January 18th, 2018


This is a picture of my hand, which is on fire

[personal profile] christopher575 picked three of my icons he wanted to know more about:

For several years, [personal profile] kung_fu_monkey and I were in a triad relationship with our now-ex Greg. Somebody (Bryree?) dubbed us the "Triple Action Man Clan", and lo, it was a good name and it stuck. Our friend Josh drew a picture of the three of us, and I made into an icon for posts about the three of us. Now that the TAMC is no more, I never use it, but since I used it on many posts back in the day, it remains for the sake of posterity and preventing broken image links.

Rat stamp! The USPS put out a sheet of stamps for the Chinese Zodiac, and this is the picture for the Year of the Rat, in which I was born. I thought it was pretty. I use this icon when I'm talking about critters, and when I'm being in some way rat-like. Like, if I deliberately misunderstand a post to make a joke in the comments, that probably calls for the rat-stamp icon.

This is a picture of my hand, which is on fire.

As an undergraduate at MIT, I lived in a fraternity with a bunch of other loons. Every year, we would take a composite photo, that thing where there's a little picture of everyone in the house all tiled together behind a matte frame with the house crest and the year in fancy calligraphy. Well, it was a house full of weirdos, so we would always dress up funny and have a weird running theme between different pictures and so on. And a year or two after I got there, we started making them ourselves instead of using a company to do it.

Aside: I'm not sure if they just didn't like dealing with our weirdness or if they were just a lousy business, but they always took FOREVER to get our composite finished and delivered. The last year we used them, I got put in charge of nagging them to get it done, and after a while I hit on the tactic of simply calling them every. single. day. and inquiring, very politely, about the status of our composite. After about a week, the lady answering the phone snapped, and said "We're working on it as fast as we can. PLEASE STOP CALLING US." And sure enough, they delivered it not long after. But it was still super-delayed, and since we had a guy in the house (Probe, an architecture student) who was a good photographer and since we had access to computers with Photoshop that we could use to do all the printing and suchlike, we decided to save money and start doing it ourselves.

Anyway, once we were doing them ourselves, we could get REALLY weird. My senior year, the theme was apocalyptic imagery, and I had read about this trick you can do where you can light your hand on fire if you use rubbing alcohol because it burns off so quickly that it's gone before it starts to actually burn your skin. So I decided that my photo would be me, looking with an expression of shock and dismay at my hand, which was on fire.

So that's what we did. I had a big bucket of ice water there with me, and I stuck my arm in there until it ached. (I figured that pre-chilling my flesh would give me an extra barrier against getting burned.) I also coated my arm in a thin layer of vaseline to keep all my arm hairs from catching fire and acting like little wicks. I think maybe we didn't actually have rubbing alcohol handy, so we used something like Coleman white fuel instead? Which may not have been the smartest idea, but it still worked. We had somebody standing by with a fire extinguisher, too, so as not to be total idiots. When my hand was chilled, we'd towel it off real quick, then an assistant poured a little bit of fuel over it, I'd strike my pose for the photo, then another assistant would light my hand on fire, Probe took a few pictures of me looking appalled at the flames, and after a few seconds it would start to get hot and I would plunge my arm back into the bucket of ice water. We did it two or three times and it worked just dandy.

The thing was, when Probe developed the photos, whatever we used burned so brightly that it totally blew out the contrast in the photo, so if he developed it to the point that you could see me, it was impossible to tell what was going on with my hand, but if he developed it so that the flames looked good, you couldn't see me at all. So we decided to just zoom in on the hand and go for a picture of a hand with flames coming off it, because my hand was in a good position and in black and white it actually looked really cool. And for my name in the composite, I put "Beem-Ur the Destructor".