spring does not arrive overnight

spring does not arrive overnight from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

A new @8tracks mix for impatient blossoms and the pain of unfurling. Image: La Llorona by Jaime Johnson.
Title inspired by the incomparable Angeliska

Track List:

April Showers by Royal Thunder | Psychopomps by Jezebel Jones | The Fever Called Living by Cruel Wonders | Thirst by Louise Lemon | Afterglow by Lydia Ainsworth | Lied by Snow Ghosts | Ruins by A Yia | The Highest Flood by Forest Swords | Drown by Moi Saint | Things that are beautiful and transient by The Caretaker | Emergence by Noveller

Currently {March 2017}

bunnehThis past month has been a heart breaker. We lost our dear Mawga, and just like that, our already dwindling family was that much smaller. The days since her passing have been colder than any I remember for this time of year and I’ve been busying my most of them with the work that comes after a death. Making arrangements for, in this case, cremation, retrieving said cremains, cleaning up and cleaning out the house for when we are able to sell it, meeting with the probate attorney, etc.  Thank goodness my grandmother and grandfather set up many of these things in advance, otherwise it would probably be a lot tougher than it actually is. Note to self: get your will and last wishes down on paper and legalized. When I leave this world, I want to ensure that people are put to as little trouble as possible.

So the weeks have passed. And today, again, just like that, it is the first day of spring.

Afghan

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I’ve been incorporating my grandmother’s beloved belongings into my home and my daily routine. The top photo, an old afghan given new life, draped on the reading seat in my office.  Below that, a pair of opal earrings which I haven’t seen in many years and which we unearthed from the musty depths of an old dresser. She frequently used to warn me against the wearing of opals; apparently they were said to be bad luck if they were not your birthstone. They are not mine, but I’m shrugging off superstition and wearing them anyway. Mawga is no doubt tsk-tsking me all the way from the other side.

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I’m afraid the No-Buy from the beginning of the year hit a stall as of mid-February. I haven’t gone too crazy…for example, no new skin care items because my weird face seems less weird on its current regimen and I’d hate to screw that up. Only ONE new book purchase, everything else has come from the library. No new jewelry at all! I sort of goofed when it came to perfume because glob knows I don’t need any more of that, but how can I resist Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Lupercalia Line?

I have, however, given in when it comes to attire for the torso part of my bod; I just can’t resist  creepy/spooky black tops! No, I do not have enough already, thank you very much. The first is a spider web cardigan from MischiefMadeMe, and the second is a Vampira scream queen top from Grit-N-Glory (there are also Lydia, Lily, Morticia, & Wednesday versions)–and it looks like they’ve not yet sold out!

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…also, okay. Another confession. Though wall real estate is becoming more and more scarce chez Ghoul, I also purchased some more Art. (You can read of my art obsession here, if you missed it). Pictured above is Briar, a sweet batling wrought by the brilliant hands of Jessica Joslin and who has just recently joined our motley menagerie.

reading

Reading: Gosh, I have been all over the place lately. I finally got around to reading Paper Girls, described as paranormal science fiction mixed with ’80s nostalgia which is such a cool story. I can’t wait to see where it goes.  House of Penance is a horrific take on the story of the Winchester House and is super intense. Glitterbomb, a dramatic horror story about fame and failure, details through the character of aging actress Farrah Durante, how the entertainment industry feeds on our insecurities, desires, and fears.  I kind of wanted more from this story, but I’m at a loss for, what exactly, I thought it was missing.

Not pictured: Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula. I am somewhat conflicted about this one. As one reviewer succinctly put it: “…there’s a Bram Stoker-shaped hole at the heart of the book.” And wow, is there ever. The book’s author delves into the lives of everyone who has ever touched Bram Stoker, no matter how obscure or insignificant. And though neither obscure nor insignificant, I would venture to say that at least half this book is about Oscar Wilde! At the end of it all, though, I can say I have a pretty good picture of the time during which Stoker lived, and the history and culture of that time, and the people with whom he chose to surround himself and those by whom he was inspired. David Skal writes with a wry humor that serves as a skillful punctuation to the information and stories he shares, but never overwhelms the reader with it. He lets the facts and data tell the story. It’s a lengthy, rambling story with plenty of digressions, but if you are a fan of Bram Stoker’s stories, then I think you will very much enjoy this story of the life he lived.

And lastly, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. My sister recommended this to me ages ago, and I stubbornly chose other feminist works to read first. On one hand, I am glad; I think my dissatisfaction with those previous titles made me that much more appreciative of Bad Feminist. This series of essays, some of them intensely vulnerable, addresses race, culture, and Scrabble competitions; intertwined with her ruminations on literature and culture, it’s equal parts commentary, memoir, and critical analysis. One thing in particular I loved about the book was the tone; it was not overly academic (I’m sorry to confess I find that rather dreary) and it wasn’t some sort of manic comedy (see Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman)–while it was witty, it was also utterly genuine. But I do think even if I had not encountered those types of reads previously, I’d have loved Bad Feminist all the same, and that much more.

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And of course, one-word movie reviews. This month’s viewing is comprised of a very short list. It seems I’ve been doing more reading than movie watching recently, which is fine. I go back and forth between the two, some months it’s one more than the other. Looks like the books win out, this month! I’ve also started keeping track of the dates the films were watched, but that’s probably of no interest to anyone but me.

2/26 Get Out (in the theatre)…ABSOLUTELY
3/5 Ouija: Origin of Evil…nope
3/9 Don’t Breathe…ugh
3/20 Salome’s Last Dance (Amazon prime)…OMGYES

“We have art in order not to die of the truth.”

ARTSLike many of my dear friends, I have been consoling myself with art lately, nearly drowning myself in it. Well, maybe just the opposite, really. Between the terror of our current administration and my own personal traumas and tragedies, art has been the life vessel that’s saved me from going under. I can always breathe easier and hope for better things when I look at something beautiful. It keeps me safe. And sane. Or at least the illusion of these things. And I’ll take that. Sometimes it’s the best we’ve got.

I don’t know precisely when it was that art became such a crucial part of my life; I’m certainly not an artist…although it does run in the family, somewhat. My grandmother on my father’s side was a concert violinist, my father is an artist, and one of my uncles is an architect. But all of that talent passed me by, I’m afraid. Except, perhaps, the enthusiasm for and appreciation of such things–I’ll confess to an overabundance of that!  I wish, though, that I had at least gone to school for art history or criticism or theory or something like that, so that I could make intelligent appreciative comments and engage in discussions without looking like an idiot, but ah, well. Maybe in another life.

For right now, though, I’d love to share with you some of the illustrations and paintings and photography which has lately been relieving, reviving and rescuing me–and the incredible humans who have brought these visions to life. I am so grateful every day that there are dreamers and stargazers and worldmakers who create these marvelous things that make my existence just a tiny bit more bearable.

Tell me, what’s keeping you afloat right now, and propelling you forward?

Three of Swords, Caitlin McCarthy

Three of Swords, Caitlin McCarthy

Rose, Ellen Rogers

Rose, Ellen Rogers

Miss Meatface

Night Jar Illustration (Adam Burke)

Night Jar Illustration (Adam Burke)

Munich Art Studio (Becky Munich)

Munich Art Studio (Becky Munich)

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the moon and her women, Sarah Goodreau

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 Untamed series, Jaime Erin Johnson

Vesper, Darla Teagarden

VESPER, Darla Teagarden

Lizz Lopez

Lizz Lopez

Fox Familiar Mask, Camille Chew

Fox Familar Mask, Camille Chew

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Keevan and Kieran, Goblinfruit Studio

Ivonne Carley

Ivonne Carley

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Calling In the Four Quarters, Karyn Crisis

I am no bird II, Helena Aguilar Mayans

I am no bird II, Helena Aguilar Mayans

Athena, Jessica Joslin

Athena, Jessica Joslin

Abigail Larson

Abigail Larson

Jas Helena

Jas Helena

Lupe Vasconcelos

Lupe Vasconcelos

Lupercalia 2017 at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab + A Giveaway!

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 Today at Haute Macabre I dive into the smutty, salacious glory that is Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Lupercalia collection. Whether you see these lurid delights as a dare, or as merely as a to-do list, and no matter how singular your tastes may be, there is all manner of delightful debauchery here to appeal to aficionados of arousing, amusing aromatic experiences from the smut peddlers at BPAL

Psssst…there’s an obscenely generous giveaway, as well <3

Elsewhere: Taking Your Pulse (Interview for Storycorps)

Pulse

On Saturday I had the distinct honor to talk with with my good friend Gus for Story Corps about the Pulse tragedy in Orlando last June. We discuss grief, survivor’s guilt, intersectionality and death care, among other things.

Gus writes about it at Death In The Gay Den today, where you will find a link to the entire interview, I hope you’ll take a moment to listen.

I should also note that, although she doesn’t remember telling me this, my sister encouraged me several years ago to “do one thing every day that scares you”. I was freaking out so badly about this that I think it should count as three days worth of anxiety-inducing initiatives!

Elsewhere: An Interview With Pam Grossman

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A Woman With Power: Pam Grossman

It was my supreme pleasure to have caught up with the extraordinary Pam Grossman for our recent interview, which was up at Haute Macabre last week.  We discuss her thoughts on witchcraft and the occult as it relates to art, activism, and anger, and what it means to be a woman with power.

If you haven’t had a chance to take a peek at it yet, I highly suggest you do so now–Pam shares so much of herself and you’ll be certain to come away from it richer in spirit (but perhaps poorer in pocket, because she has *so* many good recommendations as it relates to books, movies, and music!)

Fall 2017 Runway Highlights

FASHUNI know next to nothing about fashion, and with every passing season I’m fairly certain my knowledge diminishes rather than increases–but that doesn’t mean I love it any less. For me, at its best, it is glorious art, it is a political statement, it is a snapshot of our times–the good, the bad, and the ugly.  At its worst…well, actually, the worst thing, the most offensive thing a fashion design can do, is bore me.  But at its best, it thrills, it inspires, it sometimes agitates or confounds, or quite possibly it makes you giggle with glee roar or with laughter (my personal favorite.)

At any rate, I don’t take my interest in it seriously. Or at least I try not to! But when the Fall collections begin walking the runway, I am riveted.  Here are some of my favorites right now.

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Comme des Garçons Fall 2017 Ready To Wear offers us a sensible, down to earth collection that that definitely won’t leave your family and friends and coworkers confused and concerned as to your deteriorating mental state. Full of waddling, exaggerated silhouettes evoking over-sized dress forms or perhaps even ancient goddess imagery, you’d be forgiven for thinking huh, this looks like an enormous, gore-soaked maxi-pad.

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On the other hand, I want to wear Yohji Yamamoto’s 2017 Fall Ready collection everywhere that my bright & sunny presence is requested; PTA meetings (I don’t have kids but whatevs), bridal showers, church picnics. The possibilities are endless.

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Valentino’s Fall 2017 Ready To Wear collection, with romantic colors ranging from rich raspberry to ice cream pastels, luxe textures, delicate embroidery and sequins reminds me of several coffee table books belonging to my grandmother. These books were basically photographed tours through various estate homes and I’d spend hours mesmerized by the sumptuous decor: opulent damask curtains framing dusty glass windows overlooking flowering garden mazes, lavish boudoirs swathed in velvets and silks, shimmering crystalline chandeliers. The ensembles featured in this collection conjure these intoxicating, daydream homes.

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To be perfectly honest, all I see when I gaze too long upon Givenchy’s Fall 2017 Ready To Wear collection is a scarlet coven of demonic teletubbies.

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Though I really want to love a couture collection inspired by the symbolism of Twin Peaks, MSGM’s Fall 2017 ready to wear offerings are comprised of an almost offensive degree of fug.

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Are you ready for Gareth Pugh’s sleep-deprived garbage bag dystopia?

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Anne Demeulemeester’s ghostly veils (top) and Rick Owens’ (bottom) grimly towering headdresses are extremely pleasing to me.

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And finally Alexander McQueen’s collection of jacquard and brocade with feather stitch details, trailing beads of jet with memento ribbons threaded through tweeds and leather, was imbued with dense imagery woven into every motif- whether witchy sun and moon symbolism or medieval tapestry inspired flora and fauna–and utterly brimming with both youthful and traditional female energy and power. Gorgeousness.

Harry Crosby’s Black Sun

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Harry Crosby and unidentified woman, Four Arts Ball, Paris

Yet it was precisely in his character … to invest all his loyalty and energy in magic: at first the approved magic of established religion; later the witchwork of poetry and sun worship; finally the black mass of violence” -Geoffrey Wolf, Author of Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby

Harry Crosby – self indulgent socialite, tortured poet, wealthy mystic …. a playboy who lived his life with reckless abandon – was a man both adored and reviled. He has been described by some as “a representative figure of the so-called Lost Generation”, the bohemian 1920s.

A godson of J.P. Morgan Jr., Harry was a Harvard graduate and a decorated war veteran, who had left school to become an ambulance driver in France with his upper-crust chums during World War I. He ended up with the Croix de Guerre for valor and, after a few frustrating years back in Boston, fled to Paris for the rest of his short life. Married in 1922 to Mary Phelps Jacob, known as “Caresse”, they lived the “ultimate Bohemian lives as poets, artists, and patrons in Paris in the 1920’s. To every adventure their answer was always ‘yes’.” Harry once sent a telegram from Paris to his father, the quintessential sober, patriarch, which read, “Please sell $10,000 worth in stock. We intend to live a mad and extravagant life.”

While living and writing in Paris Harry Crosby founded The Black Sun Press, one of the “finest small presses of the twentieth century”.   In 1924, the Crosbys went public with their first book. The following year, they each published their first collections of verse. Harry commissioned Alastair – a “spectacularly camp” German creator of beautifully decadent and Gothic fantasies – to illustrate his second collection, Red Skeletons.  Soon they were issuing works by other writers, including Poe, James, Wilde, Joyce and D. H. Lawrence.

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Color plate from Red Skeletons, by artist Alastair

On December 10, 1929, Harry was found in bed with a .25 caliber bullet hole in his right temple next to his mistress, the newly married Josephine Bigelow who had a matching hole in her left temple, in an apparent suicide pact. Harry’s toenails were painted red and strange symbols were tattooed between his shoulder blades and on the soles of his feet. A lover of dark mysteries to the last, he left no suicide note. London’s Daily Mirror speculated on psychological motives, while New York’s Daily News blamed poetry and passion: “Death itself had been the motive, others speculated, just as aspiring poet Harry’s life had been his greatest artwork.”

We recently caught up with Erik Rodgers, founder of String and a Can Productions, and director of The Black Sun: The Life and Death of Harry Crosby, who provides his own insight into Harry Crosby’s strange, short life and speaks to what makes the man such a fascinating study.

How did you come to decide Harry Crosby might make good material for a play – what it was about him or his life that inspired you, or what aspect of him you were hoping to shed more light on? How did you come across him to begin with?

Erik Rodgers: I actually came upon Caresse first, while developing a project on Salvador Dalí.  [My business partner] was intrigued by the idea of such an accomplished and independent female from that era, and started researching her life.   Of course as soon as she began reading about Caresse, she discovered Harry as well.  Their story captured her imagination, and she began relating to me some of the details as she read them. We both felt there was something vital and overlooked in their story, something that had been obscured by all the scandal and negative criticism.

Over the next few months, I sat down with Geoffrey Wolff’s incredibly well researched biography, as well as several works on Caresse.  Time and again, I was struck by the incredible amount of negativity, dismissiveness and judgement that surrounded Harry and Caresse.  Even Mr. Wolff felt it necessary to defend and explain away his decision to dignify Harry with the full biographical treatment.   I felt disappointed by the apologia of an afterward he wrote for the nyrb edition.  After all, from our contemporary vantage point, considering the near century of work and popular culture that has followed, Harry hardly seems shocking…

I didn’t immediately resolve to write about Harry, but he stayed in my mind for some time.  Still a bit of an enigma, I felt the vital pulse of his life, his work, but had yet to find a context for it.  It was several months later, when encouraged by Devin and some friends to develop a project for us all to work on, that the idea of the play struck.

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image via String and a Can Productions, artist Egon Scheile

How did you find the process to be for this particular medium, translating Harry’s life/works into material for the stage? Are there any other projects you have in mind for Harry Crosby?

By limiting the play to three characters, Harry, Caresse, and Josephine, and using the stage as more of an abstract space, I set out to let the characters observe, confront and relive specific moments across time and space. It was a way, I felt, to do more than relate their story, or explore Harry’s personal mythos. It was a way to deconstruct, unlock, and hopefully reclaim them back into our collective consciousness.

I began reading Harry’s work in earnest once I resolved to write the play, including his diaries Shadows of the Sun. This era was a specialty of mine back in college (Lawrence, Hemingway, Joyce et al) and I was surprised that I hadn’t really encountered Harry’s work before. I found that the more I read, the more powerful … Harry’s vision became. It is indeed difficult to sum up Harry’s work by sharing a poem or a line here or there. There is a cumulative effect to the work, something remarked upon in Eliot’s essay on Harry. As a result, I used a lot of Harry’s own work as source material, crafting scenes from poems or diary entries. I did this not only to keep true to the story, but also to hopefully let Harry’s vision unfold over the length of the play. It was important to me to let them be taken on their own terms, by their own ambitions and their own vision. In many ways, to me that was what Harry’s life was about.

[…]In writing the play, however, I also wanted to wrestle with the very human aspect of their lives as well– the volatility of Harry, the toll that took on Caresse, the anguish in Josephine that found some answer in Harry’s elaborate mythos. Harry and Caresse’s own depictions of their lives are always a little unsatisfying to our modern sensibilities in that they don’t submit to easy psychological types. Questions linger about who they were, even after you’d heard all the juicy details. How much did the war or Harry’s Dad play into his tumultuous behavior? Were Caresse’s attempts to leave sincere? Was she a bit relieved at his final passing? Who pulled the trigger first, Harry or Josephine? How did that fateful meeting transpire, exactly? These are some of the mysteries that propel the story.

On a personal note, this last October, I had the pleasure of visiting the Athenaeum in Boston and arranging a viewing some of the original Black Sun Books. The experience was striking in two ways in particular. I was struck with the strange power of viewing such rare texts that had been made with such care. From the gold wrapping of Transit of Venus, to the uncut folio pages of Torchbearers, it was as if you were viewing something sacred. In an era of mass printing, it’s hard to imagine the power such handcrafted books can have. The other thing that struck me in viewing the books was a feeling of direct connection with Harry and Caresse, something I had strived for through the research and the writing. This reaffirmed my convictions about them that underlined the play, and reinforced for me the importance of their story.

I have also just completed composing a series of music inspired by Harry’s work and the play. You’ve heard some of the temp tracks on the page for the play, but I’ve now completed the cycle and am looking to make a live recording of it all.

In addition to the original site for the play, there’s also a larger effort underway to commemorate and honor the legacy of Harry and Caresse. Info on the nascent Black Sun Theatre Foundation can be found here.

Harry Crosby’s Black Sun was originally published at Coilhouse on March 16, 2010.

FASHUN update: Voluminous balloonimous cocoonimous

Harper's Bazaar, May 1976, one-piece by Gil Aimbez for Genre, sandals and necklace by Yves Saint Laurent

Harper’s Bazaar, May 1976, one-piece by Gil Aimbez for Genre, sandals and necklace by Yves Saint Laurent

I suppose it all really started with my love of all the beautiful things I’ve amassed from Babooshka Boutique in recent years; the roomy, flowing tops, tunics, and dresses that waft and whirl around me now as I go about my day. They’re easy to dress up or they can be casual, they are exquisitely comfortable, and they are pretty much perfect. At this point I’m afraid I have really come to resent garments with zippers or buttons or hooks or or fasteners–closures are prickly and poky! And so oppressive and stifling! There’s no going back. I just wanna let it all hang out, basically.

Sadly, Babooshka Boutique is closing this year, so I am beginning to look elsewhere for my fix as it relates to a wardrobe that beguilingly balloons around my bod, or which cocoons me in crazy coziness. Luckily, I think I have found some things that fit the bill, and I am quite excited about them.

See below for a few voluminous / balloonimous / cocoonimous things currently on my wishlist. Don’t be too shocked if you see some colors. It was bound to happen one day.

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I love this botanical print tie-front shift dress from Rundholz; I don’t love that it’s a white background, but there’s enough interesting artwork here to distract me from that. £139.00

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I’d forgive you for thinking the print/color combination on this Charisma dress from shonmodern is a bit fug; but there’s something about the asymmetric cut and the easy shape (and pockets!) that strikes me as both flattering and super comfy. Also, if you prefer, if comes in plain black.  $299

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I think these calf-skimming, floofy linen Lantern pants are adorable, so shut your mouth. $65

IMG_4423 IMG_4398_fcf57dce-cba1-44c8-8f63-b535f91f5848I am desperately coveting both of these lovely, loose fitting black tops with geometric graphics from UZI NYC at mooreaseal: the beams tunic $99 & the broken lines kimono $116

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I recall being intrigued by this etsy seller’s wares a long time ago, but I never took the plunge to order something back then, especially after hearing a friend’s review of the poor quality of said wares. Still, to this day I covet these billowy linen Moon Water pants … because pants that look like a skirt? I reckon that’s the best thing I ever heard of. $58

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And lastly, I love everything about this short maxi dress from Metamorphoza–the oversized shape contrasted with the knee-brushed length, the swingy cut, the pockets and, most of all–that (gasp!) powerfully, gorgeous blue color. Who am I anymore? The older I get, the more I hope I never have an answer for that. $52

So…to sum up, this season’s look for me is clothing that screams “WE’VE BEEN MADE! SMUGGLE OUT AS MUCH STUFF AS YOU CAN FIT UNDER THIS DRESS!”

What’s inspiring you right now in terms of wardrobe for spring and summer?

Elsewhere: Stacked & Aural Fixation

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Stacked

 : Over at Haute Macabre you can peek to see what Samantha, Erin, Maika, Sonya and I have been reading over the past 28 days! While I thrilled to every word of one of the books I read, the other piqued my ire frequently. Curious as to my thoughts? Visit Haute Macabre to read more! And be sure to tell me what you’ve been reading, in the comments.
{image: Bill Crisafi for BloodMilk Exquisite Corpse “The Comfort of Dust”.}

AuralFixation

…and also, while we’re at it, Haute Macabre rolled out my favorite new feature this evening, in which we all blather on about the sounds we currently have on heavy rotation:

 Aural Fixation.

{art provided by Becky Munich}

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