Bone Records

Someday, when I have more money to spend, I would love to collect Roentgenizden, or bone records.

For quite a while after World War II, the Soviet Union had a black market record trade. A whole host of songs and musicians, even homegrown Soviet songs and musicians, were banned for various reasons, so people had to pass the music among themselves. Record players could be put together at home, but vinyl for pressing records was much harder to come by, so creative music lovers used x-ray plates instead. They called them bone records, or ribs, or Roentgenizden (after Wilhelm Roentgen, who discovered x-rays), and they’re beautiful. I love the haunting images x-rays produce, and I love the history and the dedication to music behind bone records.

Unfortunately, after all this time they’re also a bit rare and expensive. You can find them on eBay but they’ll cost you quite a bit. I doubt they’ll get any cheaper, since there’s now a book (available used) on bone records and a documentary going around the international film festivals as we speak.

 

I just got the book in the mail but I haven’t sat down to read it yet. It’s part coffee table book and part history of bone records. I’m excited to get into it.

How about all of you? Is there something you’d love to collect that you just can’t afford? Would you buy a bone record if you could? I have an x-ray of my kid’s broken arm but I think she’d be mad if I turned it into art. It’s not her fondest memory.

I’m a Unicorn!

I’ve always had thick curly black hair, the worst for dyeing fun colors. I’m also a cheapskate, so I do it all at home. It gets crazy sometimes. Here’s my latest hair adventure in three easy steps, so you can try it at home. 😉

Step 1:

Bleach roots (and remnants of previous colors) using Splat Null bleach. Use it because it’s cheap and available at a store nearby. Use two boxes because it sucks. Be unsatisfied at how terribly uneven your hair still looks.

Step 2:

Resort to the internet. Order Manic Panic Flash Lightening and hope the touch-up process doesn’t ruin your hair. Be pleased that Manic Panic gives you more bleach and a nice plastic cap, but rush the job because you’re afraid that even more bleaching will turn your hair into brittle, untouchable bits of straw. End up with much better but still slightly uneven hair. Remind yourself to skip straight to Manic Panic next time.

Step 3:

You will ultimately want your hair to be bright stoplight red, but next week is “pool week” for your kids and you don’t want the chlorine to ruin a perfectly beautiful red dye job. Instead, survey your collection of half-empty bottles of fantasy colors and settle on Special Effects Purple Smoke. This bottle is pretty full and you’ve been wanting to try it. Spread it as evenly as possible on your hair, brush it in for better coverage, watch the color separate into a unicorn rainbow of lavender, pink, and blue (with bare blonde spots) for no particular reason. Sigh and decide to live with it. You’ve done enough hair adventuring for one week.

I can’t decide how I feel about this unicorn hair. I usually go for bright red or dark purple (or my classic natural black), but this is growing on me. Maybe I have an inner pastel goth trying to get out.

Alice in Wonderland Pillows

I needed throw pillows. I have a bad habit of propping my feet up on the coffee table, and throw pillows make that more comfortable. Yes, I know, I could be classy and get an ottoman or a footstool or just put my feet on the floor where they belong, but I’m a rebel! I’m a spooky queen of the night and I put my feet where I please!

So right now I’m putting my feet on my brand new Alice in Wonderland pillow, delivered straight to my door by Cafepress.* I like Cafepress for stuff like this kind of basic stuff–their prices are pretty reasonable and I like browsing through all the designs for the perfect ones. The pillow inserts are a good amount of squishy and the cotton covers are pretty nice. they’re smooth and decently made, and the printing on all the covers is pretty crisp and looks like the online photos.

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I’m not sure why I had Alice on the brain, but it turns out Mr. Robot and I both have entirely different favorite quotes from it. Perfect. His favorite is the left, mine the right. I love that they had a design with the longer version of the quote.

 

While I was browsing I also saw a pair of skull and crossbones Christmas designs I just couldn’t live without. I only ordered the covers (planning to just put them on the regular pillows around Halloween) but Cafepress sent me complete pillows, so maybe they’ll live downstairs in the rec room instead. If you look, you can tell the skull Christmas tree isn’t quite centered properly. That’s a tiny bit sad but not bad enough to send it back. I figure the two extra inserts they sent makes up for it.

 

*As usual, this post is not sponsored in any way.

 

Ghostland

Thanks to Septicemia’s post, I’ve been watching Ask a Mortician all afternoon. When I got to the episode on Open Eye Wakes and Body Farms, she plugged a friend’s book and I realized that Hot Damn I Read That One! We’re kindred spirits!
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I read Ghostland: an American History in Haunted Places last October, before I started this blog, so I didn’t think to write about it. I loved it, though, so I’m writing about it now. A lot of “haunted America” type books are just story collections, and while I like that, I loved that this book was so much more. It discusses what kinds of ghost stories we tell and why we tell them. It’s less ‘history of ghosts’ and more ‘how we use ghosts stories to deal with our history.’

It’s not a dry-but-thorough examination of American hauntings, but more a series of musings about famously haunted places and what the stories tell us about their history. It was a relaxing pre-Halloween read, and especially good for those who like a spooky atmosphere without too much blood and gore. Be warned, though, that it does have some discussion of slavery, and slavery is always hard to stomach.

If you know and like U.S. history and culture at all, this book is a fresh and interesting way of looking at it. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get beyond the stories and look at why we tell them in the first place.

The Darkling Tag

Ooh, this one looks so fun! I read it on Septicemia’s blog and the Mad Magpie  and just had to copy them join in. I’ve been a bit down today and this (plus the lovely clouds outside) ought to cheer me right up.

  1. What is your favorite candle scent? Scented candles give my husband migraines, so officially my favorite is unscented. Unofficially, I like evergreen.
  2. Do you have a favorite book? Not just one, no. Don’t be silly. But I love Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits a whole lot. I tend to go through phases with authors, so I guess this is my David Wong phase. I had a Kurt Vonnegut phase in high school, a Haruki Murakami phase in and after college, a Roddy Doyle phase around the same time. I had a brief Shirley Jackson phase a few years ago. I never really grew out of my Neil Gaiman phase . . . I could go on, but there are a lot more questions to be answered.
  3. Are you a tea or coffee person? Coffee with real half-and-half and NO SUGAR! Or peppermint tea if I’m sad or sick.
  4. What is your favorite brand and color of lipstick? Currently, Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid in Red Punch. Kind of a scabby brick red that stays on well.
  5. What is your favorite perfume or cologne? Same problem as scented candles, so none. My conditioner smells like rosemary and mint, but that’s as good as I can smell without getting divorced. 😦
  6. Do you have a celebrity crush? Nope. Not really.
  7. If you had to give up the color black, what color would you choose instead? To decorate my house I’d choose red. Red, red, red. To wear I’d probably choose gray. Does gray count? If gray doesn’t count I’d probably choose red to wear, too.
  8. If you could change your name to a stereotypical 1990s/2000s goth name, what would it be? The gothic name generator gave me Entropy Striker, which is better than anything I ever came up with. I’m embarrassed to admit that I really had a cheesy goth name in the late ’90s, online at least. Once upon a time I was Shards of Glass. So dark!
  9. What are your top three tips for surviving hot weather while black clad? Billowy dresses, thin fabrics, and air conditioning. It gets to 100 degrees F (38 C) here pretty regularly, so I try to just stay in during the day and early evening.
  10. What song will always make you happy (doesn’t have to be a goth band)? Shreikback’s Nemesis does a pretty good job. I also secretly love the B-52s when I’m down.
  11. Are you active in the arts (ex. play and instrument, paint, write, etc.)? Not particularly. I write decently when I get around to it. I crochet and knit and I can sew a tiny bit.
  12. If you had a teacup/mug inscribed just for you, what would it say? It would say “We’re all mad here,” like the Cheshire Cat.
  13. What is your number one non-gothy hobby? I’m a really good cook. I love to look at cooking magazines and try new recipes.
  14. If you could be a supernatural creature, what would you be and why? This is a tough one, they’re all so cool. A sexy-but-deadly succubus. Or a cruel but beautiful fairy queen.
  15. What horror monster-based power would you have? I’d like to hypnotize people with my eyes the way Dracula does. That would be cool.
  16. Do you feel confident or comfortable interacting with other goths/gothy people? I have the same problems with everyone. I think there are goths like, an hour away from me but I’ve never bothered to find out for sure.
  17. Which is more important for a look: great hair or great makeup? I’m not great with either, but I admire people with great hair.
  18. Is there something you wish there was more of in your subculture? Book clubs. 🙂 That would make me finish rereading Wuthering Heights. But seriously, goths should take a cue from regular geeks–just relax and be more open.
  19. Care to share an embarrassing story relating to your “darkliness”? Isn’t it enough that I told you my ’90’s “goth name”? I’m almost sorry now that my website of dark poems no longer exists–I was such a goth cliche for a while.
  20. How are you at DIY? Not good. That’s why I save money and pay people on Etsy to DIY for me.
  21. Quickly describe your ideal wedding: If we could do it all over again we’d probably do the actual marriage as simply as possible, then throw a casual party afterward. Preferably a Halloween party.

True or False:

  • I love watching cheesy romance films: No I do not. Unless there are vampires involved.
  • I ALWAYS remember to wash off my makeup at night: Yes, I really do.
  • I sleep with plushies: Technically true. I have a Darth Vader tsum tsum I use as an arm pillow.
  • I wear non-black pjs most nights: False
  • I still listen to a boy band that had disbanded years ago: False. I’ll bite anyone who suggests differently.
  • I think Andrew Eldritch is overrated: False. Andrew Eldritch is correctly rated as pretty awesome.
  • I don’t like vampires: False
  • I don’t like clubs: True. Too old, don’t care.
  • I’m dating a goth/darkly-inclined person: False. I’m married to a total nerd.
  • I don’t enjoy graveyards: False. Graveyards are nice.
  • Blood makes me queasy: Mostly false
  • I’d sooner faint than pet a spider: True. I love looking but don’t want to touch.
  • I don’t like haunted houses: Like, actually haunted or commercial? We have a ton of Spook Alleys here and I just don’t care about them anymore. But actual historical haunted houses, those are cool.
  • I still browse Hot Topic’s clearance racks: Haven’t set foot in a Hot Topic for at least 10 years.
  • I’ve never read Dracula:  False. I’m up on my gothic classics.
  • I think “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is a long & boring song: True. Sorry. It’s fun to dance to, but I wouldn’t just sit and listen to it.

alice

 

Room 1408

Hi, I’m still alive. First I was traveling, then I was hosting family, and now I’m finally getting back to my normal routine. My travels weren’t very spooky, but I did stay in a c1408movieursed hotel room for three nights.

Ever seen the movie 1408? I did, years ago. It’s based on a Stephen King story about a haunted hotel room. It was an okay movie, as I recall. Anyhow, my son and I went to Detroit for a tournament and stayed at the MGM Grand, in room 1408. Something about the number rang a bell, but I didn’t connect it until the morning we left. Now, I’m not saying I believe in curses, but a number of stange things did happen . . . our key refused to work, someone tried to break into our room at midnight (they were given room 1403, according to the desk, but their card clearly said 1408), they checked us out a day early and almost threw all our stuff away, and the staff was very unfriendly about most of this. It’s almost as if they knew the room was cursed and were trying to warn us off.

Or maybe they’re just bad at their jobs. Either way, I’m playing it safe and avoiding that hotel forever.

And now that I’ve either properly spooked you or made you sad about bad hotel service, I’ll give you a couple pictures of my and the same son visiting family in Baltimore. I look fat and sweaty and I didn’t even bother with makeup in that heat but my hair is a wonderful Nuclear Red, so that’s nice. Now that I’m back, I really need to redo my color and maybe bother to look nice once in a while, but all I’ve really done so far is clean house and start a new crochet project. I’ll try to be more interesting next time. Maybe.

 

Band Camp

ikeaI’ve been caught up in life stuff. We all have it; I don’t have to explain, right? I’ve been figuring things out, getting things done, and Band Camp has been getting me through.

I actually have a friend who produces on Band Camp. She’s a great person, but her music is a bit bright and folksy for my taste. (Still, if bright and folksy is your thing, give it a listen!)

Me, I’ve always run towards metal and alternative, but lately I’m all about dark cabaret and dark ambient. If you’re not Evelyn Evelyn, Kim Boekbinder* Atrium Carceri, or Kammarheit, lately I’ve not much use for you.

I’m no expert in either genre, but dark cabaret cheers me up as much as anything can, and dark ambient is the bleak soundtrack to every soul-sucking thing I have to get done. Everything is more exciting with something like these in the background. And sometimes that’s what you get–a cool soundtrack to your boring, frustrating life.

Hope everyone’s life is going well. And if it’s not, I hope you at least have a good soundtrack to your troubles. Catch you soon.

*Kim Boekbinder came out of Vermillion Lies, which was more or less dark cabaret, but she’s more than that. As most of us are.

Bat and Butterfly: Keeping House with Non-Goths

I’ve been revamping our bathroom. It’s slow going because I’m fitting it around a bunch of other obligations, but it’s happening. Piece by piece, our bathroom plan is taking shape.

Mr. Robot is not goth. He loves and accepts me enough that if I really really needed to paint our walls black and perch gargoyles everywhere he would support me, but he wouldn’t really enjoy it. We compromise–some things are lighter than I’d like, some things are darker than he’d like, and on some things (taxidermy and fantasy/horror landscapes) we agree.

mysterious marshAs for the bathroom, we’ve agreed for ages that it looked boring and a bit shabby, and a few months ago I discovered that fantasy shower curtains exist and my plan began to take shape. I was tempted by the graveyard scenes and spooky woodland scenes, but that was too much for Robot and the kids, so we settled on a green “mysterious marsh.”

Putting that up inspired us to finally replace our faucet (very old and starting to fall apart) and finally buy a proper soap dispenser and a few other odds and ends. Mr. Robot and I usually agree when it comes to vintage looks, so I’m aiming for a cross between Plantation style (bright colors and dark accents) and “old farmhouse” style. Lucky for us, oiled bronze and antique touches seem popular right now so stuff we both liked was easy to find.

The next, and biggest, step was the painting. I finally found a Saturdafaucety to paint the walls “Simply Seafoam” green and one of these days I’ll get the doors painted “Churchill Hotel Vanilla.” We don’t have the time or money to replace the worn floor or ivory-and-blue countertop, so we picked the paint to work with those.

One of these days I’ll probably get a new light fixture and maybe some matching towel racks, and I already have a plan for decorating the walls. I want to put up some vintage black-and-white photos, with black frames and mattes to look like antique scrapbook pages. I was searching the internet for vintage photos to buy and then realized how silly it is to buy photos when I already have a bunch of antique photos of my actual ancestors I should use. I’m excited to get it done, but I won’t have time to start for at least a week. I’ll be sure to update with the final results.

The paint color changes with the light and my camera had a hard time deciding how to capture that shade. The bat was my touch–vynil sticker on the mirror–and the butterfly was Mr. Robot’s choice. I’m actually the one who bought it, years ago on a whim, and I didn’t know he even cared about it. As soon as the walls were dry, though, he was eager to get it back up where it’s always been. Now the butterfly and the bat are friends.

Darklings with Little Darklings

glamazon2My parents had strict standards for schoolwork, for church attendance, for what they considered good character, but they didn’t much care what their kids looked like. Their attitude was more or less “if you can get a good job looking like that, go ahead and look like that.” It’s worked pretty well for me and my siblings so far.

I raise my kids with much the same philosophy. I don’t care much for church attendance, but I expect a certain amount of responsibility and what I consider good character. As long as they meet those, I’m not too worried about what they look like or listen to or watch on TV.* My goal is to let my kids be themselves, but with enough drive and discipline to be the best versions of themselves.

halloween2016So far, my kids aren’t particularly goth. Sure, they’d look cute in all black, with stripy tights or little Wednesday Addams dresses, but they’re not into it. I guess as a parent I have every right to dress my kids in what I think is adorable–they have several friends whose mothers pick their outfits every day–but it goes against my principles. I impose a lot of things on my kids, but I draw the line at imposing a style on them. They know who I am and what I’m into, and once in a while our tastes agree, but they know they’re free to like what they like without judgment. Even if what they like is pastels and Taylor Swift.

That said, they do indulge mommy’s obsession with halloween fun. halloween2015

*They’re still pre-teens, so I do put some limits on this stuff, but I try to be as flexible as I reasonably can. 

Day 28: An Outfit I’m Ashamed Of?

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high school

I can’t think of one outfit I’m ashamed of or embarrassed by. I guess some people look back at old photos with a “what was I thinking?!!?!” attitude and some goth and alternative types are a bit embarrassed by their more “normal” pictures, but I don’t feel that way at all.

I, like most people, was really insecure about my looks when I was younger. I worried a lot that I wasn’t thin enough, not cool enough, didn’t fit in, didn’t stand out, whatever. I grew up before digital cameras so I don’t have a ton of pictures of those days, but when I look back now I wonder what I was so insecure about. I would still wear some of those outfits.

Since I don’t have any shame shots to post, I thought I’d show you

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college–I’m in the middle

what I looked like before I got so old and fat. Again, I came up before digital cameras, so these are pictures of actual photos I keep in a box in my basement. Apologies for the quality; these were the best I could do.

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I look like a hippie in this one. See my gothy looking friend? She’s all conservative and boring now. So sad.
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I kind of miss that jacket. And the hat. And my old Docs.