Monday, April 22, 2013

Yes There ARE Still Good Bands

A little mini-rant for you all. Please excuse any typos and/or long rambling sentences. This is being written on a very sleepy brain which needs to go to bed soon before it crashes.

One of my biggest pet peeves has to be when you see/hear people go on a big rant about how Goth music is 'Dead' or that it was 'So much better back in the day' or, here's the best one, 'There aren't any good Goth bands anymore'. I'm sorry, but where have you been living? Of course the music isn't going to be the same as it used to be. Even individual bands change their sound by album. (And there's enough complaint about that) Sometimes it's for the better, sometimes for the worse, but without change there wouldn't be any growth, and scenes would remain stagnant, living on dreams of the past. That's no way to keep a subculture alive! And seriously, tell me that 'Goth' bands from the past didn't mix up their sound as well.

Talk about change? The Cure are the masters of it and yet we love them anyway.
Half of their stuff couldn't possibly be considered 'Goth' by traditional standards.

There are plenty of newer bands out there that are Goth, or at the very least, extremely Goth-friendly. There's no need to be stuck in nostalgia and focus only on the old stuff. Granted, appreciation of the old scene is fantastic and yeah, necessary. When we've got roots as awesome as ours they need to be preserved. I feel really weird if I don't put on my Bauhaus record once every couple of weeks. Still, sometimes people need to let go and move on. Don't like the old stuff simply because it's the old stuff when there are so many ways you can branch out. If I were to go out and make a list of the Goth bands still performing today it would be considerably long. Add the aforementioned Goth-friendly bands and the list would never end!

Decades later and we're still staring at Peter Murphy's cheekbones.
A pastime I indulge quite often, but there are new musicians to fawn over as well.

Not to mention, with attitudes like 'Goth is dead' how are we supposed to encourage newcomers to the scene? We need fresh blood to keep it alive, and discouraging them by only having a negative attitude towards the current scene is hardly going to get people motivated to explore the subculture. I'm actually not sure why people even think Goth is dead. You only have to look around the internet to find that there's a huge net.Goth scene. Look at all of us bloggers! And last time I went to Sweden, I spotted quite a few fellow darkly inclined people in the city. There seems to be no end of alternative models these days, and I'm sure we can all name a few current Goth icons strutting at the forefront of the scene.

My point is, if you ever hear someone complaining about the lack of Goth music, smack them lightly upside the head for me and then very politely start reciting a list of bands they should look into, or at the very least, grudgingly accept as 'Not Dead'.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

30 Day Clothing Challenge~ Day 21: Something You Only Wear Around the House

Warning: Pretty short post. Basically just popping in for a chat~

If I said I walked around in black silk robes or bat patterned pajamas would I get my goth card stamped? Let's be honest here, how many of us actually wear all black all the time just to keep up our 'image' as a goth? Seriously, it's not like I wouldn't love a pair of bat patterned pajamas, (Who wouldn't?) but if you guys saw me around the house there's no way you'd ever think I was even associated with the Gothic subculture. (If you're lucky my black hair and nails might give it away) And that doesn't bother me one bit because in all honesty I'd rather put my money towards clothes people will actually see me out in. All of my 'home clothes' are basically pink/blue/white articles of clothing that I've had since about 5th grade. But that doesn't mean you're getting a picture of me in my PJs. Sorry. But not really

Instead, I'll reuse an item from a while back. My Monty Python Evil Bunny Slippers of Doom! Aren't they just adorable? I got them for Xmas last year and I use them religiously in the winter, which is basically the only time my feet won't melt off by wearing them. Because Florida. *Shakes fist* Actually, I probably would wear them out of the house for kicks if I could, but unfortunately the dress code at school clearly states no slippers. (Though strangely enough there's no rule that prevents students from taking pillows or blankets to class. Heh.)

Since, you're not getting a picture of me in my pajamas I'm afraid you'll have to settle for my outfit of the day instead. I've got a better picture of my new skirt (With pockets!) and recently happened upon a shirt I'd thought I'd lost. It nearly makes up for the fact that my lovely Handbook For the Recently Deceased phone case broke, so I'm stuck using my cassette tape backup. You'd be surprised at how many people ask me whether it's a real tape. I can only wonder why I'd be carrying around a cassette tape at school, nevermind looking at it and clearly pushing buttons. It really makes me laugh.

Also,  I was recently persuaded (By the people of Tumblr or course) to read The Fault in Our Stars. John Green seems to be everywhere so it was only inevitable. Again, I don't normally like YA books, (especially not popular ones) but this one was fantastic. The narrator is really cynical, has a dark sense of humor (A kindred spirit I suppose) and is very matter-of-fact. She doesn't sugarcoat anything. The end actually managed to make me tear up a bit when I thought about people in real life who actually go though things like she did. So basically what I'm saying is, you should all add this to your list of 'Books Megan has recommended' which will probably end up filling a whole notebook by the time I'm through.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Suggestions~ Forbidden Game, Night Circus, Haunting of Hill House

Books, books, books. I believe literature may actually occupy 90% of my brain. I've got this enormous list of things to recommend to everyone sitting on my computer and I doubt it'll ever reach it's end considering I'm constantly adding to it.

 The first one I've got today is actually a YA book. I don't read a huge amount of these, (Or, correction, I don't normally like a lot of these. The same overused tropes left and right...) but this book has been one of my favorites for years. It's called Forbidden Game by L. J. Smith and though technically it's three books I have the collected edition. I have a hunch the creativity of the series in not making it like any other paranormal romance is because it was written before Twilight hit the market. (When everyone started emulating that in varying degrees.)

In the book, Jenny is convinced by a white-haired stranger at a store to buy a game for her party. She does so, but when she and her friends go to play it they invoke a rune which drags them into the game. The stranger from the store is there and introduces himself as Julian. He says that they've all agreed to play this game, and therefore must do as he says if they want to live. They have 24 hours to navigate the house and face their fears or they're trapped here forever. When asked what his motivation is, he claims that he's in love with Jenny, that he's watched her for years. He's a 'Shadow man', an ancient race of beings who've always made deals and played games with humans. Basically, I can't go into much more detail without spoiling certain plot twists, and the next two books can't really be explained until you've finished the first one, so you'll have to trust me ;)

I like the atmosphere and places in the book. They've got the sort of fantastical elements that I love in a setting, but there are very dark undertones lying under the surface, especially in some of Julian and Jenny's conversations. As far as characters go, Jenny always annoys me in the beginning. She's weak and bends to everything her boyfriend says. However, her development through the books has her change into a strong, independent girl who I can actually respect. (Even if a few of her choices make me want to cry) Her circle of friends all have their quirks and I found them all interesting enough to like, other than Tommy her boyfriend. Julian of course, is my absolute favorite. I have a tendency to like the villains, but I've always especially loved him. Some aspects of his personality are enough to make you want to hit him through the book, but I guarantee that if you don't like him in the beginning you'll like him by the end.

The end of this series actually upset me nearly to tears,  but there's hope for me yet. The author has said she's working on a sequel series, which will be targeted at adults and that makes me extraordinarily happy.

The second book I have for you is The Night Circus. I'm sure you've all seen this on the shelves, or if you follow Jillian Venters on Tumblr she's alluded to it several times. The plot of this book becomes rather convoluted, much of it is a mystery throughout the novel. It revolves around two magicians, who place a bet that their apprentices are capable of defeating the other in a sort of competition. They spend years training them, but the apprentices aren't told who the other is, or even what the competition is. The setting is to be the Night Circus. A circus that 'arrives without warning' and sets up quickly in whatever location it's arrived at. It's open at night and inside the color scheme is entirely black and white. There are wonders inside that you couldn't even dream up. (The author of this has one of the best imaginations I've ever encountered) The circus ends up gaining a cult following, The 'Reveurs', who wear a splash of red to identify one another, and attempt to predict where the circus will go next. And under all of the mystery and fantastical elements of the circus (Supported by magic, though no one realizes) there's the ongoing battle between these two apprentices.

There's not much else I can say, other than that the whole book held me in rapture. The settings, the people, they were all so delightfully decadent that it had me aching for a real life 'Night Circus' to pop up and let me in ^^ The story is rather slow-paced, but in my opinion the atmosphere makes up for it entirely. Of course that might not be the case for everyone so I'm giving you a little warning that the plot is certainly not the fastest moving one around.

Finally, the third book is The Haunting of Hill House. This one was published in 1959 and it's the sort of Gothic style horror I really enjoy. The book is generally considered one of the greatest ghost stories ever written, and I tend to agree. The author uses psychologically frightening tactics to slowly build up suspense throughout the book. There's no gore or graphic violence, everything is extraordinarily subtle, and you won't realize many of the significant hints until later on. As far as the plot's concerned it's not very complicated. A doctor is conducting a study on the so called paranormal activity witnessed at Hill House. He invites people to come and participate, based on their previous experiences with paranormal events. Only two young women accept, and the heir to the house joins them. As they stay in the house they begin to experience small disturbances, which gradually escalate the longer they remain. The climactic event has been hinted at subtlety throughout the book and the ending was not anything I expected. The ending is actually fairly ambiguous, I'm not even sure which of the two possibilities I believe in more strongly.

The characters in the book aren't very likeable in my opinion. Eleanor is full of self-pity, Theodore is brash and irritating, Luke is fairly spineless, and Dr. Montague is a bit patronizing. But it's the makeup of all of their psyches and the exploration of them that further enhances the book and the events in it. The nonsensical conversations between the characters might seem unrealistic at times, but it only adds to the atmosphere.

Finally, a little question for you all. Have any of you been watching Vikings? Because it's fantastic. I'm a bit of a history buff and I was worried they would mangle all the Norse myths and culture, (Not to mention, I've got a personal stake because I'm Swedish and rather proud of my heritage) but I think they've been doing a wonderful job. I love Ragnar because he manages to be both soft-spoken and intimidating, (Also, he's got gorgeous eyes) Lagertha is a kick-ass shield maiden, and Aethelstan (The captured monk) is just adorable. I'm going to full heartedly recommend this show to anyone who hasn't been watching.

Plus come on. Look at that braided mowhawk.
Obviously vikings were the original punks ;)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Upkeep is Hard, Don't Stress Yourself

 I was getting ready the other day when a thought crossed my mind. I stopped for a second and wondered why in the world I was up putting on eyeliner at 5 in the morning. I've gotten so used to getting up early, struggling through the first part of my day, and then crashing when I finally get home, that I never really stop to consider whether I should be doing things a little differently. My bus shows up at my house at 6:30, and I do eat breakfast in the morning and make my lunch, but that still leaves an hour to get ready. Do I really need all that time every day? The answer in all honesty is no. I'm living on 6 hours of sleep per night when I should be getting double digits, and this far into the school year I'm starting the effects.

You don't have to look like this every day
(Though she's certainly gorgeous. I'm afraid I don't know where I found this)
 As a rule, I feel Goths are often more inclined to spend time on their appearance, for several reasons. The first one being that the scene has always been full of striking people with dramatic makeup or gravity-defying hair, and clothes that turn heads. I mean, look at some of the icons of the scene! Siousxie Sioux, Robert Smith, Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, Johnny Slut, Dave Vanian....the list goes on and on. We see pictures and go I want to look just like them and spend forever trying to replicate a look that in all honesty probably took full hair stylists and makeup artists to accomplish. (At the very least an afternoon, a can of aquanet, and a whole stick of eyeliner. And we don't have time for that every day) We tend to forget that some things are staged. That people like them didn't look perfect every second of the day. (Though sometimes I wonder...)

Young Dave is gorgeous isn't he? <3

The same thing applies to the pictures of Goths you see on websites such as Tumblr. (Which I am extremely guilty of spending a ridiculous amount of time on) Sometimes I'll sit there for hours (after I've emerged from the fandom blogs headed over to the fashion) and just sigh over all of the beautiful people. They've got perfect makeup, and flawless hair and clothes. And then I have to slap myself a bit and remind myself that many of them are professional or at least semi-professional models, not ordinary people going about their daily lives. Remember that their clothes might not be their own, and that time was spent on their appearance. The photo was probably staged, could have taken time to get the angles right, and it might have been edited. Seeing all these photos is a great way to get discouraged, and think you have to keep up with that level of maintenance to be 'appropriately' Goth. It can be especially discouraging to people just starting out that don't have a wide variety of clothes or accessories, or great makeup skills yet.


I'm very sorry I can't give these pictures credit
Most were found via Tumblr a while ago
Of course then there's the one that probably gets me the most. I suffer from the "everyone's looking at me because I'm different so I have to set a good example for the scene" syndrome. (Well that's a mouthful) There's already this stigma against alternative sorts, and mallgoths are the ones that tend to reinforce it. Not neccesarily on purpose of course, but people get a lot of their stereotypes from the kid hanging around Hot Topic with the greasy hair, Tripp pants and Slipknot shirt. As a result, I have this idiotic fear of being lumped in as yet another 'stupid rebelling teenager'. Therefore, I try to set a good example to counteract all those stereotypes. Is my makeup melting? Is my hair lopsided? Does this look cheesy? It's the little nagging voice that says if I'm alternative and people think I look eccentric I'd better make sure they think I'm pretty all the time too. I do it constantly and it's ridiculous. I'm trying so hard to steer myself away from that train of thought. There's nothing wrong with making sure you don't look a mess, but that should be for yourself, not because you're afraid of being judged.

What I'm really trying to get at here (In a vague, rambling, roundabout way) is that it's OK to slack off once in a while! You don't have to doll yourself up everyday, and it's fine to go casual and makeupless as often as you feel like. You can't let your appearance take over your life completely, while sacrificing valuable time to do other things. (like sleeping in my case) It's just not healthy. Of course, some people are more comfortable wearing skirts and dresses all the time, (I know someone who despises jeans) and some people find it fun to dress to the nines every day,  (more power to you!) but there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of if you want to wear a hoodie and lazy pants every so often. Who cares if you skip doing your nails or don't put on makeup?

So I'm designating a day. One day every week where I'm gonna dress down on purpose. One of my band or fandom shirts, a hoodie, and comfy jeans  or my cargo pants. And no makeup to boot. In exchange I'll get a day of liberation and learn to feel pretty without makeup. Not to mention, I'll get to sleep a little longer ;)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sophistique Noir Theme~ Vintage

 As soon as I saw that the theme for April was vintage I started bouncing around in joy because I have the perfect thing for this. There's an adorable vintage/thrift store nearby that we visit on occasion. It's kind of a hit or miss event. (But then isn't most thrifting?) The past two times we stopped by I completely struck out, but on the other hand I've gotten my favorite blazer and a great long skirt in one trip before. This time, I definitely struck gold. And I've got one heck of a story to go along with it.

These shoes were sitting on a shelf in the corner of the store and I nearly didn't try them on. I thought they looked a little small, and I was wearing my Docs, so I wasn't really up to unlacing my boots to try one pair of shoes. Of course, after some internal debate my shallow want of pretty material things won out. It turned out that they fit perfectly, and were only $20. Suffice to say I was pretty happy.

And then I noticed that the heel was completely separated from the right shoe.

Of course, at this point I figured it might be too much effort to get them fixed if I could buy them somewhere else. The tag simply said Flagg Bros and then next to that "The shoes Elvis wore" which I assumed was something of a joke the employees had made. (It's something they would do. I love all of the people that work there. They're beyond friendly and really helpful.) I didn't really expect them to be that old considering the price. Well, I googled the shoes and saw that they hadn't been made since the 60s/70s. At that point I knew I had to buy them, broken or not, because $20 would be a great deal no matter what. I received a small discount because they were broken, and happily went home.

Then I googled the shoes again. First of all, the ads cracked me up. Seriously, they're great. Second of all, after some pretty extensive searching I could only find a few pairs of shoes up for sale that were the same brand, and discovered that they run anywhere from $150 to $500. So in essence, I got a pair of expensive vintage shoes for dirt cheap and it's made me ridiculously happy. You don't have that sort of luck every day.

These shoes are going to be fixed by someone who knows what they're doing, and aren't going to be worn too often. I've got to preserve them XD The other little contribution I've got to this month's theme is comprised of a few items we found in my Grandma's attic. My great-grandfather used to collect pocket watches and occasionally he would give one to my Mom. She kept them together in a box, which we found while we were in Sweden. Along with the watches, there was a pair of cufflinks made with my great-grandmother's portrait on them.

Most of them are from the 30s-70s.
There's one from the 1800s, but I'm not sure where it is.
This one is my absolute favorite.

And that's all I have for the vintage theme. I have to say, this is already one of my favorite monthly themes. I love seeing all of the lovely items everyone is displaying ^^ I'll leave you with my outfit for today. A new skirt (It's got pockets! I'll make sure to get a picture where you can actually see it next time) and scarf, and first time being confident enough to wear lipstick out. Red normally looks awful on me because my lips are too big, but purple seemed to work better. What do you think?

I'm wearing one of the watches ^^