Tonight on this 31 Days of Horror edition of Midnight Stinks is Only A Witch Cat, Pearfat Parfums ode to cult classic Japanese horror film Hausu, a kitschy, kaleidoscopic, gloriously demented, dizzying psychedelic fever dream which I chose for a first date with my now husband I am pretty sure he is still reeling from it 12 years later.

If I recall correctly this was a film wherein Toho, attempting to replicate the commercial success of American movies like Jaws, hired a renowned ad-man known for his creativity and aesthetics to make a blockbuster movie…and then this man enlisted his 12 year old daughter to help. I love that story, and it made for one of my all-time favorite films.

With notes of shiso leaf and climbing vines, melon and coriander, and powdered compact, this is a fragrance of melancholic breezes tangling gorgeous powdery citrus shampoo-perfumed hair, fraught with a crisp, crushed oppressive green tension. It’s a scent of loss, lost love, lost youth, and ghosts and spectres shadowed by generations of loss. For all that, it’s not a dense or heavy scent, it’s light and flimmering, but you can feel its presence–like the gaze on the back of your neck, like movement from the corner of your eye, like a past that you can’t escape.

This review was originally posted to my Midnight Stinks TikTok on October 12, 2023.


@midnightstinks Midnight Stinks, episode 407: Only a Witch Cat from Pearfat Parfum. 

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Like many folks with a lifelong fondness for horror, Shirley Jackson’s elegant, unnerving The Haunting of Hill House holds an extra-special place in my heart. Not just scary for the unknowable motivations of the notorious house and the intense atmosphere of personal terrors it conjures for each of its inhabitants, but there’s also the soul-crushing psychic soup of mental disintegration that it encourages as the house takes further hold. It’s heady, intense stuff, and one of my favorite haunted house stories.

I never necessarily thought that we needed a return to Hill House but when I learned that Elizabeth Hand was authorized by Shirley Jackson’s estate to write such a story, I’ll admit, I was pretty excited. Her short stories are incredible–“Near Zennor” (found here) being a particular favorite of mine. A weird, supernatural mystery wherein a grieving widow is driven to learn more about a secret part of his wife’s past, it affected me to such a degree that I made a creepy little playlist for it. Wyldling Hall, a book about a folk band recording in a strange, remote house and the tragedies that happened there, is another favorite of mine from this author. If anyone is to be working with Hill House material, I would trust Elizabeth Hand implicitly–she knows a thing or two about creating immersive, eerie atmospheres and disturbingly uncanny happenings.

In A Haunting On The Hill, Holly is a struggling playwright who has been awarded a grant, and, being in the area and happening upon the expansive opulence of Hill House, she immediately falls under its spell. She becomes convinced that it would be a grand idea to rent it out for a few weeks and invite a group of her actors and collaborators to work on her current project together. The intimate gathering, sequestered away from the bothers of the world for a time, would afford everyone the opportunity to appreciate the material and put their own spin on it and sink into their roles, etc. Along for the ride is Nisa, Holly’s girlfriend, a singer with a beautiful voice that Holly doesn’t want to give too much of the limelight to; Amanda, a prickly older actress with a bit of a cult following and a reputation because of an on-stage tragedy she is linked to; and Stevie, Holly’s best friend, a sensitive and vulnerable individual who is going to do sound design and play the part of a demon-dog. A demon-dog! Yes, this is a play about witchcraft!

Once ensconced in its oppressive walls, the group begins to realize that the space is not as luxurious as it might have initially appeared. Rooms are dimly lit, dusty, and damp. There are more rooms and twisting hallways than would seem possible, and it is easly to become lost, alone, and open to the awful energies of the place. All of the members of the troupe begin to encounter varying degrees of strange and terrifying weirdness inside Hill House but because of their various agendas and commitments, they each have their own reasons for looking the other way (or in some cases, leaning into it) and seeing it through.

They are warned repeatedly to leave the house by people who live locally and who know its history and what always happens there. The realtor who owns the house, the woman who occasionally cleans the house and who drops off meals for Holly and her guests, as well as the eccentric individual who lives in a trailer down the road and who initially chased Holly with an axe on the first day she saw the house. As it happens, this trio all knows each other, and they may be witches, too! Although I am not sure how much that actually figures into the story.

Did Elizabeth Hand do the Hill House material justice? I didn’t go into this book with this question in mind because I wanted an Elizabeth Hand story, not another story by Shirley Jackson. But I’m sure that will be on the minds of a lot of people who are interested in reading the book. She did an outstanding job of evoking the house’s sickening nature, and how it affects/infects each individual so differently depending on the neuroses and trauma that they bring with them into the house. I thrilled to the way that we got to experience Hill House’s terrible corridors again through contemporary eyes and modern sensibilities. And while I did find some of the characters absolutely insufferable, I think all of the personalities worked within the context of the story, and also, that’s just people, right? There’s one or two in every friend group that are annoying and unbearable. And if you care about such things, the whole story is absolutely bewitched with gorgeously golden autumnal vibes and haunting harvest-filtered imagery–which makes it an incredibly perfect October afternoon read.

Some bonus material, related to books and reading: Elizabeth over at Reading Wryly chats about the Autumnal/Winter horror releases she’s most excited about!

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Livide is a quiet, creeping shadowy fairytale of a French vampire film that I have been meaning to watch since 2011. It took me a long time to get around to it.

At the start of the story, Lucie is a young woman who is accompanying a home health aide making the rounds amongst the geriatric folks around town who require medical care. Their final stop is a remote estate where legendary former ballerina Mrs. Jessel lies decrepit and fading in her dark ancestral home, and also apparently needing mysterious blood transfusions. Lucie’s mentor is a chatty, though vaguely unpleasant woman, who slips into the conversation that there is said to be treasure hidden somewhere inside the creepy mansion. Of course, Lucie innocently later shares this intel with her boyfriend, and along with his brother,  the two siblings hatch a plan to sneak into the house and rob the old woman of her riches. Lucie reluctantly tags along. Naturally, what they find instead is more sinister and horrifying than they could imagine.

I finally watched this beautiful, bizarre nightmare of a film, and I am indeed satisfied. Here are a few eerie screencaps because the imagery was just too gorgeous to resist.



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Peche Obscene from Lvnea, in collaboration with musician Chelsea Wolfe is glorious– but what I mean is glorious in the way that something monstrous and magnificent stalks the dead zone of night, by stealth and in the dark. This is peach, irradiated and ashen and grown over with moss and broken bird’s nests and salted against curses, curls of ferric iron to both ward away and contain within. A peach more lore and legend than it ever had life, a peach whose shadow looms uneasily far beyond its ruined flesh. Juices corrupt with the grave dirt of vetiver and patchouli and oozing with osmanthus’ strange leathery/jammy incense, Peche Obscene is an undead lich of a peach, and it is absolutely, terrifyingly bewitching in the way that all delicious forbidden things are.

With notes of “gasoline, dirt, rocks, leather, and funeral flowers” you’d probably expect Procession from Seance Perfumes to be a somewhat challenging scent, or a fragrance that some people might describe as “an acquired taste.” But that’s not the case at all. From the very first sniff, this gentle floral is all about softness and solace. Not the heavy, sinking desolation of sorrow, but rather the easement of having your grief and suffering witnessed by someone who is not trying to fix it, or make you feel better, just to quietly sit with you in sadness. All sorts of blooms, lilies and orchids, hydrangeas and lacy sweet alyssum, powdery, creamy, honeyed blossoms gently perfuming the darkness so that it’s not so lonely there.

I reviewed House of Matriarch Vanilla Caviar over on TikTok. You kinda need the visuals.

Fiery Pink Pepper from Molton Brown opens with so much promise, a zesty dust storm of dry citrus peel and pith, ginger’s tangy effervescent spice, and some underlying rosy-peppery woody notes. It rapidly becomes a somewhat predictable smelling woody cologne that is somehow also aquatic, but both aspects are equally lackluster. It’s that bubbly, vivacious new acquaintance that when you get to know them, you realize that they don’t actually have any interests or passions and they don’t have much of an internal life. Fun for a very short time, but it’s no one you are ever going to have a deep or lasting connection with. This fragrance is the essence of that person–what little essence they might have, anyway– distilled and bottled.

In this review for Ethereal Wave from Liis there are a few thoughts on music, and I just want to put it out there that I am an enthusiast, not an expert. Take my opinions with a grain of salt and also probably not very seriously. So Ethereal Wave is a fragrance that I am given to understand, is inspired by the gauzy, gossamer otherworldly sounds of the genre of music pioneered by musicians of the ineffable, the Cocteau Twins. And while there are just no words to convey how very into this concept I am, I am not sure that’s exactly what the fragrance gives me. I get a bright, lush, honeyed apricot (which I don’t think is a note even in this perfume), haloed by a white tea’s crisp, clean, grassy elegance. I don’t get a sense of the cardamom listed in the notes at all, but together the apricot-esque-ness and the white tea aspect meld to create something shimmering and luminous with an almost fluorescent neon radiance. Let’s say Cocteau Twins are at the more dreamy, delicate atmospheric end of the spectrum, and then all the way on the other end is the bold and strange (but also strangely catchy) sci-fi, avant-garde dream pop of Grimes, who is basically an anime character of a musician. So that’s the sort of stream-of-consciousness thinking that got me to the place where when I’m wearing this sample, I feel like a member of a colorful kawaii magical girl gang fighting space aliens when they’re not being school girls and pop idols, and i don’t know if any of you have seen or remember Tokyo Mew Mew but that’s where Ethereal Wave has taken me.

 Himitsu from Regime des Fleurs is a scent that I immediately loved and felt like it understood me, but it oddly and immediately called to mind a scent I don’t care for and which I can’t relate to…and yet on some level, they smell strangely similar. That scent I’m thinking of is Daim Blond from Serge Lutens, and its cool floral iris, expensive suede handbag, and apricot sunbeam vibes are the embodiment of someone who has it super together, they’re on a career track and probably going to make partner, they do yoga and host book clubs. I imagine they probably live in the city and they thrive in that energy and the atmosphere. I feel like Himitsu is the country mouse version of that person and they grew up with the exact opposite temperment. They live in a secluded little cottage at the edge of some remote hamlet,  and their only friends are like 25 varieties of wildflower and maybe one bluebird and they wear an actual, honest-to-patchwork, ruffled Holly Hobby bonnet which they wear unironically.  They probably own a grainy recording of the Royal Ballet’s Tales of Beatrix Potter.   They smell of dew-dappled violets at dawn, lacy cotton curtains drying in a chilly October breeze, and soft leather boots that have never clicked or clacked on concrete;  they only know the quiet creeping moss and curling fern of woodland paths.

I purchased Shay & Blue Cotton Flower because I thought it might be similar to a scent I am very fond of: Bath and Body Works Clean Cotton Blossom which then became Sea Island Cotton and which is now Fresh Cotton, but is perhaps not even available anymore? I loved the idea of that scent because it always conjured a sort of Anne of Green Gables Gunne Sax feeling for me, like cottagecore pre-whenever people started referring to it as cottagecore. Cotton Flower is less bleachy and screechy than any of the B&BW iterations; it doesn’t have that harsh lemony lily of the valley cleaning product aspect. It’s a bit woodier and muskier and warmer, with a golden nectarine glow, which is not to say it’s fruity, but it’s got a rather peachy-coral-vermillion-emberglow YouTube vaporwave neon sunset version of the scent of something like a nectarine. Shay & Blue Tonka Angelica is a resinous vanilla incense almond blossom pudding, with an underlying plastic milkiness reminiscent of Japanese milk candy.

There’s something about Craft from Andrea Maack that feels sleek and reflective, like the soaring chrome spires of a retrofuturistic sci-fi megastructure and its mechanized cybernetic inhabitants. It’s a cool, bloodless scent, like frost flowers on glass, and wintry chilled metal. I hadn’t read the description prior to writing down these thoughts and now I’m simultaneously pleased and peeved because I picked up on this perfume’s vibe to such an extent I’ve almost quoted the website’s copy about jet packs and robots right back at you. This is one of those instances when it seems the concept and the execution align in an almost preternaturally perfect way… like the android overlords have implanted these ideas directly into my brain!

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cover art by George Ziel for Shorecliff by Marilyn Ross

A full moon hangs low in the sky, its eerie glow casting flickering shadows in the tangled, overgrown gardens. Ancient trees loom like spectral sentinels, their gnarled branches tangling the curls of an anguished heroine, her hair whipping in the wind as she flees an unseen menace. Hark, a lone candle beckons from a distant window–but is it in welcome, or in warning?

In the shadowy realm where danger and desire entwine, George Ziel’s (1914–1982) haunting brushstrokes captured the essence of the genre, bringing to life its dark and captivating world. Ablaze with passion and peril and replete with the gothic imagery of crumbling castles, abandoned ruins, and overgrown cemeteries, these works were mesmerizing bewitchments, both beautiful and terrifying, invitations into a world of mystery and suspense.

cover art by George Ziel for The Haunting of Elizabeth Calder

An artist in his very soul regardless of circumstance, Ziel (born Jerzy Zielensky) survived the atrocities of WWII and the Warsaw Ghettos with his powerful need to create art intact; after his liberation and during hospital convalescence, he turned the desperate scrap paper and charcoal sketches of his fellow prisoners in the notorious camp into new drawings which were then collected into stark, unforgettable books and published in 1946.

After the war, Ziel moved to New York City and embarked upon his incredibly prolific career as a commercial artist, creating countless pulp paperback novel covers. He left behind a legacy of many hundreds of lurid book covers– brooding gothics, macabre horror, even lush romances– a lifetime of painterly visions and shivery wonderments to capture the imagination and transport readers to mysterious realms of secrets and darkness.

Read more of George Ziel’s biography and career over at Lynn Munroe books, and see below for a small gallery of my favorites from among his beautiful nightmares.


cover art by George Ziel for Inherit the Mirage by Julia Thatcher


cover art by George Ziel for Twilight Return by Jean Kimbro


cover art by George Ziel for The Storm Witch by Elisabeth Barr


cover art by George Ziel for The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart


cover art by George Ziel for Nightgleams by Julia Thatcher


cover art by George Ziel for Black Candle by Christine Randell


covert art by George Ziel for Appleshaw by Christine Damien


cover art by George Ziel for House of the Darkest Death by Alicia Grace


cover art by George Ziel for Dark Waters of Death by Sharon Wagner


cover art by George Ziel for Whispering Gables by Sandra Abbott


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I’ve been curating little capsule collections of fragrances for myself each month— a “marinade,” if you will — and I have particularly been looking forward to revisiting these autumnal selections for spooky season. If you’re interested in hearing more about these perfumes, head on over to my TikTok account!


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I am a bit overwhelmed, and I don’t know what more there is to say about it anymore, but the case is cracked, and the mystery is solved! You can read all about it and listen to the story over at The Endless Thread Podcast today.

And also, because I do not want to possibly contribute to confusion for future people seeking this answer, I’m going to include it plain as day right here: it’s Richard Bober! But you should listen to the podcast anyway because it was lots of fun hearing about the twists and turns that eventually led to the answer. You need to experience the whole wild ride! Many, many thanks to all of the people who left comments on this blog post, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and on all of the various subreddits. And a huge thanks to John Coulthart for A LOT of suggestions and ideas and, of course, Adam Rowe and Michael Whelan, who shared their expertise and connections and got so many eyeballs and brain noodles involved!

In the meantime, if you need to reacquaint yourself with this particular mystery, you can read all about it here. A Mystery That Should Not Exist: Who Is The Cover Artist For This Edition Of A Wrinkle In Time?

AND ALSO, I never would have made the connections and guessed it was this particular artist; however, he was not entirely new to me. Do you recall me sharing this image all over social media a few years back? Well…it’s the same artist!!


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Hello friends. Where did the spring (and summer!?) go? Well, here I am again, and thanks for paying me a visit. In this video, I’ll catch you up on what’s been going on with me, and, as usual, I’ll share a few favorites. And guess what else? My new book, The Art of Fantasy, is here! But don’t worry; I promise this is not an 18-minute video about my book.


Below is a listing of the items and various things and people mentioned found in this video, more or less in the order they were mentioned…

Gideon the Ninth
1 lb Cheddar Cheese Powder
Trader Joe’s Pickle Seasoning
The Thriftwitch on TikTok
Asta Cookware
Snacking Cakes by Yossy Arefi
Chouhan rugs 
Needle Eye India quilts
Roses and Rue Antiques
Pyunkang Yul skincare 
Flortte jelly lipstick
Cocoa Pink
Solstice Scents Estate Carnation
In Fieri Park of the Monsters
Lumina of London Fairy Lights
101 Horror Books To Read Before You’re Murdered
Worlds Beyond Time: Sci-Fi Art of the 1970s 
Down the Road and Back Again: Poems for the Golden Girls
abeeninthebonnet/Lauren Rad 
Astral Bath yarn 
Brett Manning art
We Crowing Hens cardigan 
Parrish Relics
Knix pullover bra 


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This interview originally appeared on the Haute Macabre blog on May 25, 2017. It references some things that were happening in the artist’s life at that time, and looking back, I wish I’d been a bit more sensitive in my phrasing—many apologies to Tyler, who graciously and generously fielded my boorish questions with enthusiasm and aplomb.  I think back upon his responses and am inspired anew, over and over again.  

Since this interview, Tyler has become a very cool plant guru on Instagram AND has begun a project called Moonbeam Flora, creating gorgeous glow-in-the-dark bouquets out of invasive plants for meditative relaxation.

When I was in the sixth grade and it was the dreaded Science Fair projects time of the year (did everyone hate this as much as I did? Or was I just a really awful student?) my grandfather hit upon the grand idea that we were going to grow crystals in both salt solutions and sugar solutions and see which one was more successful. If I recall, the sugar solution yielded a better crop: small, but beautiful, delicate crystalline structures climbing upwards along a damp string tied to a wooden Popsicle stick, which hung across the top of a garage sale-scavenged glass mason jar. Absurdly proud of the results, I brought the project to school a few days before it was actually due, and was horrified as our classroom’s most popular girl, Mary Lisa Howell, entirely unprompted by me, reached into the jar of sugar crystals, snapped off a particularly lovely specimen, and started munching on it. I quite clearly remember her guileless face, looking at me as if she thought she was doing me a favor. Ugh! I locked myself in a bathroom stall, sobbed for twenty minutes straight, and vowed I was done with science forever.

Crystals, however, I shall forever be obsessed with. And when I discovered Tyler Thrasher’s exquisite creations in late 2014, my obsession reached a fever pitch. Tyler collects lifeless creatures and found objects and bestows upon them new life by growing shimmering crystal clusters on them. And I don’t know if his crystals have ever been eaten by an overzealous fan, but if he was able to bounce back, better than ever, after a devastating house fire – then he’s sure not going to let an eleven year-old bully with a sweet tooth get in his way.

As it turns out, Tyler Thrasher is a handful of things, including artist, scientist, music producer, traveler, rare plant collector, photographer (and even just a handful, period), and I was delighted that this goofball alchemist agreed to chat with me. Read on for our interview about life after the fire, creation in dark times, and the importance of curiosity, experimentation, and living your own goddamn story.

S. Elizabeth: First, I wanted to check in and see how you’ve been doing after the terrible fire that destroyed your home and belongings last December? I am a fervent checker of your instagram, and it seemed you didn’t stop creating, not even for a second. What propelled you forward during what must have been a pretty dark time for you? I realize that it must have been a nightmare, and I hope this isn’t a callow question, but I’m wondering if, through that heartache and loss, you drew inspiration for current or future work?

Tyler Thrasher: The first thing that helped during and directly after the fire would probably be my dark sense of humor. I’m no stranger to dark and pretty fucked up situations, and that sense of humor is what seems to keep me together sometimes and has in the past. After the fire I didn’t even consider a break from my work or from creating, it seemed to have the opposite effect, and looking back in my life that urge to create was birthed during one of the most traumatic moments in my life. I found myself as a kid creating and making art as a means to cope, and that urge seems to have persisted over the last 15 years. I did lose all of my work. All of the music I was working on, photos I had taken, and some of my favorite drawings and paintings.

I was/ am currently working on my first ever artbook, “The Wisdom of the Furnace”. One thing that propelled me forward was the title of the book. Before the fire, I had shot hundreds of images for my book of work that I will never see again, and oddly enough, before the fire, the book was titled “The Wisdom of the Furnace”. The next morning while I was sitting in my in-laws home, I was thinking about the book and everything I had lost for it, and the title sang. It was the same title it had always been, but it had realized itself and proclaimed its new purpose. The fire gave the title of my book some prestige and some well-earned prestige at that. The new and realized title of the book is what propelled me forward.

I know the “The Wisdom of the Furnace” is a hefty and mystical-sounding title, but if I could just defog its meaning a little bit, it might help some to understand why I was propelled forward. I chose the title in early 2016. I was thinking about old alchemical works and some of the advancements and progress that ancient study led us to. During my research I found lots of illustrations, code, and text that would reference or highlight the importance of fire and its vitality. The flame and the furnace were so essential for the alchemist’s Magnum Opus and the art of transmutation.

So much of what we know today regarding modern and practical chemistry came from the furnace. So much of what we know today regarding physics and modern science, in a sense, took place in the furnace. At first, the title of my book had a pretty straightforward meaning. But after the fire, I realized it was not just the furnace that gave us so much insight, but it was also the alchemist who boldly reached into it. The fire wasn’t going to give me answers; it wasn’t going to be an end result for the book or my work. The fire was just a catalyst, as most flames in the laboratory are. I realized that this book hadn’t even begun. Everything I shot beforehand was empty and vapid before the fire. It would take an effort from me beyond pointing a camera and shooting, but to get up and realize this catalyst and respect the potency of nature and the furnace.

I realized that despite losing everything for the book in the fire, the book would still be the thing I pulled out of the soot and the remains. And in essence, that sense of transformation is the vital core of alchemy.

Shit like this happens to me all of the time. I don’t think I believe in destiny, but every now and then, the universe gives me a little wink and a nudge.

So many folks describe your creations as “macabre”; I’m curious though, as to if you feel that’s an accurate representation of the work that you do?

I think macabre is a fair and accurate description. When I first started exploring this theme and medium, a lot of my friends and family thought it was a little disgusting. I mean I went from drawing landscapes to submerging dead insects into chemicals. I get it. I think parts of my work are rightfully macabre. My favorite thing EVER is when people ask what I do. When I describe what I do to others, yes its macabre. Description alone, I sound like a fucked-up mad scientist.

My other favorite thing EVER, is when I show them pictures, because they usually look very confused. And the response is usually the same, “OH! I had no idea what to expect! That’s so *Insert compliment here*”. And, of course, that always feels good! I think visually, it’s not so macabre. It is a celebration of life and an homage to what nature can do with one’s remains after life. In a way, it addresses a sense of purpose after consciousness, a purpose on earth and under the laws of nature. And I love that. It’s spiritual without being too much so, and it gives nature the respect it deserves. So much of what I do is a collaboration with nature.

The overwhelming theme of your work, even as it evolves, is “ curiosity and experimentation”–and that seems to be a code you wholeheartedly live by. I’m remarking on this having just seen some photos you posted on your instagram, a gorgeous series of nudes; your tender, graceful 2d illustrations, and after having listened in on your SoundCloud channel over the past week, it seems you are something of a musician, too! Not to mention those “Raise Some Heck” tee shirts you created! (Currently sold out, but I nabbed one!) Can you share with a bit about these different passions of yours, and what keeps you focused on the true essence of your work , whatever you might consider that to be?

To put it shortly, I get bored easily. HAHAHA. I always have. I don’t know why, but as a kid, boredom was literal hell for me. Mental anguish. Maybe I’m just mentally deficient, but I couldn’t and still can’t handle boredom. I’m also fiercely protective of what I like and what I enjoy doing, as I think most people should be. I think curiosity and experimentation are just vital for being human. We can’t run away from it, and I think whether or not you conform to that, we all, in some way are controlled by these urges.

The first thing I ever did was draw. It’s funny now because everyone knows my work by the crystallized pieces, and whenever I post an illustration, people are like “Wait you can draw?!” I don’t blame them! That’s a downside of social media, people see whatever they see first, and that’s their impression. I’ve been posting more of my 2D work lately because I want it to get some light and recognition. I enjoy doing them, and at some point, I would love it if those illustrations made me some money too!

Music has always been a passion of mine as well. I LOVE LOVE LOVE electronic music, specifically progressive house and trance music. I don’t know why, but I am compelled to believe they are the two most inspiring and motivating genres both mathematically and emotionally. I listen to these genres when I work out, drive, longboard. Anything that requires any type of movement towards an end goal. The repetitive elements and rhythms are just enough to shut my brain off and pull me into a zone of “get shit done”. The music I make is somewhere in this area with a little bit more “funk” every now and then. I’m still learning A LOT but I freaking love making music.

I think the fact that I make sure I do so many different things and keep my mind and spirit happy by trying new things is the “true heart of my work”. There’s so much out there, so much humans have created and discovered and explored and I would be a pretty lousy human if I didn’t give my brain the drug it needs and explore and discover more than just what’s immediately in front of me. (This is just the definition for a human for myself.) I have always lived by the code of “curiosity and experimentation,” and I hope this persists til I die because it’s been very good for me so far.

I saw you quoted in the Daily Dot from an article in 2016 where you stated that, “I don’t want to be working on anyone else’s story or art”. This is such a powerful declaration, and I’d love to hear more.

Well, who would?! I don’t mind helping others with their story or popping in as a side character that dies off in the next chapter, but there’s not enough time to help someone else live their story and try to pop back in for my own. I won’t and cannot be a sidekick in the story of “Tyler Thrasher,” and it breaks my heart when I see someone being a sidekick in their own story. This doesn’t mean you should live selfishly and have a complete disregard for others. It’s the opposite. I don’t think all good stories could exist without others. We need other people, creatures, and entities to help us along, and we need to help others along. Just make sure you aren’t living someone else’s story and neglecting your own. That sounds a little preachy. hahaha.

Another thing I meant by this is in regard to my degree. I got my degree in Computer Animation at Missouri State University. I was wildly convinced that I wanted to be an animator and make stories. That was until my school made the tragic mistake of bringing in an animator to talk about his career and life. And it was miserable. Possibly the saddest artist I had ever listened to. We were told that animators often work 60+ hours a week on average and on projects that meant absolutely nothing to them. This particular animator mentioned how he spent most of his conscious week working on Dora the Explorer and Zhu Zhu pets and I could’ve wept for him. I asked him if he had time for his own work and with a very tired sigh, he said “no.” I knew immediately that this was a bullshit scam and I wasn’t having any of it. I declared that day that I would be a freelance self-employed artist who would not work on anyone else’s story. I would work my ass off if I had to in order to make sure that part of my work remained pure and untouched by Dora and her evil companions.

I told my professors my goal, and they gave me a very nervous look. We had an assignment to come up with a four-year plan outside of school, who we wanted to work with and for, and what we wanted to be doing. I didn’t even turn in the paper. I just said, “I want to work for myself.” I, of course, failed that assignment, but I was honest and true to myself. I didn’t and don’t want to live selfishly. I want to inspire and help those around me, and I want to be inspired by those around me. I just don’t think the world needs more people working on Dora the Explorer. We’ve given her too much of our time, and I guarantee you no kids are waiting around for the newest story-breaking episode. They’re not even played linearly. The kids will be ok with the same 200 episodes we’ve made already, haha. I have a deep respect for the animations and projects individuals all agree to work on together and with passion. I have very little affinity or respect towards the studio or warehouse that pumps out the same empty project just to keep the artists busy, children distracted, and parents spending money.

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All photos courtesy Tyler Thrasher. 

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30 Jul

“Incense” by Bela de Takach von Gyongos-Halasz, 1910; illustration from Penrose’s Pictorial Annual 1910-11 (Percy Lund Humphries & Co Ltd, London, 1911).Given by the artist to Annie Besant, British theosophist, writer, and women’s rights activist.

Hermès Un Jardin à Cythère is a fragrance I’d originally seen mentioned by LC of nearlynoseblind on TikTok, and all I really recalled was that it had notes of pistachio but that it smelled of olive oil cake. I have baked dozens of olive oil cakes by this point in my life, and so upon smelling the perfume was immediately able to make that connection…which was both exciting and a little irksome because did it actually smell like that, or did I just have it in my head that it smelled like that, because I’d already internalized that tidbit? And also, I couldn’t very well review it as such, because someone else had already used the same words [EDIT: I published this post without realizing I never finished this review. I am suffering from a bit of grief brain, and I don’t remember my thoughts, but if you want to watch my TikTok review, I did actually have a few ideas earlier in the month. TLDR; it smells like Icelandic Jólakaka.]

 Mistpouffer from Stora Skuggan smells of cool, sweet, powdery porcelain, dainty and delicate like a small ivory sculpted ballerina on a shelf, but there’s a weirdly mineralic, off-kilter herbal note as well, wrapped up in a bit of foggy fluff, almost like a little gossamer candy-floss salted black licorice bouquet. Ultimately it reminds me of the ceramic Broken Ladies of artist Jessica Harrison–charmingly feminine figurines, bloodied with intricate anatomical horrors–perhaps a bit too much for sensitive types, but those of you who dig macabre delights will love these twisted ceramic beauties. And I think that’s what Mistpouffer is, too: a soft, subtly twisted beauty.

Even though I have always wished it were otherwise, I have never sniffed a precious jewel, glimmering gem, or polished stone that smelled of anything in particular–even though the dazzling drama in those crystalline depths seem to promise, at least to me, that these geological treasures should somehow be radiating the most marvelous perfumes. Alas! Nope! It is sadly a wish I’ve long let go. Sphinx Skin, however, rekindles this daydream in the most fantastical and feverish ways, because I’m absolutely certain that if a moody, golden topaz had a scent? It would be the smoky umbral honey, spectral shed snakeskin musk of Sphinx Skin, a collaboration between bloodmilk and Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: heady, tobacco-infused amber with subtly shifting floral vanilla facets, a rich, sticky, resinous vein of dragon’s blood, and the faint, slithering earthiness of patchouli, dark, damp, rooty, and grounding. Formed from crystals in cooling magma (or so I understand), if we are being real here, topaz probably smells of the fumes and vapors wafting amongst the igneous cavities in which it grows, but here, in the surreal secrecy of our intimate cocoon, where the writer and reader connect via a shared dream and can believe as we please – let’s choose to believe in exquisite lapidary aroma magic, and that a glowing sphere of topaz smells like a small bottle of Sphinx Skin.

Green Spell from Eris Parfums is as if a celestial being of 100% chlorophyll descended from the heavens, its wings a crushing flutter of many leaves, broad and flat, delicate and curled, waxen, rubbery, pliant, radiating every variation of veridian. In a voice like seeping moss, like eroding rock, like insect wings disintegrating into the earth, it whispers to you, “Like, be not afraid, or whatever.” It’s the endless trailing succulent stem of a bittersweet pennywort patch through the soil until you reach a darkly massive gnashing malachite rootball nightmare. You awake with emerald scratchings on your palm and jade lashings of fern in your teeth.

Nightingale from Zoologist is, on paper, something I initially wouldn’t have thought my cup of tea–but that just goes to show what I know. This is an opulent mossy plum blossom with bitter, earthy oud, and hints of a sour, lemony geranium–like rose. It’s being referred to as a pink floral chypre which, probably because of my associations with all things pink, rings frilly and frivolous for what turns out to be a breathtakingly stunning fragrance with an unexpected complexity that translates into something profoundly emotional. In reading an interview with the perfumer, I learned that the inspiration for this perfume was an ancient poem written by Fujiwara no Kenshi, sister to the empress at that time. The empress was apparently trading her imperial duties for Buddhist vows, and upon her departure, her sister gifted her an agarwood rosary wrapped in a box with ribbons and a branch of plum blossom and read to her a poem she had written: “Soon you will be wearing a black robe and enter nunhood. You will not know each rosary bead has my tears on it.” In this scent, I truly experience a sense of love, loss, sisterhood, and yearning, and somehow, through that perspective, I even feel an existential sadness regarding the transient nature of time and existence. What an extraordinary, evocative fragrance.

Sometime in the last few weeks, I wrote about Nightingale, which I was very impressed with, and today I am wearing Sacred Scarab, which, while equally impressive, is the one I can actually see myself wearing. Nightingale is like the elegant gown you save for special occasions (although I don’t really believe in saving things for special occasions, but just go with it), and Sacred Scarab is, for me, the frock that gets covered in dirt and gravy because I never want to take it off. One of the scents wears me more than I’m wearing it, but the other just sort of…IS me. And what does that mean, anyway? Sacred Scarab is a scent of bitter, lemony aldehydes and earthy, murky, dusky musks, and when I say earthy, I don’t mean damp, loamy garden soil, but rather dusty clay, and subterranean strata of sedimentary rock, digging so far down into the earth you encounter tenebrous geological formations and stygian crystalline structures, ostensibly connected to the earth’s deep history–and yet to your unbelieving eyes and mine, wholly alien and otherworldly. It’s a fragrance that evokes at least a minor feeling of, if not the reality of a crumbling collapse of space and time, the prelude to the ecstatic rites of an ancient mystery cult of earth and stone. That initial mineralogical melodrama is breathtaking, and I probably enjoy those 15-20 minutes of the fragrance best, but the next stage and the dry down, a sort of “burnished date/sticky raisin resin incense scattered in the dry wood of a smooth cedar dish” vibe, is lovely as well and worth the wait, if you find the early sniffs are too overwhelming. I can’t decide if this scent is a prayer, protest, comfort, or curse, and I deeply love the unknowable mystery of that.


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