as the paperback. There are millions of books in the world and I’m happy to find one within my price range.

While I am still not spending much on books, in many ways, Amazon’s features and business practices have changed my reading experience.

The Daily Deal is certainly the most obvious change. Each night around 3 am Eastern Standard, an extremely good deal goes live for 24-hours. I pride myself on being thrifty, but not cheap, so I try to look at the one day only specials Amazon posts with a critical, but not too critical eye.

A few titles, I’ve pounced on without a second thought. I’d seen How We Decidereviewed at some point, likely on Slate. I bought Matched based on the recommendation from a book blog and because I love dystopian stories. Neverwhere because Neil Gaiman is wonderful and weird. As I already explained why How to Read Literature Like a Professor was too tempting to resist.

Up until recently, I didn’t check out the Daily Deal every day. My change in schedule has made it more a part of my routine. I get off work at the same time the deal goes live and find myself pulling up the page on my phone in the elevator on the way out of the office. Since the prices typically range from $1.99 to $3.99, I’m pretty comfortable going ahead with as many as are worthwhile especially since I am often disappointed with the offering. Dog the Bounty Hunter’s memoir somehow isn’t my idea of compelling literature.

The nights when I instantly nix the title are the easiest. Most often, as the old saying goes, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Since my taste in books runs broad, the tiny blurb on the Kindle store page is seldom enough to rule out the deal. Next, I read the summary to establish wither I’m interested in the slightest. I can’t explain the factors which get me past this point, except to say most books make it to the next stage: I download a sample, usually the first chapter and a half, to my Kindle for inspection.

Sampling is one of my favorite things about using Kindle. It is a million times better then standing the the bookstore, reading the back cover and making a rush decision. Maybe if I’d had the luxury of hanging around Barnes & Noble for an hour whenever I wanted, I wouldn’t be so enamored, but for me starting a book before making a financial commitment has been a revolution. Plus, rather than keeping a wish list of books I want to remember to buy down the road, I simply download the sample.

With the Daily Deals or, my new discovery, $3.99 and under monthly specials, I prioritize sample reading and decision making for those titles. Naturally, I don’t want to discover after the price has returned to normal that I must finish the book. Some would mention the Kindle lending library, but it only offers one book a month which is nice but not enough to keep me in reading material.

The Daily Deal, even downloaded as early as 3:02 am, causes the most pressure. I find myself looking at these works far more harshly than I would if, say, I checked them out of the library on a whim. Rather than letting the story roll over me, I look for things which would drive me to stop reading: Characters who seem annoying or unrealistic, historical inconsistencies or plot holes. If I am to invest both my precious reading time and my hard earned $1.99 in a book, I don’t want to put it down unfinished.

In a book offered at regular price, the effect is not so drastic. I can safely say, I won’t buy it unless it was pretty much a sure thing before I read the sample. Take Scali’s Redshirts. Even at $11.99, I happily pressed “buy it now” because I knew I would love every moment and was unwilling to wait for the price to drop and considered it more of an early adopter tax.

I am sad to say, I have given free books – paper and digital – far more of my time than I should on many occasions in an effort to given them a fair shake. Maybe it is better that I am so terribly critical of these early chapters. I feel a strange near-guilt over cutting books I find unworthy. Worse, it seems arbitrary and unscientific as I can sometimes say why I didn’t buy a book, but I can hardly ever name the reason I say yes without an honorable recommendation or a known author. What if I was wrong to buy On Bear Mountain and not to buy Garden of Lies, nixed because I felt it unrealistic to have a wealthy 1940s American woman out shopping by herself in the final weeks of her pregnancy. Since the entire plot hinged on it, I could hardly continue. If I was wrong, I may never know, but I may read a glowing review in the coming weeks and regret my decision.

Likely it is better, this new vetting process. While my fondest wish may be to get to all the wonderful books, I must face my time is limited and read accordingly. Still, it feels strange to scrutinize so in the early pages of a book I wonder if I’ll ever feel it normal.

Now, excuse me, it’s nearly time to pull up Amazon and hit refresh until the Daily Deal posts.


Sunday Stealing: The Too Tired to Think Meme, Part 2

26. What type of errands do you like running? I love shopping at Costco. Once you have a routine, it’s fast and pleasant. It’s easy, too, to keep in our primary good eating items for much less than a regular grocery store: Frozen meats and fish, fresh and frozen veggies, and various fruits.

27. Have you ever eaten snow? Not that I remember, but most of my childhood was spent in places where it seldom snows enough to eat snow without also eating grass and dirt.

28. What color are your bedsheets? The current set is Ivory, but their is a pale blue set, too.

29. What’s your favorite flower? Lilacs or Queen Anne’s Lace. Both low maintenance and abundant blooms.

30. Do you do ballet? Like all little girls, I went through a period where I wanted to take ballet. I was around seven years old and in first grade. I would have been awful, but I am in favor of kids and grownups alike trying things at with they naturally stink for the many benefits struggling to learn a new skill brings. Plus, maybe I’d be slightly less awkward if I’d taken a dance or martial arts class.

31. Do you listen to classical music? Does the Animaniacs soundtrack count? Classical music was MADE for cartoons.

32. What is the first TV Theme song that pops in your head? Tossed salads and scrambled eggs:

33. Do you watch Sponge Bob? I have seen a handful of episodes in the company of various children, but I do not like it. I always say, I prefer my “chemically enhanced” style of cartoon to be made for adults like Auqa Teen Hunger Force.

34. What temperature is it outside right now? Hot, but not unbearable is my unscientific assessment. says 85 degrees.

35. Do people consider you smart? Generally, yes. I am well spoken with a large vocabulary and a head for trivia. I’m not sure if that makes me smart, but it does make me seem smart.

36. How many piercing do you have? One in each earlobe, same as I’ve had since I was nine. I rarely wear earrings.

37. Are you signed on [to] AIM? Not since ’99.

38. Have you ever tried gluing your fingers together? Lucky for me, I learned how to separate my fingers for the Vulcan Live Long and Prosper greeting without resorting to adhesives.

39. How do you feel about your family? I love my family. I don’t know most of my relatives very well.

40. Do you have an iPod? Nope. I’ve never owned an Apple product. I started using iTunes a couple years ago to subscribe to podcasts which I sometimes transfer to my Android phone. Not impressed enough to join the Mac culture.

41. What time do you go to bed? These days, bedtime is 5 or 5:30 am.

42. What CD is currently in your CD player? I don’t use a CD player. We have an FM transmitter in the car and I have a few dozen tracks on my phone.

43. What movie do you know every line to? The Princess Bride.

44. What is your favorite salad dressing? French.

45. What do you want for Christmas this year? I never know what I want for Christmas.

46. What family member/friend lives the farthest from you? Where? Gloria lives in Australia. We met through blogging, but have spent enough time chatting and shared serious enough conversations to count as “real” friends.

47. Do you like hugs? When appropriate. I am not typically an “I just met you, let’s hug” person, but I love hugs from friends and family.

48. Last time you had butterflies in your stomach? At the dress rehearsal for our Klingon wedding.

49. What’s the way people most often mispronounce any part of your name? Not exactly a mispronouncing, but I find people often get my first name wrong or shorten it any which way without regard for what I actually am called. My full first name is Christina and my nickname Tina. Most people call me Tina and many are confused when they don’t see a Tina on the roster even though it’s a common shorting. I have even thought about legally changing to Tina to avoid having to explain I’m Christina to people who know me as Tina. Besides not being sure how my mother would feel about it, the fact I’d still have a paper trail of documents under Christina and would have to explain I changed it legally to avoid confusion would be trading one confusion for another. The other thing that happens I get called Chrisy, Cristy, Christine or, the worst, Chris. While those are perfectly fine names, none of them are mine.

50. Last person you hugged? Chris.


I’ve mentioned Ponies in passing here and there on the blog, but today is a day for excited Pinkie Pie. A bit redundant, one could argue, but I would say one should differentiate from scary Pinkie with the straight hair throwing a party for turnips and rocks or Pinkie chasing a pony down for breaking a Pinkie Promise. I never want to experience those first-hand. This GIF makes me smile, smile, smile just like Pinkie wants all her friends to do.

Feel free to bookmark this post, as I plan to do, and come back whenever you need a pink-party-pony-pick-me-up.


Sunday Stealing: The Too Tired to Think Meme, Part 1

1. You have 10 dollars and need to buy snacks at a gas station. What do you get? Sodas and candy bars. Or Hostess Cupcakes and milk if it’s breakfast time.

2. If you were reincarnated as a sea creature, what would you want to be? Dolphin, of course, unless I can be the Humpback whale Spock comes back to the 80s to save in The Voyage Home.

3. Who’s your favorite redhead? Wendy

4. What do you order when you’re at IHOP? With working til 3 am, IHOP is one of the few options available if we decide cooking in the wee hours of the morning just isn’t going to happen. There are a few things I like, but the new Red Velvet pancakes are a requirement. Holy crap, are they amazing?

5. Last book you read? Redshirts by John Scalzi. It was so amazingly good, I’m reading it through again before doing a write up.

6. Describe your mood. A little punchy.

7. Describe the last time you were injured. I burned my… ah… boob self draining pasta a few weeks ago. I’m still healing.

8. Of all your friends, who would you want to be stuck in a well with? Kate, of course, which is convenient since she is the friend with whom it is most likely misadventure would lead to being stuck down a well together. Oh and happy birthday, Kate. Let’s agree you’ll stay twenty-nine and I’ll stay eleven months older than you, okay?

9. Rock concert or symphony? Rock. Classical music is best when scoring cartoons.

10. What is the wallpaper of your cell phone? The number? (We’ll just say “hi” – promise.) I’ve got animated bubbles floating around on a blue background. It’s one of the default backgrounds, nothing special. My number? Well, it starts 864.

11. Favorite soda?

Depends: cans or bottles Diet Coke, fountain Diet Dr. Pepper. I also prefer my soda room temperature or slightly cool and order with no ice at restaurants.

12. What type of shirt are you wearing? Pale green with white flowers on the front. There are tiny seed beads covering the flowers. I have a lavender one just like it. Target clearance a couple years ago.

13. If you could only use one form of transportation? Transporter.

14. Most recent movie you have watched in theater? The Avengers. Chris and I are planning to see Dark Knight Rises on Monday or Tuesday. The last movie before that was Captain America or possibly Deathly Hallows Part 2 based on the close release dates, but either way, my point stands: there seems to be some sort of pattern I’ve been unable to put my finger on.

15. Name an actor/actress/singer you have had the hots for. Typically, my “hots” are more character driven than actor driven. I loved/love Spock, not Nimoy or Captain Jack, not John Barrowman, Indiana Jones, not Harrison Ford. I know that doesn’t seem like much of a distinction, but it is very different. An actor is a real person who I know little if anything about. A character is fictional, but I know them as well as the program or film allows. One notable – slightly embarrassing – exception was my early teenage years’ huge crush on Chris O’Donnell.

16. What’s your favorite kind of cake? When I was growing up, Mom would make a coconut cake with chocolate frosting and maraschino cherries on it for my birthday. The combination of flavors is my favorite though a good homemade cake of any flavor is welcomed.

17. What did you have for dinner last night? Hamburger patties and fresh tomatoes.

18. Look to your left, what do you see? My purse, Kindle and cell phone piled atop the three ring binder containing my notes for work.

19. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Nope. I wear mostly slip on shoes anyway. My sneakers get unties when I go to put them back on.

20. Favorite toy as a child? My Cabbage Patch doll, Lisa, was the most beloved, but my favorite toy to this day is Barbie.

21. Do you buy your own groceries? I am present for most of the grocery shopping. Chris paid for far more of them than I since we’ve lived together, but now we’re making about the same amount of money, so we’re paying for expenses more evenly.

22. Do you think people talk about you behind your back? I have known of a few cases of people talking behind my back, but I suspect it’s not happening too much these days. I do everything I can to steer away from the drama mongers who enjoy that sort of thing. If anyone still does, they’re missing out on far more interesting topics of conversation.

23. When was the last time you had gummy worms? It’s been long enough, I don’t remember. I prefer the German gummi bears in the gold packaging on the rare occasions I crave gummy candy.

24. What’s your favorite fruit? I love citrus in the winter when they are in season. I’ve eaten tons of apples in the past few months thanks to this little lady:



25. Do you have a picture of yourself doing a cartwheel? To my knowledge, I have never performed a successful cartwheel. If you see any such pictures of me, rest assured, they are Photoshopped.



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I made this batch of doll clothes in May.

I took pictures with the intent of documenting them on the blog, but as so often happens, I didn’t do it right away. If I were all smooth and slick, I wouldn’t have mentioned how old these pictures are, but, hey, we’re all about honesty that makes me look like a slacker here at NerdBliss.

The important part is that I promptly mailed them to Sabrina, my BFF Kate’s daughter, my niece and owner of an American Girl doll. Since her birthday is close to Christmas, I thought it might be nice to send a summer vacation care package, plus any reason to both use my stash of remnant fabrics and shop for additional pieces or patterns.

Enough with the chit-chat and on to the pictures:


Black Bathing Suit from McCall’s M4896


Hounds tooth skirt, navy leggings, camisole.


I had to make the cami to bridge the weird gap in the ruffle shirt. Not sure why the pattern was designed this way.


With the vest. Despite the weird gap, I like the trendy look of McCall’s M6480


I made the vest reversible since the lining – made from Klingon wedding scraps – was too pretty to waste.


The reversible part wasn’t part of the pattern, but it was simple enough to tuck in the seams where the front and back connect under the arms.


The hat sells the look. Sadly, I didn’t get a better picture.


Real leather boots. They were a hassle to sew.


I winged it on these, but they came out well enough. I was on a mission to make shoes since learning Sabrina’s doll only had one pair. Unacceptable even for a plastic girl.