The Somber Poetry Of Dreams: The Collage Art Of Hidden Velvet

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A floating cloud softly obscures the face of a cloaked woman whose dark mantle gives away to grey vapors. A soft, pale hand loosely grasps a rose while a both a butterfly perches on a fingertip and a snake slithers in the spaces between. Delicate vines of ivy mark the pages of a book that has opened to an illustration of an ominous figure emerging from its darkened interior. It is easy to become lost in these bittersweet contrasts of lightness and glooms, blooming, fluttering life and the stillness of death, and furtive dread juxtaposed against a serene sense of tranquility.

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This is the imagery that comprises the work of enigmatic collage artist Hidden Velvet, whose somber, dreamy work enchanted me the very first time I laid eyes upon it. Last month I had the pleasure of interviewing Hidden Velvet for Haute Macabre, but worry not–I have not given away all of her secrets, and there are many mysteries in her art to swoon over still.

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Friday Fripperies: Depop Edition!

Depop

Depop

Aha! So, I guess I tricked you. There’s fripperies here, to be sure, but it’s all my old frips that I’m trying to get rid of! Yes, like every other person on the planet, I too, have opened a wee depop store. Inside you will find mysterious baubles and supernatural face paints and fancy stinks and witchy clothes with which to garb your naked bod!

Also, I’d like to point out, that as a person who often wears L or XL garments, on these “sell your old stuff” sites, there’s always a marked dearth of those sizes in coveted brands like, oh, say, blackmilk or Deandri. Secret: you’ll find them in my shop!

And who knows, your purchases may fund my next edition of Friday Fripperies! (As an FYI, and if you didn’t know…for the most part, like maybe 75% of the time if not more, I try to only feature here items that I have purchased for myself and that I can vouch for. )

Are you over on depop? Comment with your shop in the comments and I will be sure to check yours out as well! In the meantime, be sure to follow mlleghoul on depop for updates!

Links of the Dead {June 2017}

Artist credit: Matsuyama Miyabi

Artist credit: Matsuyama Miyabi

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in or related to the Death Industry recently.

More reading: Links of the Dead {June 2016}

💀 When Your Loved One’s Last Wish Was ‘No Funeral’
💀 ‘Story of Flowers’ Tells an Epic Animated Tale of Life and Death
💀 A Controversial Trial to Bring the Dead Back to Life
💀 Why does cinema still demonise grieving mothers?
💀 This Farmer Wants To Give Animals A Better Life — And Death
💀 A Guide to Architects’ Mundane and Monumental Graves
💀 When a Pet Dies, Helping Children Through the ‘Worst Day of Their Lives’
💀 Why Trips To The Cemetery Aren’t Just For ‘Big Fat Goths’
💀 Feminism, politics and death: my mum died the night Hillary Clinton lost
💀 One Year After the Pulse Massacre, an Orlando Group Confronts LGBT Death Head-On
💀 Even in death, everyone is striving for that perfect no-makeup makeup look.
💀 Watching funerals streamed online offers a new way to deal with death
💀 What to Know About Donating Your Body to Science

…and finally, A Sad Farewell to the Man Who Started The Death Cafe Movement, Jon Underwood.

Currently {6.27.17}

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Oooof. It has been a rough couple of weeks. I never talk about my day job or my work here, because while it has paid the bills for more than a decade now, it’s of no interest to anyone but myself (and barely even me) and if we’re being honest here–I hate to work. Or to talk about work. Let’s face it, I think I hate even the very concept of “work”. And as of lately, I think I have been loathing the concept–and the reality–even more so than usual.

As that old weirdo, HP Lovecraft, purportedly said: “I never ask a man what his business is, for it never interests me. What I ask him about are his thoughts and dreams.” Too true!
Business, blargh!  Thoughts and dreams are the important stuff.

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Speaking of dreams, mine have been so vivid lately! Last week I dreamed that I decapitated a demon with a garbage can lid, and then used the same weapon to chop off his dongle and shove it up his butt-hole. I then jumped off a balcony and whizzed up into the stars, like a rocket! Hoo boy. Sarah has some issues.

A few nights ago I dreamed that I was a member of a clique-y conspiracy of witches, sort of like the depraved gothed-up coven that descended upon Rome in Argento’s Mother of Tears (pictured above)…except way less chaotic and crazy. More competent. Tidier. We were all prominent members of society, doctors, lawyers, etc. We regularly sacrificed our interns and assistants in terrifically gruesome ways. I ran around wreaking respectable havoc in a lab coat, but underneath it, I am pretty sure there was something like this (nsfw) happening.

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To de-stress, I’ve begun making a of small ritual of the Sunday night bath (and you know how I feel about bathing). Our bathroom has been…ahem…under renovations for quite a while now, and the bath tub has just recently become available again. Huzzah! Time to break out my favorite bathtub-staining bath bombs { exhibit one & two} and my aurora projector, which does a crap job at projecting a magnificent aurora, but for the price I guess it’s okay at producing an eerie bathroom ambience.

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RE: soothing rituals, despite the oppressive summer heat, I’ve taken to spending more time in the kitchen again. I go through phases, I guess. Sometimes I don’t even want to be bothered with the clanging of pots and pans and the chopping and the mincing and the yanking out of gizzards and whatnot…not to mention the hassle of clean up afterward! Sometimes though, perhaps I am channeling my grandmother, and nothing makes me happier than extended periods of gastronomic adventures and culinary experimentation!

Lately I have been spending time perfecting my black bean recipe (tip: this Cuban black bean soup is an excellent place to start), roasting chickens, baking pies, and making, for probably the 100th time, Isa Chandra’s vegan mac & cheese. Also pictured up there is chicken poached in sake & ginger, with hoisin & scallion flecked riced cauliflower and snow peas. We’ve been consuming a lot of Japanese-inspired dishes thanks to our recent obsessions with Wakako Zake, Tokyo Diner Midnight Stories, and Samurai Gourmet. Okonomiyaki night once a week!

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On the knitting front, it has been somewhat slow-going. I just finished a grasshopper-colored (or absinthe-hued, if you prefer) pair of rib and cable socks and I shall shortly, secretly, be sending them to a friend. Because woolen socks in July is such a treat, right? But I hope, come December, they will be glad of them. A few years back I began to send my finished knits away to friends and folks that I admire, or who had, at some time, done me a small kindness.  I still practice this from time to time–I mean, I’m never going to wear all of this stuff, right? And it makes me feel good to let people know how much they mean to me!  This Blue Dahlia shawl has a somewhat similar fate in store for it in that it is headed off to a sweet friend, but it was the result of a bit of a craft trade. (FYI: other than knitting I am not in the least bit arty or crafty or handy, and I am always up for a trade!)

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Eeeep! Don’t you love it when Kickstarter goods that you backed and then forgot about show up in your mail to surprise you? Pictured here is the Slutist Tarot, a “mystical celebration of sex positivity that centers femmes, sexual deviants, divine whores and curious maidens.” Many contemporary tarot artists have been departing from the misogyny, racism, and imperialism of the classic tarot narrative and imagery, an intention that The Slutist Tarot shares– and in doing so, in telling the story of The Fool through the archetype of The Maiden, artist Morgan Claire Sirene has created something incredibly special.

In a fantastic interview Morgan speaks to how The Maiden’s journey differs from The Fool’s journey:

“The Maiden’s Journey is about sexuality specifically. How sex and sexual trauma changes you, your perception of yourself and how you deal with humanity. It doesn’t have to be a woman’s narrative even though I am telling it from a femme perspective. I can’t speak for all woman identified people, but for me and many women I know, having your life defined by sex is kind of inevitable, so it makes sense to me that this is The Maiden’s gift and curse.”

19367476_1903298336362729_4751995929903497216_nDespite the recent upheaval vis-à-vis my reading parlour, I am making headway in my Summer Reading Challenge, six out of twenty five, to be exact.

Strangely Beautiful by Leanna Renee Hieber: I can’t…actually..recommend this book
Hunger by Roxane Gay: Oooof. Yes. I’ll be talking about this over at Haute Macabre soon
Black Hole by Charles Burns: Dark and clever and grotesque. I think it’s a must-read.
Snot Girl Volume One: Social media star with allergies and a mystery. Kind of fun.
Giant Days Volume Five: I love these characters and the author gives a salute to yours truly
Jem and The Holograms Volume Four: Fun and pretty, but not very compelling.

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One-word movie & teevee reviews!

6/3 Wonder Woman: Absolutely
6/8 Phantasm III: Eh
6/17 Star Trek Beyond: Meh
6/22 Raw: Okay
6/24 Frankenhooker: YASSS
6/26 My Neighbor Totoro (re-watch): Always
6/? Riverdale: loooooove

Summer Scents For Those Who Shun The Sun

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Content by S. Elizabeth originally posted on the bloodmilk blog, July 13, 2015.

When I was younger, summertime, to me, meant curling up on a sweaty vinyl chair on the screened-in back porch with a pitcher of powdered iced tea drink and reading stories of ghosts and monsters and possessed children. If I was lucky, the skies would darken at midday, the winds would pick up, and a fearsome storm would thunder through the area; this is a common occurrence on a summer afternoon in central Florida, and normally would not last more than ten minutes.

I avoided the sun when at all possible; I did not relish playing outside with my sisters or the neighbor’s kids, I did not care for trips to the beach, I didn’t like being hot and sticky and gross. And I didn’t really have any friends to do any of those things with, anyhow. But then again, I’d never had many friends, so I really didn’t know any better and I didn’t feel badly about it! These long, sweltering days on the back porch voraciously tearing through stacks upon stacks of cheap, lurid used bookstore finds are some of the happiest memories I have from my pre-teen years. This was how summer was supposed to be, I thought, and at the ages of 11/12/13, I was young enough to have the luxury of spending that time however I liked. And after the daily rains, which were impatiently anticipated and perfectly inevitable -that was my favorite part of the day: a few glorious moments when the humidity dropped the tiniest bit, the air cooled a few degrees, and the sun disappeared entirely, culminating in a rich scent that still tugs at my memories and the edges of my dreams many years later. The musty scent of disintegrating paperbacks, the air heavy with the sweet, musky fragrance of jasmine, the tang of ozone, just before a heavy rainfall. This was the scent of my summers.

Years later when it comes to scenting myself for summer weather, I steer clear of many of the perfumes marketed for these sizzling, stifling afternoons when the evil day star holds sway. I don’t want to smell like the synthetic coconut of greasy suntan lotion, nor do I want to smell like those generic aquatics that are supposedly “crisp and refreshing” or the ubiquitous green tea and cucumber/melon melange which smell like so many country club air fresheners. Yes, I do want something lighter, for anything richer and heavier would certainly suffocate and strangle me in our notoriously murky, muggy Southern summers…but I want a scent that also evokes some sort of nostalgia, triggers a memory, conjured a long-forgotten dream.

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Below is a list of my five preferred fragrances in this vein; scents for these summer months that are at turns cooling, invigorating, revitalizing and imaginative: summer scents for those who shun the sun.

Coriandre by Jean Couturier is a light, lovely chypre launched in the mid-70’s. If you are not familiar with chypres, well, they seem to be a rather divisive grouping of scents, with perfume lovers falling squarely in either the Love Them or Hate Them camps. To me, generically, chypres smell a bit cold and astringent, distant; but Coriandre is on the warmer, more familiar end of the spectrum. It does remind me of something from the 70s; it’s got a hazy Polaroid quality to it. A warm, grassy summer day recalled through the yellowed veil of memory. It’s dry and woody and musky and I think it smells a bit like a lovely little secret that you might never be ready to share.

Annick Goutal’s Mandragore reminds me of a scene in the 1980’s vampire film The Lost Boys, when the main characters’ grandpa says “….well that’s about as close to town as I like to get.” My perfume shelf is filled mostly with deep, dark, resinous fragrances, and Mandragore, with its bright lemony/peppery opening that quickly fades to a soft, minty bergamot, is as close to a “summer scent” as I like to get. It’s a lovely, (softly) zingy scent that calls to mind some sort of mildly alcoholic herbal shandy one might drink to refresh one’s self at the close of a balmy June afternoon. Unfortunately, much like the buzz from this weak cocktail, the scent lasts but a moment and is gone.

Safran Troublant by L’Artisan is a wonderfully restorative, heart-warming/opening scent. It should be part of a comforting bedtime ritual at the end of a long, hot day where one has done a lot of yard work or gardening. There’s a comforting sweetness to it, though not at all sugary or cloying. A creamy sandalwood pudding, a lukewarm bath lightly infused with milk and rose petals and a deep, enveloping hug. You’ll sleep quite well and be visited by the loveliest midsummer dreams.

Danube, by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is a beloved scent that is, for me, more about memory than the actual fragrance itself. It is a deep blue aquatic scent – but not salty, ozone-y, beachy aquatic, nor is it murky, swampy aquatic. Like a cold swimming pool on a hot day (maybe if you were adding grapefruit to your pool instead of chlorine) with every blue flower imaginable floating on top of it. Imagine being 6 years old and holding your breath and submerging yourself in a swimming pool, then slo-o-o-wly sinking to the bottom. The water is chilled, you feel like the only person in the world and everything is totally silent. Imagine peering up and seeing the sun streaming down into the water, between all of the blue petals. It’s calm and soothing and serene and is an absolutely a must for hot, sticky weather and for people who haven’t got a swimming pool. Unfortunately, I do believe that Danube is discontuned. For other other unique summer scents from BPAL, sniff out Fae (sweet, floral, peachy), and Zephyr (light musk, soft lemon and florals), and Aeval (dried herbs & sweet pea & tonka and it smells like all of my favorite occult bookshops at once -herbs and oils and stones and crystals and and the crisp pages of unopened books filled with unlearned knowledge.)

When I was 18, I was dating the boy who used to live next door to me, but who had since graduated high school and moved to Indiana to attend Notre Dame. We spent a week together on summer break, during which time he had flown down South to stay with me and my family. It was early in this visit that he proposed to me on the beach one night, and I accepted…though something told me that this was a doomed venture. I knew it was not going to last, and yet I agreed anyway; I suppose I just liked the idea that something interesting loomed in the distant future for me. One late afternoon a few days later, we took a drive; the sun hung low on the horizon, the windows were down, and on the wind that ruffled our hair was the musky, sweet scent of orange blossoms, as we had just driven past a massive orange grove. Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom smells like that summer afternoon, sweet blooms and dying suns and the melancholy of tears yet to be shed for reasons you’re not quite sure of.

A bonus scent, which I have mentioned before, so it didn’t seem quite fair to list it above: Comme des Garcons Incense Series: Kyoto. To be honest, Kyoto is my go-to fragrance no matter what the season; it’s austere and meditative and calls to mind a dark prayer in a cool, shadowy forest temple. But there is something exceptionally wonderful about it in the summer months. On a day of wretched, heated summertime oppression, do this: draw the curtains, dim the lights, strip naked, and liberally spritz yourself with Kyoto. Lay on your bed, mid-afternoon in the dark. Nap for a time. Dream of cooler places. And for what it’s worth, I just purchased my 5th bottle of this particular scent (and you know I have quite a lot of perfumes to choose from) so Kyoto is obviously getting a lot of mileage.

What scents do you dream of in summer time? What cools you down & soothes your brow when the temperatures soar?

How To Wear The Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice
Submitted for your perusal with a minimum of fuss or commentary; I mean we should all be out enjoying the longest day of the year anyway, right? Not blogging or internet shopping!* Go for a sunrise hike, or float in your inflatable swan in the community pool, or have a lovely picnic in the shade (be sure to pack the world’s most amazing tomato salad!) In the interim, click here, or on the image above for item details!

Okay, I’m a hypocrite. You know I won’t set foot outside while the sun still blazes in the sky! Feel free to tell me all about your solstice adventures, though! I’ll be with you in spirit!

Wanna see some more ridiculous ensembles? Go nuts!

👁‍🗨 How To Wear: A Box Of Crayons
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: Arsenical Wallpapers
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: Your Favorite Books & Stories
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: A Winter Getaway
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: Your Favorite Horror Film
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: The Arts
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: The Spring Equinox
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: The Winter Solstice
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: The Autumn Equinox
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: A Jean Rollin Film
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: A Gothic Romance Novel
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: Your Favorite Tarot Deck
👁‍🗨 What To Wear Upon Greeting Death
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: A Melancholic Holiday
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: A Date With A Monster
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: Dramatic Jewelry
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: A Tee Shirt

2018 Resort Collections Report: Mostly Tedious But Not All Bad

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For your Friday afternoon perusal: A quick look at some of my favorites from the various 2018 Resort Collections. From my experience, these springtime/summer(ish) collections are usually an exercise in tedium, but every once in a while there will be a stunner. Actually…do I even know the different between a “Resort collection” or a “Spring/Summer collection”?

No, I do not. But Vogue tells us all about it, right here, if you are also similarly perplexed.

Well, whatever. Look at some fashion stuff.

Anna Sui Resort 2018

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Ellery Resort 2018

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Elizabeth and James Resort 2018

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Etro Resort 2018

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Lela Rose Resort 2018

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Moschino Resort 2018

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Orla Kiely Resort 2018

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Reem Acra Resort 2018

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Stella McCartney Resort 2018

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Roksanda Resort 2018

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Temperley London Resort 2018

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Valentino Resort 2018

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Vionnet Resort 2018

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All images via Vogue

Forty Two Books (+ 25)

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Well and so! Every year over on Goodreads I pledge to read a certain number of books; last year, for example, I shot past my goal of 75–with a total of 91 books read! This year I was lazy and just went for 50.

I’m at 43 books read now, so I thought I’d make a mini goal (I’m sort of thinking about it like a side quest…like maybe stopping in at the Gold Saucer in FF7). At any rate, my mini goal, if you’re interested–or, if you’d like to join me– is old school summer reading, like they gave you in high school. Over the next three months, that is to say, what’s left of June, July, and August, I shall read twenty five books! And FYI, graphic novels and small books of poetry totally count.

Of the titles I’ve read so far, I’ll share several favorites with you; I loved these books so much, in fact, that I am having a hard time coming up with a few words to say about them. It’s funny, if I hated them I’d be at no loss for scathing thoughts and unkind things to share (which is  kind of shitty and I am trying to be better about such this.) But with something I truly love? Language fails me and I can’t even give you the slightest detail.  But I will tell you that there are thrilling tales of terror and adventures, and people who look like monsters and monsters who look like people, and romantic love and self love, and sadness and shame and fury, and loads to think about.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters // Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay // Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman // Borne by Jeff Vandermeer // My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris // Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples // Bird Box by Josh Malerman // and a graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Kindred by Damian Duffy

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But now…off to bet on the chocobos in Chocobo Square! Er, I mean…off to read some of my side-quest books, a few of which are pictured above. I am especially looking forward to Gilded Needles (which Kate and Jack will be talking about soon on Bad Books For Bad People), as well as Black Hole.

What are your reading goals this year, if you have any? Were there any titles you particularly enjoyed? Do you have any summer reading planned? I want a full report!

Curious about my reading challenge in previous years? 2016 // 2015

sounds—possibly musical—heard in the night

sounds—possibly musical—heard in the night from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

a new mix // current earworms
{image: Robin Isely}

Track list: Exalter by Forest Swords | Harold’s Theme by Xiu Xiu | Tua Oriel Courvite Isabelle by Dale Cooper Quartet | A Million Billion Stars by Black Marble | New Song by Warpaint | Valentine by DIIV | Transient by Gloom Influx | Shadow by Chromatics | Apocalypse by Cigarettes After Sex | Crooked Fingers by Still Corners | Quo Vadis by Lower Dens | Star Roving by Slowdive | Marion by Beacon | niorum by demen

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