Archive of ‘unquiet things’ category

Shudder Picks For This Friday Night

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There is nothing as irritating and frustrating as scrolling through your video service of choice for twenty minutes or more and not seeing anything that looks even halfway decent or that grabs your attention. This makes me very angry! I’ve been known to toss the remote across the room in a snit over this very vexation–I mean why are we even paying for these services? I know, this is a really dumb thing to complain about, but it is one of those things that gets my dander up.

A couple years ago, on a whim, I started up a free trial for Shudder (“Curated Thrills, Horror, and Suspense That Will Make Your Spine Tingle”, whee!) through Amazon, and promptly forgot about it. But when I was compiling films to watch this past October for my 31 Days Of Horror project, I realized that Shudder really has some amazing selections. If you’re into super current releases, you might be a bit disappointed, but if your thing is slightly obscure cinema, or previously difficult to find movies, or films with a cult following–there is really a treasure trove of riches to dig through here. Don’t go by current line up of titles they show on the welcome screen at any given time–there is so much more available than that. Which isn’t to say that there’s a magnificently huge selection, but I have found that the really interesting titles are is not the ones featured on the front page.

But let’s say you’re on the sofa, you’ve got your popcorn ready, and you want something NOW. You don’t want to dig around and scroll endlessly for hours and then it’s midnight before you settle on something. I hear you, and I am here to help.

(By the way, how do you eat your popcorn? I like mine with butter, flaky salt, aonori, and nutritional yeast! I could eat it morning, noon and night. Popcorn for life.)

Below are twenty(ish) films that I found in their 50 or so pages of selections, that have my stamp of approval. I mean, don’t tell anyone that. My stamp of approval is sort of worthless, so no doubt they’ll just laugh at you. But between you and me, you cannot go wrong with the following choices, some of which I have mentioned or reviewed previously, and some of which appeared on Unquiet Things as part of a guest blog post, just last week!

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Jordskott (series)
Prevenge
Demons
Audition
A Tale of Two Sisters
The Beyond
Repulsion
Battle Royale
The Whip and the Body
Trollhunter
The Host
Kill, Baby Kill
High Tension
The Devil’s Backbone
Frankenhooker
Antiviral
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
The Stendhal Syndrome
Berberian Sound Studio
Fascination

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And here are some films that I have read about over the years, or which have been on my list of things to watch, and I was very excited to find them on *Shudder as well! Have you found any gems or must-see movies on Shudder (or amazon prime, or netflix, for that matter–we have all of them!)

Short Night of Glass Dolls 
Black Belly of the Tarantula
The Church
The Velvet Vampire
Baba Yaga
Dead Ringers
Nightmares Come At Night
The Last Circus {h/t to Kate for making me aware of this one!}

*These are all my opinions, and Shudder did not pay me for my enthusiasm.

{Guest Post} Ten Gems Of Decadent Cinema

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I have a difficult time watching movies. I mean, I love movies, and I love watching them but I tend to become fixated on minute details. And if it is a particularly gorgeous film, brimming with opulence and utterly dripping with lavish details, well, then we have a problem, because I am painstakingly pausing the film every few seconds, scene by scene, to capture a certain detail–the shadowy fold of a velvet skirt, the glinting facets of a crystal goblet, the glow of candlelight on skin. More often than not it takes me five hours to watch a standard length film.

Sometime starting in 2016, I think, I began marveling at the sumptuous, sensuous cinematic screen shots posted over at @la.belle.otero‘s instagram. This person, I thought, has without a doubt elevated the dreamy, decadent screen shot to an art form! I became obsessed with the images they would share– poetic, hypnotic glimpses of films I’d never even seen or heard of! In addition to mesmerizing scenes graced by magnificently beautiful women, the account is also awash in an abundance of wickedly exquisite art and fashion.

On a whim, I inquired of the owner of this instagram account if she might like to put together a guest post detailing some of her favorite or most beloved gems of decadent cinema to share with the readers of Unquiet Things, and I was delighted when she agreed!

Jessica enthuses about all things strange and unusual in art, books, film, and fashion on her Instagram, @la.belle.otero , and contributes regularly to @dreamersofdecadence and @lesfemmespsychotiques. Her formal background is in Comparative Literature and Fashion Design.

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The Seventh Victim: Produced by B-movie master Val Lewton, this cult/noir classic from 1943 oozes with glamour and gloom. Set in Greenwich Village with a plot revolving around a mysterious missing sister and a Satanic cult, it features one of the most visually striking characters in noir cinema. It’s impossible to take your eyes off of Jean Brooks as Jacqueline, with her long black bob and dark fur coat, sunk deep into an armchair. The Seventh Victim is a concise and enigmatic thriller steeped in a highly stylized, sinister atmosphere, but it’s truly Brooks as the troubled and traumatized femme fatale who makes it essential viewing.


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: I rarely recommend films to people if they’re hard to find or not commercially available. There’s one I always make an exception for, and that’s this one. This 1968 gonzo Japanese campadelic crime caper stars renowned drag queen Akihiro Miwa as a glamorous jewel thief, and features Aubrey Beardsley-inspired sets, a collection of human statues, and a cameo by literary icon Yukio Mishima (who wrote the play on which the film was based). Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, who would much later become famous for Battle Royale, this gem is ripe for rediscovery.

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Morgiana: When it comes to aesthetics, nothing makes me giddier than the Belle Epoque through the lens of the 1970s, and this Czech gothic horror film revels in it. It’s a study in elegance and creepiness with an interplay of light versus darkness, embodied in the two sisters (both played by the same actress, Iva Janzurova) at the center of the of a surreal fairytale struggle between good and evil. The costumes and art direction are ominously executed with meticulous detail (every delicate object, every fold of cloth catches the eye), and emphasized by the hallucinatory camerawork.

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Don’t Deliver Us from Evil: Two teenage girls in rural France, fed up with the humdrum of their lives, give into the temptations of the dark side by way of the writings of Charles Baudelaire and the Comte de Lautrémont, and are ultimately and irrevocably plunged head first into a life of crime and an unwavering devotion to evil. With such a plot, it would be easy for this film to be little more than typical exploitation fare, however director Joel Séria gives the viewer something much more poetically sinister, propelled by strong performances from the lead actresses and capped off by an unforgettably shocking final scene.

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Five Dolls for an August Moon: I’m a devotee of the giallo genre, and although a well-developed plot is often what makes the best of these films great, sometimes storyline simply takes a backseat to pure eye candy. Mario Bava’s take on Ten Little Indians utterly abandons logic in favor of a pop art extravaganza dripping with candy-hued tones (even the blood is peppermint red). Featuring giallo queen Edwige Fenech at her most beautiful, the “dolls” are resplendent in retro-fabulous costumes that parade on the screen like a late ‘60s fashion show. If you’re feeling puzzled by the ponderous and often incomprehensible dialogue, most DVD releases treat you to a soundtrack-only option, which is one of composer Piero Umiliani’s grooviest.

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Daughters of Darkness: Who wouldn’t give into the ravishes of vampires who looked like Marlene Dietrich and Louise Brooks? Renowned actress Delphine Seyrig, with the help of her young companion, seduce a newlywed couple in an abandoned grand seaside hotel in Belgium. Seyrig’s elaborate and breathtaking costumes took up a large chunk of the film’s budget, and it shows. Her hypnotic beauty and lines delivered in a voice that manages to be both breathy and husky at the same time are reason enough to see this 1971 treasure, but there’s even more to be enjoyed, such as the desolate beach locations, and the deserted opulence of the hotel itself.

Nightmares
Nightmares Come at Night: Les Cauchemars naissent la nuit, one of dizzyingly prolific director Jess Franco’s most personal and obscure projects, has a title that is not as elegantly rendered in English, but in any language, the title reveals little of the film’s secrets. Thought to be lost for many years until it was released on DVD around a decade ago, Nightmares contains many elements and themes central to Franco’s filmography: mind control, madness, bizarre night club acts, remote locales, and perhaps most importantly, borderlines between dreams and reality. A difficult film to describe, but truly worthy of watching in an attempt to unravel its mysteries.

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Fascination: French director Jean Rollin is often mentioned in the same breath as Spaniard Jess Franco, but the two directors’ works are as different from each other as they are intimately aligned with each director’s singular vision. Rollin, famed for his repeated use of vampires, took an unusual diversion on the theme in 1979. Rather than the traditional fanged undead, Fascination centers around two women (another construct frequently employed by the director) holed up in a chateau who are initiates of an all-female blood-drinking cult, where they are about to turn the tables on a violent gang of criminals who invade their terrain. The Belle Epoque via the ‘70s aesthetic is another huge plus.

Possession Possession: Made infamous by appearing on the banned British “video nasty” list in the 1980s, this film by late Polish art house director Andzrej Zulawski transcends the oversimplification of mere “horror movie” into something sublime and inexplicable. The plot centers around the violent dissolution of a marriage, and the crystallization of the resulting outpour of emotion into a truly horrific physical entity. Possession is simply unlike anything else, and defies description (and often, comprehension). Isabelle Adjani was awarded Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981 for her gut-wrenchingly unhinged performance.

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Camille 2000: Radley Metzger specialized in making the sublime ridiculously sublime through his softcore (and later, hardcore) adaptations of literary classics. This film takes the 19th century novel La Dame aux Camélias (which has been adapted numerous times into theatrical, opera, and prior film versions) and transplants it into swinging ‘60s Rome. Metzger excelled in creating lavish masterpieces out of what could easily have been done on the cheap, and true to form, every shot is lovingly framed with exquisite cinematography. Even the sex scenes are filmed with a sophistication rarely seen in “euro-cult” movies of this era. A rich orchestral score, an outrageous dungeon party scene, ultra-mod furnishings (oh, to have a clear inflatable couch!), and a dizzying array of costumes, all add to the icing on this decadent confection.

Thank you, Jessica! Do you have a weird or strange interest or passion or obsession that you would like to share with the readers of Unquiet Things? Are you interested in writing up a guest post about it? Please let me know! I will pay you with a knitted good for your time!

{Guest Post} Planners: Rituals Of Comfort, Agents Of Change

 

Planner headerI spent some much-needed quality times with my sisters over the Thanksgiving holiday. We sat in companionable silence, ignoring each other in favor of our various quiet pursuits while eating mass quantities of junk food–and it was utterly glorious.

I snapped a photo of my baby sister’s afternoon pastime (forgive me, she’s in her late 30s now, but you know how it is–the youngest is always the baby. I’m the oldest, if you didn’t know!) She was earnestly carving out time in her planner for this, that, or the other thing, and while she was doing so, I snapped a photo and shared it to Instagram. It garnered such an interesting response! Some folks were much like me, in that we can’t be bothered with planners, but still find the concept and execution fascinating. Some people thought it was quite a work of art! And others were keenly interested in learning more, for they too, yearn to make sense of their schedules and set things to order.

She and I decided that it might be fun for her to put together a little guest blog for the New Year, when everyone is trying to pin down their plans and get organized for 2018. See below for her journey from a sad, struggling soul who felt like life was something that happened to her, to a woman with purpose …and plans! She discusses regaining a feeling of control and a sense of empowerment through the use and implementation of her planner (and all of the little gadgets and doohickeys that make planners so much fun! Or so I hear. Still not a convert tbh.) And additionally, we have a bit of a Q&A, wherein I encourage her to spill the beans on all of the incidentals and details and accompanying planner fripperies.

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The late May sun was just starting to set in the west; another day in the deserts of Southern California was drawing to a close, exhausted by its own unending heat. The pinkish-gold glow of the sky made the brownish lumps of the San Bernardino Mountains (piles of god-shit, as I sometimes sourly observed) against that sky curdle and hulk in surly, resentful, passive existence.

At that moment, though, I could scarcely register the brilliant sunset or the hulking mountains; my eyes kept blurring with tears.

I was driving my colleague, Dustin, home from a work party. He kept glancing over at me in vague dismay–this snivelling, exhausted, melancholic woman in the driver’s seat was a hollow echo of the brash, boisterous colleague with whom he had become familiar. He knew I was experiencing a bout of depression, but he didn’t know the causes–such as my own failure to execute basic acts of self-care (LIKE TAKING MY ANTIDEPRESSANTS), the fact that, despite my knowledge of my husband’s repeated infidelities, I had just committed with him to a 30-year-mortgage on a house in a place that I hated more with every passing minute. I would grow old in that house, with that man, and life–if I could call this existence “life”– was simply happening to me, with neither my consent nor my dissent, nor any effort on my part to steer things. I was good and trapped–so I thought.

Like any man who has no profound emotional attachment to a person, Dustin simply wanted me to stop crying. He tried to cheer me up. “Do you have something nice to look forward to? You should make some plans. Everyone needs something to look forward to.”

I tried to pull myself together. I stopped snivelling (on the outside, at least), and carried on with my evening, but I had heard Dustin’s words, and I didn’t forget them in a hurry. Or ever.

Not long after that, I started to plan.

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My immersion into “the planning community” has been very gradual. In 2012, 2013, my forays into “the planner life” consisted mainly of weekly lists and goals, broken down into categories. But I was lacking a grasp of the big picture (who am I kidding? I still am), and I knew it wasn’t enough. I flitted about from one planner to another, not ever quite finding the right fit for me (I know now that “the right fit” has a name: “Planner Peace.” Go on, roll your eyes. I’ll wait.) But in early 2014, my Middle Sister directed me to The Life-Changing Magic of Erin Condren, and by extension, “The Planning Community.” What can I say about Erin Condren Life Planners? They aren’t everyone’s cuppa, but they are mine. They aren’t hideously expensive, but they aren’t cheap, either. These customizable planners have helped me organize my life (I currently juggle three jobs and try to have an active social life), direct my intentions, energies, and projects, and generally just help me stay on top of things. I like being busy and productive, I like setting goals, I like checking things off my lists, and if you think that I am the type of person that would schedule sex in my planner, well…I’m here to tell you, if I actually ever bothered to have sex, I absolutely would.)

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Since using Erin Condren, I’ve noticed more and more that life is no longer something that happens to me. More and more, day by day, I happen to life. I’m not saying that joining “the planning community” got me to divorce my husband, find a new job (or 3) , move across country, and build a whole new existence–but I AM saying that these accomplishments of mine were a hell of a lot more easily achieved through maintaining a planner and a planned life.

Recently, I traveled down to Florida for my annual Thanksgiving jollifications with my sisters and their partners. From Orlando with Middle Sister to Daytona with Eldest I traveled, and it wasn’t until I was getting settled into the captain’s bed in Eldest’s office that I realized I had left my planner behind in Orlando.

Not long after, Eldest’s partner observed, not without amusement, “Your sister’s been without her planner for half an hour, and she’s a bit of a mess.” I had to chuckle; it was true. As soon as I realized I was without my planner, I promptly began making a to-do list for the next day on a piece of scratch paper. It wasn’t my planner, but it would have to do.

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“It’s the ritual, I think, that you need as much as anything,” Eldest observed. And she’s right! On Sundays I light some candles, play some music, drink some wine, and plan my week ahead. In the mornings, I settle down with some coffee and contemplate what needs to be done in the hours ahead. It’s a ritual, a routine that helps me feel like I have agency in my own life. The sense of control is fictional, of course, but the planner in my hands, the intentions, the goals are very real, indeed. The Black Dogs of my depression and my anxiety–not discussed here, but no less potent for that–are longtime companions of mine, and I’ve found some ways to manage their less-than-cherished company.

Some folks laugh at me, I think, for trying to plan and stay on top of things, but I know now: planning is my way for me to perform self-care when I am anxious. It’s my way channel my energy and to try to give my struggling, sometimes sad life some intention and purpose. I invite you to find a way to incorporate planning into your life to achieve your own kind of comfort and care.

MB

Q&A

You mention Erin Condren planners–what makes them so great?
Well–and bear in mind, everyone is different in what they like and need in a planner–for me it’s that the EC planners have a certain amount of regimenting, and a certain amount of customization. (And space for lists–every week, every month, and at the back of the planner.) Each year, the designs change in response to what people ask for, and each year, they just keep getting better!. When I first started using EC planners, they were only vertical layouts, non-time-slotted, with chunks for morning-noon-and-night, Now you can get horizontal or vertical layouts, time-chunked or non-time-chunked, and you can decide how your days and priorities and projects are broken down and planned out. Furthermore, there is plenty of space and ways for folks to get all artsy-fartsy and shit.

Plan out you typical day for me!
Okay, so, I use the Erin Condren vertical layout planner, which is divided into three sections. I use the top section for my scheduled stuff, the middle section for my to-do list, and the bottom section for self-care/adulting stuff. So, here’s my Monday:

Schedule:
📖 7:30 AM Labwork at Clinic
📖 8:30-5 PM Work
📖 5-6:15 Run to campus, grab dinner
📖 6:30 Movie with Joelle
📖 8:30 Go home, do chores, putter, etc.

To Do:
📖 Pick up library books
📖 Renew professional membership
📖 Fold laundry
📖 15 minute clean
📖 Work on packing
📖 Text my friend Jo

Self-Care:
📖 Take pills
📖 Journal
📖 Hail hydrate
📖 Continue Dryuary Project
📖 Cuddle Cats
(For the record: I am in the middle of moving, so pretty much all of my energies are focused on that, and not so much with anything beyond the very basics of self-care. Long-term goal: Get better about that.)

How do you differentiate or prioritize different kinds of plans? Need to do vs. want to do?
For me, to a greater or lesser extent, everything is a NEED to do! But I tend to categorize my plans and to-do lists and action items and routines: Work, Health, Home, Social Obligations, Correspondence, To Buy, To Read, General To-Do Errands, Project Steps, and then under each category, try to list stuff in order of descending importance.

What are some of the other planners currentpopular in the “planning community?” What are some “planner trends” right now?”
📖  BuJo (Bullet Journaling) was HUGE a year ago. (I tried BuJo, but it was too time-consuming.) This year, it’s Travelers Notebooks. Both of these are more customizable than your manufactured planners.
📖  Other planners that seem to have quite a devoted following are Passion Planners, Plum Paper Planners, and Kikki K Planners
📖 
PenGems, I’m told, are a thing, although I suspect that they could be more a flash in the pan.
📖 The planning world, much like the makeup world and the crafting world, is one that responds to the free market, as far as I am concerned. If there’s an interest in it, then by god, there are products to fulfill your interest!
📖 Planner Conventions

I know there’s some facebook pages (and probably LJ communities and reddit groups, etc.) dedicated to “the planner life”, what can you tell me about them and the communities built around them? How do you find them helpful?
📖 Again, it’s going to depend on what you need. Do you need inspiration for ways to plan out your ECLP (Vertical)? Do you need to be reassured that you are not the only one with 7+ planners? (You’re not.) Are you just going through some shit and need to reach out to someone? There are many, many different planner communities out there, but I would suggest for a general, and gentle, introduction, Planners with Manners would be a good starting point, and they can direct you to other, more specific groups.
📖 BohoBerry, a really fantastic lady who has a website/blog about creative goal setting and bullet journaling, has a tribe, which includes a facebook group; I’m actually really excited to look into this more. She also encourages a lot of journaling and self-reflection.
📖 
Lisa Marie Landreth, of Paper and Glam, designs her own planners and stickers, and runs a bit of a planning community and book club. She might be a bit feminine and conventional for many folks’ tastes, but I find her to be very earnest and sweet, and her “glam family” seems to grow every month.
📖 
“MAMBI” (Acronym for the brand name Me and My Big Ideas) produce “Happy Planners”, which I actually use as a bit of a scrapbook (there seems to be quite an intersection between the planning and papercrafting communities), and the Facebook Group Mambi The Happy Planner Divas focuses on that particular brand. And of course there’s always the We Love EC Facebook Group for the Erin Condren fans out there!

stickers and pens

I’ve peeked through your planner and have seen all kinds of wacky decorations–what’s that all about?
STICKERS, dude. It’s all about the stickers. There are so many different stickers that will help you theme and customize your planner, day, week, month, Gallifreyan regeneration cycles, whatevs.

Do you have any planner recommendations for readers of Unquiet Things? I think you know our aesthetic. I think you referred to it once as “dead people stuff.”
Cor blimey, that’s a tough one. Because I feel guilty about type-casting folks. I mean, here I am using those cutsie-pootsie stickers from Switzerland, but then I am listening to Dropkick Murphys and contemplating the feasibility of open relationships as I plan my month. So, folks can be a bit…eclectic in their tastes? But then again, I am a liberal librarian who rejected California for Indiana and says “dude” and I am also burning a Bath and Body Works candle and drinking some Starbucks coffee as I plan, so perhaps some tastes will out and folks are hard to pin down, so hey hey y’all, let’s make some assumptions…
ANYWAY. Customizing planners is one of the big things in “the planning community”, so I would say that Etsy shops that supply stickers, covers, and charms according to the aesthetics that I am PRESUMING y’all have, would be something I would recommend.
Naked Eye Studio on Etsy unfortunately only has a few items up for sale, but some of their stuff would be PERF.

Find more of my baby sister: blog // instagram

 

A Mystery, Solved: Maria Germanova Comes Home

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Today I am a little bit weepy. Folks who have been internet-friends with me for a long time may recognize this glamorous dame, whose eerie, enigmatic visage was a substitute avatar for my own face for many years, in many online haunts, because I was too timid to use my own.

I first found the image on Netflix, in 2006. A thumbnail sized mystery upon which I immediately fixated, deeply fascinated. I sought its source for years and had almost given up, when, in 2009 I found her in the @nypl digital archives and discovered her name: Maria Germanova, of the Moscow Art Theatre. This fantastical image is from The Blue Bird, (L’Oiseau bleu ), a 1908 play by Maurice Maeterlinck, in which she portrayed (what I can only assume) is Russia’s most outrageously gorgeous witch. You can read about my discovery over on ye olde tumblr.

When I learned that I could buy a print of my beloved sorceress, I was over the moon, my heart was glad to bursting! But then, friends, at the height of my raptures, tragedy struck, when I realized that I could no longer find her on the website. A melancholy madness took hold. Or, if we’re reigning in the melodrama a bit, I got a case of the mopes for several months. Just last week, though, Jess at bloodmilk came to the rescue and found her for me again (thank you!) and I placed an order for an archival print right away. I wasn’t going to let her get away this time! And now, here she is, and we shall never be parted. Stately and dignified with a bunch of books on top of her. Just like I treat all of my loved ones.

How To Wear The Night Sky

Goat Mountain in Big Bend National Park // Photo by Matt Smith

Goat Mountain in Big Bend National Park // Photo by Matt Smith

I’m taking the liberty of declaring 2018 the year that we celebrate that we are, indeed, made of starstuff! And as celestial & extraterrestrial beings, why not dress in all the sublime, scintillating colors and textures and spangles of the cosmos– as glittering hosts of heaven, resplendent in our divinity!

And if all of this is too much for you too swallow, please note that I have a miserable head cold and my noggin is aching so much, that I am literally seeing stars. You have to take inspiration where you can find it, you know?

At any rate! Below you will find several ensembles inspired by the stars, the planets, the interstellar wonderland of our luminous night sky …and sometimes this inspiration takes strange forms, such as outfit ideas influenced by avant-garde photography, man-made star projectors, and bioluminescent tides! As always, click on the image to find the details for the apparel and accessories for each collection.

How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 1

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How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 2

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How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 3

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How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 4

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How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 5

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How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 6

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How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 7

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How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 8

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How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 9

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How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 10

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Currently {11.28.17}

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I’ll sum up November quickly: I fretted a lot, I feasted too much, and I miss my sisters desperately, having had them near me for one wonderful week, and now they gone. Other than that, I got, as they say, nothin‘.

Instead I’ll tell you about some of my favorite things this month!

Pumpkin Spice Snake Oil from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Halloween release. I received this one after I’d already written some Weenie reviews over at Haute Macabre, but this would have made top of my list, if I had sniffed it at the time! Snake Oil, a blend of “exotic Indonesian oils sugared with vanilla” is a gorgeous and intoxicating, but fiercely potent brew and– as much as I love it–I have to be careful wearing it around sensitive noses and sometimes it even gives me a fit of sneezes!  This pumpkin spice version is tempered by some pumpkin spices that I can’t even really discern, but it definitely makes for a kinder, gentler Snake Oil. I have been wearing it every day for the last week. And…it’s still in stock! I would advise you to grab it while you can.

Graces elixir from Sister Spinster. I own several potions and elixirs from Sister Spinster; I love the concept of encouraging self-care and empowerment through wild blooms and floral abundance. Do they work? Well, I don’t rightly know. I like to think so? I can tell you that a dropperful of Graces, with its mixture of chamomile, skullcap, linden, lemon balm, lavender and violet leaf infused in brandy with local honey, and taken with intent when I am feeling anxious, nervous, stressed or in the dark….well, it makes me feel like I am taking a moment to collect myself. And sometimes I think that’s either all you need, or it’s the first in a series of steps needed to get you beyond your anxiousness.

Lip Balms from Pollux and Key: I have the Cocoa Mallow Balm and the Chamomile Hibiscus Balm. I ordered these on a whim because I loved the unique combination of ingredients they presented (and the fact that these are non-minty lip balms, although if that’s your thing, they have a peppermint one, too.) After using them though, I tell you what–these are utterly lovely. They are slippy and soothing, not at all chalky or waxy, and the fragrances is very, very subtle. I can catch a tiny whiff of it, and whatever it is, it’s pleasant, but it’s barely there at all. And they seem to be flavorless, which I also love. I only wish they they had a version packaged in a tube; the tins are very pretty, and I don’t mind using my fingers, but a tube would work better for travel and I’d really like to throw one of these in every single tote bag I own (and that’s a lot of tote bags.)

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The Spellbound leggings from Black Milk, which I nabbed as soon as I saw my stunning friend Maika wearing them, and which have quickly become my favorite things ever. I had a pair of leggings that I’d gotten from Black Milk a few years back and never wore because I thought they were uncomfortable…it turns out I just needed to wear a larger sizer. Who knew!

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Speaking of which, isn’t this some marvelous advice with regard to friendship? “…meet those that recognize the wound within the both of you.” Indeed, that is exactly what I try to do! This very excellent suggestion comes courtesy Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles by Taisia Kitaiskaia. I cannot recommend this strange little book full of wild, wise, and wonderful counsel highly enough.

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In making up for the fact that our mattress is approx. 200 years old, I may have created a monster bed, one that drains my productivity and diminishes my number of waking hours. Between the Ghost and buckwheat pillows and the insanely high thread count sheets and the fluffiest, coziest duvet, I’m really just trapped in here, forever. The crowning glory? The eyeball-searing William Morris “seaweed” linen set. I had a tough time finding a website that would ship to the U.S.  but if you are one of the people whose gaze has not yet fallen on this thing and you are interested in napping on it yourself, you can find it, and a few other William Morris patterned designs at Amara.

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Lastly, if you like whiskey and you have a spare $70, I have stumbled upon a terrific one for you: Nikka Coffee Grain Whisky. I am definitely not an expert in such matters, but it is described as having “rich oak” and “marmalade” notes. Whatever that means? A lot of reviewers note that it’s a bit on the sweet side, and normally I am not a fan of dessert-y type drinks, but this is delicious.

Your turn! Got any recommendations for me?

Hexmas Shopping From Home On Black Friday

harmony_1024x1024I gotta tell you, I supported the hell out of some small businesses last night, after vowing earlier in the day that I wasn’t actually going to do any shopping at all. Funny how that works after a glass or two of wine.

I usually do a little bit of Hexmas shopping for myself, it’s true. Receiving gifts is nice, but as I’ve said before, it’s pretty unlikely that (unless you’ve given someone a detailed list, which I think is kind of lame and I refuse to do it) no one is going to get you EXACTLY what you want, so you’d better just take care of it yourself!

We are traveling to DC for the winter holiday this year, which means that whatever shopping I am doing for anyone–including myself!–had better be done way ahead of time, and for me, a month ahead of time actually is pretty early. Now that I’ve got myself covered, I can start thinking about everyone else. Isn’t that what RuPaul says? Close enough.

See below for a list of some vendors that I love and who are running some really lovely sales and discounts right now*. As always, I would never promote anything that I would not spend my own money on, so all of these items are things that I have indeed purchased for myself. Just last night, actually.

*….psssst! Not exactly sure when these sales end!

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Megumi dress from Altar PDX blackfriday17 for 20% houseline and 10% off everything else

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Cats in Grass dress from Thief & Bandit 25% off code: holiday25

 

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Waning Moon Dress at Witch World Wide, marked down 40% until Monday (no code)

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Stay Soft tee from Babe Coven marked down 20% until Monday(no code)

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Harmony tee from Cat Coven 20% off code: YULETIDE

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Bat cardigan and snakeskin leggings from Sophi Reaptress, 20% off code: smallbiz

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Firebird wrap and geisha bag, half off at Baba Studio

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I’m having this “In Memory Of” ring from Golden Grove engraved with my mother’s initials. It was not actually on sale, but I am including it anyway, because I bought it yesterday.

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A Hailstorm of Knitting Needles from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab arrived a week ago, so it’s not technically part of my frenzied consumerism yesterday, but no Hexmas list would be complete without an offering from their seasonal Yule collection.

I’ve never really been one for being out and about on Black Friday, as I don’t love the crowds (and I’m not certain I can think of anything I’d actually want badly enough to leave the house for!) but I get that sometimes people make a whole day of it, and that it can be a lot of fun. And blah blah, consumerist culture whatever–I get why some people have a problem with the day and all it represents, too, but as I get older I try to be much more mindful of not shitting all over the things that people like to do, so I’m not making judgments one way or the other. For myself, I feel pretty good about supporting trustworthy, talented small businesses and artisans, and that’s never a bad thing to do, right?

Did you go out yesterday? Stay in? Shop all the things? Did you actually by gifts for people other than yourself? Feel free to share in the comments!

 

Jane Whiting (J.M.W.) Chrzanoska

Solitaire By Artist Jane Whiting Chrzanoska

A few months ago, by way of an introduction to artist Luciana Lupe Vasconcelos, I mentioned a few pieces of art that my mother owned, when my sisters and I were children/pre-teens and which hung in our dining room area.  At the time I only remembered one in particular, and described it thusly:

The poster in question, surrounded by Erté prints, and oversized posters of the major arcana from the Thoth deck (with a occasional B. Kliban thrown into the mix) was…well, I don’t exactly remember. There was a lady. There might have been a goblet, or a cat, or a long, winding strand of pearls. What I do distinctly remember was a scrawling signature at the bottom, utterly illegible except for a swooping “J”. Maybe a crooked “C” that trailed off to a distorted “W”. In my head, I began to refer to the creator of this fantastical art, as “JAW CRAZER” and I was astounded when, earlier today, I sent a text to my sister asking if the name meant anything to her…and she knew exactly which painting I was talking about. And I swear –I never, ever said that name aloud. Crazy. Or CRAZER, as the case may be.

Intrigue By Artist Jane Whiting Chrzanoska

Well. As it happens, I am not the only one who loses sleep over such things. My sisters were both in town for the Thanksgiving holiday and had retired to the guest bedroom area, which doubles as my office and houses a wildly uncomfortable captain’s bed (but it’s super cute). Unbeknownst to me at the time, in an unprecedented act of snoozelessness, Middle Sister lay awake perusing the results of internet queries, seeking out these mysterious works of art from our childhood. The funny thing is, I don’t even recall that we were discussing our memories of them earlier in the evening! But sometimes the sisterwave psychosphere just works that way.

I myself had crawled into bed maybe ten minutes prior, and just as I felt myself lightly slipping into slumber, my cell phone rang! It was my sister, calling me from across the house! How weird. Vaguely irritated, or I would have been if it wasn’t my own sister, I stumbled out of bed to see what the heck she wanted. I stood in the doorway and called into the darkened room to her. Though I could not see her face, her excited response frizzled my hair right to the tips and thrilled my heart to buoyant wakefulness: “I FOUND HER, SARAH! I FOUND JAW CRAZER!”

Champagne By Artist Jane Whiting Chrzanoska

Dang! That’s some midnight detective work! I’d been looking for years to no avail.

Jane Whiting (J.M.W.) Chrzanoska was born in Germantown, Philadelphia in 1948 (the same year our mother was born!) An ambitious young woman, she painted her first mural, an 8’x12′ depiction of Napoleon at Waterloo on her bedroom wall, and later convinced what must have been a very understanding friend to offer his bedroom wall for her painting of ‘The Ride of the Valkyries’ from Wagner’s Ring Cycle. At age 16 she was accepted into the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and also made her first important sale, a study of 50 orchestral musicians, to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. After a few months at the Academy, Jane unfortunately grew bored with the emphasis on abstract expressionism and she began skipping classes and spending more time at the University of Pennsylvania city campus. She convinced the head of the Archaeology department, to let her practice drawing various artifacts in the collection and as it turns out, this new interest in archaeology would significantly impact her later work.

In 1969 she moved to Ithaca, N.Y. and then to Woodstock where she lived in a cabin with no running water and no electricity but was afforded the opportunity to view a private and well guarded collection of the works of Fra Angelico, owned by the Archdiocese of New York. In 1970 she moved closer to Manhattan and married her first husband, Benjamin Chrzanoski, where she continued to paint for the next ten years, exhibited in the city, and amassed an impressive list of collectors, singer/actress Cher, and and Addams Family creator Charles Addams among the more notable. In 1980 she was approached by Impress Graphics, a fine arts publisher. Her work was sold worldwide and afforded her the opportunity to travel. Over the next several years she traveled extensively throughout Europe and Peru, where her first child was born; but returned to the states five months after her second child was born, when terrorist activities moved too close to her home in Lima. After 20 years as owner/operator of the Mill Street Art Center in Mays Landing, NJ, Jane relocated to Hammonton NJ where she teaches and works in her new studio.

Mask By Artist Jane Whiting Chrzanoska

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This last painting is one we just found today, and whose moody elegance never graced our walls–however!– oddly enough when, on a whim my sister did an etsy search for art by J.M.W. Chrzanoska, she found a set of three prints, including “The Mask”, just listed yesterday! Yesterday! (Though you can find some prints on Amazon, too.)This was too much of a coincidence to ignore, right? So ignore it I did not. These beauties will soon be making their way to us, and our of cup mysteries, brimming with our mother’s countless secrets and ciphers and coded mementos and memories, will soon be closer to leveling out.

Find Jane Whiting (J.M.W.) Chrzanoska: Website // Facebook

And of course we can’t solve a mystery without a matching ensemble, can we?
{Click image to see details on the items included.}

htw

Novemberish

5156343776_1f6f1dff21_oIt is November and I feel myself curling inward. Wrapping up in several layers of blanket burrito. Cocooning myself from everything in the world while I’m feeling weary, heartsick, vulnerable and, well…Novemberish.

November has always been a tough time for my family. I have awful memories from when I was a teenager of a certain Thanksgiving meltdown involving my mother and a broken freezer. This in itself is probably nothing unusual for families, and I bet everyone has dreadful stories of Thanksgiving meltdown trauma, but hers was fueled by addiction, and after the holiday we were motherless for a month or so while she was in a rehab facility. At least, that’s the way I remember it. My recollection of many, if not all, of my teenage years are hazy because they were just so wretched, and I think I have purposefully forgotten most of the details.

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At any rate, a few years after that, my uncle died, and Novembers became a very sad time for my grandmother. I suspect Uncle Fred was her favorite, and she never quite recovered. With the passing of the years, each November would bring a deeper and deeper funk, and I believe that may have cast a pall over the rest of us as well. Then, a few years after that, my Aunt Carla died in November. A few years after that, my mother passed. Not in a November, but an early December. But still.

So…November-December is traditionally rough on my family. Now that both of my grandparents have passed (my grandmother just earlier this year) it is just my sisters and I–and of course our one cousin who is very nice and we aren’t as close as we should be and that is no one’s fault but my own–and while my sisters and are not exactly “lost”, we’re just feeling a little out of our depth sometimes, I think. I mean, everyone’s dead. We’re the “adults” now. Never mind that we’re all in our late thirties/early forties and have been adults for several years…it’s just that now we are literally all that is left. We have no one else to turn to for help or advice, or anything at all any more. Though to be honest, I haven’t needed to do that in a very long time (and my mother never had a lot of help to give anyway) …it’s just…we don’t even have that option now. They are all gone. It’s just us.

So, I guess I have some pre-Thanksgiving jitters. For the past 10-12 years or so, I’ve been doing the majority of the preparations and cooking for Thanksgiving, but my grandfather was around to peel the potatoes, which he always did with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade blaring in the background, as both my grandparents were terribly hard of hearing and neither ever wore their hearing aid. My grandmother would emerge from her bedroom wearing one of those festively seasonal old lady sweaters and a spritz of Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door. She and my mother would hover around me and insist that the dressing/stuffing (Which do you call it? We’re a “dressing” family) needed more broth–no, more broth!–make it soupy!–it’ll dry out in the oven! And answer all of my questions about how much onion or celery or sage do I need, and so on. I’d been making it forever at that point, and I instinctively already knew the answer to these questions,  but it was, I realize now, such a comfort and …ugh, I can’t believe I am typing this because I hate this phrase…but a blessing to have them both there with me, at the same time, in my adult life to guide me through the rigors and rituals of Thanksgiving dressing. With and without oysters.

Thanksgiving dinner has always been at my grandparent’s house, for as long as I can remember and no doubt even before that.  This year it will be my kitchen that the food is being prepared in. It will be my dining room table (and spilling into the living room, because our dining room table is not actually all that big) that my guests will be sitting at. We can have wine with dinner if we want! We never really did that before, what with all the rampant alcoholism that some people brought to the table. It’s just going to be weird. And different. Growing up, I always thought to myself, “when I do Thanksgiving dinner, it’ll be different!” I suppose I thought turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes seemed a little homespun, or common or something. I wanted fancy. Or maybe exotic. Like … curry or something? … tamales? Who knows what I wanted. I just wanted …different. And now that it’s all up to me, and I have all the control I could want over this holiday’s menu, I just can’t help but think how nice it would be if we kept it exactly the same.  Because things are already different enough as it is.

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My youngest sister is in town now, flown in from Indiana on an early morning flight to spend the next week with us. We are both in Orlando, staying at our other sister’s house, for the first part of her trip. She arrived exhausted, and is napping in the guest room, channeling my grandmother with her house-shaking snores.

I think we are all cocooning over this next week. Slowing down, resting quietly together. We are all processing how different this year has been, how different this holiday will be, and trying to get to a place where things feels okay again or figuring out if that place of normalcy even exists. And I know that all of us, in various ways, are currently trying to do the same thing. You get it, I know you do.

So from my blanket burrito to yours, I’m wishing you peace and quiet and a soft place to rest right now. If we don’t hear from each other for a while, we’ll know why. And it’s okay. We will see each other again when we emerge from our cocoons.

In the meantime if you post your Thanksgiving menus in the comments, you will have given me many delicious things to ruminate upon over the next week 💗

TiCK Kickstarter

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Photographer and filmmaker Ashlea Wessel (Ink) has teamed up with award-winning director Kevin Burke (24X36: A Movie About Movie Posters) for a new project they describe as a “live-action horror/sci-fi short exploring North American colonial relations in a post-pandemic age. With Vampires.”

Currently on Kickstarter with a goal of only $15K, TiCK is the “heartbreaking, blood-soaked, pulse pounding story of a young girl finding her strength in the face of shame, fear and adversity”, that takes you through a fractured, post-pandemic society, after vampirism begins to appear in a small subset of the population. We follow one such girl, Nishiime, who lives in hiding from the organization who kidnapped and enslaved her family.

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I got a bit of the scoop from Ashlea Wessel with regard to the film’s origins, and story concept…

“I’ve revisited the history of North American Colonization quite a bit of late, and I realized that there was so much that we weren’t taught in school or that was fully whitewashed. I think that because of that (among other things), people don’t understand what a huge problem there is in North America for the indigenous population and how colonialism is till alive and well. I thought of a future North America when many people believe that they are in a post-colonial, egalitarian society, but when a pandemic hits, they realize how wrong they had been. This is the basis for the world in which the story unfolds. I also love the idea that disease is what brings the power shift, much in the opposite way that it did in the early days of North America.”

Ashlea also shares with us some personal revelations with regard to Nishiimee, the main character…

“..her journey is almost a coming-of-age story, albeit a brutal one. Though she looks like a child throughout the film, for much of it, she’s actually an adult. She lives in a suspended state of childhood, afraid and ashamed and not realizing her own power until the end. I have this very weird connection to my childhood full of guilt for things that are absolutely ridiculous, that I had no power over, and I feel like Nishiime is a manifestation of that.”

And finally, she enthusiastically spoke to some of TiCk’s inspirations…

“Blood! When I got the idea for this film, and I realized I wanted it to be a vampire film, I was immediately filled with glee because I had an excuse to do scenes that are just DRENCHED in blood. Beautiful, full-tilt slow-motion, glorious blood. I’m giddy just thinking about it.”

There are some really neat backer rewards offered right now (that pink balacava!) so drop by the TiCK kickstarter site and give generously in exchange for some fantastic perks, and to ensure this sci-fi/horror gem gets made!

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