Stitch Fix: The Final Reckoning

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So, I think my relationship with Stitch Fix has now come to a close. I’ve shared with you the ups and downs since our rosy beginning, the teeth gritting through our rocky, troubled middle, and our feeble, fumbling ending, so it seems fitting then, to document our last hurrah together.

Stitch Fix

After my last box, I sent in some pointed feedback, not exactly “wtf is this foolishness”, but…well, it was actually pretty close to that.  I received a response that they would wave the $25 per box fee on my next one, if I wanted to give it another go.

I didn’t think they’d send me anything really worth looking twice at, but it wasn’t going to cost me anything to look at it, so why not? Within a week, I had received a package containing the above items. Sally, my stylist, sent me four tops, and a dress, with some styling suggestions, per usual. A denim jacket, Sally? What am I, 10 years old in 1986? No denim jackets for me, thanks.

 

top1The Market & Spruce Bexley embroidered bib halter knit top, $48.  This is pretty cute, right? I’m not big on sleeveless tops–especially those of the variety that require a non-standard bra–but there was something about it that tricked me into thinking I could make it work. Maybe with a long gauzy black skirt? I liked the idea of that, but the reality of these sleeveless tops is that I am not comfortable in them unless I am wearing a cardigan with them. And it’s just too hot for that right now, and it doesn’t really look good with anything I own. Any suggestions for me? How might you wear this?

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As I remarked on Instagram, what the hell is this picnic basket bullshit? It’s the Skies Are Blue Dory embroidery detail top for $54, is what it is and I hate it with every fiber of my being. It really does look like the lining of a picnic basket to me…or I don’t know…macaroni art, or something. Also, while it’s a halter, like the previous top, somehow the neckline is infinitely more hateful to me. Back in the box.

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The 41Hawthorne Tova dress for $64 is probably a very pretty dress for someone with the right shape, however, it looks like a lumpy potato sack on me. Unflattering, if you’re not an actual lumpy potato. Aside from that, red+white+blue is not my favorite color combination. Returned.

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Upon first gazing this Papermoon Paulette lace detail blouse, my instinct was to cringe but I can’t quite pinpoint why. I like the black lace, I don’t mind the colors, the black and that pink… but there’s something about daisies and polka dots that all that white space that makes me really twitchy. I feel like I need to pick up my kid from an extracurricular and meet up with the squad for a pottery painting + wine class, and then demand to see someone’s manager. Ack! None of those things sound good to me, shirt, so you’re outta here.

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After two years (or however long, I lost count) on and off with Stitch Fix, I finally received the moody floral of my dreams. And so of course the Adelene top from Velvet by Graham and Spencer is the most expensive of the lot, at $128. Of course. I could wear this with black jeans or that long black gauzy skirt, and I don’t have to wear a ridiculous bra, and it’s almost like a Dutch vanitas painting, so that makes it perfect. This is the best that Stitch Fix can ever possibly do for me, so it is definitely time to call it quits, and I mean it this time!

RE: subscription boxes…what are you guys receiving? I am still getting periodic shipments of wine from Bright Cellars and that’s it! Well, except for a new one that I started, which is kind of fun, and I will fill you in on that one soon (hint: it’s horror-related, but not with a focus on cheap, tacky tchotchkes!)

Puddles: When Coulrophobia Is Not The Issue

Puddles

A disclaimer: the following is not a review. It’s not even a complaint. More like …a warning? I guess? Sigh. If you read on, please know that I am probably going to come across as a weird, stick-in-the mud killjoy who really needs to get a grip.

This past Saturday night I accompanied my beau, my sister, and my brother-in-law to see Puddles Pity Party at The Plaza in Orlando. I was super excited about this because one, The Plaza is undoubtedly Orlando’s easiest venue for attending live shows. It’s not in the downtown area, it’s got plentiful, non-complicated parking, and it’s just very…low-production. Two, I had seen some youtube videos of Puddles The Clown and loved both his beautiful, booming voice, as well as the concept of his one man show. Except…I didn’t know exactly what his show entailed. Oh, if only I’d watched a few of his live performances, instead of bunch of overly-produced videos. If only I’d known what was in store.

See…I have this thing with audience participation. Not only do I nearly go catatonic with fright at the mere idea of enforced participation from a personal standpoint, I can’t even watch it happening to other people in front of me, while I watch. Heck, I can’t even watch it in television or the movies. The very thought of it fills me with unspeakable dread. And Puddles the Clown is a master of walking that line between delighting his audience and making them suffer through these uncomfortable feelings . “He doesn’t just break the fourth wall,” writes one reviewer; “he invades people’s personal space.” Time and again throughout his show, Puddles would prowl through the seated, sold-out crowd for volunteers and victims.

When I witnessed the third person pulled from the crowd to join Puddles onstage for some unexpected humiliation, I realized “oh, so this is how it’s going to go,” and literally felt my lower lip tremble and tears threaten to spill. I was seated in the balcony, and there was no way Puddles was making his way up there to grab me. Or…was he? “Please dear god no,” I prayed desperately under my breath as I slunk lower and lower in my seat.

I glanced to my companions on either side of me–both of whom were enjoying themselves, and the show, immensely.  Their laughter sounded faint to my ears, as, unaware of my distress, they joined in the crowd’s merriment of Puddle’s fidgets* and quirks and shenanigans. What is wrong with me? I thought miserably, wishing to be swallowed up entirely by the worn upholstery of the fold-up seats.

NYMag recently posted a fascinating article about why audience participation is so terrifying; they compare it, somewhat, to public speaking, but note that “…the spontaneity of an audience-participation situation, on the other hand, can be stressful because it eliminates that preparation time and adds a layer of spontaneity. It also subverts expectations for the role you’re expected to play. Generally, audiences are supposed to be passive. Performers who single out audience members for an active role have ‘flipped the script,’ , turning a relaxing activity into anything but.”

And of course this can be especially distressing for “shy people or people with social anxiety disorder, who often rely on a predictable and limited set of scripts for social interaction and have a lower tolerance for uncertainty.”

And yet…that rich, extraordinary voice! Was it worth the torment and torture to have heard his gorgeously sorrowful rendition of Space Oddity?  Now that a few days have passed and I have the luxury of the experience as a memory, I can *almost* say yes. Almost. I have to ask myself though…if I had known that was the sort of evening I was in for, would have done in the first place?

I…am thinking no.

*Puddles The Clown was chomping on an obscenely enormous wad of gum throughout the entirety of the show. If you don’t know this about me, you should: I cannot stand gum. There is nothing–nothing!– that disgusts me more. I have to walk away when someone is chewing it in the same room with me, and I’m starting to dry heave just a little right now, even as I type this out, about that imaginary offender.

Ennui & Old Friends

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It is rare that I re-read a book. I used to do it frequently, in my childhood and early teens {Heidi, Harriet The Spy, Rebecca, and Dracula were among those beloved favorites} but nowadays I almost feel it’s a waste of time. I’m a little ashamed to admit feeling like that, because there are so many special stories worth spending time with, again and again, but…as I get older I feel there is less and less time to read all of the things I want to read, and so the cherished tales often stay tucked away on the shelf.

Last night I was experiencing a bit of a funk; I’m almost tempted to use the word “bored” (except I hate that word and I try to never feel that way*) so let’s say, instead, that I’m in the grips of a vague ennui. I blame the relentless summer heat and the fact that we had just had a small sun shower. It’s like, why even bother to rain? Rain and sunshine don’t belong in the same space together. If the skies aren’t dark and the clouds aren’t ponderous and you don’t feel either a little bit scared or sad when it’s happening, then the rain is doing a crappy job. Also: fuck rainbows.

When I get like this, I don’t want to read anything, look at anything, do anything. And it occurred to me that in the grips of a bit of ennui is the perfect time to re-acquaint myself with a book I’d read many years ago. Summer vacation of my 11th year, as a matter of fact. And I’d never been so scared in my life…

About fifty or one hundred pages into Cujo, I’m realizing how differently it is affecting me than it did thirty years ago. The closet-spectre of Frank Dodd is still scary as hell, but the tragic horror of Cujo himself…I mean…it’s just…he was such a good dog! This is so damn sad now. Why did I think I wanted to re-read a story about a poor, rapid pupper?

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I think when I finish this up I’ll re-visit Dracula and Rebecca and Harriet the Spy (and Heidi, if anyone wants to give me with old beat up copy! I lost mine ages ago.) I wonder if they’ll still thrill and amuse and inspire and impact me the same way? What will have changed for me, or in me, that affects my perception of the characters and the story? What details will I notice that escaped me before? What will it recall for me that has since been forgotten? I wonder.

What are your beloved favorites that you return to time and time again, for comfort, or in times of boredom? Are there some that no longer affect you the same way, or perhaps affect you on an entirely different level, now that you are an adult?

*And on the subject of boredom… are we even allowed to be bored? Louis CK says that we are not (at least I think that was him.) But maybe it is good to experience a little bit of boredom every now and then. I mean is it healthy to always be busy, busy, go – go – go? Maybe it is good to say fuck it! Everything is stupid! I don’t want to do any of the shit in this moment right now! It’s dumb and pointless and BORING! What do you think?

Solstice Scents Spring 2017 Collection

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Today at Haute Macabre I’m pleased to review Solstice Scents’ Spring 2017 collection, whose refreshing vernal fragrances were a lovely change of pace during the hellscape that is July in Florida.

Are you a fan of bracing cocktails, lemony gourmands, Appalachian meadow Bambis,  or watercolor florals & haunted breezes? Or perhaps the idea of the eerie olfactory equivalent of this image below piques your interest? In that case, you may want to avail yourself of some of these lovely spring scents before they are sold out!

Film still from Jean Rollin's Les Démoniaques

Film still from Jean Rollin’s Les Démoniaques

 

Oh, Instagram (& tumblr & pinterest). Sigh.

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Last night I was laying in bed and checked my phone “one last time” (you know how it is) and damn, Instagram notifies me that I’ve got, like 100 new followers, with a new one popping up every two seconds.  Wow, I thought. They like me, they really like me!

But I can’t be content with the fact that I’ve got them, these likes and follows, these ultimately meaningless indicators of validation. I have to know why they are there, you know? So, I dig a little. In searching further back through the notifications, I see that I have been tagged in a post by a somewhat popular gothic home decor account. It’s an account that I got a little salty (albeit passive aggressively) with a few Friday nights ago, when I’d had a second, then a third glass of wine and saw all the uncredited imagery they post. And as soon as I looked at the post they had tagged me in last night, (an image similar to the above, but minus the user information in the top left) I knew what had happened.

There are several iterations of the username “ghoulnextdoor” on Instagram, and heck, all over the internet. I originally opened my ghoulnextdoor tumblr account in 2009 and thought I was the cleverest person in the world for coming up with it…so clever, in fact, that I was going to lock down the url ghoulnextdoor.com. Only to find out that it was already taken by the OG Ghoul Next Door–Kyra Schon! Kyra is the cellar dwelling, trowel wielding, mother stabbing, father’s arm eating little zombie girl Karen Cooper in the original 1968 Night of the Living Dead, if you recall. Anyway, my point is–apparently I’m not all that clever.

Back to Instagram. As I mentioned, as soon as I saw the bedroom photo I was tagged in, the mystery of the influx of followers solved itself. It was a popular account, people saw the photo, saw that it linked to me, and as a result, started following me. The only thing is, the photo was not mine! I knew right away that it must belong to another version of “ghoulnextdoor” and either the popular gothic home decor account didn’t remember where they saw it or mistyped the name, or whatever. Because I am nuts and this could not wait until morning, a reverse image search was in order, so I fumbled on my nightstand for my glasses, stumbled out of bed, and shuffled over to the computer.

After about ten minutes of squinting at uncredited imagery on pinterest and tumblr, I finally found an image that linked back to the instagram account! The only problem was, it linked back to the main page of the account–not the specific image above. That’s not enough for me. Just because someone links to something, are you going to believe that? That’s what got me all of these new followers in the first place–an incorrect link! I scrolled through the users account for a minute or two, et voilà, here is the original image!

So this photo that got me all of this attention actually belongs to ghoulnxtdoor, who, might I add, though I do not know her personally, looks as stylish and ghoulish and awesome as you might expect.

I guess the moral of the story is that just because someone on the internet gives you a piece of information, that doesn’t make it true. And…that no one actually likes me.
Oh well, at least I know the truth!

P.S. My bedroom looks nothing like this.
P.P.S. Aside from uncredited imagery, my biggest pet peeve is when someone pronounces voilà “wah-lah!”
P.P.P.S. I’m not naming name regarding this popular gothic home decor account on instagram, because I really don’t want to give them any more followers, but here’s an amusing anecdote. I was scrolling through their posts and found one that was uncredited. In searching out the creator of the item they featured, I was lead to a blog posting…about how to do a reverse image search to properly source and credit images. HA.

Do I Contradict Myself?

Do I contradict myself? from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
art credit: Anders Røkkum

Track list: SAMARITAN by Jonna Lee | Ocean by Goldfrap | Thirst by Louise Lemón | Coyotes by Wild Belle | Blood and Tears by Hannah Lurati | White Sun by JFDR | 16 Psyche by CHELSEA WOLFE | Manna by King Woman | Strega by Kabukimono | Måneblôt by Myrkur | She Goat by Dool | Mother Kiev by Ides Of Gemini | Despair Is A Siren by SUBROSA

An Interview With Ashley Rose Of Ashley Rose Couture

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Truth be told, I’ve been dying to get an interview with this incredible, avant-garde designer since around this time last year, so I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to share that I recently had the genuine pleasure of catching up on the splendid creations and extraordinary adventures of the eternally hustling & bustling Ashley Rose for a feature today at Haute Macabre!

And, as a special peek for Haute Macabre readers, Ashley Rose has shared a generous glimpse of imagery from the forthcoming show, “My Dearest Dust”(which I will be attending! Eeeeek!)

Mia Mäkilä’s Feel Good Demons

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(originally published on the Coilhouse blog, June 30th, 2011)

“I paint my demons. I paint nightmares. To get rid of them. I paint my fears. I paint my sorrow. To deal with them.” – Mia Mäkilä

Mia Mäkilä, a self-taught artist who lives and works in Sweden, describes her art as “horror pop surrealism” or “dark lowbrow” and further illustrates: “Picture Pippi Longstocking and Swedish movie director Ingmar Bergman having a love child. That’s me.”

Her work consists of digital paintings and vintage photographs manipulated and distorted to produce nightmarish mixed media portraits. The creations borne of Mäkilä’s artistic process are both uncomfortably horrific and unaccountably humorous– demonic entities lurk in the form of gash-mouthed, leering Victorian families staring from within a tintype void. Fire-breathing/ennui-stricken and dandified gentlemen ejaculate from the precarious heights of a Parisian rooftop. All manner of flaming Boschian hells overflow with cavorting fish and flamingos and God knows what else.

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Can all the world’s fears and sorrows, splashed and splattered in fiendish form on canvas, truly be this ghastly, this wretched, this… funny? Equally terrifying to contemplate: what malignant spirits might we coax to the surface, were we to make art conjured from similar soul-sourcing? Coilhouse’s recent interview with Mäkilä yields candid anecdotes about her own process; by examining the evidence of her painted demons, perhaps we can discern how to have a little fun exorcising our own.

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You describe your art as “dark lowbrow” and refer to a “dark lowbrow movement”. Please tell us about that.

Mia Mäkilä: I think I’ve gone from horror art and more of a gothic style, to a more pinkish lowbrow style with cuteness/horror rather than the gothic elements, and I feel more at home with the lowbrow artists than the gothic ones. I don’t listen to Marilyn Manson or slice my wrists when I feel bad, and I certainly do not paint my lips with black lipstick. I love life and I celebrate it everyday, so my mind isn’t as dark as my paintings. I enjoy music from the ’80s, classical music and don’t watch any splatter horror movies; I love Ingmar Bergman, Hitchcock, David Lynch, John Waters and cute romantic comedies from the ’80s, like “The Breakfast Club”, so I’m not that dark minded after all.

But I love that mix of dark and cute, sad and happy, and the juxtaposition of the ugly and the beautiful. I am darker than a “regular” artist might be, but I am too light for the horror genre, so I am in between – just between a toyish and light style of lowbrow (pop-surrealism) and dark horror/gothic style.

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You mention that the horror in your art is your way of processing difficult themes such as “fear, angst, madness, rage and sorrow “, and you list Ingmar Bergman, David Lynch, Tim Burton as influences for their dark drama and symbolic inner worlds. But you’ve also said that you use a lot of humor to do this, and seem to enjoy making “… demons [have] fun on the canvas”. I am curious to hear about your inspirations and influences in this vein. What makes you laugh, what are your amusements– and how does that translate into the exquisite grotesqueries you create?

I am very amused by the unexpected. It could be funny pictures I’ve found on the Internet of a very fat naked woman with a bottle stuffed in her ass . I mean, who takes such pictures, who’s that woman, what was the actual situation like and how on earth did it get on the Internet? That’s very funny, I think. I collect such pictures, and I post them on my blog as well, just to show people how funny reality can be.

An at the same time, it’s disgusting and sad. I mean, a bottle in a fat lady’s ass is quite disgusting and sad but still very funny. I like that mix of emotions. I don’t like funny pictures that are staged or faked, I like the coincidental humor, when you have no control over the situation and it just accidentally becomes funny– like a joke made by the cosmos. I use stuff like that in my collages; my paper cutouts become jokes of scary and disgusting combinations, just like the strange images I find on the Internet.

daddyssecret

I read somewhere that you said – “I don’t believe in artist as moneymakers, but as magicians.” Do you mean magicians as in purveyors of trickery and illusions? Or perhaps in a more occult, esoteric sense? Both? Neither? I’d love to hear additional thoughts on that.

What I meant by that was, I don’t believe you can pinpoint what “art” really is, it’s when the artist has made an illusion that people can be fooled by. Just like a movie is an illusion of something real, art can be an illusion of something real or unreal. It’s very interesting, really. Art doesn’t need to feel real, but when you have made a really good piece of work, you give it life and it becomes this real and authentic world of it’s own.

Upcoming projects? Collaborations? Shows?

I’m working right now on a new collection of both paintings and digital collages and I have some projects and future show that I’m keeping a secret for now…

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Kim Boekbinder’s H.B.I.C.

I cannot count the number of times I have watched/listened to the powerful, and powerfully catchy song and accompanying video, “Head Bitch In Charge (H.B.I.C.), by Kim Boekbinder since it debuted yesterday. Featuring “a wildly modern aesthetic and a colorful cast that showcase gender fluidity, racial diversity, body positivity, and self-love”, this song has become both my absolute mantra and my wardrobe goals.

One
You call me bossy
Two
You think I look mean
Three
And you don’t like me
Four
I don’t care

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HBIC

The bone jewelry adornments in the video were fashioned by purevile, that amazing mesh evil eye tunic can be found at Discount Universe, and the anti-paparazzi head crown is created by @corinneloperfido. But what about those shoes on the bottom right?? I’ll do some research and get back to you on that.  Speaking of that magnificent headdress though, here’s a gorgeous shot of Kim Boekbinder modeling it, by photographer Clayton Cubitt, as well as an additional portrait of the Noise Witch, swathed in midnight and looking eerily resplendent.

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19425411_1684326268541674_8030298454955655168_nNoisewitch, Kim Boekbinder’s forthcoming album  of danceable witch-pop, casting neon spells over shadowed rooms,  drops on September 8, 2017.

 B-I-T-C-H 
You think that’s an insult? 
B-I-T-C-H 
Yeah, that’s me. 
B-I-T-C-H 
You can say it louder. 
B-I-T-C-H 
H.B.I.C. 

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