Archive of ‘magics’ category

This, that, and the other thing (III)

Seems like lately everyone is jumping ship over at facebook; enter ello.  Marketed as “…a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers.”, it’s shaping up to be a lovely solution. The design is simple, clean, uncluttered and though there may be a few bugs to work out (it’s still in beta) and it’s a bit quiet over there while users are figuring it out – I really can’t wait to see how it grows. Do be sure to stop by and say hello!  I am mlleghoul, of course.

 

Has the season got you longing for some genuine terror in your life?  This kickstarter project might be exactly what you need.  CANAAN CULT REVIVAL is “a magazine sized anthology of horror comics about demonology & exorcism.” with contributions from nine of independent comics’ unique creators who have come together to frighten you with something new. “CANAAN CULT REVIVAL is an attempt to use comic book storytelling to push those boundaries further still. An anthology of tales of exorcism and demonology, it’s larger and longer than a traditional comic, reminiscent of the horror magazines of the 1970s.”

 

THE DIATOMIST is a short documentary about Klaus Kemp, master of the Victorian art of diatom arrangement.

“Diatoms are single cell algae that create jewel-like glass shells around themselves. Microscopists of the Victorian era would arrange them into complex patterns, invisible to the naked eye but spectacular when viewed under magnification.The best of these arrangements are stunning technical feats that reveal the hidden grandeur of some of the smallest organisms on Earth. Klaus Kemp has devoted his entire life to understanding and perfecting diatom arrangement and he is now acknowledged as the last great practitioner of this beautiful combination of art and science. THE DIATOMIST, by Matthew Killip showcases his incredible work. “

 

Can you imagine these glorious horrors stalking and slashing down the runway?  From Alice Auaa 2014-2015 F/W runway during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Japan.

More delightful sartorial oddities from Gareth Pugh’s Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear – Collection

 

Two seasonally appropriate 8tracks mixes: All of them Witches & It is something I have long known (inspired by Robert Aickman’s eerie short story “Into the Woods”.)

beyond the pale motel; not a book review

8b5f1569c9220987b7d6c753c73ea11cTo be honest, I have not reached a point where I have forgotten that my mother has died.  I will hear some people say that they wanted to share something with their deceased parent – maybe a bit of good news, maybe something not so great – and they were dialing the phone before they realized “oh yeah, mom’s dead, I can’t call her”.

I’ve come to realize that I have been preparing (mentally, anyhow) to be motherless for years. Since high school, at least. My mother always seemed on a path to self destruction, in danger of oblivion at any given moment, and so long ago I’d stopped even being sad about it.  It was an inevitable thing, and probably sooner rather than later. So I’m really not continually surprised at her absence, and when I do find myself wishing to talk with her about something it’s more akin to an itch that I’d like to scratch rather than a wound I’d forgotten was there.

I just finished reading Beyond The Pale Motel, by Francesa Lia Block.  I recall discovering this author on a Barnes and Noble shelf when I was in my early twenties and floundering quite a bit.  I was struggling with dull classes and a dead end job and a dead beat boyfriend and I just didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing with myself.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to want for myself.  My greatest love at that time, I think, was poetry – magic words stitched together to wrap me in a blanket of beauty that I desperately needed as a loser band girlfriend in a shitty go-nowhere beach town. She wrote stories the likes of which I’d never read before and barely dared to dream about; she felt like a fairy god mother with her tales of love and magic and beauty and wishes and soul-mates in the midst of harsh, contemporary landscapes and young adult struggles. Her fairy tales of a girls living in a “jasmine-scented, jacaranda-purple, neon sparked” Shangri-La seemed to be both memoires of lost souls finding themselves and how-to manuals for the small town mouseykins yearning to make those discoveries as well.

I purchased, with my small paycheck at that time, every title on that shelf. And I as I am now somewhat taken aback to remember, I shared them all with my mother.  I drove to her house within the next day to dump them all on her bed and tell her that whatever she was reading, she should put it aside and inhale the books I was giving her as quickly as possible.  I knew, at that time, that the stories and characters and magical writing were elements that my mother would have loved; I know now that I was sharing these stories of beauty and tragedy and redemption with one of the most lost souls I was ever to love.

As I read Beyond The Pale Motel this weekend, I sadly realized I no longer have the passion or the patience for Ms. Block’s writing. The book was dark, certainly darker than those strange and sparkling coming of age tales I remembered from almost twenty years ago, and there was no happy ending to be found. Never the less, I finished it in one sitting. I was both angry and sad about the ending of the book and the lack of magic contained therein; sad and wistful, I think because I had changed over time.  Maybe, I don’t really need those sorts of stories any more.  I have made so many of my own magics and created so many stories for myself since I first discovered her writing; perhaps words I once found so bewitching and transcendent no longer resonated with me.

Upon closing the book once finished, my first instinct was to call my mother.  I have still not forgotten that I cannot do this.  What is unexpected though, is the hot rush of tears that filled my eyes  and the painful twist of my heart when think of how I can’t ever share these insights and discoveries with her anymore, ever again. As someone who thought they were prepared for this eventuality, who had numbed herself to this outcome… this sudden heartbreak, this piercing grief –that’s the part I never saw coming.

Svima; dizzy

From the terrifying, vertiginous heights of a 60 meter waterf

Gullfoss

Gullfoss

all, to the giddy delight of having scaled it afterward, to the dazed distraction of being in the midst of incomprehensible multinational conversations, and the woozy, weak-in-the-knees sensation of toppling into bed once the day is done…if asked to sum my time in Iceland up in one word, my reply would be: “dizzying”.

A week later after arriving home and having settled back in, the dizziness is just now subsiding and yet I am still feeling rather unsteady and out-of-place.  A new friend summed it up rather eloquently, I think: “Repatriation can be a lot more shocking than expatriation, because we expect to feel comfortable, we expect things to be familiar, but everything is different. Not because everything has changed, but because *we* changed. Our frame of reference for the familiar has changed. “

All of this sounds like a complaint, doesn’t it?  I don’t mean it to be.  I’ve never fancied myself much of a traveler and I am finding that it rather takes some getting used to.  I think when one travels one must learn to let go of schedules and learn to embrace the unexpected and these are usually both difficult lessons for me. This journey proved to be no different in that regard and yet I think, at some point I , just…let go.  Gave up.  Due to the fact I did not speak the language (I know maybe four words of Icelandic) I didn’t know what was going on around me 99% of the time anyway, so why not just let someone else make the plans and I’d just end up where ever I ended up.  And it would be fine. “þetta reddast”, I heard repeated several times during the trip.  “It will be ok. It will work itself out.”  Þetta reddast.

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss

Though I was in Reykjavík primarily for the wedding of my gentleman’s brother – which was a splendid affair at Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland – we did have time, in between visits with family (and there was a lot of family), to explore our own agenda.  Which were chiefly pastries, penis museums, haunted houses, and more waterfalls.

kleina (fried doughnut) and hjónabandssæla ("happy marriage cake")

kleina (fried doughnut) and hjónabandssæla (“happy marriage cake”)

Höfði house. Haunted by a lady ghost, according to local legend.

Höfði house. Haunted by a lady ghost, according to local legend.

2008 Icelandic handball team at the phallological museum

2008 Icelandic handball team at the phallological museum

random waterfall in Þingvellir

Because my guy and his family are originally from Iceland, there were many aunties and cousins still living there who had not seen them in a long time and who wanted to spend time catching up.  There were long coffee hours with trays of hangikjöt (smoked lamb) or salmon sandwiches and delicate pancakes either rolled thin and sprinkled with sugar or stuffed fat and full of cream and jam. There was an evening of at least 40 relatives packed into an apartment for bowls of traditional kjötsúpa – a humble but fragrant and nourishing meat soup, usually made with lamb and earthy winter vegetables.  I’ll scarcely mention the grilled minke whale, for those readers who may face ethical or philosophical dilemmas regarding this…very…delicious issue. And then, there was an afternoon in the town of Akranes where I was invited for a meal of the most delicious fish and chips that I have ever had in my life.

Boat graveyard at Akranes

Boat graveyard at Akranes

Akranes is a charming little fishing town, but there is a wee dodgy strip which could be mistaken for Innsmouth on a gloomy, grey afternoon. Though apparently the ninth most populous town in Iceland, Akranes seemed small and rather isolated to me.  We were taken on a little tour of the town, which included the boat and town history museum, as well as, the lighthouse – which was an unexpected and wonderful surprise for me, as Amiina, a lovely, unique group of musicians whose works I stumbled across recently and who sound like the dreamiest, tinkling music box, had recorded at this lighthouse in the past few years.   I was delighted to see that the lighthouse, though small,  also hosted exhibits of the poetic or artistic variety from time to time. Before leaving I was gifted with a knit version of a traditional hat, hand made by a very generous auntie.

Old Man Houlihan at the Akranes boat museum. He would have gotten away with it – if not for those meddling kids.

Little lighthouse at Akranes (viewed from top of big lighthouse)

Little lighthouse at Akranes (viewed from top of big lighthouse)

By Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir. Exhibit at the Akranes lighthouse.

By Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir. Exhibit at the Akranes lighthouse.

Lovely knit hat based on a traditional costume

Lovely knit hat based on a traditional costume

In addition to the town of Akranes, another one of my favorite places was Árbæjarsafn, which is the historical museum of the city of Reykjavík as well as an open air museum and a regional museum. Unfortunately, we put this visit off until the last minute, on the weekend – during which time it is not open.  Technically.  We were still able to walk around and look at the houses, but we were not able to go into them or explore them.  Nonetheless, we still spent about two hours walking around and marveling at the simple beauty of the structures.

Vestry

Vestry at Árbæjarsfni

Old House

Old houses at Árbæjarsfni

I was very lucky to experience Iceland from a unique perspective – though I did many of the tourist-y things (I ate hotdogs from every stand in the city for pete’s sake; I took a photo of this guy), I also spent a great deal of time with the people who actually live there and got to see things from a native’s perspective, as well.  Which included many home-made meals, I might add, and in a city as expensive as Reykjavík, that’s really a lovely blessing.

A few tips, if you are thinking of traveling to Iceland:

  • Bring layers!  I traveled during the end of August (which is like a relentless hellscape in Florida) but the weather I encountered in Iceland was in the 40s and 50s and drizzly.  Cold and rainy. Tee shirts and light sweaters and light jackets are best for hopping between coffee houses on a chilly day downtown, I think.
  • A sturdy pair of water proof boots is essential if you are going to be visiting the waterfalls or doing a bit of hiking. I purchased a pair from LL Bean and they are marvelous.  I highly recommend them.
  • Try to check out the happy hours for restaurants.  They are all so very expensive, so take advantage of deals where you can find them.
  • Go to Café Babalú, have a cappucino and check out their Star Wars themed bathroom, visit the The Einar Jónsson Sculpture Garden, stop by the Reykjavík Botanical Gardens, people watch at Kringlan, eat Skyr with blueberry jam every morning, marvel at how everywhere, even at the grocery store, you can find yarn.

And be reminded of why we go away.  (says Terry Pratchett) “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” 

I am glad I am no longer the same person who would have never left.  Though now I feel I am not actually the same person who did leave, either. It’s all so confusing! Perhaps I’d better start planning another trip and see what happens.

 

 

 

 

 

the places you go

I have been away and come back and somehow I don’t quite feel myself anymore. Whether I left a piece of myself on another continent or I returned with an added bit of something or other, I couldn’t tell you. It’s an unsettling feeling and I haven’t sorted it out yet.

Until such time as I jot down my thoughts, impressions and various ramblings on the experience, please have some music.

the places you go from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Track list: The Bridge, Halla Norðfjörð | Krómantík, Sóley | The backbone, Rökkurró | Trøllabundin, Eivør Pálsdóttir | Near Light, Ólafur Arnalds | Hail thy Mary, myrra ros | Út, Ylja | Yaoi, Ballet School | Until Mourning, Útidúr | There Are More Things, Mikael Lind | Perth, amiina | Fall, Bloodgroup | Burnt, Kiasmos | Toothwheels, Múm | Stofnar Falla (Subminimal Remix), Samaris

A proper “fuck off, world!” weekend

Friday night and the gang's all here

Friday night and the gang’s all here

It’s not exactly as if I am some sort of social butterfly, flitting busily from one charming engagement to the next. I’m really not that at all. I’m the anti-social, hermit….whatever the exact opposite of a butterfly is. Maybe sloth.  I am the anti-social sloth.

At most I will head into the next town once or twice a month to visit with friends and family, and to be honest, I am most of the time actually enjoying myself doing these things, spending time with these people. And yet even this is too much and it feels imperative that I shut myself away from the world every once in a while.  I don’t quite know why this is, but I suspect that sometimes even the thought of spending time around other humans is exhausting for me…especially on the weekend when I should be free to spend it however I like.  So even if I haven’t had a friendly lunch or a bookclub date or a party (eeek! ugh.) on the calendar for a while, it’s almost like I need to proactively mentally prepare for the possibility.

To begin, I set aside a weekend during the month, preferably one when I am going to be all alone.  As I live with a significant other, this is a rare occurrence. During this time I make no plans. No anything that involves me walking out my front door. A Fuck Off, World! weekend is all about the comforts of one’s own home. I make sure that the house is well stocked with grocery items because if I don’t even want to visit with my sister, you can be damned sure I don’t want to talk to a cashier for a market transaction as it relates to a dozen eggs or coffee or whatever. 99% of the time I won’t even answer my phone because what part of No Human Interaction and Fuck Off, World don’t you understand, for god’s sake?
This is serious business.

Your perfect FOW!W may vary from mine, of course, but I think there are some key elements that are pretty much the same across the board.

  • It must involve some form of entertainment.  Probably a few movies.  Perhaps there are some films you’ve been waiting to watch on your own as you know you cannot talk your boyfriend into watching another artsy horror film because when he walked in on you watching Possession he was nearly scarred for life.  Although really, what a grown woman and the writhing, pustulous grotesquerie to whom she gave birth do in an abandoned building on a filthy bed is their own business and who are we to judge, right? Anyway, so films.  For this particular weekend I am thinking Livide, Santa Sangre and Next Door.
  • Puttering. Pick up a book, put it down. Start to fold laundry, get distracted. Make half the bed, remember you put the kettle on, pick up that same book again. Finish knitting a sock. Try to take a nap, but become hypnotized by the shadow of the rosebush against the curtain. If you’ve puttered properly, by the end of the day you will have accomplished absolutely nothing.
  • Meals must be the trashiest things you can think of, something you would be utterly motified to have anywhere near your face hole in polite company. In ghost or alien company. In any company at all. It must be a transcendent combination and disgusting and delicious and you must eat it during this sacred time alone.

Actually, that’s about it. Less is more when it comes to a perfect FOW!W.  And with that, I am signing off. And you, you can fuck off.  Until Monday, and then we’re all friends again.

A word after a word after a word

When I was younger, I would tear through a book in a matter of hours.  I would demolish a stack of library books in the span of a few afternoons.  My favorite time of year was grade school summer vacation, during which time I would banish myself to the screened porch; hunched on the sweaty patio furniture, I would gulp glass after glass of my mother’s weak iced tea and slip into the pages of Stephen King, John Saul, Anne Rice, HP Lovecraft, Dean Koontz (I didn’t really discriminate at that age). I thoroughly immersed myself in these lurid, awful tales of monsters and madmen and supernatural goings-on and oftentimes would spend upwards of 8 hours out in the heat, completely lost to the world.

Unfortunately as I’ve gotten older, I am much more easily distracted (or is it that there are more things to become distracted by? Hm.) and it takes me much longer to read through a horrid novel. Where I once left the library with no less than a dozen books, I now exit the building with with two or three of them lumped uneasily at the bottom of a mostly empty tote bag  -I fear they know as well as I that any more than one book at a time now is wishful thinking.

The past few years had been especially bad for this; with upheaval comes a distinct lack of focus, and I am sure that I grew weary of or bored with 50% of the books I’d attempted reading. This year I was determined to begin making up for lost time.  It is almost August now, and I am fairly certain that I have read more in 2014 than I have in the last ten years.

January
Doctor Sleep  |  The Ocean At The End Of The Lane  | American Vampire, Volume 1 | Garlic and Sapphires | Pretty Little Liars 1 (don’t judge me!) | Comfort Me With Apples | Tender At The Bone | Pretty Little Liars 2: Flawless | The Shining Girls

February
Angelica | Heart Shaped Box | White Is For Witching | The Imago Sequence and Other Stories | The Asylum | American Vampire, Vol. 2

March
NOS4A2 | Boneshaker | The Goldfinch

April
Red Shirts | Wild Fell

May
The Unseen | The Ghostwriter

June
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All | Horns | The Tenant | The Small Hand | Sex Criminals Volume 1 | Morning Glories Volume 1

July
Carrion Comfort | Morning Glories Volume 2-7

The standouts for me so far have been The Goldfinch, Horns, and Sex Criminals, but more than that I have just enjoyed the magic of burying myself in a book again, of being breathlessly caught up in someone else’s story, and yes – even the tinge of regret and disappointment once the tale has been told and the last page has been turned.

Next on the reading list: Penpal by Dathan Auerbach and The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf by Martin Millar.  And I am very much looking forward to The Children of the Old Leech (a Laird Barron tribute!), Burnt Black Suns, and The Lord Came At Twilight.

What is stacked on your bedside table for an evening read?  What stories are you most looking forward to immersing yourself in? Do tell!  There’s so many empty shelves that need filling in my Library of Probable Books…

Full of stars

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I recall seeing this pattern (“Celestarium“) published in an online knitting magazine a year or two ago, and though I thought it was a neat idea to capture the constellations in a knit to sweep across one’s shoulders, I honestly wasn’t moved enough by the pattern itself to want to knit it.

However,  when a certain knitter made some excellent modifications to the pattern (lose the yarn-overs, swap out the edging for something a little fancier) I certainly took notice.  This was a shawl worth knitting, I thought.

I won’t say this was a light-hearted, mindless knit (though it is a great deal of monotonous stockinette); it certainly gave me an issue here or there.  First with the really fiddly cast-on: a circular cast on is tricky enough, but when you add beads in to the mix it becomes twice as challenging. My circular cast on is pretty flawed, as you can see, but I can’t be bothered with absolute perfection. I like a little bit of wabi-sabi in my knits.

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Up until now I had left the beads off all of my knitted projects – I was much too intimidated to give it a try.  And after finishing Celestarium, I realize it is really quite simple!  I think there are a few ways to do this, but I place each bead on the yarn as I knit along, using a tiny crochet hook. There are a few videos on youtube that do a pretty good job of showing the way.

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I had been knitting steadily on this, a bit every day (whilst binge-watching Hannibal…oh what a lovely, baroque, grotesque show!) and in time I finally reached the bit of the pattern where the edging is begun.  It slowly dawned on me that I am 2/3 through my last skein of yarn…and there may not be enough to complete the project.  At this point I am prey to the most dangerous kind of wishful thinking, “oh yes, yes, I am going to make it, there is enough yarn& etc.”…and as a friend perfectly summed up…watching the yarn run down as the project grows is like playing the *slowest* game of chicken. And you will always lose.

Of course, I am a terribly loosey-goosey knitter and never knit to gauge (gauge swatches? pffft!!) and it was inevitable that I did indeed run out of yarn. If you are the same sort of …hm…freespirited(!) knitter, and you are knitting with modifications, I might suggest ponying up for an extra skein of whatever yarn you are using. Luckily, it was easy enough to find more of what I needed and though I know it was a different dye lot, I can’t tell the difference at all.

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And so, with very little fanfare I finished Celestarium after watching a movie about moon Nazis last evening, around midnight.  This morning I woke with the sun, gave her a soak and pinned her out, and that is that.

To what far reaches will this starry space babe travel?   I wonder….

Details:
Pattern: Celestarium, by Audrey Nicklin
Yarn: 3 (and very little of a 4th) skeins of Madelinetosh merino light in “dirty panther”
Needles: I switched back & forth so many times, I cannot remember. Sizes 2-4
Started: March 28, 2014
Finished: June 7, 2014.

 

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