I had so much fun with last months “What I Can’t Live Without” feature that I decided to do a monthly column spotlighting my favorite people and some of their favorite things! This month’s 10 Things list is shared by Nuri McBride, a lovely friend with whom I share many passions and common interests, and whose enthusiasm, insights, and support have bolstered me immensely in the past year, with regard to my creative projects.Nuri writes beautifully and extensively at her own blog Death/Scent, which explores the fascinating world of fragrance & funerals. She is also a Contributor at Death and the Maiden.
I adore books (print, audio, and to a lesser extent, digital) and I could not live without them. Some of my most beloved authors are Neil Gaiman, Pablo Neruda, Umberto Eco, Michael Ondaatje and Margret Atwood. If I had to recommend a book from each it would be, in order, Anansi Boys, The Capitan’s Verses, The Name of the Rose, Anil’s Ghost, and a tie between The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace. [Bonus: I listen to Neil Gaiman read Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol every December while baking gingerbread men. I highly recommend it for a chill afternoon.]
A lot of people write off comics as juvenile and banal but there are amazing things going on both art and story wise in comics these days and nowhere more than at Image Comics. Who would have thought a publisher started by illustrators that founded a venue in which creators get to keep their copyrights would produce such diverse and interesting stuff? #sarcasm My favourite titles are Fatale, Pretty Deadly, Saga, The Wicked + The Divine, Sex Criminals, and Chew.
I think Sarah and I bonded over our deep psychological need to smell like the Queen of Sheba. Picking one favourite out of my 300+ smell-babies would be impossible. However, I find myself reaching for Incense Avignon (Comme des Garcons), Incense Pure (Sonoma Scent Studio) Gypsy Water (Byredo) and Carnal Flower (Frederic Malle) the most these days.
I am a taphophile and I love to stroll in a good cemetery, it’s my happy place. You can learn a lot about a town and its people by visiting the local graveyard. Wherever I go in my travels there is always a day devoted to the nearby cemetery and I enjoy visiting the old and forgotten little pocket cemeteries of 20 or so graves that are tucked about my city. Some of my favourite places of rest in the world are Abney Park (London), Bonaventure Cemetery (Savannah), The Old Jewish Cemetery (Prague), South Park Street Cemetery (Kolkata) and the Cross Bones Graveyard (London)
Skincare is super personal. My run-into-a-burning-house-to-save-it holy grail cream is Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream, but when Sarah Elizabeth tried it she hated it. I think 90% of skincare is knowing what your skin needs and giving it that and nothing more. As such I am not loyal to brands but to ingredients yet the one brand I use the most for both face and body is Avene. Avene is a French pharmacy brand hailed for its gentleness and sensitive skin preparations. Yes, I am one of those bougie women that spray their faces with Eau Thermale water and I swear by it for my last step in cleansing. I love their XeraCalm A.D Lipid Replenishing Cleansing Oil in the shower and follow it up with the Lipid-Replenishing Balm to keep my skin silky. Their Antirougeurs Mask is great if you find your face gets dry and inflamed. I use a touch of the Cicalfate Post-Procedure Cream on recovering skin from a cut or acne breakout to keep scaring at a minimum. I would also recommend their Mineral Mattifying Facial Sunscreen because it is SPF 50 and doesn’t break me out.
Stories of Strange Women
Oh podcasts, they save me on long bus rides and when I’m out walking my dog and people want to talk to me. What would I do without them, be forced to speak with people! I’m a big fan of Oh No Ross & Carry, Sawbones, and Welcome to Night Vale but the podcast that I feel not enough people are listening to and they should be is Stories of Strange Women. As a strange woman myself it makes me happy to hear the Hurley Sisters, interviewing other weirdos about the circuitous paths and interesting lives they lead. I find it very inspiring.
So, most people don’t know this about me but I’m a huge table top role-playing nerd. It’s a form of collective story-telling that both requires and develops advance social and communication skill like empathetic listening, conflict negotiation, and improvisation. This idea that all D&D fans are shut-in young men with no social skills is nonsense. Sadly, getting my party in the same room on a weekly basis with jobs, partners, and babies is a tall order these days so I satisfy my craving for the theatre of the mind by watching Critical Role (available on YouTube, Twitch, Project Alpha, and as a Podcast). Critical Role is a show with professional voice actors being professional dorks. It’s my lunch date almost every day, and it makes me happy. I recommend starting with the second campaign.
Dark & Dreamy Cooperative Board Games
I believe firmly that Monopoly is the worst game in the world. Not only does it promote ruthless land speculation by the 1% it also has shitty game mechanics that will lead to players getting eliminated long before the game is done so only the person that wins really has any fun. Isn’t Capitalism a hoot kids? I much prefer cooperative games were the players must work together. These games make sure everyone has a good time right and you might actually learn something about your friends. If the game is artistic and a bit spooky even better. While not a true co-op game Dixit is a magical card game everyone should have. It requires you to think empathetically about how your other players would interpret dream-like images. Mysterium is like Clue and Dixit had a baby in a haunted house. Betrayal at House on the Hill starts off co-operative before one of the players is revealed as a defector and you all need to battle against them and their unclean legions. If you like games with a lot of chance, the dice rolling Elder Sign is a personal favourite as is its big bother (we are going to be here for 5 hours minimum) Arkham Horror, both set in the Cthulhu Mythos.
Butter London Eye Gloss
When it comes to makeup I’m a cream kind of gal. Cream lipstick, cream blush, cream highlight. I don’t really use powder and maybe that’s why I’m so crap at doing my eye makeup. But I always look cute in Butter London Eye Glosses. They are pudding-like shadows that go on beautifully and blend out great with just your finger. Plus, they stay put and don’t feel sticky. I throw on some liner and mascara and I’m done. Spark and Oil Slick are my go-to shades.
The Films of Guillermo Del Toro
There are some creative people that just make the world a better place, not because they dress it up in ribbons and bows but through their stories of monsters and devils they show us something of ourselves and make us better people. That’s how I feel about Guillermo Del Toro’s work. Unlike some other directors beloved for their fantasy settings that are all style and no substance, Del Toro is using fairy tales to process the trauma of war, the terror of patriarchal love and the inhumanity of institutions that turn men into monsters. I highly suggest watching the Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth back to back as they are set in the same world just a few years apart and are part of an eventual trilogy based about the unprocessed trauma of the Spanish Civil War. Crimson Peak and the Shape of Water feel like precious jewels to me. Also, I adored the novelisation of the Shape of Water which delved deeper into the characters and the themes of the movie. You should read it.