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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Out Of Place & Overdressed

(source: 1 | 2 | 3)

A few details that have been keeping the style-oriented side of my mind busy. I really like the idea of cropped pants and cute little ankle boots. It looks comfortable and young and laid-back and it makes everyone look like their own version of a rebellious Victorian news-boy. Then, the bra. I like how it looks so functional and structured and heavy duty... and I like how the knit looks so soft in comparison and how the model has really attractive shoulder blades. It's a very good look, and I won't even pretend I didn't have it in mind last time I went shopping and bought a sweater with a zip-up back. And finally, I've been thinking about pencil skirts, lately. Pencil skirts with combat boots. It's such an unlikely combination, but with the right boots and the right skirt? I think it could work.

And as far as Spring moodboards go, this might just be the most inadequate of all time, but hey... to quote Dan Radcliffe, I tried and therefore no one should criticise me.

Oh, right, and to the portuguese out there... enjoy your April 25th!
Monday, April 22, 2013

A Valiant Effort

I spent my Saturday on my knees, in the dirt, digging around for the remnants of a guinea fowl we buried more than five months ago, on November 4th. It pleases me to say that we found most of the leg bones, squeaky clean, and the skull too, in a nearly perfect state of conservation - it's a miracle, how it survived my senseless shoveling. Though in my defense, I was there for a good hour, hour and a half, with the sun beating down on my neck and shoulders and my dog showing up at random intervals to causa miniature landslides around the edge of the digging site with his massive paws and his massive lack of common sense. To him, I'm sure that constitutes helping.

The downside is that the actual body of the bird was still quite late in the whole decomposition process. Blame the feathers - no one removed them out when the guinea fowl died, because no one actually thought I was planning on digging it back up. Anyway, my sister and I improvised a plucking session with our trusty hand-rakes... meaning, we pulled out everything we could before replacing the soil and saying bye-bye to the Project for a another month or two.

Meanwhile, I have cat bones to clean and hedgehog quills to pick (I found the poor thing, or what was left of it, a couple of weeks ago... it was literally just skin and quills, everything else was gone) and a mallard skull to dig up. But not right now because it's Monday and desk work calls.

Have a wonderful week!

PS - In case you were wondering, the guinea fowl pictured is still very much alive. We got it, along with the now dead one, from the same person, at the same time... it just so happened that one of them died a bit too early. Cause of death, unknown. The family has already entertained the possibility that it might have been killed by some sensitive listener because let's be honest, these are fascinating birds, but they sound just like... imagine elevator music in hell... yes, exactly like that.
Saturday, April 13, 2013

Plenty Of Paper

Back in 2012, I read twenty-two books. I thought that was kind of embarassing.
So for 2013, I set up a goal of fifty.

Let me tell you about the first ten.

The Little Shadows, by Marina Endicott

"The Little Shadows" tells the story of three sisters making their way in the world of vaudeville before and during the First World War. Setting off to make their fortune as a singing act after the untimely death of their father, the girls are overseen by their fond but barely coping Mama. The girls begin with little besides youth and hope but evolve into artists as they navigate their way to adulthood among a cast of extraordinary characters – charming charlatans, unpredictable eccentrics, and some who seem ordinary but have magical gifts.

Genre: Historical Fiction (20th Century Canada)
I found it: extraordinarily boring, with a handful of interesting side characters.

☆ ☆

The Ballad Of The Sad Café & Other Stories, by Carson McCullers

In "The Ballad Of The Sad Café", Miss Amelia, a spirited, unconventional woman, runs a small-town store and, except for a marriage that lasted just ten days, has always lived alone. Then Cousin Lymon appears from nowhere, a little, strutting hunchback who steals Miss Amelia's heart. Together they transform the store into a lively, popular café. But when her rejected husband Marvin Macy returns, the result is a bizarre love triangle that brings with it violence, hatred and betrayal. Six stories by Carson McCullers also appear in this volume.

Genre: Short Stories, Southern Gothic
I found it: beautifully written, but hard to follow?

☆ ☆ ☆

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Genre: Young Adult
I found it: disappointing and unable to live up to the hype, and also, slightly pretentious.

☆ ☆ ☆

Disturbed By Her Song, by Tanith Lee

"Disturbed By Her Song" collects the work of Esther Garber and her half-brother Judas Garbah, the mysterious family of writers that Tanith Lee has been channeling for the past few years. Possibly autobiographical, frequently erotic and darkly surreal, their fiction takes place in a variety of eras and places, from Egypt in the 1940s, to England in the grip of the Pre-Raphaelites, to gaslit Paris and to the shadowy landscapes carved by the mind and memory. The themes of youth and age stream through these tales of homosexual love and desire.

Genre: Short Stories, Fantasy, LGBTQ*
I found it: perfect, in general, but particularly perfect for those days where all you need is a blanket and an escape route.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

The Book Of Human Skin, by Michelle Lovric

13 May, 1784, Venice: Minguillo Fasan, heir to the decaying, gothic Palazzo Espagnol, is born. Yet Minguillo is no ordinary child: he is strange, devious and all those who come near him are fearful. Twelve years later Minguillo is faced with an unexpected threat to his inheritance: a newborn sister, Marcella. His untempered jealousy will condemn his sister to a series of fates as a cripple, a madwoman and a nun. But in his insatiable quest to destroy her, he may have underestimated his sister's ferocious determination, and her unlikely allies.

Genre: Historical Fiction (18th Century Italy), Horror
I found it: disturbing in all the right places, with really good ambience, but a ridiculously saccharine wrap-up.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Sins Of The Cities Of The Plain, by Jack Saul

Written 12 years before "Teleny", by Jack Saul and a likely ghostwriter, this account of Victorian cross-dressing and rent-boys is a legend all its own. The work draws on the author's own experiences with an all-male brothel in Cleveland Street (later shut down scandalously).

Genre: Pornography, LGBTQ*
I found it: hilarious, because those wacky Victorians had some great words for "penis".

☆ ☆

Regarding The Pain Of Others, by Susan Sontag

How does the spectacle of the sufferings of others (via television or newsprint) affect us? Are viewers inured – or incited – to violence by the depiction of cruelty? In "Regarding The Pain Of Others", Susan Sontag takes a fresh look at the representation of atrocity – from Goya's "The Disasters of War" to photographs of the American Civil War, lynchings in the South, and the Nazi death camps, to contemporary horrific images of Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Israel and Palestine, and New York City on September 11.

Genre: Philosophy
I found it: good with it comes to asking questions, bad when it comes to answering them.

☆ ☆ ☆

The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels

Originally published on the eve of the 1848 European revolutions, "The Communist Manifesto" is a condensed and incisive account of the worldview Marx and Engels developed during their hectic intellectual and political collaboration. Formulating the principles of dialectical materialism, they believed that labor creates wealth, hence capitalism is exploitive and antithetical to freedom.

Genre: Philosophy, Politics
I found it: interesting, but like most ideological books, rather detached from reality.

☆ ☆ ☆

The Last Of The Wine, by Mary Renault

In "The Last of the Wine", two young Athenians, Alexias and Lysis, compete in the palaestra, journey to the Olympic games, fight in the wars against Sparta, and study under Socrates. As their relationship develops, Renault expertly conveys Greek culture, showing the impact of this supreme philosopher whose influence spans epochs.

Genre: Historical Fiction (Ancient Greece), LGBTQ*
I found it: too much for someone who's just incidentally interested in Ancient Greek culture, though some story arcs were actually quite good.

☆ ☆

Erotism: Death And Sensuality, by Georges Bataille

Taboo and sacrifice, transgression and language, death and sensuality – Georges Bataille pursues these themes with an original, often startling perspective. The scope of his inquiry ranges from Emily Bronte to Sade, from St. Therese to Claude Levi-Strauss and Dr. Kinsey; and the subjects he covers include prostitution, mythical ecstasy, cruelty, and organized war. Investigating desire prior to and extending beyond the realm of sexuality, he argues that eroticism is "a psychological quest not alien to death".

Genre: Philosophy
I found it: conflicting, because while most arguments are brilliant, their nuances are often impossibly problematic.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

What about you guys, what have you been reading lately?
Tuesday, April 09, 2013

365 Days Ago: March '12

I just realised I completely forgot about this post. I mean, can you believe it's April already? Where did these three months go? Can't say I've done anything particularly productive and or inspiring, but well, I worked hard on my internship report? That's gotta count for something.

Anyway. Let me guide you through what happened around this time, last year.

I wore a nice outfit? I mean, it looked nice back then, but I wouldn't wear it today. Because a) this has been one incredibly cold March, and b) I don't feel like wearing dresses these days.

I found this butterfly on my terrace. Most of you know I hunt and collect butterflies, but not all of them, and especially not all the time. I am selective - because go figure, I actually don't want to cause a butterfly apocalypse. So. Basically. I found this butterfly on my terrace, and I thought it was dead. So naturally, I picked it up. But no, it moved. I opened my hand to let it fly away, but it didn't. I took this shot, placed the butterfly on a leaf (yeah, I had more than just cactuses back then...), and went back to life.

Fast forward half an hour, I walked by the door and the butterfly had fallen. So I picked it up again, and realised it was still alive. So I did the only thing I could remember, fetched a small spoon, water and sugar, and tried to feed the butterfly. Believe it or not, it worked. (I actually have a photo of it? But it wasn't good so I never got to post it. I'll look for it.) A few hours later, the butterfly was gone.

I felt like I'd done an awesome deed, and besides, I got a great phot out of it.

Well, and for my sister's birthday, we went to... the border! She really wanted a photo with a foot in each country, so we worked hard on that. If you look at the first shot, on the right you have Spain, on the left you have Portugal.

If you look at the second shot, on the center you have a dead sheep. I should have brought it. The skull, at least. But back then it hadn't really hit me that I could collect bones (I don't know, it's like my brain works around timings I can't control), so... I didn't.

On the same day, we also found... an abandoned station! The photos aren't particularly good, because, go figure, UrbEx photography is nothing like riding a bike. And I haven't exactly had the time to use it, so naturally, I lost it.

In the second-to-last shot, I was standing in Portugal. On the other side, Spain.

Without further plans, we decided to end the day in Salamanca. It's a wonderful city (I'd move there right now, if given the chance), but we got there a bit too late for proper photos outside. Fortunately, La Cure Gourmande did not disappoint, and I ended up going shutter-happy there - while I tried to work my way around one of those weird lollipops (Anise-flavoured, thank you very much). After that, I considered buying a sword in one of the many many shops that litter the downtown area, and I cursed everyone in the Art Nouveau museum for closing so early, beause I would have liked a second tour.

Well. Maybe next time?
Friday, April 05, 2013

Never Give Up The Joke

My tiny, tiny, sample-sized Spring break came and went. All in all, I only had Thursday and Friday off uni, and then Monday off my internship. There were clouds. Both meteorologically and psychologically, but alas, no war has ever been won by sitting idle in the rain, so... we soldier on.

Outside, the weather was manageable for the first time in, excuse the repetition, a really long time. My sister and I took a wonderful walk, singing korean songs at the top of our lungs (for better or worse... it's true no one can hear you in the woods) and taking pictures of interesting-looking moss. We ended up under ankle-deep in the mud picking up little ferns for my Terrarium Attempt #1. Can't say anyone was really impressed by my raw talent for miniature landscaping... and I was going to say oh well you can't be good at everything... but I guess I can't really point out anything I'm truly good at. Mostly I just float around the better side of reasonable.

Speaking of reasonable, I've been having these visions of clockwork and insect pins... and butterfly wings and taut little strings... and angular futuristic little creatures and I really like the idea of trying to make one. Somehow. I mean... there is no empirical evidence to prove that I wouldn't be able to. So I feel confident. Guess I'm going to be sculptor next.

Back inside, my sister baked to her heart's content, and I worked on a new shadow box. (not pictured because I got distracted by a sudden craving for mango ice cream, and also those cute little emoticons on Naver) On Sunday, my grandparents came over for tea, and we ate like... well, to stick to the word of the day, unreasonable people. We don't really celebrate Easter, but I'll take up any excuse for cake.

I guess all things considered, it was a small break, but enough to bring my focus back. I set my priorities straight and gave myself a few pep talks. Things may seem really dark and complicated right now, but they will get better. I will admit it, if the universe worked according to my wishes, I would have hit the pause button by now - for a tea break and possibly a paper bag to breathe into. But fortunately for everyone currently inhabiting it, it does not.

And so the world keeps spinning.