Caftan Party Paradise

Simone d'Aillencourt in Emilio Pucci, Vogue 1967

Simone d’Aillencourt in Emilio Pucci, Vogue 1967

How am I just now, nearly a year later, reading about Christina Hendrick’s Palm Springs Caftans and Casseroles party idea? Unbelievable.  This is an idea that is tailor-made for me.  Psychedelic, flowing frocks? Check.  One dish meals, preferably topped with a heart stopping amount of melty cheese? Check. A room full of my favorite people, swimming in their caftans, gorging themselves on potluck comestibles from tables groaning under the collective weight of so many pyrex casserole dishes? YES PLEASE.  It’s like a demented orgy except with entirely different perversions. What? You know us casserole lovers can get freaky.

This magnificent garment has come a long way from 600 BC Persia where it was traditionally worn in the battlefield under chainmail.  It was later introduced to North Africa where “different groups interpreted them according to their religious and cultural traditions, and European imperialism led to cultural contact with the East, allowing for caftans to infiltrate the Western wardrobe.” Fast forward to the 1960s, when wealthy jet-setters and superstars took off for places like Morocco and India and brought back Eastern fashion traditions. Designers such as Halston and Yves Saint Laurent adopted the style into a symbol of bohemian elite that trickled down to mainstream fashion in the 1970s.

Now, as then, this drapey dress continues to appeal to the masses – whether you’re a warlord, a celebrity starlet, or a gal who just wants to let it all hang out and not be constrained by buttons and waistbands after a glorious feast.
…And they can be found everywhere! An etsy search alone brings up nearly 11K hits, some of them starting at as little as $10, so you certainly do not have to break the bank for your fantastical bohemian comfort wear. (Although obviously they run much more expensive, as evidenced by this gorgeous number by Oscar De La Renta over at Net-A-Porter for $2,990.)

I have compiled below some inspiration in the form of glamorous ladies in flowing frocks and the casseroles and covered dishes which to accompany them. In the meantime to ready yourself for this unparalleled vision of paradise involving comfort food and comfortable clothes, I suggest you read Caftan Lyfe and How to Get Your Caftan Body Ready For Summer.

1. Select a caftan of your chosen gauge and length. Stroke its gauzy fabric and whisper into its folds.

2. Let your flesh settle into the crevices of your comfortable, comfortable caftan.

3. Crumbs? Let them fall where they may, swaddled in your caftan.

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Elizabeth Taylor

Tilda Swinton in Purple Fashion Magazine, Vol.3, nr.5, Summer 2006

 

Anjelica Huston (Photo by Terry O’Neill/Getty Images)

 

Brigitte Bardot

harpersbazaar_grande

As you sprawl luxuriously, here are some ideas for a decadent spread:

Best ever green bean casserole // Mediterranean quinoa casserole // Spinach and cheese strata // Cheesy broccoli rice casserole // Overnight blueberry french toast casserole // Six cheese veggie lasagna // Tater tot enchilada casserole // Biscuits and gravy casserole // Macaroni and three cheeses

BONUS 

Wondering how to style your marvelous new caftan?  I have a few ideas for you…
Details on Look 1 can be found here, and Look 2 can be found here.

caftan1

caftan2

 

that fragment of ruin

I’ve decided that 2015 is the year for literary inspired mixes (primarily ghost stories and weird tales, I imagine.) Earlier in the month we had Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla and today we have a playlist inspired by William Hope Hodgson’s The House on The Borderland.

 

Tracklist:

Black Arts, Dronny Darko | Call of the Exile, NIGHTBRINGER | Onyx Towers, Black Blight | Faces In The Fog, Electric Hell | pathways in the dark, blackantlers | Images of Dream and Death, Wretched Excess | Strange Summoning, Possessor | The Night Scene, Oscillopeisia |The Death, Sumokem | The Prophecy, Lamia Vox | Godhead Emanation., Metatron Omega | Surround the Fire, Muscle and Marrow | Qulielfi (29th Tunnel of Set), y3mk

Stinkers and Duds

duds

I am certainly no guru when it comes to cosmetics and beauty products; those elixirs, serums, and potions we sink hundreds and thousands of dollars in every year to keep us from mummifying or stinking or being generally hideous.  I do, however, know what I like.
That, however, is a different story for a different time.

I am here today to talk to you about some items I most assuredly did not like.

1. Lavanila – The Healthy Deodorant

On trip to DC in 2014 the airline lost our luggage and since they were reimbursing us for our expenses I figured I would splurge on a “fancy” deodorant. Of all the things on which to splurge.

Anyhow, the product itself smells very nice – a lovely combination of “fresh” and “clean” and mildly sweet. Once applied, however, I have found that the scent dissipates very quickly and after an hour or so in the warm weather, seems to disappear altogether. Up until that point I was blissfully unaware of how truly, incomparably awful my own body smelled in the absence of deodorizing beauty products. My god. That foul stench was coming from me? Unbelievable! Inconceivable! I had to keep surreptitiously sniffing myself to remind myself that yes, that vile odor was actually emanating from my person. You know the wiggly waves that come off smelly people in comics and cartoons? I am pretty sure that’s what my olfactory aura looked like during this time.

As someone who always smells pretty great (in my humble opinion), this turn of events -while disappointing and which made me a bit of a social pariah for the remainder of my vacation – was absolutely fascinating. I had no idea, NO IDEA that one human being could smell so bad. Well, I am here to tell you that they can, and apparently lacking properly effective deodorants, I am the equivalent of a ticking stinkbomb.

I cannot in good faith recommend this product. Who knows what evil lurks under our arms when we are caught unawares by an an incompetent deodorant? Steer clear from this product, and you’ll not have to ever find out.

2. Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

I suppose it is rather unfair to judge and review a product after one usage, especially one that is not really designed to produce instantaneous results (as oppose to say, a swipe of lipstick or a spritz of perfume.) However, I am compelled to record my initial thoughts on the subject here, few though they may be.

I call upon you, if you will, to remember the film Poltergeist, when Carol Anne’s mother pulls her out of the closet and she is covered with that pinkish, ectoplasmic goo? The viscous ooze that I extracted from the small sample packet resembled that sticky slime to such a degree that I actually found myself retching a little bit as I spread with trembling fingers that rosy jellied mucous on my face. Though the smell was in no way off-putting, the texture was like so much partially digested pudding and I shuddered to think how this slithering, slippery mass might transform my familiar (if slightly reddened and visibly aging) visage.

As instructed, I rinsed the sickly substance from my cheeks with warm water and waited with mounting fear to see what would emerge from beneath that foul fluid. Would the face staring back from the mirror be deformed, disfigured…dissolved? …would it even mine?

Indeed it was. Same enlarged pores. Same dark spots. Same dull countenance.
No radiance, no dewy glow. No youthful rejuvenation.

No point to this hideous exercise.
A horrific ordeal.

3. Parfumerie Generale – Aomassai

I feel like I may be the lone dissenter on this much beloved gourmand, but I think it smells like being locked in a humidor full of Ding Dongs. Which is not my idea of a good time.

4. LUSH – Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner

In theory, this is probably a great product. It’s a decadent, heavy cream that you slather on in the shower and then rinse off and then voila! You are no longer a dry, scaly winter lizard. The smell, however, MY GOD THE SMELL. I knew it wasn’t going to work for me because it was just so sweet and fruity and awful and cloying, but when my partner pointed out that I smell like Jolly Ranchers – those disgusting candies that were enormously popular during my sixth grade year – I literally gagged. I still have 99% of a jar of this stuff sitting on the counter and it’s quite a waste because it’s definitely not cheap.  Let me know if you want it. I haven’t got cooties.

Are there any products or items that you had pinned your hopes on, spend your monies on, and then let you down horribly? Almost killed you? Forewarned is forearmed – leave a comment and tell me all about it so I can learn from your mistakes as you have learned from mine.

Two things

THING ONE

Remember the little concessions jingle in Regal theatres that they used to play before the trailers? People dressed up as concessions snacks, they are giving themselves pep talks about how they do their gig with style and panache, and one of them is refusing to go on because he played Hamlet, dammit! And then they sing:

“Don’t talk in the movie,
no cell phones in the show,
and smoking is a no, no, no!
And remember to throw your trash awaaaaaay!”

It’s got a whole story arc, and everything.

Anyway, there’s this guy peeking into the dressing room as you can see in this blurry terrible video and he shouts “5 MINUTES!” and…I used to lose sleep wondering whatever happened to that guy. Was that the end of his career? Or just the beginning? Now, after binge watching four seasons of the Gilmore Girls, I am pretty sure I have my answer.
The 5 MINUTES guys is “Joe” in the Gilmore Girls.

Here he is, older and with more facial hair, standing awkwardly behind Kirk. IMDB says that Joe is played by a Brian Berke who looks to have had an abysmal career (his only other notable role is Ron Jeremy?) and no mention of concessions jingles in movie trailers but I don’t even know if they’d list that.

What’s frustrating is that I know I did not go to the movies alone, there were other people with me and we all saw the same dumb crap before the movie started…and yet no one remembers this!  How can this be.  I am still losing sleep over it.

 Joe

 

THING TWO

Thing two is frustrating for a different reason.  My sister and I have a similar memory of a thing but we have no idea how to even begin looking for it because it’s just a small snippet, a foggy filament of a thing.

On Saturday mornings we’d be out of bed very early for Saturday morning cartoons.  Probably from about 7:30 to 10:30 or 11:00, if memory serves correct.  Toward late morning though, I feel like the programming would start to change to things geared for older kids?  Some of them had an “after school special” type feel, and not really episode by episode stuff, more like one-off things.  One of them, the one we are thinking of was a bit of a ghost story (I think).  I get the feeling we never finished watching it, even though it may have been shown a few times over the years.

Basically a girl moves into a new (old) house.  She may have a brother.  Weird things start happening around the house.  The one thing that both my sister and I can agree on is that one point as the girl (and maybe her brother) watch, a baseball starts rolling up the steps. Or maybe rolling down.  Now I am getting confused thinking about it.  So there’s a ball and there’s stairs and it’s really creepy because there was no reason for the ball to be there and no one was anywhere near it to give it a push.

That’s it, that is all we remember. And that is sort of a thing that is impossible to research, isn’t it? I would love to know what it was we were watching but how do you even begin to look into something like that?

I did do a bit of a search for Saturday morning tv schedules in the 80s and though it did make me momentarily nostalgic (Dungeons and Dragons was the best show), it proved ultimately useless.

In thinking about that show, I almost feel it had an eerie Nickelodeon “Third Eye” vibe to it, except I am almost certain that it was on a channel like ABC.  Sigh.  Maybe we will never know. Whoa Whoa Whoa.  Even as I am typing this, I am remembering something.  ABC Weekend Special? Maybe? Yes? It’s gonna take me forever to go through all of these, but I am nothing if not excellent at avoiding real work and immersing myself in weird projects, so let’s do it.

EDIT: HOLY CRAP I FOUND IT. The Haunted Mansion Mystery.  Has anyone else seen it?
Is there anything you remember from your childhood that plagues you because you don’t recall the exact details and it feels like a strange dream or someone else’s hallucination? Were you ever able to track it and pin it down for examination, like so many butterflies under glass?  I would love to hear about it and how it’s haunted you over the years!

For your ears

Some sonic diversions for your end of the week listening…

Inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla
Illustration: Isabella Mazzanti

dearest, your heart is wounded from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Tracks:

Flowering Vines, Unwoman | The Pomegranate, Solitude Forest | Dulcinea, Redefine my pure faith | We Are As Ghosts, Friends of Alice Ivy | Under the Fate of the Blue Moon, JILL TRACY | Wake Up Wake Up, The Groundskeepers Daughter | Control Me, Kandle | Sisterblood, Burning Leaves | Tiny Wars and Quiet Storms, Alter der Ruine | Rosebuds, White Hex | FUTURE GHOSTS, Sidewalks and Skeletons | Carpe Nacht, Espectrostatic

 

Twin Peaks Gets ’80s Synth Soundtrack Reminiscent Of Blade Runner, Miami Vice And Escape From New York

 

Hide From The Sun is a  trippy “Jodorowsky-esque take on Where The Wild Things Are”, from Swedish psych-rock band Goat and is both fantastic and groovy, in that order.

 

AR is the collective pseudonym of Autumn Richardson & Richard Skelton. “Diagrams for the Summoning of Wolves marks a stark shift in their response to environmental degradation. Their previous works (Wolf Notes, 2011; Succession, 2013) have expressed profound sadness at the ecological losses of the upland landscape of south-west Cumbria, where they have lived since 2011. They have observed the absence of deer, fell fox and wolf, whose names survive only in place-names. They have found the ghost forests of Furness in the buried pollen drifts of alder, birch and oak. The music, words and art they have created in response to these discoveries are forms of elegy, but they also offer glimmers of hope for a return…To play this music is to participate in its summoning – to become a node in a lattice of light.”

 

“His most personal album to date, The Summoner is based around the 5 stages of mourning and is made after a year of losing several close friends. Hard enough material to work on, he decided to add a 6th stage, entitled The Summoning to be able to arrive at the finalé, Acceptance.”

Currently…

Currently…

…Digging into Tenebrous Kate’s Forever Doomed ‘zine, a “tongue-in-cheek but loving look at the theme of doom” and which includes new essays and comics such as “Erotic Rites of the Nazgûl” and ‘Adventures at Maryland Deathfest” (both of which I am very keen to read!) If you enjoy Kate’s blog, which touches on all things dark, fantastical and forbidden, you’d do well to pick up a copy for yourself while they last.

 

…Sniffing my way through Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s 2014 Yule offerings. I really wanted to love Practical Occultism (“A Victorian occultist’s incense, invoking the Four Archangels: precious wildcrafted Indian frankincense with myrrh, cassia, sandarac, palmarosa, white sage, red sandalwood, elemi, and drops of star anise bound with grains of kyphi.”) But I think my favorite thus far is Chionophobia (“Fear of Snow: A suffocating, oppressive white shroud: a fragrance heavy with ice, strangled by damp oakmoss, artemisia, and muguet.”).  It’s a lightly mossy, white musk that reminds me of being 15 years old and waiting at 6AM on a cold, damp morning for my ride to school.  That’s not exactly a pleasant memory, and I loathed school, but it’s still a nice scent!

Knitting a leftovers blanket.  I’ve years and years worth of little bits and bobs of sock yarn, the amounts that were leftover from a pair of socks and that did not add up to enough to do anything useful or interesting with.  I recently stumbled upon this blanket using up these leftover bits as wee mitered squares and became inspired to do the same myself.
Knitters –  I have a favor to ask, and I don’t normally ask for favors, so I hope you will indulge me. Do you have any leftover sock yarn that you know you are never going to do anything with? I’d love to incorporate it into the leftovers blanket that I am currently working on. It would also be neat to have little pieces of friendly, generous folks knit into this thing. Er, well. That’s a little creepy. Which is just perfect for me! Do let me know! I know I am asking you to drop something in the mail, which costs a bit of postage, so I understand if it’s not something you are able to do. But if you are…I would really appreciate it, and it would make the project extra meaningful.  Drop me a note at mlleghoul AT gmail dot com if you are interested in helping out.

…Cooking all of the things!  I am not sure if I am finally shaking off the laziness and lassitude of the holidays or what, but I’m much more inclined to putter around in the kitchen than I have been the last few months.  Over the weekend I made not one – but two! – suppers -and for someone who is firm believer in dining out all weekend long because somehow she came to believe that’s what fancy people do and she likes to pretend she is fancy – that’s no small feat..  Sunday night saw us simmering Baby Lima Beans in Chipotle Broth from Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Cooking (but you can find the recipe online here) and on Saturday we made Giada De Laurentiis’ oricchiette with mixed greens and goat cheese – which is a simple but incredibly tasty one-pot meal.  Also, both vegetarian, if you care about such things.

What are you up to these days, in your part of the world?

this, that, and the other thing (vi)

Precious Australian weirdies The No Frills Twins have released their debut single, “God Bless The Internet”.  I am probably too old to love this as much as I do, but these two really seem to get it.

“No desire to meet real people
We chat once, no need for sequel
Quick and easy, cyber mateship
No attachments, use it, ditch it

Put my head down, put my screen up
Make it seem like at night I raise my red cup
Don’t tell me I’m wasting my youth
Got my headphones in to block out the truth “

 

The vision of the skinless man as a twisted modern-day fairytale, ‘He Took His Skin Off For Me’ is an adaptation of the original short story by award-winning writer Maria Hummer. Think Margaret Atwood meets David Cronenberg.

 

Isabella Mazanti’s illustrations for Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla. I believe it is a special edition for the 200th anniversary of Le Fanu’s birthday (published October, 2014).

 

Forever Doomed includes essays and comics by Tenebrous Kate that take a tongue-in-cheek but loving look at the theme of doom. Includes the widely anticpated “Erotic Rites of
the Nazgûl.”



Mothmeister’s strange and surreal ‘Wounderland’
– a weird and wonderful universe in which the creators portray anonymous, ugly masked creatures as “a reaction against the dominant exhibitionism of the selfie culture and beauty standards marketed by the mass media.”


Björk has announced Vulnicura, her March 2015 follow-up to 2011’s Biophilia!

Fans of board games (or those trying to coax new players into a game) might find this chart helpful.

Sexts from the void, where typical sexts take a hard left turn into the abyss.

Must be something in the air – these two related items crossed my path in the same day.

Lecterings: what if Hannibal told cheesy jokes instead of implying cannibalism?

What fun! Kathack, a bookmarklet that turns any page into Katamari Damacy. Works best in text-heavy pages, like wikipedia.

Death Salon at the Mütter Museum in October 2015!  I am so there.

Headphone Commute’s year end lists are always a treat.  I always know I am going to love their selections for Watching the Snow Fall Slowly in the Moonlight.

The Valentino Pre-Fall 2015 collection is full of wonderful folk art and celestial embroidery…all quite different and very beautiful.

Chris Ovdiyenko, creator of the Oracle Mystifying Playing cards has a new Kickstarter for his latest project, a playing card deck based off of the Arcana of the Tarot. 

small kindnesses

I thought I might start 2015 by writing a bit regarding a project that I have been working with on and off over the the past few years.  I don’t think I realized it was a project until I had noticed a pattern to how I approached what I was doing and then, without setting out to do so exactly, the small project was born.  Ach! I sure can beat around the bush and ramble on, can’t I?  Well, please indulge me just a while longer, if you will.

I had a terrible time making friends when I was younger.  I just didn’t understand how people came together, connected and moved on from there to form the bonds of friendship, I suppose.  It all seemed like such a production and I didn’t know how to even initiate the process.  I started a very bad habit of giving my toys away around that time.  I figured if you give people things, then they have to like you, right? In the case of 7 year old girls it does not mean that at all, no – it only means that they keep expecting you to give them more stuff. Pretty soon my Barbie doll collection was looking awfully meager and I came to the conclusion that this just was not working for me and I closed up shop.  Around that time we moved from Ohio to Florida; this presented a new set of challenges for me and shifted my focus to other things and what do you know – once I stopped focusing on desperately getting schoolmates to like me, well, they started to like me a bit more.

I think about it though, every now and then.  Giving away beloved possessions to people you barely know – from a child’s perspective that might make good sense and as a grade-schooler I didn’t really know any better, but as an adult I still get terribly embarrassed whenever it crosses my mind. I resolved long ago to save my nice things for folks who were actually worthy of them.

One summer evening, back in 2012, I was knitting a shawl from some grey wool that resembled wispy fog and felt like low morning mists as it slipped through my fingers.  It made me think of a lovely, brilliant woman with whom I’d had some correspondence online and who I greatly admired.  I posted photos on Instagram of the finished item when I had just woven in the last stray end, and strangely enough, she was the very first person to comment on the picture.  It just sort of clicked for me right then: I think maybe I was knitting the shawl for her all along.

ladygrey

‘Clapok-tus shawl for P.

And so it has been over the last two years.  Sometimes I will start a project with no one in particular in mind, and over the course of the yarn choosing, the pattern repetition and the trances induced by midnight hypnostitches – it just comes to me.  Ah!  This shade of red would be perfect for this person’s fiery, feisty personality!  Oooh, this dark night blue would be marvelous for that incredible space babe!  Or sometimes, someone will know just the right words to say to me after my mother has died, just the perfect combination of gentle, thought provoking kindness and reflection, and I will know that the next project I am going to embark on will be a journey through mourning and forgiveness and that particular person is going to be a part of it, every step of the way. It can’t belong to anyone else but them when it is finished.

It all sounds a little silly, and maybe a little crazy, doesn’t it?  And how do I know anyway, that anyone will even want my shabby handmade things?  I do hope that everyone who has received something from me in the recent past knows that what I have given them is because they gave me something I needed first.  A moment of levity during a rotten day, a compliment, a beautiful story, a provocative thought, some small measure of kindness.

Below is a bit of a gallery of some of the projects I have worked on and subsequently sent away over the past few years.  It should be noted that a few of these are actually swaps with other creative folks, who may have sent me one of their handicrafts for one of my knits.  And it was also called to my attention that I may have started doing this long before I realized I was doing it! Lovely E. sent me a photo of a sari silk scarf that I must have knit 7-8 years ago! Wow.  I hope to continue this practice for a long while.  Thank you for not being too weirded out about it, and for your kindnesses to me over the years.

‘Fetching’ mitts for B.

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‘Song of the Sea’ cowl for C.

edith

Sari silk scarf for E.

maika

‘Lenore’ socks for M.

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‘Dashing’ mitts for E.

lisa

‘Hanging Gardens’ shawl for L.

 

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‘Charade’ socks for L.

laurel3

‘Celestarium’ for L.

‘Ilean’ cowl for T.

‘Herringbone’ scarf for B.

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‘Imagine When’ shawl for A.

‘Blackjack’ shawl for A.

‘Evenstar’ shawl for A.

 

 

14 things I liked in 2014

There’s been a bit of bloodletting (painful, but cathartic) on the blog in the recent past and so I think I would prefer to wrap up 2014 on a frivolous note. Here’s a hodge podge list of things I either stumbled across or that were recommended to me, in no particular order, that I ended up being pretty thrilled with this year.

1. For some time now I have noticed my skin is acting in strange and unexpected ways. The nose and forehead that use to be an oil-slicked nightmare are now dry and tight, and the once plump, moony cheeks, well…they are still plump and moony, but they are now blotchy and flaky, as well.  Wearing any sort of makeup became impossible; no matter how I exfoliated or how much I moisturized, my visage still resembled and felt like an awful, patchy mask.  The final straw was when my sister glanced over at me, did a double take and demanded “what THE HELL is wrong with your face??”

Shortly after that, quite unprompted by me, I noticed a facebook friend waxing poetic regarding a natural line of skin care over on etsy, Naturallogic.

Truly Natural, Organic Skin Care & Body Care, handmade FRESH from original recipes based on Nutrition, Holism, Plant Medicine & Ancient Practices, using Certified Organic & Wild Harvested, Food-Grade Super Foods, Phyto Nutrients, Clinically Proven Bioactives, Botanical Extracts, Enzymes & Pure Herb, Plant & Flower Oils.

Apologies for slipping into hyperbole but this stuff is nothing short of miraculous. Within a weekend my skin had completely turned around. I was beyond ecstatic. The proprietress of the shop was super helpful and helped me put together a regimen that would work for my skin type, and thoughtfully included a few extra samples as well. Note that I am *not* getting paid to say any of these things, nor am I getting any sort of free product.  Don’t I wish! Because to be completely honest, it is not inexpensive.  But it is absolutely worth it.
I actually just placed a second order to replace all of my empty bottles – this is the first time I have ever been so happy with such things that I used them all up!  Also note: I purchased the wrong toner the second time around.  I don’t mind though, because it smells incredible.
Unfortunately, despite my skin doing much better, I am still having a hard time with makeup.
I can’t find a foundation or even a BB cream (forget about concealers or powder) that won’t eventually flake up and look awful on me a few hours after I apply it. What works for you?  Any suggestions are appreciated!

2. I don’t wear lipstick often.  Maybe four times a year.  I have a horrible fear that it will migrate to my teeth and no one will tell me and I’ll be walking around all day completely unawares, with a garish crayon-toothed smile.  I also worry that with all the lip biting I do, I actually end up eating most of my lipstick, which is pretty gross if you think too long on it.
I was intrigued though, when I saw several folks wearing Limecrime’s Velveteen lip color in ‘Salem’. (It is sold out on the site, but you can also find it at Urban Outfitters and a few other places if you poke around). It’s such a unique color and it reminds me of all of my favorite parts of the 90’s – dark floral babydoll dresses, velvet chokers, stompy boots. The formula too is really lovely; it looks like a gloss, but it goes on completely matte.


3
. Last year for the holidays my beau gifted me with Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Isa Does It, which is a gorgeous book with a million wonderful vegan recipes (we are not vegan, nor even vegetarian, but we do like to experiment!) and hands down, the recipe that I have made the most is her Roasted Red Pepper Mac & “Cheese”.  It is so, so good. Make it tonight. Seriously.  You don’t even have to buy the book, here is the recipe:
http://www.theppk.com/2013/10/roasted-red-pepper-mac-cheese-video/


4, 5, and 6. (Music)

Year end find: Tetrolugosi. I’ll admit, I was already in love when I read this described as Fabio Frizzi and Riz Ortolani by way of Gary Numan and Ladytron.

Previously mentioned: Dance With The Dead. These guys create the dark, 1980s sci-fi/horror soundtrack for your life that you didn’t know you needed.

The Bombay Royale: The Island of Dr. Electrico. “…from lonesome spaghetti to surf-rock, from psychedelia to spine-bending space disco, overlaid with the voices of our protagonists The Tiger and The Mysterious Lady”.  Ah!  How can you resist that description? I couldn’t.


7, 8, 9 and 10. (Cinema)

Only Lovers Left Alive.  You’d probably be hard pressed to find a year-end list that this did not make, eh? Somber, sad, wicked, clever, impossibly elegant. All of these things. A favorite for sure, and not just for now – perhaps all time.


Byzantium
.  Another brooding, elegant vampire film, but a bit of a peculiar take on familiar lore.


The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
. A lush, surreal, deliberately disorienting neo-giallo. the sooner you abandon hope of following the story or figuring out the plot in favor of allowing your eyeballs to be dizzied and dazzled, the better you’ll be.  The exquisite, labyrinthine apartment building made for a strange and wonderful character on it’s own.


Under The Skin. Moody and strange and mysterious. It’s difficult to say more about this one. Can you tell I am awful at reviews?  That’s really all I can tell you. That, and don’t read the book – it’s utter rubbish.

 

11, 12, 13, and 14. (Books and Literature)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  I read this at the very beginning of 2014 so most of the details elude me, but what I took away from it mostly is that it is a beautiful love letter to great art.  I found it an absolutely gripping, compelling read and with my attention span nowadays, that’s saying quite a bit.

Through The Woods by Emily Carroll. Beautifully designed, meticulously crafted tales of quiet, nightmarish horror.  An equally disturbing and breathtaking creation.

Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky. Bizarre, bawdy, brazen. Ridiculously good fun.

The Children of Old Leech. A Laird Barron tribute anthology full of terrifying things. whispered of in darkened forests beyond the safe comfort of firelight. Standout stories for me were “Love Songs From The Hydrogen Jukebox”, “Notes For ‘Barn In The Wild'”, “Ymir”, and “Tenebrionidae”

Bonus round, television series category!  True Detective, Penny Dreadful, Les Revenants, and Mirror Black.
Extra super bonus round!  Kimchi Furikake rice seasoning.  This stuff is amazing.

What are some of your favorite discoveries in 2014?  Do share!

The Christmas Service of the Dead

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The Christmas Service of the Dead

People say that long ago the dead held a service on the night before Christmas.  Once a woman arrived too early for Christmas service.  When she entered the church she found it lit up and full of dead people, singing:

Here we sing, our bones all bleached,
Here we sing with beautiful voice,
When shall the day of judgment come,
What yet have you to say?

The story continues on as the woman recognizes her dead sister among the congregation. Warned by her sister that she must flee, for the dead will take her life, the woman escapes, dropping her shawl behind her to confuse her cadaverous pursuers.  When the church warden comes in the next morning and puts the lights on, he spies the shawl in the empty chapel, torn almost beyond recognition.

This tale is widely spread in Europe and is extremely old, having been set in Autun, Burgandy, by Gregory of Tours in his De Gloria Confessorum.  See below for an illustrated version of the best-known Scandinavian variant of this migratory legend, “The Midnight Mass of the Dead” from Asbørnsen’s “En gammelgags juleaften” (“An Old Fashioned Christmas Eve”).  These wonderfully evocative images, full of dim shades, grim shadows and midwinter’s eerie light, were created by artist Chris Van Allsburg (JumangiThe Polar Express) and can be found in Ghosts” volume from theTime Life Enchanted World series.  These scans are from my personal collection; higher-resolution, more detailed versions can be found here.

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Wishing you peace and light in this dark, dying time of the year, and may you not be without your shawl or other talisman this winter holiday when the dead are afoot and hungry for your company.

(originally posted at After Dark In The Playing Fields)

 

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