Thursday, January 15, 2015

PENMANSHIP 101

Yes, actual cursive!

A couple of months ago I was trying to read my own handwriting and was struggling to make out the scribble, as usual.  I suddenly realized how depressing that was.  I never had beautiful handwriting but  what it had degraded into was so far from art and culture that I was ashamed.  Yes, shame on me for being so lazy and pudgy and sloppy and, well, modern. 
I love gorgeous handwriting and calligraphy and always find scenes in movies that show a lot of handwritten notes and people at their writing desks to be quite sexy.  And here my lazy modern scribble was a distinct mockery of that romantic art.  Something needs to be done!


I started using these children's practice sheets ( you can get here).  Exactly like grade school worksheets with the dotted line in the middle.  They're awesome!  It's actually really fun being back in first grade.  Especially with no teacher and no smarty pants with excellent penmanship to make you feel under pressure.  You realize the genius in that paper with the top and bottom bold line and the fainter broken line in the middle.  You have no choice but to make your letters the proper size.  I can remember dying to get to use the regular 'college ruled' paper like my older brother and sister.  I just didn't appreciate how good I had it ; )


The next thing I did was to start writing letters to a friend a few states away.  We text all the time, of course and the 'pen pal' thing is one way ( not everyone wants to get down and dirty with stationary, stamps, mailboxes...).  But I'm committed.  It has been several months and I have written a letter a week.  And I have improved.  I am now kind of proud of my envelopes and I hilariously fret over which stamps to buy.


That's right people!  And yes, that round one is a stamp!


I cannot wait to use these.  I just used up my really pretty bird stamps and was thinking I would have to buy something dumb and generic and OMG... classic Batman.
I went through my pen holder and put all the pens into categories of CRAP AND I HATE THESE, GOOD AND I LIKE THESE, and SOMEDAY I WILL GET GOOD ENOUGH FOR THESE.
as follows:


I can't imagine a pen I hate writing with more than the TD Bank pen.  And I have tons of them.


I totally thought I lost my silver Tiffany pen but it turns out it was just really tarnished and in my pen holder the whole time.  I polished it up for the photo.


These disposable fountain pens are inexpensive and very nice but for some reason my handwriting always looks shaky and I make mistakes more often than with a ball point.  I assume it's because those pens make me nervous somehow, like they are a little out of my league.  But I will continue this discipline until I have flawless writing and can get up the nerve to try a real fountain pen.


Oh yes, this will be me.


And then one day I will be sending some very, very classy mail indeed.

Monday, December 15, 2014

IT'S TIME TO CHRISTMAS-UP THE PLACE!!!

this is not my house, but I almost wish it was...

It really seems like there are way less decorations everywhere I go than usual.  The skimpy tree and one single strand of garland is almost worse than nothing at all.  I don't know if it's a symptom of PC non-Christian corporate policy kind of thing or just laziness or actual flat our apathy... But it really sucks.  So, even though Christmas is only 10 days away, it's not too late to do your part.  Throw a party!  Invite everyone over and make decorations, make cookies, make punch, make MERRY!!!


I had my tree trimming party over the weekend and I made this non-alcoholic punch which I highly recommend.  Of course you can serve all the booze you want but this punch is seriously thirst quenching and the kids will get a nice sugar rush : )


I also made these chewy molasses cookies.  The recipe is here.  Make sure to have a lot of milk on hand because these cookies beg for it.


I found these adorable nutcracker cupcake wrappers at Target.  I just made chocolate cake from a mix and buttercream frosting then pressed a handful of shredded coconut from Trader Joe's into the frosting.  Pretty and delicious!


Don't forget the classic popcorn and cranberry garland!  I think it totally makes the tree complete.  Just pop the cheap grocery store bag of corn the day ahead of your party.  It's much easier to string when they are a bit stale as they don't split as easily when you stick the needle through.


I bought some boxes of plain Christmas balls in red, silver, and clear and glue and glitter.  Some people are a bit more successful at this craft than others : ))  But everyone has fun trying!


Pandora has a multitude of Christmas playlists.  My favorite one is called Christmas Radio.  And if the tree and baking aren't enough to fill the house with scent it's both pretty and tasty to light a bunch of scented candles - pine, cinnamon, apple etc.  It hardly costs anything to do this.
I almost feel like the movie Elf where I am trying to save Christmas spirit to make Santa's sleigh fly! Come on everyone, I'm not singing all by myself, I know you're out there!!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

PERFUME UPDATE

Glass perfume bottle by Roger Gandelman

I am inspired to write this little "update" (my last perfume post was 2 1/2 years ago...) by the commitment I have just made to my 20015 New Years Resolution.  I am finally going to finish the natural perfume course that I started 4 years ago.  I have begun revisiting Fragrantica, a site I have been a member of for around 4 years.  I have posted about a dozen reviews over there... 12 divided by 4... Yeah.  Not exactly diving in head first to the perfume pool.  So, now that I have announced my commitment to the Internet, it's time to pick up the pace.


Top Notes: Green Leaves; Bergamot
Middle Notes: Lily-of-the-Valley; Lilac; Jasmine*
Base Notes; Sandalwood; Civet
*the middle notes other than these take a neutral stand for me so I'm skipping them in my list

Diorissimo was created in 1956 and is centered around Christian Dior's favorite flower - Lily-of-the-Valley.  He was kind of obsessed.  It has wonderful folklore in France and is symbolic of hope, happiness and joy.  This scent, it would follow, evokes such feelings.  Especially if you are French. And from the 50s.  And are lucky enough to have a bottle of the 'original recipe'.  It seems in these modern times Lily-of-the-Valley is synthetic, as is civet.  That said, the modern version is still giving it's all to make Christian Dior full of joy, wherever he may be.  The scent is very Euro/French/lunch at a Parisian bistro/Springtime/riverbank/gloves/snappy little dress... It's 50s Dior!  In other words-awesome!




Top Notes: Bergamot; Orange Blossom
Middle Notes: White Flowers; Musk
Base Notes: Leather; Wood

Gucci Premiere was created in 2010 and is supposed to invoke the red carpet experience... Not for me.  First of all, the 'red carpet experience' for most of us is not terribly exciting.  And the words 'red carpet' evoke the scent of desperation, synthetic aspiration, and prescriptive meds.  Not really a good perfume experience.  Luckily this scent was inaccurately named.  I like it very much.  It is a romantic night out kind of scent.  Soft, sexy, powdery, gentle.  Way too intimate for the red carpet.  I picture an art deco dressing room with a small window open and a breeze fluttering the curtains while a woman of substance sits at her vanity, fixing her lipstick and layering that last spritz of Gucci Premiere before stepping out for an evening to remember.  An evening that does not include photographers.




Top Notes: Pink Pepper; Lotus Flower; Orange Blossom
Middle Notes: Pink Peony; Wild Rose
Base Notes: Amber; Musk; Blonde Woods

David Yurman's Delicate Essence is a fresh floral that is indeed delicate.  With it's main flower being Rose it does not scream Rose, as many others do.  I like this scent as a daytime, even morning, scent.  It is sort of dreamy but also clean and thoughtful.  It was inspired by the gemstone Pink Tourmaline which I like quite a bit so I think the inspiration was a success.


Top Notes: Bergamot; Mandarin; Lychee; Lily-of-the-Valley
Middle Notes: Tuberose
Base Notes: Caramel; Sandalwood; Vanilla; Musk

Dolce and Gabbana - The One Desire is delicious.  I would call this a gourmand even though it's categorized a floral oriental.  The caramel and vanilla are enough to make you think of dessert.  In a good way.  Like a gorgeous chocolate bite with a glass of champagne or a sweet after dinner wine... I don't know.  Something to do with a fantastic dinner and now it's time for a yummy sensual lingering treat.  That's this perfume.  Actually, I could imagine falling asleep after a lovely evening like that and still having a bit of this on my wrist to send me off to a perfect sleep.  ( And the bottle is gorgeous!)

I do love perfume.  I have no idea why it has taken me forever to finish my perfumery course ( which is complete when I create my own scent!) but I will surely be posting more fragrance reviews in 2015!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

RUMI V RILKE

*the internet lives of two great poets-





























































































I thought maybe Rumi v Rilke would be a good idea for Epic Rap Battles of History.  Lots of material... some of this poetic soul-searching seems to bother some people though...


































There's always a bitter smart-ass in every crowd!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The History of Goth



Goth·ic
ˈɡäTHik/
of or in the style of architecture prevalent in western Europe in the 12th–16th centuries, characterized by pointed arches, rib vaults, and flying buttresses, together with large windows and elaborate tracery.



Goth culture or the Gothic Scene has it's history in history.  Today's Goths owe their existence to the 1980s but the scene itself derives it's motifs and aesthetic from Gothic architecture; poets Lord Byron, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Edgar Allan Poe; and fashion from Victorian mourning attire.  These are the roots of the culture.  The early years...


The character Lydia Deetz, spectacularly played by Winona Ryder in the 1988 film Beetlejuice, is the golden standard of the teenage Goth girl.  She's wonderfully melodramatic and melancholic, she contemplates suicide, her best friends are two ghosts that live in the attic, she dresses with such beautiful dark creative style and is startlingly childish and womanly simultaneously... and no one in her household takes her at all seriously.  She is the ultimate troubled teen.  But she is also very smart and caring and amazingly love able.


Of course Siouxie Sioux had already perfected the look in the late 70s.  But there was no 'Goth' scene at that time.  She was just doing her thing.  And so was the Cure and a couple of years later Bauhaus.  They were creating the Goth music scene unintentionally.  Or at least without corroborating with one another.


The sudden interest which quickly became an obsession with vampires coincided with the dark music scene in it's timing.  Anne Rice's book Interview with the Vampire was first published in 1976.  It gained popularity and became a component of this scene.  The gorgeously stylish, clubby, original and sexy movie The Hunger came out in 1983.  It was the first of an endless stream of sexy, stylish vampire movies.  But The Hunger can never be topped if for no other reason than it featured Peter Murphy on stage in the night club scene at the beginning singing Bela Lugosi's Dead.





The 80s took Goth from a handful of 'gloom and doomers' to a full on sub culture.  By 1991 they had a LARP game all their own called Vampire the Masquerade, 1993 gave the world Jack and Sally via The Nightmare Before Christmas and 1994 was the year Interview With the Vampire came out on the big screen.  The normal world was now aware of the Goth kids.  


Then the whole beautiful dark and lonely scene sort spiralled out of control in the mid '90s with episodes of Jerry Springer featuring Goth kids and the final death knell... Hot Topic.  




Well, that's my version of the History of Goth.  If you don't like it - bite me!
Happy Halloween kids!

Friday, October 3, 2014

F.Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton,Evelyn Waugh: Apocalypse Now!

'What fresh Hell is this?'  - D.Parker

Many people feel, and rightly so, that the current 21st century is the beginning of the Apocalypse.  Lots of people are 'prepping' for the endgame.  There is much concern over the world view - global politics, global economics, global warming... All very dire and very urgent.

I have done some research and deduced from said research that the 'beginning of the end' actually started at the outset of the 20th century.  My extensive research involving novels and short stories from such authors as Fitzgerald, Wharton and Waugh.

Edith Wharton is especially important because she gives us an incredibly personal and  detailed account of the daily lives and habits of the old ruling New York 'Society' of which she was actually a member ( and a wonderfully gifted writer!).  We get a glimpse of the routine and lifestyle of the very structured and solid and seemingly permanent elite class of Americans who got caught in the early 1900s with their proverbial pants down by the new and unpredictable 'youth movement' that in very little time erased all that was meaningful and holy to these refined and tasteful clans.

- It is worth mentioning that the 'Jazz Age' was accompanied by a distinct interest in and frequent use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine and heroin.


What looks to us now as fun times, fashion and carefree spirits was actually in many cases a very speedy decline into hospital, a 'long rest' with 'relatives' in 'Italy' or a quiet family funeral.  The times were 'fast' and so was the damage.  Lost fortunes, unwanted pregnancies, dis-inherited socialites... Very messy.  F. Scott Fitzgerald favors these kinds of stories.  ( and yes, the coats and hats are amazing!)
We can relate to this narcissistic escapism and extremely reckless behavior of the 'bright young things' because teens and college kids have never stopped behaving this way.  It started then.  And why it started is what concerns me, or rather confuses me.  Also, that it won over very established, very old traditions.  That confounds me.  How did these young drug addicts and malcontents manage to usurp authority?  And why does 'youth culture' remain so powerful...


It seems to rest with disillusionment.  Certainly the 'Big War' had a sobering yet literally inebriating effect on the Euro youth.  I can understand the backlash.  But America was little affected by the war.  We entered late and it was over there.  But we did have the nightmare of Prohibition.  I think Prohibition was one of the worst things to happen to this country.  It created the 'Scofflaws'.  A huge majority of city dwellers who basically scoffed at a law they felt was ridiculous and consequently willingly became law breakers.  This in itself was very damaging.  And probably added to the f--- you behavior of the young flapper crowd.


Before Prohibition women weren't allowed in 'saloons'.  Nor were they ever seen smoking in public.  These behaviors were seen as vulgar and unseemly but in the face of a law that blatantly gives the government the right to dictate morals it seemed the right kind of action.  The wild partying and promiscuous clothing just sort of followed along that law breaking vein.



Next thing you know the 'Selfie' generation was born.  Hollywood stars and movie magazines as well as gossip pages of crazy nightlife took over the general mindset of the young and bored pre-depression American.  And there was no turning back.  To quote Father Rothschild in Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies, "I know very few young people, but it seems to me that they are all possessed with an almost fatal hunger for permanence."  I would think this goes as well for today's 'young people' and might explain the obsession with capturing every moment of every day in a photo. Yes, Apocalypse Now started then.
The horror, the horror.

                                  **********

Some of my favorite vocabulary from Vile Bodies :

This is really all too bogus.  Don't you think...or don't you?
Too too spirit-crushing
sad-making; shame-making; shy-making and very better-making
it's really such a bore isn't it...or isn't it?