this, that, and the other thing {xxvii}

hildurcoverWitchcraft and Hypnagogia in Hildur Yeoman’s World of Fashion

kate-bush-beach-ball-porpoiseKate Bush: A Crash Course for the Non-Believer

KristenLiuWong_REALLIFEThe Scrying Game: Makeup and skincare vlogs are handy magic mirrors for the anxious

Villainess-MaleficentIn Defense of Villainesses

downloadMothertonguetied: The Fantasy of Belonging.  Sonya Vatomsky on memory and language and losing parts of yourself and being seen for what you’ve become. There’s probably a Russian word for all of those things; Sonya might whisper it to us and seal it with a black-lipped kiss.

OdfY1muiBad Books For Bad People Tenebrous Kate and Jack Guignol cover the weirdest, kinkiest, and most outrageous fiction they can unearth.

composite2_custom-652635bbff5d18f123788817b3b7a4e0ea99cc54-s1300-c85When Your Dream House Is A Dollhouse, No Space Is Too Small

enhanced-24351-1445610547-1222 Medieval Satans Who Are Just Having A Really Bad Day

The horror of female adolescence – and how to write about it

Magic Rites Between the Eclipses

Examining Psychological Horror in the Silent Hill Franchise

Friday’s Child is Satan’s Child: a review of some semi-forgotten horror pulp

How Victorians Encoded Messages in Bouquets (they used flowers a lot like we use emoji)

“Mysticore” is the new norm: Inside the trend that’s casting its spell over the culture

7 Things You Don’t Know About Moths, But Should

A Brief History of the Tumblr Witch

Gossip As An Act Of Resistance

Celebrating female Victorian writers

Sex With A Fairy, Tea With A Ghost: Interview With Kelly Link

Zoe Quinn’s next game is a Chuck Tingle FMV dating simulator

How To Support Black Women Sci-Fi Authors and Filmmakers

A Chilling Chosen Few

A Chilling Chosen Few was originally written for and posted at After Dark In the Playing Fields on Halloween in 2010, as a companion piece for 12 Terrifying Tales, a list of spooky stories which I also shared again here at Unquiet Things earlier this month.

I know, I know… it’s still only August, but if you’re in the mood to draw the shades and crank the air down to an acceptably chilly clime, the following movies–some of my personal favorites for creepy viewing–should tide you over until our sacred haunted holiday.

Also note that, although this list is now six years old, these remain my go-to freaky films: the kind which leave bruised and haunting imprints on the memory, the shadowy images I watch on the movie screen of my inner eyelids when I can’t sleep at night and have worked myself up into a fever pitch of paranoia and panic.

What are some of your favorites for eerie, eldritch viewing? Whether mildly gruesome or pants-shittingly terrifying, tell me about all about them in the comments! (I live in permanent FOMO, you know, so I can’t stand the thought that there is something amazing out there that I don’t know about and have not yet seen.)


Suspiria (Dario Argento), 1977
A moody, atmospheric assault of the senses. A young American woman arrives at a European ballet school where nothing is as it seems. Hallucinatory mayhem ensues.

3-holly1The Resurrected (Dan O’Bannon) 1992
An intelligent, brooding adaptation of Lovecraft’s “The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward”. Chris Sarandon at his creepily aristocratic best.


Cube (Vincenzo Natali) 1997
Kafkaesque sci-horror reminiscent of a visceral Twilight Zone episode. A handful of strangers wake up inside a monstrous maze of interlocking cubicles which are armed with lethal traps. Why were these individuals chosen? What is this place they are in? Is there even anything outside the Cube?


Let’s Scare Jessica To Death (John D. Hancock) 1971
An eerie, dreamlike film in which a woman’s already fragile psyche undergoes further trauma at the isolated farmhouse where she initially sought solace. Is there really something sinister going on between the mysterious drifter and the baleful townfolk – or is Jessica spiraling further into delusion and madness?


Dawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder) 2004
Romero’s 1978 original was “sacred ground” for horror buffs, but even though I saw this remake 6 years ago, there are some nights I still can’t sleep thinking upon certain scenes; to this day I am convinced I will awake to find my neighbor’s child gazing upon me hungrily, ready to mindlessly, viciously eat my face off.

Children Photo

Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things  (Bob Clarke) 1972
A strangely awkward film, a bit of nostalgic whimsy on my part.   A flamboyant theatre director brings his acting troupe to a remote island cemetery to raise the dead,as a practical joke.  This turns out badly for all involved; as we all know, these practices are no laughing matter.


Lemora: A Child’s Tale of The Supernatural (Richard Blackburn) 1975
 An orphaned young innocent is lured to a remote mansion on the outskirts of the strange southern gothic shanty town populated by bizarre mutants, and soon finds herself in the clutches of the wicked (and undead) Lemora. A long, unsettling nightmare of a film.


Imprint (Takashi Miike, Masters of Horror) 2005
A tale of lost love that grows stranger and more horrifying as the story unfolds. Contains one of the grisliest torture scenes that I have ever seen.


The Mist (Frank Darabont) 2007
Excellent Stephen King Adaptation (at least I thought so, but I don’t want to argue with you about it); local folks are trapped in a supermarket when a mysterious mist envelops the town – among the incredibly frightening monsters here, the worst and most brutish might actually be the human people. Also, I think this may have the bleakest ending of any movie I have ever seen.


Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey) 1962
After a traumatic accident a woman seems to be losing all contact with the world of the living.  Worthwhile viewing for the gorgeously oppressive atmosphere alone.


The Orphanage (Juan Antonio Bayona) 2008
A woman returns to her childhood home – a seaside orphanage – to reopen the establishment and raise her adopted son. The child’s mysterious disappearance, and frightening, otherworldly goings-on contribute to what is a quietly chilling, heartbreaking film.


A Tale of Two Sisters (Ji-woon Kim) 2003
A tale of tragedy and madness, based on an old Korean legend/folktale.


Les Diaboliques  (Henri-Georges Clouzot) 1955

*And a bonus pick from my dear friend The Kindred Spirit, who shares that since having seen Les Diaboliques, “I have been wary of face-like bathtub faucets ever since!”

Elsewhere: Basic Is The New Black


Strange Women Society “Secret Society” tee

Today at Dirge Magazine I write about my all time favorite wardrobe staple–and probably the most boring thing ever, but shut up because you know it’s your favorite too–the marvelous, magical black tee shirt.

AND I’ve made a list for you of where you can find some excellent additions when your old, nasty wardrobe basics have bit the dust!

Basic is the New Black: 10 Black Tees for Morbid Comfort

Occult Activity Book Volume Two teaser collection

13687158_1505275199498442_1881285878_nDo you guys remember that little project, our wee devil baby, the demonic thing on which Becky Munich and I and a coven of infernally talented artists and writers collaborated, conjured forth from the depths of the abyss, and birthed into the world in the early months of 2016? Sure you do! I mean, I hope you do, right?

Our Occult Activity Book for artistic creatures of the night & weirdos who like to dabble in the arcane arts (using crayons and colored pencils, of course!) was a rousing success and sold out in three weeks! As it was a very limited run–“spooky and special”, according to io9!– we decided that we were not going to revive it and raise it from the dead for another go round, but instead make a Volume Two that is twice as filled with magic and witchery, and even more splendid than the first!

This second book is scheduled for release in Fall of 2016, and to whet your appetite for more bewitching spell craft, dark arts, and esoteric fun times, I have gathered a collection of teaser images from the forthcoming book, below. I hope that you are as excited as we our for the release of our devil baby Jr., Occult Activity Book Volume Two!

{Art credits: Becky Munich, Carisa Swenson, Dana Glover, Dan Bythewood, Tenebrous Kate, & Casket Glass Studio; words by Jack Shear, Heather Drain, and Sonya Vatomsky.}



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Currently {August}

13277644_739243496216166_85591962_nGosh. It’s been a while since I’ve written about what I am currently up to! I tried to put a brief missive together back in June but I was so frazzled with my grandmother’s illness, I just couldn’t think straight. Let’s try again.

I finally put to use the kitchen aid ice cream paddle attachment that I received as a gift last Christmas (or was it two Christmases ago? Jeez.) and made a beautiful batch of coffee ice cream, just in time for some seriously hot Florida weather. Nearly two months later it has only gotten hotter, but have I made any more ice cream? No. The answer is no, I have not. It will probably be another two years. Such is the life of frou-frou kitchen gadgets.



Speaking of unused Christmas gifts, I received Yotam Ottolenghi’s beautiful vegetarian cookbook Plenty More a year or two ago, and I will shamefacedly admit that other an initial flip through to gaze at the dazzling photos, I hadn’t opened it again since. In searching out some meals that I could ostensibly cook ahead of time and then nibble off pieces for breakfast or lunch as needed, I came across the “cauliflower cake” and thought it looked perfect. I think his recipes are a sort of…Mediterranean fusion, you could say? So, the sort of book with lots of interesting ideas requiring not readily on hand ingredients, and instances where you might look at the recipe title and think, huh, I wonder if that’s really going to work? The cauliflower cake is like a more labor intensive and fancier and perhaps heftier version of a quiche, and we ended up really enjoying it. You can find the recipe over at smitten kitchen, so if you are interested in dusting off your spring form pan and turning on your stove, give it a try.

All summer long I have been making this avocado and crab salad, I think it’s a Tyler Florence recipe, maybe? It’s basically lump crabmeat from the fish guy in your supermarket (not the canned stuff on the shelf, I don’t trust it), mixed with some mayo, sriracha, black sesame seeds, minced green onion, and a wee splash of sesame oil. If I have it on hand, I stir in some diced, seeded cucumber for texture and for, well… roughage, I guess.  In the meantime, dice an avocado, sprinkle with lime juice and salt, and mold it together in a little cracked glass dish that is too cute to throw away. Voilà!

This is the perfect breakfast for me. I cannot eat cold cereal in the morning (it makes me a little nauseous; I think I associate it with the existential dread I felt at the prospect of facing a classroom of second graders when I was 7 years old), and I don’t really love oatmeal or fruit because it’s sweet and sweets in the morning make me rather ill. Wow. I never realized how picky I am.


13731239_1090341507717227_207964854_nIn early June my office got a bit of a revamp, and though I was opposed to it at first (probably because I didn’t want to do any of the work), I was thrilled with how it turned out. No more stacks and piles of crap! No more hand-me-down particle board!

We have bookshelves elsewhere in the house, so these particular cubbyholes are housing reading for research and edification rather than entertainment– as well as a perfume sample station, knitting nooks and a mini mom altar. There’s some empty spaces yet to fill, though, so that either means I will be stuffing junk in them or saving them for something special. Probably the former.

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My reading has been all over the place over the past few months. I just finished book one of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and I will confess I know nothing of Sabrina, I never even watched the television series in the 90s. I don’t think I would have expected how…dark this story was; I thought it might be lighthearted and campy/spooky. Except I totally expected how dark it was, because the internet spoiled it for me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read more.

I was immediately sold on I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl  after reading the Amazon blurb: a “… film noir set in verse, each poem a miniature crime scene with its own set of clues—frosted eye-shadow, a pistol under a horse’s eye, dripping window units, an aneurysm opening its lethal trap. ….”  But in the reading of it…well, to be perfectly honest. I was left feeling pretty dumb and filled with self-loathing. Why wasn’t I getting it? What were all of these readers who have rated it 5-stars seeing that I wasn’t? There were portions in while I was almost there…I was lost in the words and the imagery for just a second, and there was nearly a glimmering of understanding, and then I lost it. As the book wore on, these instances became more frequent and so overall, I mean, yeah–I got it. I think. But it wasn’t a very enjoyable read and I think I finished it out of spite.

I have had my eyes on The Decadent Cookbook for several years now and used a recent  weird and creepy cookbook purchasing binge as an excuse to finally pick it up. Described as a slightly sinister and highly literate feast of decadent writing on food, and with chapters such as “Dinner With Caligula”, “Blood, The Vital Ingredient”, and “I Can Recommend the Poodle”, I can’t tell you how excited I am to dig in. Expect a roast flamingo on my supper table very soon.


I have been meaning to watch Morgiana for years and just got around to it this weekend (it’s on YouTube, with subtitles!) It’s gorgeous and captivating and quite eccentric. And as one reviewer says:”… Edward Gorey as filmed by Ken Russell–a sardonic chunk of Victorian penny-dreadful melodrama tweaked to new levels of aesthetic and emotional hysteria.”

More one-word reviews for you on other recently watched films…
Late Phases*–yes
Session 9–yes
Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For*–eh
Big Hero 6–maybe
They Look Like People*-maybe
The Invitation*–YES
They’re Watching*–YES(but)**
The Martian–eh

*these titles can be found on netflix
** I loved it, in spite of….well. Just don’t kill me for suggesting it.


Summertime Adventures And Going Home Again


It’s been a strange summer, full of the sort of things that are done before you know they’ve started, as well as the hurry-up-and-wait type of scenarios. My grandmother pulled through her last health scare, but now she is totally bed-bound. She continues to perservere, however, and is generally cheery and good-natured about it all.  She’ll hang out until she’s ready to leave. I think we are all prepared, as much as one can be…so we are just going to enjoy her until she departs for her next Big Thing.



Image credit:


Image credit:

I took a whirlwind trip to Philadelphia to visit my darling Best Good Friend, who has been spending a great deal of time up there for work-related purposes. Unfortunately I did not get a lot of photos, but maybe that’s a good thing: enjoying time with a loved one without the constant compulsion and distraction of documenting everything.

It was a lovely, relaxing time of shopping and food and shopping and food and catching up–which I think is exactly what we needed. We visited the Reading Terminal Market and walked from there to the Mütter Museum (where they don’t allow photography anyway) and saw the soap lady and the Hyrtl Skull Collection, among other things. We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Grimms’ Anatomy: Magic and Medicine, a special exhibit in honor of the two-hundredth anniversary of the publication of The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, and which shows real-world examples of gruesome and grotesque fairy-tale bodies. Fascinating!

Of course we could not leave without a trip through the gift shop for all sorts of macabre goodies–the main goal of course was to snag a few bottles of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s “Umlaut“, which was created exclusively for the Mütter Museum. It’s a resinous, musky vanilla that BGF observes smells like a feminist bookstore, probably this one. Which is to say we think it smells pretty amazing.

We also stayed in and ate nearly an entire bag of Herr’s Jalapeno Poppers one night, which, if you don’t know, Herr’s Jalapeno Poppers are basically the best junk food ever.


Speaking of junkfood, in July my sisters and our significant others met up for a trip that’s been a long time in the planning–a visit to our hometown in Milford Ohio, as well as a stop to see our baby sister’s new home in Indiana and visit with some other family in the area. It has been 30+ years since we moved from Ohio to Florida and I had never been back. I wasn’t quite ten years old when I left, so I was prepared to recognize absolutely nothing, as kids don’t really pay attention to much in the way of driving routes at that age.

After arriving at the airport and being picked up by my brother in law and my other traveling sister, we drove straight to Milford, stopping at a Skyline Chili to stuff cheese coneys in our faces. (I remember after having moved down to Florida and seeing chili dogs on the menu, my excitement rapidly turning to sadness–instead of the monstrous piles of shredded cheese that I was longing for…it was…squirty cheese! I had never been so offended in my young life.) The cheese coneys I had last month tasted exactly like I remembered them–cheesy and oniony, and the weird taste of the Cincinnati chili— and they were totally worth the issues they caused in my now 40 year old guts. NO REGRETS.

In driving to the house where I lived until I was 10 years old, a funny thing happened. The closer we got to it, the more I recognized little landmarks and certain traffic lights…the same used car lot with the funny multicolored triangle flags was still nested in the corner where we made the left-hand turn on our street, for example. It was so surreal. Stranger too, to see a car pull up in our old driveway as we walked toward the house. Two rambunctious young men exited the car and entered the house, so that was that as far as our pressing our faces against the windows to see inside. The driveway was so small!  I recall all the worms that would wriggle across its surface after a rainstorm in the spring…it seemed so immense at the time…

Afterwards we drove by our grandparent’s old place. It’s at the very end of the lane and it looks like developers have still not touched the woods beyond, which made me inordinately happy. It is still very much as I remember it, save for all of the junk in the front yard. Tools and toys and clothing and lawn chairs…it looked as if they might have been having a garage sale. Except…I don’t think they were selling anything. It was kind of weird, actually.



We spent a good portion of the trip in Bloomington, at my uncle’s beautiful home, far out in the country. Like, far, faaaaar out in the country. The driveway was maybe a quarter mile long and I honestly did not even know where the next neighbor was. The back yard, such as it was, had been turned into a bit of a butterfly and hummingbird garden, and beyond that there was what looked to be miles and miles of wooded area. It was a little eerie at night, imagining the house lit up in the darkness, and someone in the trees watching us intently.

In between visiting folks and dining and chatting, I knit on a sock and I finished reading Kindred by Octavia Butler.I cannot believe it’s taken me this long to read any of her stories, but now I want to devour all of them



We then: visited a cemetery beautiful old cemetery down the road // met up with our cousins for dinner at Bru Burger Bar in Indianapolis, where we waited two hours to be seated // got a driving tour and history from my baby sister of the beautiful homes of Broadripple // visited downtown Indianapolis // ate all the french fries and all the dipping sauce at Brugge // visited Half Price Books and found the art of Marci Washington for $8

That was a lot of stuff to do in the three days that we were there! And I have promised I will be back in fall of 2017 to do all of the Autumn Things with my sister, as for the past ten years she had been living in California, and had previously spent most of her life in Florida, and so she is going nuts at the prospect of fall activities. I can’t wait.


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The safest place to bury a body

The safest place to bury a body from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Title inspired by the poetry of Sonya Vatomsky and the art of of Stellar Leuna.

Track list:

You Disappear, La Luz | DRIVE YOUR CAR, L.A. WITCH | Female Trouble, Thee Tsunamis | Okie Dokie Doggy Daddy, Lala Lala | Night Sound, Prom Queen | Reposession Man, The Vallures | Eat You Alive, The Delphines | Fuck Marry Kill, Daddy Issues | The Future’s Done, The Lad Mags | La Sirena, Bombón | Cràpula, Les Mortettes

Elsewhere: The Art Of Matsuyama Miyabi

1 (1)

Today over at Dirge Magazine I write of the unsettling, disturbing gorgeousness found in Matsuyama Miyabi’s gloomy neo-Ukiyo-e art.

I originally stumbled across this Matsuyama Miyabi’s wonderful work while trying to find the artist responsible for “Addams Family In Kimonos” (which had been posted several times over on facebook, sans credit. But I’ll not get on my soapbox about that now.)


In any event, I finally found the human who created the image; a Chinese artist who has assumed a Japanese moniker (and it’s actually probably signed in the image above, but I read neither Chinese nor Japanese, so I wouldn’t have known anyway, ha). The elusive artist very generously answered my nosy questions for the piece.

Read more over at Dirge!
Matsuyama Miyabi’s Gloomy Neo-Ukiyo-e Art Mingles Death and Fate

12 Terrifying Tales

Image: Ghost Of Perdition by Chris Dessaigne

Image: Ghost Of Perdition by Chris Dessaigne

This was originally written for and posted at After Dark In the Playing Fields on Halloween in 2010, by my partner in the enterprise at that time, to whom we at Unquiet Things refer to, with much love, as a “Kindred Spirit”.

However, I can’t think of a better time to indulge in a chilling tale than during summer’s infernal furnace when the promise of autumn’s cooling glooms are still a dreadfully long way off. And so, you can thank a feverish August heatwave for the re-sharing of this this delightfully spooky list.

Some of the listed items below are complete books, whereas others are shorter stories. I have attempted to include links to read for free on the web, where possible;otherwise, the links will lead you to amazon where the books/stories can be purchased.

1. “The Music of Erich Zann” by H.P. Lovecraft. The shrieking and whining of desperate viols…defending against…what exactly?

2. The Tenant by Roland Topor. The most disturbing novel I have ever read, a nauseating crescendo of paranoia and sinister characters.

3. “O Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad” by M.R. James. Mysterious medieval whistles with Latin inscriptions and the infamous “face of crumpled linen”.

4. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Evocative, eerie and I first read it in one sitting.

5. “The White People” by Arthur Machen. “And if the roses in your garden sang a weird song, you would go mad. And suppose the stones in the road began to swell and grow before your eyes, and if the pebble that you noticed at night had shot out stony blossoms in the morning?”

6. “The Willows” by Algernon Blackwood. Two campers encounter a place where the veil between the worlds has grown thin…an alien world, a world tenanted by willows only and the souls of willows.

7. “A Haunted Island” by Algernon Blackwood. Chilling terror and remniscent of the Adirondacks island camp I stay at in the summers. (Blackwood makes this list twice, because he is truly the master of the unsettling tale.)

8. The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson. A found manuscript, swine creatures and the swift passing of the universe…is the narrator sane or not?

9. “The Spider” by Hanns Heinz Ewers. Mysterious suicides take place in the same apartment, seemingly without cause.

10. “The Human Chair” by Edogawa Rampo. A bizarre tale of the Japanese gothic.

11. “The Room in the Tower” by E.F. Benson. Sinister dreams and unfriendly nocturnal visitors.

12. “The Damned Thing” by Ambrose Bierce. What may happen in a field of wild oats.

A bonus pick from your host, Mlle. Ghoul:

  • 13.  The House Next Door by Anne River Siddons.  A singular tale, and from what I can tell the author’s lone foray into the genre. A unique take on the haunted house story – is the evil housed within in the structure of the dwelling, or is it the wickedness of the inhabitants that drive the horrors that occur within?  The chills are so subtly sinister and so elegantly written that it is difficult to pinpoint exactly why the book is so frightening; I imagine the shudders provoked by these pages will be very different for each reader.

Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments!

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