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’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. 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once upon a time I worked at a mental hospital. It’s pretty much all modern and properly hospital-like now, but when I was there it was in the middle of transforming. There were several buildings arranged around a long, straight driveway. The buildings on the left of the driveway were big and modern and reasonably nice. The buildings on the right looked like an old-timey asylum stereotype. I mostly worked in one of the righthand buildings. The haunted one.
I worked days so I never saw anything spooky, but friends on the night shift saw a few things. Mostly in the basement, where the big, empty cafeteria and weird storage cages were. Maybe it was ghosts, maybe it was fatigue and imagination, but if ghosts are real I’m sure that building hosted a few. My favorite story, though, is from after they tore it down. I was working in one of the new, nice buildings and a friend called me over. “Watch this,” she said, and dialed the phone. She called the old building, the one that didn’t exist anymore, and the phone just rang and rang. I guess the ghosts were too busy to answer their ghost phone.
The haunted building may be gone, but there’s still a real “castle” there, way up on the hill behind the main buildings. It’s an outdoor theater built during the Great Depression by one of those New Deal programs, and the hospital used to do a spook alley up there every Halloween. Apparently, it was the only mental hospital spook alley in the country, but I never got to be part of it. They quit doing it just a year or two before I got there. It started in the early 1970s and was incredibly popular, but also became controversial as people worried it might stigmatize mental illness and the hospital’s clients. I see the point, but a lot of the clients I met talked about it fondly and wished they could bring it back.
Since it’s a real hospital that still has residents, Utah State Hospital isn’t listed much on haunting sites. It has a small museum and the castle holds events, but they don’t want people showing up and exploring on their own. It’s a beautiful little place with a fascinating history that most people will never get to explore firsthand.
In all seriousness, it was a pretty cool place to work. It was (and still is) for people who need longer term psychiatric care, so you’d work with the same clients for weeks or months (and years, in some cases) and really get to know some cool people you might not normally meet. I don’t want to compromise anyone’s privacy so I’ll only mention one guy–Pete died quite a while back and I know he wouldn’t mind a shout out. He was pretty well known around Salt Lake City for walking around in a Lucifer costume, with his hair slicked up into devil’s horns. I never saw the outfit, but he had the horns when I knew him–they’d get taller or shorter according to how well he was feeling. I kind of hope he haunts something–he’d be a great ghost to meet. He got a really nice obituary when he died: you can read it here.
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.
Summer always puts me in a Southern Gothic mood. Southern Gothic isn’t exactly goth, but the American deep south is full of beautiful cemetaries, haunted plantation houses, and its own special brand of spooky horror. In all this heat, it’s just hard to concentrate on windswept moors and drafty castles. For summer, give me overgrown cemeteries, farmhouses full of tragic ghosts, and Southern belles wilting in the sultry August evening.
I finished Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil a few weeks ago. (There’s also a movie version I saw long ago in my Kevin Spacey phase.) It’s sort of a “Southern gothic meets true crime” thing and it’s not written by a southerner so it didn’t quite work for me. But it did make me really want to see Savannah, Georgia. Next time I have money I just might take a long weekend, tour Mercer House, stroll through Bonaventure Cemetery, and read my next gothic novel under a tree in one of Savannah’s beautiful squares.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN Burn, Witch, Burn – Episode 305 (Airs Wednesday, November 6, 10:00 PM e/p) –Pictured: (L-R) Jamie Brewer as Nan, Gabourey Sidibe as Queenie, Taissa Farmiga as Zoe — CR. Michele K. Short/FX
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.
What is your favorite candle scent? Scented candles give my husband migraines, so officially my favorite is unscented. Unofficially, I like evergreen.
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.
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.
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.
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. 😦
Do you have a celebrity crush? Nope. Not really.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How are you at DIY? Not good. That’s why I save money and pay people on Etsy to DIY for me.
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.
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 cursed 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.
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.
On rare occasions I splurge and order custom-tailored clothes from eShakti.* Custom tailoring from that distance is not the most precise thing ever, but over time I’ve gotten better and better fit. I don’t know if I’m measuring better or they’re becoming more precise in their tailoring or what (maybe both?) but this latest order came out pretty perfectly.
I’m not feeling up to a full Show and Tell post, and I feel awkwardly materialistic showing off a bunch of stuff at once anyway, so I’ll just slowly unveil my sweet new stuff as I get around to actually wearing it. Today is a bit chilly so I went with this witchy half-sleeved dress. The embroidery reminds me just a bit of Romanian peasant blouses, which reminds me of Dracula. This dress makes me want to put on some Dark Ambient music and mix magic potions. Or maybe dance in the woods in the pale moonlight. Or possibly grab a pitchfork and storm a castle. Whatever. I can do all those things now that I have the right outfit.
The “tree of life” necklace is from Etsy, but it’s old so I can’t remember the exact shop. Sorry.
*Sadly, I’m not famous in the slightest, so eShakti doesn’t sponsor me in any way. I had to pay money like a chump.