Is anyone else watching the recent version of I Know What You Did Last Summer? It’s trashy as hell and it’s making me feel old as dirt (if I hear that one kid call someone “sus” one more time, I am gonna lose my shit) but you know what? It’s a lot of fun.

I don’t recall the original series of movies very well, but the source material, Lois Duncan’s 1973 book I Know What You Did Last Summer, wasn’t my favorite among her titles, so I’m not too precious about it.

A loose adaptation though the premise remains the same: a group of teenagers/young adults (I can’t tell? Everyone between 15 and 30 looks the same age to me now?) are involved in a hit and run and a year later, they begin receiving threatening messages from someone who doesn’t want to forget and who knows “what they did last summer.” And of course begins stalking them and picking them off one by one. It feels a bit Pretty Little Liars to me, but with more drugs and sluttery. So if that’s your thing, you may enjoy this! It’s definitely my thing. All the delicious drugs and promiscuity, please!

…but this version is set in Hawaii, which feels weird and off. Or rather, that it’s a show steeped in Hawaiian culture, but it’s still centered around a white family--that’s the part that doesn’t feel right at all. I think they are going for something very Twin Peaksian, but it doesn’t work. Still, it’s more gruesome than I expected, it’s genuinely funny in moments, and if I’m being honest, I just like to see “young people horror” …although I don’t know how reflective this is of young people culture? These characters are like 18 going on 40. But what do I know? I feel very out of touch sometimes.

Are you guys watching this? I’d love to know your thoughts!

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House is another one of those horror movies that had intriguingly gruesome cover art that greatly appealed to my 13-year-old brain. Of course, I never got the opportunity to watch it, so 30 some odd years later I was very excited to sit down and take it in this past weekend.

To put it kindly, I was …not…impressed. “This is what everyone is reminiscing so fondly about?” I thought. “But it’s so stupid!”

I was, however, greatly impressed by the bizarre artwork that adorned the fantastically wallpapered walls of the titular house. They looked like marvelously weird Gertrude Abercrombie/Frida Kahlo/Salvador Dali hybrids creations, and I could have watched a whole movie about them alone!


I stopped watching the film about halfway through. I’ve only got so much time allotted to me on this earth, and slogging through this silly film was not how I wanted to spend it. But in zipping through it afterward to grab some stills of these nutty paintings for a blog post, I wondered if maybe…the art wasn’t somehow important to the plot? I mean, if I was going to the trouble of sharing the art, shouldn’t I at least finish the film to get an understanding of how it played into the story? So the next day I revisited the film. And I finished it. For art!

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t THAT bad. I think I just wasn’t in the mood for it, in that initial viewing. If you’ve not seen it, it’s more or less just a haunted house story with some comedy, ridiculous but fun creature effects, and I guess you could say it’s got a lot of heart. The short version of the story is that Roger Cobb is a best-selling author; he and his wife are divorced and they have lost a son, and he’s moved back into his late aunt Elizabeth’s house to focus on writing his war memoirs. Turns out the house is balls-out bonkers haunted. In an interview, the director as described this as “a tongue-in-cheek, Mad magazine-style, effects-heavy hootenanny with goofy neighbors and comical monsters.” Sure, I guess that sums it up

I do have a lot of questions because so much of this is baffling. Why did his elderly aunt kill herself at the beginning of the film? And from the flashbacks, it looks like Roger and his wife and child were living in his aunt’s home at one point? While she was still living there? I mean, he was a famous writer and she was a famous actress, so why didn’t they have their own place? And getting back to the aunt–what was the deal with the paintings? Over the course of the film, you can see how she, as an artist, was no doubt influenced and inspired by the haunted goings-on in the house, and so I think there should have been at least a tiny bit of focus and backstory about her art and practice. And it turns out the paintings were *sort of* important, at least one of them was–but I’ll not give that away, in case you, like me, were one of the handful of people who have not yet seen House.

I was able to find the actual artist behind aunt Elizabeth’s strange canvases, though unfortunately, I can’t find any larger images. Richard Hescox has created a considerable amount of horror and monster movie poster art and seems to be fairly prolific, although his official portfolio seems to mostly showcase his fantasy-inspired works.

Now this all has got me thinking that I need to see House II on the off chance that there’s more of Hescox’s paintings and maybe old aunt Elizabeth gets a bit of story? Hm! Should I continue?

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If I am being honest, I have been fixated on DOLLS ever since I first passed by its lurid half doll/half skull cover art on the shelf in a Blockbuster Video seventy kajillion moons ago. But that was back in the days where between you and your sisters you could only pick ONE movie to take home on a Friday night, and no one could ever agree on anything and certainly, no one else but me wanted to watch this one.

But I am an adult now and I can do whatever I want and no one even has to agree with it!

Six travelers stranded in a sudden thunderstorm– a trio consisting of a shitty father, a wretched stepmother and an imaginative young girl, and another group of two awful (but awesomely attired) hitchhiking punkettes and the well-intentioned but derpy guy who picked them up– seek shelter in a nearby mansion. An elegant old doll-maker and his wife live in this creepy, wonderfully atmospheric place full of gorgeous old dolls, and they offer to put the group up for the evening. The charming elderly couple is very welcoming and hospitable to this group of very rude assholes. Too welcoming, one might say.

Over the course of the evening, all the baddies get what’s coming to them and by the closing credits, the doll-maker’s collection has mysteriously grown. I LOVED THIS MOVIE.

Most of all, I loved this doll in the right-hand corner in its little pig costume! Rabbit costume? I don’t actually know what’s going on there, but I love it more than anything in the world! But I’m fairly certain that no matter what happened over the course of this film, I was going to adore it. I love old dolls. I love any kind of doll. If I had more space and more money, I would totally be an unhinged doll collector, filling every room in my house with their ruffles and lace little staring eyeballs. Here’s a controversial thing: I even love clown dolls! (Heck, I also love clowns!)

The creature effects in this film were a lot of fun (Teddy in an early scene was fantastic!) and the menacing, mischievous stop-motion movements of the dolls, their frowning expressions, and devious grins with those tiny demonic teeth, were wonderful. I would have liked to have seen more of that, but I think it was probably *just* enough.

This is maybe the only time in my life where, upon finishing a movie, I immediately wanted to watch it again. Is it a “good” movie? I don’t know about that.  But it was extremely satisfying on a visually appealing level, and its messages of both appreciating the imagination and the stuff that keeps you young at heart really spoke to me. Plus…I loved Ralph. I know he was awkward and weird, but I really want to be friends with that character! So…again. A good movie? Probably not by the standards that a lot of people might measure such things. But I think it is! And even more than that, it’s a “feel good” movie. I never really had a feel good movie in my arsenal, but I think DOLLS has become my go-to.

What other creepy doll movies do I need to watch? I don’t really care about Chucky or Annabelle, I’ll just go ahead and put that out there. I’ve seen Pin and maybe Dead Silence, but I might be getting that mixed up with something else.And I just learned that there’s an Amityville Dollhouse movie! It’s probably awful, right? But…I should watch it anyway, right?

Speaking of dollhouses, one of my favorite books when I was a little girl was The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright. I wonder how that holds up? Author of the weird and eerie, Robert Aickman wrote a story about a dollhouse if I recall. Ah, here it is: The Inner Room.

I guess I understand why people are freaked out by their little uncanny, almost-human faces, their imagined movements from the periphery of your vision, and why the creepy doll is a long-standing horror trope. Here’s an interesting article that goes into more of an explanation, with a bit of history as well. But me, well. I’m scared of lots of stuff. I mean…A LOT. But dolls just aren’t one of them.

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Lately, I’ve been meditating on An Offering from dark artist Dylan Garrett Smith’s small batch perfumery, BirthBloomDecay. If you’re not familiar with his art, as it happens, the name Birthbloomdecay perfectly encapsulates its influences of occult lore, memento mori and the nocturnal beauty of the natural world. An Offering is redolent of dry, smoky embers and stiff black leather, the soft eerie rot of autumn leaves, and a shrieking electro-sulfur tang of ozone; it calls to mind a lightning-struck flock of witches tumbling and cackling through the air their burnished brooms now a fizzling and scorched incense amongst the midnight treetops.

Heretic India Ink (maybe discontinued?) So this is my pitch for the next season of American Horror Story. So, here goes. It’s about the spooky goings-on that occur during an Adult Film shoot that takes place in an abandoned dentist’s office, and it features India Ink from Heretic Parfum. This fragrance smells overwhelmingly of a mentholated, latex clad hand slowly descending toward your face as a disembodied voice intones OPEN WIDE. But I’m not sure if it’s some sort of mint or or a disinfectant clove oil, or something more camphorous and herbaceous and sour like tea tree oil or cypress. This empty office is located in a run down strip mall, there’s a discount auto store next door and a deserted gas station nearby and a ghostly miasma of carbon, sulfur, and petrol hangs low in the air in this blighted scene of desolation and both urban decay and tooth decay, ruin porn and actual porn. The BDSM Rubber Man has found the laughing gas, and the faint, sweet scent of nitrous oxide fills the studio. As the investors show up to see what their money’s getting them, they are greeted by a chaotic scene too disturbing and gruesome to script and production is shut down within 48 hours. The lead actor is never seen again, but they say you can still see his reflection in a mouth mirror from the set that is currently being sold on eBay.

November in the Temperate Deciduous Forest from For Strange Women is a scent I have worn for years and years and I am only just now attempting to review it. This is the aroma of a mushroom queen surveying their loamy domain on a cool, rainy morning. A soft green fern tickles your gills as your mycelial threads in turn wave at the worms moving through the rich earth beneath you; the ground mist rises through the dense forest canopy as cool trickles of rainwater drip off the oak and beech and fir trees to dampen the velvet, verdant moss carpeting a cropping of stones nearby. Your reverie is interrupted by the scent of expensive leather hiking boots on the breeze, crunching leaf detritus and tiny woodland creatures beneath its self-important tread. You smell the smoke and steam and artisanal resins and tannins of a gourmet flask of tea, and before you can let out a little spore-filled, mushroomy warning, you hear a shrill, nasally human female voice chirp HEY Y’ALL WELCOME BACK TO MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL. Oh no, you despair, it’s the slow-living mushroom forager YouTube influencers. You sincerely hope they pass you over for your poisonous cousins.

Glossier’s You is a scent I really had no intention of ever buying, but then my curiosity got the best of me. A minor point: I hate this bottle, it’s dreadful. It looks like a small pink lump of quivering flesh. I can, however, get over that, because as it turns out and much to my surprise…I actually really love what’s inside it. It’s possible that I had very low expectations because I don’t like any of Glossier’s other products and also because I am maybe a snob. But I really don’t mind being wrong! Okay, I am a Taurus and I hate being wrong! But I make an exception for perfume. You is wonderful melding of this chilly, ghostly delicate iris musk and a warm, woody, sturdy peachy amber quietly enveloped in a crystalline psychic glow of pink pepper and you kind of wonder how these notes got together but then you think of Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus and it all just makes perfect sense. Yes, this is a queer classic anime power couple of a scent and I absolutely adore it.

Regarding Comptoir Sud Pacifique’s Vanille Abricot,  I feel like a clever child- villain has dosed me with some sort of pixie-stick poison and they’re skipping away merrily as I sink to the floor, my lungs disintegrating under the assault of Marshallow Meltdown, a bioweapon based on the classic confectionary formula wherein a foam made up of air suspended in a super-saturated liquid sugar mixture is stabilized by gelatin,but in this version some evil scientists whipped in plastic doll parts and expired cans of Del Monte fruit cocktail instead. The resulting vat of goop undergoes a proprietary crystallization process and the lurid glowing shards are then crushed to a dust, which when viewed under a microscope, resembles tiny Barbie-Pink ninja throwing stars. This is the preferred method of dispatchment used by tiny assassins who whisper BYE BOOMER as they toodle away, engrossed in Animal Crossing or whatever. But I’m GEN X you gasp weakly as you lose consciousness.

Fuegia 1833’s Biblioteca de Babel is a fragrance inspired by Jorge Luis Borge’s story describing the universe in terms of an infinite library in which books contain every possible combination of letters, spaces, and punctuation marks. Everything that has been and will be thought can be found in a forsaken corner of the endless library. Some believe this story is an allegorical meditation on the endeavor to live one’s best possible life in a universe that can seem hopelessly confusing and disordered. I think I had hoped for a bit more mystery with this scent, something reminiscent of clandestine quests for esoteric knowledge, sort of like the film The Ninth Gate bottled as a scent.

But with Biblioteca de Babel, what you get is a lot more straightforward and mundane. A cracked and worn leather chair with a threadbare woven blanket tossed over the back, a handmade cedar chest passed down through several generations, the sort of soap you can buy anywhere for less than a dollar, parchment scrawled not in magical inks but rather in the practical strokes of a no. 2 pencil with directions on how to install a washroom faucet. It’s not even parchment, it’s just a crumpled post-it note, thick with dust, the writing so blurry and faded with time you can barely read it anymore, but you know each word as though time has etched them on your heart. Your grandfather has been gone for twelve years now, and he never saw the faucet you eventually installed and you don’t know if he ever read Borge’s story, but you console yourself by thinking that if you had ever conversed with him about it, it might be recorded in an obscure tome tucked away in one of those imaginary rooms.

It’s true, Biblioteca de Babel is not a really exciting scent, but it’s warm and familiar, sweet and safe in the way a hug is when you need it most, even when the arms are frail, even when you suspect the weight of your body is the only thing keeping the person hugging you on their feet. I would do anything to feel that hug again. And even though this cedary, sweetly vanillic, woodsy musked scent smells absolutely nothing like my grandfather, it somehow conjures the most beautiful ghost of those hugs. I’ll take it.

 I’m really conflicted about Delina Exclusif from Parfum de Marly for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with the actual fragrance.  But right off the bat, for those people who don’t want to read a whole ass essay, this is a pillowy parfait of jammy roses and dense vanilla cream doused with raspberry liqueur. I am not a fan. 

A big part of me believes that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. You’ll never see me popping up in the comments on someone else’s account to say something like “ugh, I hated that.” when they’re talking about a thing they love.  That’s the equivalent of showing up uninvited at a stranger’s house uninvited and taking a shit on their floor. It’s rude and also really uncalled for. However, writing my own review of something I hate? That’s where I give myself leeway to say the not nice things that I might be dying to say. However, in this vein, I struggle with ideas of cleverness at the expense of being kind. To soften the snark I often frame my less-than-glowing reviews in whimsical or imaginative scenarios and language so that no one gets too butthurt that I’m hating on their favorite stink. But sometimes there’s an aspect of a scent that’s so connected with something I dislike in real life, that …I kinda have to go there.

I watch a lot of really basic YouTube lifestyle influencers. I don’t know why. Maybe in some weird way, it makes me feel superior. So many of them use a turn of phrase I have been hearing everywhere over the past year or so and I HATE IT. With regard to a rug or a throw blanket or a coffee table book they just acquired they’ll say something like “don’t you just love it? It’s SO AESTHETIC.” And I get that language is always evolving and I don’t want to be a jerk, but people that is not how you use this word. You admire something for it’s aesthetic qualities. For example, you like the coffee table book’s minimalist aesthetic, you appreciate the rug’s rustic, cottagecore aesthetic, you really dig that blanket’s witchy goth aesthetic, you see where I am going with this? Anyway, so many of these YouTubers seem to love this perfume because, and I quote, ‘it’s so aesthetic.” And they don’t even do a proper review for it, they just say it smells nice and it’s like I get that describing fragrance isn’t easy, but why even mention it at all if that’s all you’re going to say? UGH.

My point is that this $350 bottle of a very generic vanilla-rose scent smells like people who buy coffee table books about bland, boring, beige minimalist home decor and sound really dumb when they are talking about them and furthermore, they probably don’t even read them. So if you’ve made it this far you’ve read me at my most unlikeable and I apologize for that. I say this frequently but mine is just one opinion among millions and it ultimately means nothing, but man I really had to vent about this.

Spell 125 from Papillon Artisan Perfumes is a scent entwined and imbued with deep magic, history, and ancient mystery. If I understand correctly, it is a fragrance inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and the ritual and ceremony pertaining to the weighing the deceased’s heart against a feather, wherein if one passes this trial, they reach the eternal paradise of the Field of Reeds. If not, well then too bad, I guess. I believe this is meant to be a very atmospheric scent, and while it is, I don’t know that I’m getting what the perfumer intended from it. But who’s to say whether that’s a good or bad thing if one enjoys the result? From Spell 125 I get a strange vanilla salt that’s somehow sweet and savory, bright and dusky, earthy and airy at once, evoking both terrestrial concerns and something lighter and loftier. A sweetly green herbaceous melange conjures imagery of cool aromatic, woodsy marjoram incense, an offering to household gods( such as this scene in a painting by John William Waterhouse) Lit for the afternoon, the smoke cleaning and clearing the domestic spaces, and left to smolder and disperse with the doors open wide, on a cloudless day in early autumn. This is a fragrance which conjures the loveliest peace of mind and sense of well-being, and although I don’t yet know otherwise, I’ll hazard a guess and say it’s splendid to experience such a thing while you’re still above ground

Zdravetz from Bruno Fazzolari. I am not typically someone who likes “crisp” or “fresh” scents. Those concepts and related notes conjure for me ideas of country clubs and corporate culture and sterile, blandly uninteresting environments as well as notions of conformity and impossible standards and expectations. Nope, no thanks. So when I first smell Zdravetz, it does seem like that’s what it’s going for. I believe this is supposed to be a rose scent, but I do not smell any kind of rose here. And Zdravetz is in the geranium family I believe. A sort of aromatic woody herbaceous scent, a little tannic like strong black tea. In the opening, I do smell something vaguely herbal and medicinal and a soft woody floral. But then it gets weird. Imagine fresh but you’ve never smelled what a 21st-century idea of fresh is. You’re just a garden gnome, dirt under your nails, moss behind your ears, sleeping in your earthen burrow, washing your tangled beard every morning in primrose dew. But you want to make your way in the world so you and your brothers spend every cent you have on a nice outfit and you all clean up as best you can with a grain of old-timey laundry powder you’ve been hoarding for 100 years and you interview with some start-up firms but you don’t know what it means to “fungibly innovate leveraged sources” or “synergize team building potentialities.”! And you don’t get any callbacks and you reckon the world of humans isn’t for you anyway and that’s a little depressing but you’d rather be who you’ve always been than three little gnomes standing on each other’s shoulders under a Burberry trenchcoat working on TPS reports.

Stora Skugan’s Moon Milk. The sea, but not the sea. Lemonade and tidepools, bright and brackish, toes digging into the wet sand, palms briefly cupping portions of the sun-warmed infinite and allowing it to sluice through your fingers to wash away because you can’t clutch at moments like that, you have to let the gravity of the tides and tears and the moon take their course. But it’s not the sea. It’s the reflection of the moon in a puddle, a changeling portal to someone else, somewhere else. Another you, another time. The enduring strangeness of where rock meets ocean, viewed through mirrorwater on a stone cavern floor , a finger fluting in soft white calcite and crystalline minerals, a cave painting of the aurora borealis on exposed bedrock, the ghostly carving of footprints that stop suddenly and disappear. There’s a duality in this scent, the soft fall of sunlight tempered by saltwater, earthy cardamom incense, and citrusy floral lime, the bitter chill of petrified moonlight, milky sandalwood, and waxen lily. It’s a strange fragrance that makes me think of encountering countless versions of me across time, and we somehow cross the same path, inevitably make the same choices, wish for the same things under ancient and future stars.

Tom Ford’s Black Orchid, which before you even spray it, like, you just take the cap off, and you get generic ambery miasma wrapped in cloying cotton candy, and not even the thrilling stuff that has the exhilarating tang of the local carnival’s precarious Gravitron. No, this is the stale, sad bottom-shelf cotton candy from Costco. At this stage, it smells exactly like Black Opium, which many folks recommended to me as a “dark, mysterious scent,” and here’s my take on that. Which I hope you will take with a grain of salt. But you know how like…some people think 50 Shades of Gray is sexy erotica? And for them, maybe it is. I’m not here to tell you you’re getting horned up for the wrong things. But it doesn’t do it for me. There’s not enough werewolves or chainsaws or Lament Configurations in that story. 50 Shades of Gray does not even scratch the surface of hot and horny feelings for me. And in this analogy, I suppose, Black Opium feels like putting wet-n-wild eyeliner and a faux leather jacket on a Barbie tutu and calling it dark and mysterious. Good try, I guess? But you gotta work a lot harder to get me on board. But back to Black Orchid, which is what I was actually talking about. Once the pastel goth spun sugar vibe dissipates, it becomes this really understated but perfectly lovely creature of soft velvety musk and dusty woods. I kinda wish this is was the piece of the puzzle they’d focused on, added some other top notes, and connected it via an unexpected heart but I guess that would have been an entirely different scent. If you can sit through the obnoxious opening, you’ll be rewarded with a soft delightful woodland fairytale of a scent, but I don’t know if the journey to get there is worth it

Forest Lungs from The Nue Company is somewhat similar to Dasein’s Winter Nights or Norne from Slumber house in its conjuring of coniferous evergreen midnight splendor. The birch tar and pine sap are present but softer, less sharp and astringent than you might expect, and as a matter of fact, I don’t get any of the camphoraceous herbal medicine chest opening that you find in the other two. It’s the whiff of the woodlands in your hair or clothing after you’re already back inside. It’s expediently atmospheric; you don’t have to brave the forest path to get to the witch’s hut to warm your hands at the softly crackling fire and have a cozy cup of gently spiced cardamom tea. You’re just plopped right at her table, like a witch’s hut holosuite. And then you find out that this person is actually not a witch at all, you’ve made a lot of assumptions based on their haunted cottagecore aesthetic. It’s actually just a local misanthrope fed up with the dumbass yokels in the village so they gathered up their amazing candle collection and moved to a hermitage in the middle of a forest and all of a sudden they’re like,” who even are you and why are you in my house?? GTFO!” And that’s when you realize this wonderful fragrance does not last long at all and the program has ended and you’re back in Quark’s bar and he wants his 2 strips of gold-pressed latinum. I will note that I purchased this from Sephora, and I believe that it is the most interesting fragrance that they are ever likely to carry.

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Sometimes I want to pour my heart out and overshare and talk about every thought that stumbles through my mind over in this little space…and sometimes I just want to present a photo of a thing that I baked or a book that I am reading. This little life update might be more of the latter scenario.

I don’t want to be one of those people who with every breath brings up the book that they’re currently writing (I’m sorry! I get really annoyed about this! But more specifically it’s directed at writer-twitter, where someone is always tweeting about how they should be writing but they’re not. OK? So? You wasted your time typing that out? Sometimes I think I hate writer-twitter. Or course if you made me laugh because you’re a funny writer who is not writing, that’s different. But being boring and wasting my time is unforgivable.) ANYWAY. That was quite an aside. So. I don’t want to be that person, but I am in the midst of trying to finish up the bulk of the text for book number two, tentatively titled The Art of Darkness, so I am just basically spent and drained I don’t have the energy or the words to blamble blargle about blumbs over here on the blorg.

So here’s some pictures of some things and as few words as possible!

I’ve lately been obsessed with making various spreadables for all of the sourdoughs that I have been baking. Pictured above is the vegan cheese spread recipe from Rainbow Plant Life. Made from cashews and fermented for a few days for extra tang, it’s pretty tasty, though I don’t think it tastes anything like cheese. Actually, it tastes primarily of nutritional yeast because I think I went overboard and added too much. Luckily, we like nutritional yeast, so it all works out.

This next one is a recipe all of my own, inspired by the few stubby, impossibly purple eggplants we grew this year. There is no photo because it’s pretty ghastly looking, but trust me–it’s delicious. I don’t have ingredient amounts, but just treat it like it’s a pesto/baba ganoush hybrid and eyeball accordingly. Roast eggplants and tomatoes until they are charred and molten. Fry walnuts til rich and earthen and toasty fragrant. Blitz wildly with a fat clove of garlic, a green fistful of fresh basil, a sour squeeze of lemon, and salt & pepper to taste. Serve room temperature on every damn thing.

This just in: I have two new favorite tee shirts. The first is a Dolly tee which I found through Fine Southern Gentleman (h/t to Angeliska for secretly recommending them to me! They didn’t exactly tell me about them directly, but I saw their post on Instagram with a new shirt and I could tell it was a subliminal message meant just for me!)

The second is a My Neighbor Tortoro tee that I found on eBay. I think it was at one time originally from Hot Topic, so who knows, there may be some more floating around out there on resale sites.

An offering; a heart’s gift (& a bribe) from the dreamer to the do-er. The Face of the Oracle necklace from Atelier Narce via Shop Esqueleto. A treat to myself for completing the bulk of book number two. Or…at least it was meant to be. I thought it would take several weeks to reach me, and by the time it arrived, I will have finished my work and properly earned it. But it showed up a few weeks early. And I am not done.

So…that means that I need another treat, when I actually finish, right? I mentioned this to one of my sisters, and she agrees that this is sound logic.

Current artistic obsession: The disquieting goodnight gazes from these pallid little girls and their uncanny dolls, painted by avant-garde art dandy, Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita.

My entire coffee table is a massive TBR pile! I am particularly looking forward to Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form and Emptiness as well as Lisa Marie Basile’s City Witchery.

Currently watching: all of the Halloween movies before Halloween Kills is released. I didn’t realize I’d ever seen Halloween 3 before; I think I read the book adaptation when I was a kid, and in my memory that somehow became the same thing. I just looked up the book on amazon and holy moly…folks seem to want an awful lot of money for that little paperback. I wish I still had my copy! I also watched The Abyss this weekend and while I kind of wish they’d amped up the horror elements more (without losing any of the more fantastical bits, somehow?) but overall I really enjoyed it and it made me realize that I really go for tense, claustrophobic movies with a sort of eerie pressurized WOMP WOMP WOMP atmospheric droning score: industrial creaks and groans, the monstrous pressure and eerie whistle of wind through airducts. Strange, hollow sounds reverberating and echoing, a deep bass and unnerving thrum of scenes happening in space, or underwater, Aliens, Event Horizon, Pandorum type movies. Anything else along these lines that I should be watching?

Current miscellaneous things: If you missed it, I was on the inaugural episode of the Fear Is The Mindkiller podcast. Bryan and I talked about favorite books and nightmares and the strange fears that we have and it was such a great conversation. This is my fourth podcast this year and I will say that I was definitely less of a nervous wreck for this one! Speaking of fears, I was quoted a bit over in an article over at Bored Panda this week on the topics of what makes for a good creepy story and why it is that people like to be scared. You have to scroll down to about halfway through the piece to find me, but I am there!

And…I guess that is more or less it for now? I will leave you with this image of me trying on some mid-life crisis hair, via a filter. I think I’m gonna go for it in the next few months or so!

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Once upon a time, I used to have an informal column of informal guests posts, where friends would contribute a list of ten things. Ten whatever things that they wanted to talk about! That lasted for a few years, and it was so cool! I love reading about what the people I like and admire are into, or what they recommend or suggest for this, that, or the other thing!

Sadly, due to the extremely understandable lack of mental and emotional bandwidth available to all of everyone during the pandemic, as well as a scarcity of time and energy while we are all just scrambling to survive (and maybe just lack of interest in writing and blogs in general, and specifically writing for blogs that aren’t yours) there’s hasn’t been any new Ten Things content in that vein in quite some time. Also, I realize I’m not paying anyone to write, and this certainly isn’t a blog that makes any money, and it doesn’t have a huge audience and I can appreciate there’s not a huge draw for people to be an uncompensated guest poster. I can’t even pay you in “exposure”! I’m sorry!

I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone, warmly and sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, who did volunteer to write something over the years. For the most part, except for maybe one or two exceptions, all of these guests volunteered their writing and ideas, without me having directly asked them to do so. How amazing is that! Firstly, I’m not really keen on saying “hey, will you do a thing for me?” It really feels like an intrusion and a lot to ask. But secondly, that someone came to me with a thought or an idea and wanted to share it on my blog? That just feels so freaking cool. I love that! So thank you, EVERYONE. Your work and your writing are so genuinely valued and I just can’t express that enough.

I thought I’d share a roundup here, in no particular order, of all of the Ten Things articles and essays that have been posted at Unquiet Things over the years, so that you can find them easily, or so that you can re-reread your favorites, or so that you find something entirely new to read or learn or become obsessed with.

10 Of Ekho’s Anti-Racist Book Recs
Ten Things: Spooky Nerd Necessities From Generally Gothic
Shana’s Top 10 things I Love About Animal Crossing New Horizons
10 Things I’ve learned from Owning an Art Gallery by Laurel Barickman
10 Things That Keep My Spirits Up As Winter Darkness Descends By Allison Felus
10 Things: My Bougie Holiday Wish List + Stocking Stuffers Courtesy Harlow Skalwold
Ten Favorite Things For Magical Baking By Jessica Reed
Ten things: Favorite European Botanic Gardens by Jantine Zandbergen
Ekho’s 10 Things to Stop You Burning it All Down (the World, the Universe, and Everything)
Ten Things I Know By Flannery Grace Good
Ten Things That Got Me Through 2018 From Harlow Skalwold
The Spooky Vegan’s 10 Things Getting Me Through The Post-Halloween Blues
Amanda Lynn Of Ghoulish Delights Bath Shop: 10 Things I’m Loving For Fall
10 Things I Cannot Live Without: Nuri’s Picks
Caitlin Ffrench: Ten Tools That I Use Most Often
Ten Favorite Pieces From My Collection by Katie Kierstead of Roses & Rue Antiques
Ten Things That Bring Me Joy From Angela St. John Of Solstice Scents
Vampires, Witches, and Ghosts: The Top Ten Reasons Why I Love the Holiday Season By Sarah Chavez
La Belle Otero’s Ten Gems Of Decadent Cinema
10 Goth Cheeses and What to Pair with Them from CheeseSexDeath
10 Delights for Autumn Nights By Pam Grossman
Ten Things I Tell Myself to Make Life Worth Living by Ariel of Carpe That Diem

I am definitely not saying that a Ten Things guest post won’t appear from time to time in the future. Heck, I might even contribute one myself! And if you’ve got something you want to share here, well, you know where to find me. But please just keep in mind, I’m not going to hunt you down and haunt you for it if you’ve expressed an interest. Just come to me whenever you’re ready and say “here’s a thing!” Otherwise…life’s too short for me to stress out about that, or for me to stress you out about it.  Serious inquiries only, friends!

Pssssst…! I went through the archives to gather these up because I…uh…didn’t tag them very well. If you’ve shared some 10 Things here and don’t see a link to your contribution listed above, please forgive the oversight, it wasn’t intentional! Let me know and I will fix it straight away!

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LOVEletter by @darla_tea // Darla Teagarden

Dandelion Allegro by @gatyakaellyartist // Gatya Kelly

BLUE BIRDY by @welderings // Welderwings

Nocturne VI by @kateadamsart // Kate Adams

Scarab by @halliepackardart // Hallie Packard

Untitled by @zakuroaoyama // Zakuro Aoyama

Supernova Rainbow Rose by @susanjamison // Susan Jamison

Can you show me the way home by @brandimilne // Brandi Milne


@americanghoul // Daniel Vazquez

The Vampire’s Thirst by @munichartstudio // Becky Munich

 

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Over on the Midnight Stinks TikTok, I shared a gathering of my favorite vanilla scents, as per a commenter’s request. I thought I might share a blogged version as well in order to have a written account for those who are interested!

A forewarning: so as not to be too overwhelmed with possibilities, I gave myself the constraint that any scent I choose must already be found within my perfume cupboard, and it must be something a actually own in a size larger than a sample– which to my thinking at least, means that I have spent enough time with it to think of it as a favorite. Your logic on this might vary, you might have favorites that were love at first sniff, but I’m not here to debate anyone about that. You do your favorite lists your way* and I will do mine my way, so here goes!

*PS this isn’t to say I don’t want to know about your favorite vanillas! Please share in the comments!

Dior Addict is a billowing cloud of honeyed amber and vanilla, jasmine and orange blossom with creamy tonka bean chiffon sandalwood lace. It’s femme fatale by way of baroque gothic lolita.

Vanille Insensee is a warm, wispy citrusy vanilla but it’s hard to pinpoint which citrus it is that’s lending a crisp, very mildly juicy aspect, but without any hint of fruit pulp or sourness or even vaguely tart.  It’s like a sweet, fresh guest soap and warm towels

• Lea from Calypso St. Barth’s is a, pretty, pillowy perfume of vanilla, musk and almond; it’s not overpowering and as a matter of fact, it’s fairly delicate. Think a simple, unfrosted angel food cake. Wearing a your favorite cozy, worn-in cardigan. This stuff is hard to find and until recently, rumor has it that you could apparently get it from Montaigne Market, but they have closed their online shop. However, I hear whispers if you message them on Instagram you could purchase it in that way. 

Fleur Cachée from Anatole Lebreton is celery and shadows and green seeds and spice pods crushed on cool marble, desiccated bouquets more dust than bloom, and the skeletal, crumbling remains of frosted confections covered in cobwebs. It’s the deeply melancholic Miss Havisham of vanillas

Tokyo Milk Arsenic has got vanilla salt listed in the notes, which enhances the more interesting aspect of the scent, something unique and green that reminfds me of fresh marjoram with slightly piney, citrusy, and vaguely musty aspects. All of this in turn reminds me of Avon potpourri Christmas ornaments from when I was young, so it feels very nostalgic. This is another one that’s hard to find, but it looks like you may be able to grab a bottle from Flutter PDX.

Vanille Noire du Mexique is vanilla of dark, moody florals and balsamic resins that smells like the platonic ideal of a hot chocolate but there’s something a bit off-kilter about it like you’re enjoying it in a claustrophobic room with creeping yellow wallpaper, with a friend who has a mysterious green ribbon tied around her throat.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Snake Oil is a luxuriant molasses-y, musky deeply sugared vanilla incense, blended with dark spices more sacred than culinary. This is a scent that lends to a sense of danger and power, and not for the faint of heart–but rather for a heart-pricked thrice under a full moon right before you take a big dripping bite of it to seal the spell in flesh and blood and death. You’re the dangerous, powerful creature in this scenario and you gotta commit if you’re going to wear this gorgeously potent thing. It looks like Snake Oil is out of stick right now, but this is one of their best-selling scents so I have to imagine it will be back sooner or later. In the meantime, peek in on their site for seasonal releases where they sometimes include Snake Oil variants!

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If you signed up for Nuri McBride’s Aromatica de Profundis newsletter, then you got to see a super fun interview that I did with her recently! Nuri is a writer, perfumer, researcher, and community organizer whose professional work focuses on olfactive cultural education, aromatics in lifecycle rituals, and the preservation of traditional forms of aromatic preparations. She is also deeply interested in labor rights and power equity in the fragrance trade. She is also a wonderful friend!  Thank you, Nuri, for the amazing questions, and your incredible insights and thought-provoking articles and content. (And the very lovely things you said about me!)

The above is a screenshot snippet from this month’s newsletter–you must be a subscriber in order to read it, and I highly suggest you do subscribe for more interviews like this, along with updates on Nuri’s various projects, and whatever else she might be sharing in that issue! This delightful missive is fast becoming the highlight of each new month! Be sure to sign up for the newsletter so that you, too, can receive a bit of smelly magic in your inbox every month.

 

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Is every second of your last day of vacation an existential slog where you can’t enjoy anything and everything feels pointless, or are you normal?

Just kidding, I know everyone feels like this. (Right? Please tell me I’m not alone!)

Last night I stayed up until 2am finishing a shawl. It’s my third time knitting this pattern and because I love it so much, I wanted an extra special version to keep just for myself. I started watching Brand New Cherry Flavor on Netflix and aside from the name which really grosses me out (it makes me think of gum and/or energy drinks, and the thought of either makes me want to barf) holy wowzers & weirdness, this is an exceptionally fun show. Writer/creatives and dreadful secrets and ooogly body horror and seedy LA magics (a genre unto itself, and one which I adore—I blame Weetzie Bat) and Catherine Keener as the most delicious witchly villain.

Anyway, I figure I’ve got 12 hours left on the countdown clock and I could either sit here in a catatonic state of anxiety or I could pin this shawl out, a task I will curse soundly all the while and detest every second of. But afterward, when I see these saffron strands of stitches stretching in the sun, I know I will be so glad did it.

Later: Okay maybe it actually only took 20 minutes to do this…!

I’ve learned that if there’s something I’m not looking forward to doing, I ask myself, “how can I make this more enjoyable?” So I poured a goblet of something icy and fizzy, I lit a cone of sandalwood incense, and while Lana serenaded me about chemtrails over the country clubs I crawled around and stuck pins in things.

The real MVP here is Diet Coke, if I’m being honest. Imagine a commercial with a brawny construction worker, wiping their sweaty brow with a chilled can of Diet Coke, except it’s creaky, moon-shaped me, and I’m not drinking from a can because I have a weird thing about that. I can’t drink from a bottle, either. I must have a glass, with ice!

Anyway, the rest of my day is now free for whatever and to keep my mind off of going back to work I’m going to write a perfume review about a fragrance I don’t like and I’m going to try not to be mean about it but I might not try very hard.

How do you power through tasks that you’d rather not be doing? What are your preferred ways of taking your mind off of the fact that you must shortly return to the real world after you’ve been on a break? Please share in the comments, if you feel so inclined!

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