Creepy-cookbooks1

Grim Gastronomy, Creepy Cuisine: A Macabre Cookbook Collection

At Haute Macabre this week, I talk about some very important things: my cookbook collection. Let no one say that I don’t have my priorities straight!

TL;DR The cookbooks listed in this article are: Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur’s CookbookDamn Fine Cherry Pie: And Other Recipes from TV’s Twin PeaksDeath Warmed Over: Funeral Food, Rituals, and Customs from Around the WorldThe Decadent Cookbook: Recipes of Obsession and ExcessDeath & Co. Classic Modern CocktailsChas Addams Half-Baked CookbookThe Dark Shadows CookbookSon of the Martini Cookbook

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spirit
Currently I am having a rough go of it. I find myself shuffling from one end of the house to the other, without thought or purpose or even memory of doing so. I cannot focus or concentrate, so work is all but impossible, and yet I haven’t taken any time off, either. I find it difficult to justify time off when I already work from home, you know? So I’ve just been sitting at my desk, dazed, thoughts both a million miles away and no where, and desperately hoping that the phone does not ring.  Inevitably it does.  And so, a week has passed since we lost our Mawga.

“A readjustment of reality, ” is how a friend summed up some of what I am feeling.  I spent so many years worrying and fretting over my grandmother, paying her bills, keeping up with her house, handling all the what-ifs and emergencies as they arose, paying her a visit after work every day…now that I no longer have these things to do (these things that sometimes I was honestly quite bitter and resentful of) I am feeling unmoored, adrift, purposeless. Instead of having to sneak my knitting or reading into spare pockets of time, stolen and emptied from other portions of my life, I now am at leisure to do these things as I please. But for the moment (and I do know it is a momentary, passing thing) …I just …can’t.

But I do feel the compelling, compulsive need, as I do every month, do vaguely document the things I have been doing–and so to keep to a routine and regain a sense of normalcy, here is some photographic evidence that there was life and liveliness over the past month. And I suppose, even though it doesn’t feel like it now, there will be again.

vegantreats

A fantastic box of Vegan Treats morbid chocolates from my beau. This has become our Valentine’s Day tradition. Somehow we manage to make these delectable morsels last a month or more; I think three years in, we have managed to become pros at it.

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Also honor of Valentines madness and treating myself, I took a break from the No-Buy to grab the Fire Walk With Me soundtrack from Mondo and this gorgeous antique print of The Young Widow by Henry Hutt.

seeds

A few weekends ago we sat in the afternoon sun and planted all kinds of seeds–marigolds, morning glories, carrots, radishes, squash. It will be a miracle if any of them make it. I also planted a few little succulents in the hollowed dome of this cranial planter, an osteological-inspired marvel sculpted by the phenomenal Kermit Tesoro.

bangs

Last Saturday I got my got my bangs cut. My hair has been all one-length for the past twenty years, so this is a weird adjustment. And I probably won’t keep it this way forever (sweaty humid bangs on my forehead in July? Ugh) but for now, I think I really dig it. It’s got a sort of Stevie Nicks or Ann & Nancy Wilson vibe. And it’s certainly an improvement on this, a photo which was taken a day or so before the big chop.

books

Currently reading Something In The Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker. I was so excited to read about the author of my very favorite novel, but I am finding that while it is not dry reading, exactly, it is certainly dense and packed with information and taking me a rather long time to muddle through. Much more than just a biography, it immerses the reader in the culture and the history of the Victorian era, encountering various celebrities and characters along the way. It’s enjoyable, it really is…but there’s just so much of it. I broke up the monotony of it with Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, which is something I’d been meaning to read for awhile as I loved all of her other books, but for whatever reason, I’d never gotten to it. After reading a few chapters I was sorely lamenting watching Chan Wook Parks film adaptation of it, The Handmaiden, just last year. It was exactly the same story (but you know, London, instead of Korea) and I knew what to expect! I was disappointed that I already knew the twists and turns before they could surprise me. Ahhh, but not so. I read on and after a while I was glad of having seen the film first. And I ended up adoring the book as much as the film. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Make them both priorities on your to-watch/to-read lists.

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One word movie reviews!

Absentia–maybe (on amazon prime)
Trouble Every Day–perhaps (on amazon prime)
Blair Witch–skip
The Love Witch–Yes
The Editor–YES
The Village–ugh
VHS–probably (on netflix)
The OA–absolutely (on netflix)

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spiritsSomehow the last month, give or take a few days, feels several decades long. I suspect that has much to do with the upheaval of the holidays; we hosted my beau’s family for Christmas this year, so I believe there were at least two weeks alone which were lost to the commotion of getting our slovenly butts in gear to make the place look presentable and figure out how to cook a dang prime rib. (If you’re curious, we served prime rib with roasted asparagus, garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes, and creamed spinach, and if I don’t have to do that again for another year, that will be fine with me.)

Also, I have never had a holiday thing/event/whatever in my own home, so I was freaking out. Quite honestly, I had volunteered responsibility for the holiday dinners because I was tired of feeling awkward and out of place/in the way at someone else’s house. If I’m going to feel uncomfortable, I’d rather it be in the comfort of my own home, you know?

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cookies

Houses were lit, skeletons and bats were fitted with Santa hats, and a thousand star cookies were born, only to die bravely in several gulps. I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that I made the world’s most amazing gingersnap cookies and that may never happen again because I don’t remember which recipe I used. At Jack’s suggestion, though, I under-baked them, which did away with the menace of the tooth-breaking “snap” and produced a cookie that was intensely chewy and full of delectable spices. I suspect under-baking any gingersnap recipe will yield a far superior result.

Bloodmilk

Cemetery

Buzzer

This past weekend was a bit of a whirlwind.  On Friday night I ventured into Orlando for dinner at Dandelion Cafe with some like-minded lady friends (whom I both met through Death Cafe!) and a jaunt to Etoile Boutique in the Milk District for the bloodmilk trunk show. It was so nice to meet the incredibly lovely Jess, whom I’ve known online for years now, as well as her whirling dervish, effervescent right-hand gal, Jen. And of course it was pretty spectacular to see glittering stacks of bloodmilk talismans and amulets on display. I may have purchased a thing. Okay…maybe two!

The next day I tagged along with my brother-in-law on some errands, during which we took a quick drive through Greenwood Cemetery which is utterly gorgeous, and which I had somehow never visited. Afterward we visited South Seminole Farm and Nursery and I poked along, haunting the herb shelves and spying on all the blooms and blossoms, while he checked out the boring stuff, like native ground cover.

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On Sunday we went to Disney World. Though I am a FL resident now and have been for the better part of 30 years, I can count on one finger the times I have been to this theme park. When I was much younger, I was obsessed with it, and of course, with the various Disney princesses, but as I grew older I came to really resent it. Full disclosure: that was because I was a scumbag who was dating an even more horrible person who was married (with kids) and I grew to detest anything that smacked of Disney or children’s fantasy.

It took me several years to get over that. I’m still not super rah-rah jazzed about all things Disney, but I genuinely did have a wonderful time staying at the Polynesian resort, drinking all of the tiki drinks, watching spectacular night time fireworks across the water, and spending the next day eating too much sugar and going on all the rides with my Viking. I guess it all depends on who you spend your time with, right? And I have been spending time with this particularly excellent human for five years now (as of this Friday the 13th!) and that’s sort of what this trip was all about. I even got the sequined Minnie ears to commemorate the occasion! Although he’ll tell you it’s because he wanted to see robot-Obama speak before the Hall of Presidents is closed down for the next six months, but I know what’s what.

Blue Dahlia

BooksCurrently knitting: the German doily inspired Blue Dahlia shawl. I’ve been coasting on socks and mitts for the past six months, so I thought I would start of the year with something a little more challenging and infinitely more fiddly. So far so good!

Currently reading: all of the library books! There’s this problem with borrowing library books, though. You can’t really read them at your leisure, so you either race through them, trying to finish them before the due date that you’ve already extended two or three times already, or you just let them pile up because you get involved in other things and then you must return them unfinished.  There’s always one or two from my stacks that remains sadly unread and most likely not revisited.

I just finished The Magicians, which despite wanting to punch the main character in the face, I totally adored. There’s something about the magic of ordinary folks being transplanted into unfamiliar worlds that makes for some of my favorite storytelling. Unspeakable Things, though intensely edifying, is a bit of a slog, so I’ve been breaking it up with the equally feminist How To Be A Woman (which, while hilarious, it’s the sort of humor that might grate on one’s nerves after a while.) I also checked out every Carrie Fisher book that my local branch had to offer but so far I have only finished Wishful Drinking, which was a quick and wonderfully witty read. Note to self: still need to see her stand up version of this.

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And of course, some one word film reviews. I am not sure how I got in so much in the way of movie watching since the 13th of December, but somehow there are 20+ titles on this list!

Beyond the Gates Yes (but mostly for Barbara Crampton)
Krampus Maybe
The Greasy Strangler DearGodNo (I didn’t even finish it)
Antibirth Yes!
The Magnificent Seven Maybe
Ghostbusters Maybe (don’t kill me, I didn’t love it)
SiREN Skip
The Autopsy of Jane Doe YES
The Handmaiden OMGYES
Fury Road HELLYES
Gone Girl meh
The Girl On the Train Maybe
The Good Neighbor Probably (it’s on netflix)
I Am Not A Serial Killer Definitely! (it’s on netflix)
The Fearless Vampire Killers Wheee!
Rusalochka Pretty! (it’s on youtube, in six parts)
Train to Busan Intense!
The Skeleton Twins yesyesyes
The Happening meh
Zootopia yes!
Tangled um (if you have mother issues, this is a little triggering)
Goosebumps hrm

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loveLet’s face it. There was not much to love about 2016. We watched as our beautiful, beloved dreams died one, by one. Whether it was our star men, our poet-bards, our very first motorcycle-riding, purple velvet wearing crushes, our hopes for a magnificent female president, or at least president who isn’t completely bat-shit bonkers, and as of when I began writing this– the loss of my beloved rebel princess, my very first role model–2016 was devastating in so many ways, and saw the end of so many wonderful things.

And so I look to the little things. The sweetness that lightened the burden. The small discoveries that made life easier, or little luxuries that eased a horrible day, a terrible month, or a no good, very bad year.

In no particular order, and for these reasons, here are 16 things I loved in 2016.
(Curious about my picks for previous years? Here’s 2015 & 2014)

nail

Christian Louboutin Nail Polish. Now someone will say to me, “Really, Sarah?”  A $50 nail polish?” And yes, I will agree, that’s pretty ridiculous. But the bottle is gorgeous, and the wand is the perfect petite height for my small hands (the stiletto lid is deceiving) and this is absolutely high quality lacquer, very long wearing. I mean, I guess it is. I knit and wash dishes and read books and type and use my hands a lot, and 2 coats lasts me a week without chipping. That’s pretty great, right? I wear it almost exclusively.

Oud Wood

Tom Ford Oud Wood Shower Gel. Yeah, so…if you weren’t keen on the thought of a $50 nail polish, you are probably not going to get on board with a $67 bottle of body wash. But this one smells like woods and incense and secret forest temples and is an utter treat. It is my secret weapon in the constant battle of “ugggghh…do I really have to shower today?”

baies

Diptyque Baies candle. I first sniffed this stunningly gorgeous candle whilst shopping at Uncommon Objects in Austin. They had it burning on a counter top near the entrance and I was so enthralled with the fragrant wafts drifting throughout the store that I had actually ordered the candle on my phone on amazon before I made a purchase from the shop I was actually in. Rude! I’m sorry, but I really had to have it. I was so surprised when I read the description for Baies: “a luscious blend of black-currant leaves and Bulgarian roses”. Usually these are not smells that I want anything to do with! But somehow this combines for a strikingly elegant scented object, a sort of woody-musky-green fragrance, that I never ever want to be without.

owl moon
Owl Moon bloodmilk X Black Phoenix Alchemy collabroative fragrance. From chapter one of bloodmilk’s sister shop, Exquisite Corpse, this is an exquisite, unique scent experience that literally sets my teeth on edge, but sometimes I need that very sort of fearsome inspiration and motivation. With notes described as “dark, rooty, sweet patchouli swirled with honey,” Owl Moon opens with the blackest, earthiest patchouli (before learning of the notes, I actually thought it was vetiver!) and calls to mind cool, moist soil at the base of a pine tree through which all of the busy little night creatures slither and crawl, the pale, ghostly light of the moon glinting off their scales and wings. A yellow-eyed owl, perched overhead, meditates briefly before silently embarking on his nightly hunt; the sour, screechy scent of his nest, littered with rodent bones and pellets, serves as a warning nearby.  This is the fragrance of potent night magics, rich and ripe with darkness and feral mysticism. The sharpness of the patchouli streaked with high-pitched honey combine to form an aura that is both graceful and grotesque, sacred and profane. If all of that reads familiar to you, this is exactly what I have written about Owl Moon before, elsewhere, but it’s not plagiarizing if it’s your own words, right?

hurraw

Hurraw lip balms. Several people mentioned these lip balms in passing this year, but I pooh-poohed them because I thought the name was dumb. Well, turns out I am an idiot. These are amazing. Vegan, organic, fair trade, all of the buzzwords that are bandied about, yes all of those things, but they are also smooth, and not at all draggy or grainy or melty or overly smelly, AND they have options that are not mint or fruit. Also, they are about $15 less than my previous favorite lipbalm, so Hurraw, despite the stupid name, is a win.

zenmed
Zenmed Anti-Redness Rosacea Treatment. I self-diagnosed myself with rosacea earlier this month, after noticing and freaking out over the course of the year fluctuations and flare-ups of redness and stinging on my face. Based on some suggestions from friends I tried this particular set of products from Zenmed and my face cleared up overnight. That is not an exaggeration or embellishment. It literally cleared up over night. (I also stopped drinking coffee and started taking omega-3s, but I really do think it was this thing in particular that did the trick.) I cannot recommend it highly enough.

And speaking of coffee. I would be remiss in not mentioning cold brew coffee on my list. Any kind, but especially the pre-made stuff in the bottle that you buy at the store. It was a lifesaver this summer when it was too hot to drink hot coffee, and I was too sweaty and lazy to go through the process of brewing the cold stuff. I’m not really drinking coffee anymore, but it certainly made this past May-August ever so much more bearable!

gardein

I think Gardein Breakfast Pockets may be my favorite discovery this year. I’m not one of those people who can eat as soon as I get out of bed in the morning; I need to take my time, sip a hot beverage (now that I’m not drinking coffee, the current beverage of choice is turmeric-ginger tea) and just go about my early hours ver-r-rrry slowly. It’s not that I am not a morning person–I am totally a morning person!– but it really does have to be at my own pace. I try to eat a little something right before my work day starts, and these hand-held little pockets are really delicious. I am also a person who absolutely cannot do sweet things in the morning, so to find a convenience food that isn’t a waffle or a poptart or a cloying breakfast bar is pretty awesome. It’s vegan, but I am under no illusions that it’s “healthy”. With no animal products and at only 200 calories though, it’s good enough for me. (Note: I am not vegan. Not even vegetarian.)

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The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer left me speechless. I was certain nothing could ever measure up again, and I was very nearly afraid to start reading something else afterward! The books tell of the mysterious, dangerous wilderness of Area X and the humans exploring it: several decades ago, an inexplicable environmental change occurred and a large swath of land and sea was sealed behind an invisible and largely impenetrable barrier. “Inside it, nature shifted. It grew wild and pristine, dense and fertile—improbably pure, as though nature had said “Enough!” and reclaimed itself.”  It’s an uncanny, and genuinely surprising read that haunted me for days and probably will continue to do so for many years to come. With this series The New Yorker refers to Vandermeer as The Weird Thoreau, and …yep. Totally apt.

salt Salt Is For Curing by Sonya Vatomsky. I make myself very sad thinking about missed connections. What would life be like if perhaps I’d never gotten to know certain people, if I had carelessly just let those opportunities slip past? Sonya is one of these people. We connected via social media before I even knew they were a writer and I sometimes think…what if I’d totally ignored this weird person who started following me on twitter? What if I wasn’t a nosy so-n-so and took no notice of the fact that they were also a poet?  In my reading of Sonya’s book, Salt Is For Curing, it took all that I had not to devour this small book of spooky delights in one greedy instant. I feared that to do so, to ingest all of these potent magics at once, would give me a terribly heartsick sort of heartburn and yet leave me with the very worst sort of emptiness, knowing there is no more to be had. I drew it out for as long as I could stand. It is now in its fourth printing, which I think is basically unheard of for small press stuff, so, congrats my darling Soyna! Even if this is my fourth time saying so.

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What Is A Witch by Tin Can Forest and Pam Grossman is equal parts storybook, grimoire, comic book, and illuminated manuscript, What Is A Witch explores the many guises and archetypes of the witch–that ultimate icon of feminine power. The book’s lyrical language of night-song and half-rhymes, when given voice (and it absolutely must be read aloud), becomes a wild, witty, wondrous invocation, threaded throughout with fanciful visions, whimsical allegory, and magical truths. I engaged with its mesmerizing imagery and the poetic spell it cast, and immediately it awoke something within me. I felt it rise within myself, something fierce and surprising and nearly frightening in its power. If you feel yourself similarly compelled, don’t fight it. Go where this book takes you. See what you draw forth from yourself. Don’t be alarmed. Let it change you. This is magic, after all, and we are witches.

full-circle-packshot

It’s not spooky or eerie in the least, so it may surprise you to know that HÆLOS’ Full Circle is my favorite album this year. I know it’s not supposed to work this way, but I made my decision back in February and I’ve heard nothing that even comes close to changing my mind since that time. A sweeping, meditative album, comprised of down-tempo, melancholic dissonance, lustrous synth, and cinematic, kaleidoscopic strings; reminiscent of 90s atmospheric trip-hop, and reverberating with narcotic, late night poignancy, this is the sonic equivalent of the steady, gorgeous thrum and throbbing heartbeat of a hand in your own.

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Two of my favorite movies this year would have to be Demon, incorporating Jewish folklore and demonic possession into a tragic tale that’s not quite horror and not quite comedy, but works quite well as precisely what it is not, and The Handmaiden, a gorgeous, deliciously twisted film, by Chan Wook Park.

coffins

My marvelous coffin-shaped jewelry and pin display boards from LifeAfterDeathDesign, which I have written more about previously here.

And numbers 14-16 are a cheat, but maybe more important than anything listed: I loved collaborating with my brilliant, talented, visionary friends on our various projects–we created not just one, but TWO wildly successful Occult Activity Books this year! That’s amazing!

I loved (is loved the right word?) that I knew when a relationship with a particular outlet was no longer working for me and was lucky enough to move on immediately to something not only better, but which also felt tremendously more right for me. Life is too short to be in an uncomfortable situation that makes you unhappy! Also, boo to bullies and blowhards, what ever form they take. I love that I finally knew when to move on, I guess is what I am saying.

And what about you? What did you take comfort in this year? What are some awesome discoveries you made? What are some of your favorites? Tell me all about it in the comments!

*featured heart garland image is, I think, from etsy seller Kirrakai

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evegrimoireGorgeous art by Brittany Schall in Grimoire issue #1

3. dressesHow nineteenth century Britain became obsessed with insects

tumblr_oi50b0Pi9C1u4z6nuo1_500Stripcraft: Lux ATL’s Spells For The Revolution

OS-WEB-2

Of Shadows: One Hundred Objects From The Museum Of Witchcraft And Magic

The Lure of Laudanum, the Victorians’ Favorite Drug
11 Nasty Women Dominating Weird Fiction
We Have Always Lived in the Castle: America’s queen of weird hits the screen
Sex Magic: How to Cast Spells with Your Orgasms
SinSynth: Dreamy Music for a Would-Be Neon Giallo
Emily Brontë was metal-as-fuck and deserves to be remembered as such.
Witch Marks, Curses, and Magic in the Neglected History of Medieval Graffiti
The Last Bookbinder On The Lower East Side
† Bad Books For Bad People Episode 5: R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps
The Wordsmith Behind The Best -And Wittiest- Twitter Of 2016
The Rise of Science Fiction from Pulp Mags to Cyberpunk
Meet the ghosts at Los Angeles’s most haunted hotels

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13 Dec
2016

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“Rotten”. That pretty much sums up the past month and a half. Too little time for all that I need to do and too much stress about all of those things have left me ragged at the edges, and edgy to the extreme. (“rotten” graphic above courtesy a Stay Home Club tee shirt which I am appropriately wearing today.)

My body does weird things when I am freaked out, and these anxieties over the years have found new and exciting ways to manifest physically in my poor bod.  What I’m pretty sure have been mild cases of acid reflux and rosacea that developed in my late 30s but which I have always been able to pooh-pooh because they’re not that bad…well, all of a sudden they are that bad. Massive flare ups. I’ve been walking around for the majority of November and December feeling like I’m going to barf and like my barf is burning a hole in my throat, on top of which my face is red and stingy-rashy with itchy bumps constantly appearing and disappearing in the same day.

The acid reflux, well, I can get over that, but roseacea? ON MY FACE? Ugh, no. Last straw.

I am, however, happy to report that after polling some friends on facebook I found some tips and various things to try that actually seem to be working. For those who are curious…

  • I cut out coffee (I didn’t drink that much anyway. Only a mug a day, which I drinkuntil it gets cold, and then I dump it out.) I replaced the coffee with a hot turmeric-ginger chai from Rishi.
  • I started taking omega-3s and acidophillus
  • I changed up my morning and evening face cleansing routine and am now using the anti-redness rosacea products from ZENMED. I am not exaggerating in the least when I tell you that I noticed an overnight difference after first trying them. On one hand that’s amazing, because my itchy lobster face was pretty awful. What stinks, though, is that now I basically have a cabinet full of expensive beauty products that are totally useless because I can’t use right now.

Shoes

On to more glamorous things! I received my beautiful Pilgrims from Fluevog and they fit gorgeously. These are truly the One Pair of Shoes to Rule Them All.

They are pictured here with a dress from Noctex, which you can’t really see, and I can’t link properly link to because it is no longer sold, and Avignon from Comme des Garçons, which of course you cannot smell, but I will share with you that it smells like very fancy pencil shavings. The tote is from Haute Macabre, but no longer available.

magnets

Also good for alleviating stresses: making your own monsters! A fashionable, fantastical harpy-footed, squid-armed cyclops! A jaunty minotaur with mummy legs and bat wings! A dragon with torn dungarees! Ridiculous! I picked up up this magnet set in Austin, but you can easily find them on amazon. Also, if you have a weird friend for whom you need a last-minute Hexmas gift (or maybe one of those white-elephant/dirty santa exchanges?) I can personally attest that this is the most perfect thing ever and there will be much deranged cackling.

insexts

BOOKSCurrently reading:
InSeXts // Angels of Music // Valancourt Book of Horror Stories

I am too brain dead to think of much to say about any of these books, but if you like the idea of vengeful Victorian lesbian insect women, then give InSeXts a try, and if Charlies Angels as managed by the Phantom of the Opera sounds campy and delightful to you, then I think you’ll like Angels of Music. I haven’t delved into the Valancourt anthology yet, but come on–just look at that cover! It’s got to be good.

GF Currently watching: a lot of Gravity Falls. My beau has been trying to get me to watch this with him forever, and I finally gave in. It’s a Disney show, (I think?) and has described as Twin Peaks meets Eerie, Indiana. Except without all the murder. Anyway, I won’t go into what it’s all about because if you already know then I’ll feel dumb for having done that. I will say that it’s a lot of fun and it’s good when you want to watch something silly but not exactly mindless, but…I don’t know. I find some bits of it a little problematic.

And finally, some one-word movie reviews!

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them-sure! (saw this in theatre)
The Lobster– hrrrm
Sacrifice– UGH
Demon-YESSSSS
Restoration-nope
Kristy-yes (surprisingly)
Green Room-maybe
The Last Witch Hunter-skip (got this from the library)

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21 Nov
2016

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Currently: enjoying the brief window of opportunity we have to open the house up to cool breezes and fresh air (during which time I start burning all the incense and candles, stinking up all of our newly acquired fresh air); hand-writing letters to far flung friends, drinking up all the tea in my cupboards and queuing up all the Hildegard Von Bingen and Loreena McKennit that I can find, for I am a creature of habit, and that’s what I like to listen to when the weather frosts my fingers and numbs my lungs. It was 45 degrees this morning when I woke up! In November! In Florida! Wow.

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Creepy doll jumble at Uncommon Objects
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Ramen and bride of the fox sake at Tatsu-ya
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Holly Bobisuthi creations at Blackmail Boutique
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Precious mouse friend at Uncommon Objects

Currently: recovering from our yearly trip. This time around, instead of visiting Portland, we visited Austin…which I guess is sort of like “the other Portland”. Well, that’s what everyone says, anyway, but I don’t quite get that. I like both places very much, but I will say that folks seem a lot chattier in Austin, more willing to engage (as someone who is not keen on chatting, I am not sure if that’s a plus, but I’d sound like such a grinch if I indicated a city of friendly people is somehow negative, right?)

In Austin I:

  • ate all of the tacos on Torchy’s menu (I liked the Baja shrimp taco best!)
  • waited in lines for three hours at Franklin’s for barbecue on our first day and walked right in to Terry Black’s barbecue on the last day (I found Terry Black’s to be superior)
  • visited all of the beautiful antiques and old creepy things at Uncommon Objects
  • bought new perfumes and gorgeous new baubles at Blackmail Boutique, where I also finally got to meet the fabulous Chad Merritt, whose gorgeous paper cut art I have been collecting forever
  • got invited to a secret Shaky Graves show
  • saw some art at one location of the East Austin Studio Tour
  • finally met my darling Lau and her husband; we dined on caviar and pirozhki at The Russian House and afterwards, sipped on secret speakeasy cocktails at a clandestine location nearby
  • Stopped by Austin Books and Comics, which now rivals Powells (in my opinion) for best bookstore on earth. Also stepped into The Dragon’s Lair, which was pretty groovy, too, with an amazing selection of comics and graphic novels. And games, if you are into that.
  • Enjoyed delicious ramen at Tatsu-ya; amazing pizza at Home Slice; several breakfasts at June’s, more cocktails at Gordoughs, and marveled at the TARDIS of yarnshops–Hill Country Weavers–which is totally bigger on the inside than it appears from the outside, and is stuffed wall-to-wall with fantastically beautiful yarns.

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Over the course of our week in Austin, I had a surprising amount of downtime. While the lads were adventuring (in the next room with dice and character sheets), I curled up on the sofa and read the following:

My Sweet Audrina: Prompted by last month’s Bad Books For Bad People podcast, I thought I’d re-read this gem from my childhood. At 11 years of age, I don’t think I fully appreciated the scope of how truly fucked up this book was–it is beautifully bonkers.

The Girl On The Train: For me, this is a read that falls into the “good for what it is” category… something I would probably not pick up unless I was traveling…something with a little mystery, very little depth, and a moderate to high trashy-factor. If you liked Gone Girl, you will probably also like The Girl On The Train (I actually liked it better than Gone Girl.)

The Singing Bones: The brief synopsis is, “a convicted killer’s imminent parole forces a woman to confront the nightmarish past she’s spent twenty years escaping”, but it’s a richly layered story with a wonderfully creepy atmosphere, and fascinating folkloric elements that elevates it to something beyond a typical thriller. Highly recommended– and thanks a million for the suggestion, Leslie.

The Ritual: This book about four friends and their nightmare hike into dark, primal Scandinavian wilderness has been on my to-read list forever, but of the books I read while away last week, it is probably my least favorite. The first half reminded me of Algernon Blackwood’s “The Wendigo”, or “The Willows”, the former which always freaks me out a little but more than the latter, but they are both hauntingly intense and give me shudders whenever I ponder them overlong. The second half of the book seems silly in comparison, but I found that after the acute anxiety caused by the first half, I was okay with some ridiculousness.

The Other Side, An Anthology Of Queer Paranormal Romance“Featuring 19 comics by 23 different creators, THE OTHER SIDE is a celebration of queer romance and the paranormal… featuring a wide variety of queer and trans protagonists – as well as poltergeists, shadow monsters, guitar-playing hypnotists, lost angels, genderfluid vampires, trickster ghosts, and many more!” There were definitely hits and misses here; a few left me wanting much more, one or two left me scratching my head, and a handful of them were just perfect. On the whole though, I thought it was a wonderful collection and a highly satisfying reading/visual experience.

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And lastly, what have I been watching? Here are some one(ish) word reviews for you…

I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House*-Yes (but slow & not much plot)
Lights Out– Yes (but problematic)
31-Maybe (if Rob Zombie is a guilty pleasure)
The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein-ummyes
Doctor Strange (in the theatre)-Absolutely
The House Next Door– Yes (but read book first context)(also this is cheesy & mostly awful)

*can be found on netflix

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Alice Sweet Alice (1976) officially licensed poster by Nikita Kaun

This has been a strange month so far. After the excitement and panic of the hurricane, while things have calmed down a bit, they still don’t feel “normal”. I haven’t had the energy or motivation I need to finish (or, ahem, start) many of the things I would have hoped to have done now that the month is almost over, and as melodramatic as it sounds, I feel as if I am languishing under the threat of some unnameable doom.

In the meantime, here are some movies I have seen recently, and my one word assessments of them.

Phantasm, remastered (in the theatre)— yes
Jupiter Ascending — nope
Alice Sweet Alice — yes
The Night of the Hunter — absolutely
The Legend of Hell House* — yes
The Haunted Palace — no
The Conjuring 2 — no
The Uninvited* — no
Housebound — YES
Dead Silence* — no. But maybe yes.
Ava’s Possessions* — yes (it is worth mentioning that the main character was watching the above listed Alice Sweet Alice on her tiny tv set at one point during the film!)

We also watched season one of Ash Vs. Evil Dead which was a lot of fun, although a great deal…saltier than I expected? Maybe I am getting old. Gosh.

*these titles can be found on netflix

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RE: Books/reading…

I was loathe to delve into any book at all after finishing the very excellent Southern Reach Trilogy, but as it happens, everything since I’ve read since then has been wonderful. The Night of the Hunter was unexpectedly, profoundly beautiful, and come to think of it, I might use those same words to describe Michael Schmeltzer’s book of poetry, Blood Songs. Monstress boasted exquisite, intricate art, complex characters, really fantastic world building, and a thrillingly mysterious story; I cannot wait to read more. Giant Days (Volume 3), Wicked + The Divine (Volume 4), and Over the Garden Wall were all just as much fun as I would have expected, and I think I also read every gorgeous, weird thing that Tin Can Forest ever published. Oh, and also–The Girl With All The Gifts, which was an uncomplicated, but still pretty engaging read (I wasn’t even going to pick it up, but the film was receiving such great reviews, and if I am going to see the movie, my general rule is that I must read the book first!)

BPAL Salon Halloweenies

Over at Haute Macabre today I review some of the Salon scents from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab; I did not purchase any of the pumpkin or apple scents or anything candy related because they’re not really my thing, but I guess that probably translates to “I’m a pretentious git who hates fun”. So be it! .

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At the beginning of October, my hair dresser was supposed to give me purple hair. Somehow I came out of the salon looking exactly as I had when I walked in. I guess it’s been that kind of month.

What are you up to this month? Has it been all weirdness and strange times for you, as well?

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A Love That Casts No Shadow by EC Steiner

There must be something exceptionally splendid and special in the air right now (or could it simply be that we are now in the month of October– the most wonderful time of the year?) My beloved friends are really outdoing themselves with regard to their current creative ventures and artistic endeavors, and I wanted to take a moment to spotlight, (for all of my twelve readers, haha) some of the remarkable things that are available right now from these dazzlingly brilliant visionaries.  See below for an array of outstanding projects and collaborations resulting in needful things of the most enticing and uncanny sort.

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Whispering Death by Becky Munich

Munich Art Studio and Casketglass Art have teamed up to celebrate a month of haunted days by releasing an extremely limited set of art prints inspired by the mystery and magic of Halloween. An intimate experience, only 20 print sets are available for purchase and will not be re-released, and in honor of the joyously macabre traditions of the Halloween season, each order is shipped with additional ghoulish treats for you to keep or share with others.

Order the 2016 limited edition Halloween art print set here

 

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For the scented tapophile: in what will be an on-going collection, the new Haute Macabre + Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab collaboration is launching with two new fragrances, Burying Point and St. Louis #1. Made exclusively for Haute Macabre by master perfumer Elizabeth Barrial, the collection is based on favorite cemeteries around the world; the first installment features St. Louis #1 (drooping Spanish moss and crumbling marble, sweet olive blossom, 13-year aged black patchouli, and offerings of Bay Rum, Florida water, and tobacco), located in New Orleans, and Burying Point (damp clusters of brown patchouli, dried maple leaves, black sage, spikenard, and curled, misshapen mandrake roots), the oldest cemetery in Salem.

Purchase Burying Point and St. Louis #1 here.

 

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Two beautiful new pins are available for pre-order from our friends at Wormwood & Rue!

DAWN: Our hard enamel pin featuring a white hare wreathed in morning glories is 49mm (1.9″) tall and finished in gold plating.

DUSK: Our hard enamel pin featuring a black hare wreathed in glow-in-the-dark moonflowers is 49mm (1.9″) tall and finished in nickel plating.

If you choose to pre-order them individually they are $10 a piece, or you can get the set for $20.

 

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Friends who have visited our house and wondered at the ghostly chamber music and dark, dreamy sounds we sometimes haunt you with? It’s Meredith Yayanos‘ eerily beautiful music from The Parlour Trick’s Blessed Unrest album …and right now you can get the digital version on bandcamp for a mere $6.66–OR!–you can pre-order the vinyl repress (which you should do, because it will sell out in the blink of an eye!)

Purchase both digital and physical copies of A Blessed Unrest here.

 

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Visit Haute Macabre to read the introduction to the bloodmilk Book Club for this season, with Sonya Vatomsky’s “Salt Is For Curing” as the current selection. Also included in the post are two special giveaways: one, a chance to win a copy of Sonya’s book, and a second, a chance to win a jewel from the bloodmilk shop. The giveaway runs until November 1st, so there is still plenty of time.

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As you know, we sold out of the Occult Activity Book Volume Two even faster than anticipated! Neither this volume or the previous will ever be re-printed or re-created, so if you missed out on the opportunity to purchase this rare tome full of fantastical arts and word witchery, you will never again have another chance. HOWEVER! Don’t summon the demons to do your freaky time travel bidding just yet! Our friends at Haute Macabre are giving away one deluxe edition of The Occult Activity Book Volume Two, which includes the book and all the goodies. If you missed out on this exceedingly special project and are hovering at cusp of committing dire and dangerous magical crimes to acquire one for yourself, why not enter the giveaway instead?

 

AND, a few upcoming things that you need to keep an eye out for!

 

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Artist: Dana Glover

Morbid Fantasies is a richly illustrated reader’s guide to Gothic literature, guiding fans both old and new over the ever-changing face of this most ghoulish of genres. In its pages, scholar Jack Shear covers the history, key themes, and major books in the Gothic movement from its inception through the current day. It’s a love letter to this often misunderstood and under-appreciated form of entertainment, hand-bound and designed by Tenebrous Kate with featured illustrations by Dana Glover, Becky Munich, and Carisa Swenson.  I hear this may be available as soon as next weekend, so be sure to check over at hereticalsexts.com to grab a copy for yourself!

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California sprawls across a multitude of landscapes and has amassed a history full of the strange and unusual. There are secrets in the desert. Secrets in the cities. Strange and unusual happenings in the odd, dark places of the coastal state.

Strange California is 26 tales of strangeness, lavishly illustrated, that will pull you into another world, a world where migrant girls stand up to witches who live in orange groves, where trickster magpies try to steal souls from Russian sisters in the early days of Fort Bragg, where water is both currency and predator, and Gold Rush-era ghosts wander the streets of San Francisco alongside panther ladies.

I am particularly excited about this book because writer friend and fellow blogger Patricia Lundy of Something Eldritch will have a story in it! Back the book over on kickstarter here.

 

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Currently in love with this little gold-kissed delftware inspired bumblebee by Relm Art

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The 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time

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“Theatre of Fear and Horror: The Grisly Spectacle of the Grand Guignol of Paris”

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Footprints in Delirium: Exploring the Art Giallo, Part 1

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Episode Two of Kate and Jack’s brilliant Bad Books For Bad People!

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Bloodmilk book club: win a copy of Sonya Vatomsky’s Salt is For Curing!

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The Politics of Pockets

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