I can be an awful hater sometimes. I can admit to this! I’ll just react to something on a gut-level with no logic or real reason to back it up. Especially when it comes to a New Thing that everyone else seems to love. I don’t know if I am just a contrarian or if I think that if everyone seems to be into something then it’s probably a dumbed-down thing that was created to appeal to everyone, which is a big turn-off for me. That makes me sound a bit snobby, and I guess that would be true on some level.

The most recent New Thing I have been hating on is TikTok. Which ok grandma, yeah I know. It’s not actually all that new. But I’ve hated it since the moment I saw the stupid things that people were sharing from the app, and that hatred has only grown in intensity over the last year or so. This is unfortunate for me, because typically if there is a new social media platform, I want in on it. But not TikTok! Man, that place is obnoxious. And what’s worse, all of these TikToks are being shared in the other places I frequent. I can’t go to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram without someone’s viral TikTok nonsense screeching in my face. Make it stop!

But. Here’s the thing. In doing a bit more soul searching, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not the platform itself I hate. It’s actually sort of a neat concept, isn’t it? Short videos to inform or inspire you, where you could learn something new or interesting, and of course, connect with the people creating and sharing these things. I think where the execution falls short for me are the things that I have seen people sharing, which overwhelmingly are these horrifyingly cringey lip-synch videos or, even worse, people pranking each other. I don’t consider myself a humorless person (I happen to think I am hilarious!) but I do not, nor have I ever, understood the appeal of or the humor in pranking people. UGH. Pranks are mean and bad, and you shouldn’t do them. This VICE article agrees with me, by the way, and I love this sentiment:

“Ultimately, pranks ignore the fundamental truth that living can be hard, and most people are trying to do their best.”

Pranks and bad lip-synching aside, in giving my TikTok hostility some more thought, I considered an idea which is something I apply to any occasion, whenever I can. Which is basically this: ok, so, this thing has got a lot of sucky aspects; how can I make it better? Or not exactly better, per se. Who am I to assume that my participation can better a thing? But I guess, rather…  but how can I make it what I want it to be? How can I contribute to it being the thing I want to see in the world?

And the answer, is, of course: to be part of it. Participate. Contribute.

I often say “I will NEVER do X/Y/Z thing…but I reserve the right to change my mind about it at any time!” Yes, I can be stubborn with my annoying, irrational hatred of a thing (see also: Taylor Swift’s cardigan…still haven’t changed my mind on that one) but I can also reassess, re-evaluate, and realign my perspective. I can say, ok, I was wrong! Everyone else was right! Or maybe just that one other person was right! But here’s me, saying that I probably was not right. And I can learn and change and maybe be just an Intense Disliker, if not a Hater.
Here’s me, now on TikTok. And many thanks to Susan Jamison and Gooby Herms over on Facebook, for the encouragement and account name inspiration!

At first, I didn’t really know what to do with it, but I think I’ve worked it out for now: 10-second perfume reviews! Is this the sort of thing everyone wants to see? Probably not. To which I say: make your own thing, then! Or watch some stupid pranks. Whatever.

Are you over on TikTok? What do you watch? Are there people knitting or cooking or doing 30-second book reviews or sharing gardening tips or reading poetry or teaching about gothic tropes in contemporary fiction and comics (and if that last one is a “no”, I see a niche that needs filling and I know just the person to do it, although I think they’d hate the idea, ha!) Tell me all! Except for the dumb stuff! Still don’t want to know about that.

 

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I took a bit of a summer break from the YouTubes, but this week I am back with a new video and some peeks into my somewhat sizable perfume collection. I also share a handful of favorites!

I hope you’ll stop by, give it a watch, and maybe leave a comment, because I sure do like chatting about stinks. Tell me your favorite notes, wax poetic about a beloved fragrance, heck, even share a scent you hate–I’m here for all of it.

I’m still relatively new to filming and editing and uploading videos, so please feel free to share your feedback and suggestions, as well. I know I have got a lot to learn, and I am grateful for your thoughts. And if you have anything you’d like to see in a future video–perfume related or not–please let me know!

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Back in February (omg that seems like 12 years ago, doesn’t it?) Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab released their annual smutty smorgasbord of Lupercalia and Shunga scents, but I have been taking my time with formulating my thoughts about them. Finally, I am pleased to share that Part One of my series of reviews for these prurient perfume oils, hedonistic hair glosses, bawdy bath oils, and amatory atmosphere sprays can be found on the Haute Macabre blog this week!

Surrealist peaches, crisp chocolate biscuits, googly-eyed lobsters, and a guest bedroom inspired by Clive Barker were just a few of my impressions from this collection! What were your favorites?

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Weenie time, weenie time! It’s Weenie time at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, and I’ve reviewed over 40 fragrances from their Autumn and Halloween collection over at Haute Macabre this week!

There’s so many good ones, but I’ll share four of my favorites here. Shhhh! Don’t tell the others!

🎃 Cozy Pumpkin Sweater (a dribble of pumpkin spice spilled onto a fluffy orange angora sweater) Ok so imagine that demented cashmere sweater scene from Lord Love A Duck but transplant it into the eternal autumn of the Sabrina universe. Pumpkin spices and that enchanted inch or so of knitted or woven fabric along your cardigan collar that even when removed at the end of the day, retains the warmth of your skin and the phantom perfume of your favorite shampoo.

🎃 Anthocyanin (red musk, mandrake root, patchouli, pimento, saffron, red oudh, clove, and basil) Fall air rich with decaying leaves and cider-y scents and gorgeous spice and incense-saturated veils billowing in a sun-warmed October afternoon’s breeze. Like… if your very favorite head-shop had a stall at your favorite autumnal renaissance fair. This is basically the best of all worlds.

🎃 Dead Leaves, Moss, And Mushrooms if there was ever a better argument for “more is more,” I don’t know what that could possibly be. My favorite “Dead Leaves” scents have thus far been those signature dead leaves plus some unexpectedly bright or springy floral pairing…but as it turns out, the very best one is comprised of a “like + like” formula. This one smells as if you had swept your favorite mug across an autumn flotsam of forest floor and brewed up in boiling rainwater all the sylvan sweepings you had gathered. Best served warm and cozy in tiny acorn cups, to ring of sleepy woodland creatures. If you love fall but you don’t love pumpkin, maple, or apple scents, I think you are really going to fall for this one. Pun intended–I always intend my puns.

🎃 Death’s Head Moth (dusty brown sandalwood, nagarmotha, brown oudh, clove husk, white patchouli, black pepper, vetiver, green cumin, and ash.) Hand-made lace, only a little moth-eaten and musty, that has retained the gentle perfume of its owner –a combination of warm skin, fine-milled soap, and sweet, cooling herbs– a century later. This is an understated and sublimely beautiful scent

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A few years ago, at the request of Sam over at Haute Macabre, I wrote up a little primer/course guide for folks who were looking to dip their toes (or dive straight into) the mythical, mystical, magical catalog of fragrance oils offered by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.

Shortly afterward, I came on board as a staff writer and have written all kinds of stuff about all kinds of things for the Haute Macabre blog since that time, but this week they are again sharing that BPAL guide for curious newcomers to the brand–along with a giveaway of some of my favorite scents that I give mention to!

Hop on over to Haute Macabre for a chance to enter and win each of the above scents!

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[GIVEAWAY CLOSED! A WINNER IS CHOSEN! CONGRATS SUSAN, CHECK YR EMAIL!]

After a ruthless bout of Swedish Death Cleaning, this morning while I had time on my hands after rescheduling my counseling appointment due to some bad crab last night (why have you betrayed me, crab legs? I love you so!) I have whittled my unruly collection of fragrance samples down to about twenty five.

What to do with the other hundreds? Would you like them? There are lots and lots of of lovely niche and indie scents in here, manufacturers samples, and samples from places like Lucky Scent, and Twisted Lily, and decants from Surrender To Chance and The Perfumed Court, and probably only a tiny amount of boring Sephora perfume sprayers, which I feel I need to point out, because who really wants those? Fuck off, Marc Jacobs Daisy! Well, there are a few of those, too. There are also some vials and tiny bottles that were given to me by this friend or that, who gave me samples from their own collection, or perhaps passed something on that didn’t work for them. Maybe they will work for you? There are so many fragrances here to sniff and sample and fall in love with, or pass on!

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If you’d like this GLAD bag full o’ samples*, and whatever else I’ve got lying around that I might throw in a box for you, leave a comment below and tell me something interesting. Could be something you learned, could be a piece of news, it could be something about yourself–whatever! I’m spending a lot of time on the toilet today and need some interesting links to click! I will choose a winner on Monday morning!

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but these are vials and sprayers and bottles that I have sampled, myself; some are completely full, some might be halfway full, some might only have a drop or two left. If you’re weirded out by free stuff that someone else has used, well, now you are forewarned!

*Friends outside the U.S. I love you dearly, but I really don’t want to pay for that kind of shipping or deal with the hassle, so this little giveaway is for in-country only.

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I know in many places you’re getting snow and blizzards but closer to the equator, we’re just starting to experience autumn’s chill. A perfect time to review Solstice Scents Fall 2018 collection! Peek over at Haute Macabre today for my thoughts on a handful of these seasonal fragrances, and leave a comment on the blog post to enter to win a FULL SIZE Bottle of one of the scents!

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Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s new collection, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque Of The Red Death, is live on their site (along with the 2018 weenies, wooooooo!) In a brilliant stroke of genius, to accompany these new scents, they have created a wonderful audiobook recording of this bloody tale, narrated beautifully by Tom Blunt and illustrated with an assembly of reveling phantasms brought to life with label art by the marvelously clever Tenebrous Kate.

If you’ve never read the story –and would you believe I have not?–now is the time to slip on a pair of headphones, darken your chambers, and dream of delirious fancies, and, “much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust.”

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It’s always so thrilling to me to see the artists and artisans I adore collaborate on projects together, so when I saw that Kate was going to be working with BPAL on this collection, my heart exploded with glee (no gore, it’s a metaphorical explosion, of course.)

I asked Kate if she had any thoughts about the collaboration, and she enthused on the following points:

Like many spooky folks, I’m a longtime fan of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, to the point where I own special storage boxes to organize my collection. I’d had the opportunity to create art for BPAL’s inaugural Drag Con scents, and when I was asked to return to illustrate a Halloween collection, I agreed before I even heard the full details of the project. When I learned it was a multi-part Edgar Allan Poe collection, I realized that I’d be adding to the imagery already created by two of my biggest influences, Harry Clarke and Aubrey Beardsley–a daunting but fabulously rewarding prospect! Oozing gore, overblown decadence, and the sinister threat of death–what more can one ask for in a scent collection?

What more can one ask for, indeed! This collection is gonna be fantastic.

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