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Whatcha Reading: May 2016

May was a bit of a wash. I read two really great books, most of a book that just didn’t do it for me, and got 15 pages into another before I quit due to overwhelming interior design. I’ve debating talking about the books I didn’t enjoy. I feel… guilty… when people rave and I find it just wasn’t for me. I also know that’s silly. Reading is as subjective as writing. So let’s start with the ones I loved.

WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT by April Tucholke

Wink

Occasionally, I wonder how I’ve acquired my peculiar and wonderful set of friends and I’m always baffled by April’s work. She’s such a vivid storyteller and everything she writes has a distinctly modern Gothic vibe to it. It’s like catnip to me. WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT is a short read, but damn did April pack in everything I’ve come to love from her work and then some.

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

I can’t wait to see what she does next. We have plans for a midnight tea party and séance in the future.

STRIKE by Delilah S. Dawson

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I really enjoyed HIT, the precursor to STRIKE, and I was hoping reading a more action-based book would help me on my quest to write an action-based book. Though I didn’t enjoy it as much I did HIT, STRIKE had the same snarky teenage humor and it’s kinda gratifying to read a book set in places you frequent. Delilah and I live in the same town, and this book is based locally, so it was kinda cool.

As for the other two…

I don’t want to name names. I don’t really want these things to be reviews per say. The first book I was really excited about. It’s a retelling of an old pirate story, and while it started out fine, I found it extremely slow and unfortunately tropey. The multiple POVs felt unnecessary and detracted from the story, and the plot was extremely obvious. I made it 90% through, leaving two chapters unread. Why? Because I didn’t care enough to find out what happened. I read that far hoping it would pick up, but alas…

The last book wasn’t so much a story issue as a design issue. I’ve learned a lesson in that I need to look at the interior of books before I buy them. This book I’ve heard rave reviews over, and I was excited to pick it up. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life for those of us who’ve studied designed that over-designing ruins your life. This book is formatted to look like a journal, with sticky notes (printed, of course), different “handwriting,” medical logs, etc.

A LOT of money was sunk into its production.

Unfortunately, that leaves it basically unreadable for me. I don’t like “noise” when I’m trying to get into a story. I made it 15 pages before I developed a headache. It was just too overwhelming. I know some people love that, but it isn’t for me. I might check out the eBook and see if that’s a better solution for me, but sadly the physical copy is too overdone for me to focus.

Both of these books are in the donation pile.

So, what’s on the slate for June? I’ve finally start THE DARK DAYS CLUB by Alison Goodman. So many of my friends recommended this one, and I have to say so far it’s pretty good. I’m only 50 pages in, but I’m enjoying it so far. I’m very very slowly chipping away at the dreaded TBR pile.

What have you read this month?

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Pride+Prejudice+Zombies: A Review

Jane Austen and I have always had a tumultuous relationship. I’ve never liked Pride and Prejudice (not the first time I read it, not the second). Actually, I prefer Sense and Sensibility, but in general, my feelings about Jane Austen’s work reflect her feelings about the Bronte sisters’ work: she didn’t dig it.

I wasn’t too keen on the idea of throwing zombies into the mix either, but what can you do? I didn’t read that version, either, but I did take my little sister to see the movie over Valentine’s Day Weekend. If there’s one thing I can get behind, it’s celebrating a holiday I don’t care about with a movie about killing the undead.

Pride+Prejudice+Zombies was as hilariously horrible as I expected it to be. Men and women are sent to China (for the poor) or Japan (for the elite) to learn to the art of fighting and combat. The costumes were lovely, the scenery perfect. Point: at least Jane, Lizzie, and the other girls wore respectable (if not entirely historically accurate) clothing. There was a shade too much decolletage, but what did I expect? At least they stuck to full-length dresses and not skimpy “battle attire.”Plus, the knife holsters were an excellent addition.

The storyline was not what I expected. It’s vaguely like Austen’s novel, and Lizzie still gets to be the snarky delight she is, but they didn’t really develop the other characters. I’m not sure if they were relying on viewers having read the original zombie-free version. There was also a glaring lack of transition. The narrative bounced back and forth like a loose brain. The casting was hit-and-miss: Matt Smith was an excellent and thoroughly annoying Mr. Collins, Lily James was a great Lizzie Bennett. I wanted Lady Catherine (Lena Headey) to be a villain, but she was not. I had been convinced she had a legion of zombies set to keep Lizzie and Darcy apart.

Jack Huston was the BEST Wickham I’ve seen. Well, the best version of Wickham.

And I know this is going to be shallow, but I felt that Darcy could have been… more handsome. Bingely was super pretty. Darcy… meh. Maybe it was the styling. I liked him way more as the crow-man in Maleficent.

I do feel like they gave us an homage to the BBC version, starring Collin Firth, as this Darcy also has a dramatic swan-dive into a pond, from which he rises in a dripping puffy shirt. I might have cackled in the middle of the theater. Okay, I did.

Darcy confessing his “inappropriate” and “horrifying” feelings for Elizabeth was definitely improved matching verbal sparring with a literal knife fight. It was probably my favorite moment in the whole thing.

The highlight of the film was how well they maintained Lizzie’s character. I might not like Pride and Prejudice, but I’ve always appreciated Elizabeth’s steadfastness and confidence in herself. The addition of zombies only allowed her to be stronger. Counterbalancing Darcy’s earlier… demand that Lizzie marry him, at the end, he asks not for her to be his wife, but if she’d allow him to be her husband.

Alright, maybe that was my favorite part of the movie.

I’m a bit upset I paid so much to see it in theaters, but my sister enjoyed it, so it was worth the cost. If you missed it on the big screen, well, you didn’t miss much. I’d wait to rent it. A dollar feels like a more reasonable price.

What did you think? More over, what do you think Jane Austen would think

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I Have a Shop!

Do you like my artwork? Do you like cool stuff?

Now you can buy my artwork ON cool stuff!

I’ve opened a Society6, where you can find art prints, cell phone cases, and eventually other items. I’m both excited and terrified, but if you don’t challenge yourself to do the things that scary you, you’re not really living, right?

Click here to see the shop, or click SHOP in the menu bar.

I’ve got a couple of last year’s Drawlloween sketches up, a few of my Pinup Monster girls, and a couple cute Monster Girls. Swing by, leave a heart, share with your friends!

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Art, Mourning, and Immortality

Yesterday marked Edgar Allan Poe’s 207th birthday. Every year, I write a note on Facebook or Twitter (I think last year there was even a blog) thanking him for sharing his works, for influencing my own. How I try to honor his gift in my life and in my work.

Monday marked a week since David Bowie died (which is still bizarre to say/type/consider or accept as factual statement). I woke up to a text from my sister apologizing for the “sad news” I was going to hear and–in a run-on statement–asking if I could pick her up from school. Another text just read “David Bowie WHYYY?” I didn’t bother putting my contacts in and pulled up Twitter to find out that a man I’d adored since I was child was no longer with us.

I can’t remember being so greatly saddened by a celebrity death. I guess Bowie is, technically, my first. An mourning an artist is a strange state. I spent Monday in a haze, intermitantly sobbing, debating if I could watch Labyrinth (I couldn’t), and trying to imagine what the world would be like now that it had lost some of its glitter. Everyone dies, so it’s not like I didn’t expect it one day, in the distant future, but if anyone was going to be immortal, it’d be him.

Labyrinth was my first introduction to Bowie. We had it recorded on a VHS off the television, then I finally got the official VHS one year for Christmas. I wore both out. I’ve since upgraded to DVD, including the 25th Anniversary version. Let’s be honest, I’ll burn those copies out, too. I watch it at least once a year.

It’s always been a dream of mine to one day write my own version of Labyrinth.

I used to dance around to Rebel, Rebel while putting on makeup. There were, of course, periods of time where I didn’t think of Bowie, or listen to his songs. When he released Next Day a couple of years ago, I was not so secretly hoping for a tour. Not a big tour. Just the major cities. The man was in his 60s, still young. I’d have paid anything to see that show.

And then Blackstar happened. I saw the link for the Lazarus video on Facebook and didn’t click it. And then he was gone.

I know I would have seen the signs if I’d looked. Maybe. There’s still part of me that would have been in reasonable denial. Afterall, The Goblin King isn’t bound by the rules of mortals.

Underground popped up on shuffle the other day, and I ugly-cried in my car. I did better with As The World Falls Down. Work Radio added Let’s Dance to their mix along with Under Pressure. I stopped yesterday afternoon to just listen, despite being half an hour past the end of my shift.

It’s strange to mourn someone you only knew through their art, especially when the world as whole is mourning with you. There’s some comfort in that shared pain, makes you feel less… silly for crying over someone you never met. I didn’t know David Jones, but David Bowie taught me the importance of embracing my strangeness. If David Bowie could make being David Bowie cool, then I could do anything.

So Tuesday, I put on glitter and faced the world and did whatever I wanted to do because I wanted to do it.

In a little over a week, he’s gotten a lightning bolt-shaped constallation named after him. Other artists and actors and people are coming forward to share stories. He finally had a Number 1 album in America. He turned his death into something so artistically powerful, you can’t help but marvel at it.

In the end, he did achieve immortality. Art allows everyone to live forever.

I’ve been struggling over the last couple weeks with completing the plot for The Current Project. Turns out what I needed was Bowie. If this book makes it into the world, I hope you find him in it.

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A Glass Half-Empty: Dealing with Depression during THE HOLIDAYS

It’s not exactly a secret that THE HOLIDAYS are hard for me. They’re difficult for a lot of people. There’s something deeply unsettling about the inability to be happy, which compounds itself when JOY and HAPPINESS and CHEER are basically shoved down your throat. I survived Thanksgiving, and I thought it was okay until a few weeks ago. The depression and anxiety reared up and hit me HARD.

What was supposed to be a nice afternoon of Me Time ended up being a two-hour breakdown in my car in front of a Barnes and Noble.

I reached out to two of my dearest friends, who both helped me calm down enough to at least be able to drive home. I felt wretched. I felt useless. Even knowing it was just in my head, just the season, just a reaction, didn’t make me feel better. I felt weak. And I hate feeling weak.

I was urged to simplify. To say no. I cut out Facebook and Twitter. I deleted the apps from my phone and limited my internet time to an hour in the morning and an hour at night. I do still have jobs, and email communication is essential. I have submit invoices and articles. I have a forum on Facebook where I figure out if I have class or not. It’s been tough being without dance class. After the show in September, the studio flooded. The floors were destroyed. Then one thing after another happened, and well… now it’s December.

I was never much for Facebook in general, but I do feel relieved to not have it in my life. There’s so much… STUFF there, and it’s not a place I want to give my time.

Katie Locke, another of my dear friends, wrote a great post about making Twitter her space again. Immediately, I weeded through the number of people I follow on Twitter and Facebook and unfollowed or unfriended anyone I didn’t speak to, or haven’t spoken to in years, or people whose presence I no longer wanted in my life. It’s okay to not want people in your life. You control your online experience. It’s not personal, unless you want it take it that way.

I came back to Twitter, but I post far less.

I tried to take care of myself by saying no. No to going out, no to taking on more than I already claimed. If I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t. I took on nothing I didn’t have to, which included driving other people around and bothering to put on pants. In fact, I did the scariest thing I could think of: I quit. It’s certainly nothing new. I’ve quit before. I’ve quit writing. This time, I quit querying. I didn’t send out more in reaction to rejection.

I just stopped.

And weirdly, some of the pressure I felt just evaporated. I hadn’t realized how much stress I was putting on myself. I was digging myself into the ground.

Edit: I’d like to note that just because I’m not currently sending new queries right now doesn’t mean I’m done forever. I want to send them feeling like myself, doing a thing I love.

I shifted my focus to art. I’ve been drawing a lot more since #Drawlloween, which, sadly, I never finished. I missed it. Inking helped me slow down because it’s something that demands my concentration. It’s precise and delicate and I have to breathe in order to steady my hand and control the lines.

I wanted to make Victorian Christmas cards for a few of my friends, and one Victorian Hanukkah card because one of my dear friends is Jewish.

Very slowly, I’m picking up the pieces. I’m trying to take care of my mental health. I love art. I have the best friends a girl could ask for. I’m going for walks when I feel unsettled. I talk to my close friends, who know what’s going on, who don’t mind listening to me cry and helping me pick myself back up.

Monday, I checked things off my list: two freelance articles (written and submitted), laundry done, cleaned my desktop, updated my bio, went to the store for envelopes and stationary. I’m 1/8th of the way into a super secret commission project. I’m still podcasting and I have more ideas for future radio-things.

Delilah Dawson held a twitter chat the other day about dealing with depression as a writer. She’s far more articulate than I am.

Writing is still hard. It’s hard to channel someone charismatic and charming when you just want to get through the day. I might be one of those people who just needs December off. That’s okay. I have to take care of myself. With that knowledge comes the realization that saying no is sort of what happened to this blog.

I don’t have a week’s worth of material to post about. That’s okay. It’s fine that I don’t generate weekly content. I post episodes of Courting Casualties, I update my appearances (I’ll be at AnachroCon 2016!), and if I have nothing to say, well, that’s fine. If you like my writing, I’m over CriminalElement.com and GirlsInCapes.com. I have a tongue-in-cheek Christmas gift-giving guide coming on and CE just posted my latest American Horror Story reaction.

I’ll try to cross-post or link articles here as well, sort of like one-stop shopping.

I can weather this storm. I deserve to take care of myself. I deserve not to feel crappy. If you’re depressed, you’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.

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On Being Goth

I debated writing this post over the last week until something popped up on my Tumblr:

gothI am a self-identified rockabilly goth with a slight film noir edge. I don’t like to limit myself. I’ve always been a goth, though I wasn’t always confident about it. Way back when, I wrote that post about being a Monster Girl, and the truth is, that wasn’t the whole story, but part of it. I’ve always loved the macabre, the grim and the ghastly. For all my mother’s insistence that she was “punk” in her younger days, I don’t think she fully anticipated what it would be like raising me. She’s always ragging on me about my choice of clothing/hobbies/haunts, but I’ve never “outgrown” the lifestyle.

It wasn’t a choice. I simply am.

But something bizarre happened to me Christmas Eve.

At The Day Job, we get to break with the hideous uniform and wear “Sunday Best” for holidays. I’m not entirely certain how “Sunday Best” is portrayed other than dressing nicely, so I wore my boots (because if I’m standing all day, I’m doing so in comfort), slacks and my new poet shirt. You know the sort. Vaguely Victorian, frilly details, lacy. Everything, as per my usual, was black.

I got a ribbing “Merry Gothic Christmas!” from my boss, which we both laughed at, and that was that. Until one my coworker came up and started commenting on my clothing. And then it turned into commenting on things I liked. I mentioned to a customer (who was discussing old television programs) that the man who’d played Pugsley in the Addams Family had recently died of a heart attack.

“Oh, you would know that.”
“Of course I would. I read the news.”

The joking turned into an inquisition. And it never let up.

“How much Marilyn Manson do you have on your iPod?”

Four songs: Tourniquet, Sweet Dreams, Redeemer, and This is Halloween. I don’t particularly like Manson’s music as a whole, but there are a couple winning songs.

“You’re so festive. Do you even like Christmas?”

Not really. I have no religious affiliation to it. I follow the Victorian tradition of goodwill, candles, and ghost stories.

At one point, he said he knew I was an angry person. I shall have you know I am majestic and fucking delight to be around. Seriously, though, I’m pretty nice. I find most goth people are.

It’s not that these lines of inquiry bothered me in and of themselves, but the very high school natural of it all. Actually, I don’t remember being teased when I was in high school. I can’t fathom someone trying so hard to make you care about what they think of you.

You can read the full post by clicking the link above, but I think Anna (SpookyLoop) had the best response:

Goth doesn’t revolve around an idea, it’s not political, religious, or a cult. We’re not a bunch of people who think the world is horrible and life is pointless, that’s just the stereotype. We see beauty in the macabre – which many choose to interpret as bleakness – but that doesn’t mean it is something to grow out of or that it is reserved only for those who are growing up.

We are in this because we enjoy the music, the literature, the styles, the aesthetics, and so on. There is no reason why we would have to abandon any of those things as we grow older: reading horror literature and listening to The Sisters of Mercy doesn’t stop me from being a great employee or a good parent, which seem to be the biggest concerns of those who don’t understand the subculture.

The whole story is this: I grew up with a mother who loved Stephen King. I had horror in my household before I thought to be scared of monsters under my bed.

When I was young, I discovered Edgar Allan Poe. I think the first poem of his I read was “Annabelle Lee.” Something about his words echoed in me, and I felt like someone understood. Edgar Allan Poe got me. From that moment, I was devoted to him. I own volumes of his works in any incarnation I can find. I took courses about him in college and cried when my dad went to Poe Cottage in New York without me. My friends took me to a Poe puppet show for my birthday.

He’s the reason I blossomed into the creature I am. The monsters would come later. Poe was there from the start.

My friend Leanna, author of the Magic Most Foul saga and perpetual Victorian goth, wrote in one of her books a take on Polonius’s quote from Hamlet on greatness:

Some are born with darkness. Some have darkness thrust upon them.

Another string of words struck home. I knew the moment I met Leanna that she’d be someone I’d get along with splendidly. And her words (Nathaniel’s rather) are absolutely true: I was born with darkness. I used to wonder if it was a bad thing, but like Poe “I could never bring my passions from a common spring.”

The truth is, it’s not the darkness I like, but the otherworldly beauty of the impossible and overlooked. I like seeing magic where others fail to see anything at all. I like wearing black and knee-high boots and tiny brass crow skull necklaces. I love Mortimer, my nectar bat skull I got last birthday. I love reading horror books, and having cemetery picnics and drawing monsters and dead girls. I collect antique medical things and read books about science.

I wear an ungodly amount of glitter and red lipstick, and yeah, I own a lot of black clothing. None of that makes me an angry person (although the second biggest influence on my life was Daria, which accounts for the sarcasm), or scary, or unworthy, or weird. I like things, and mocking someone for liking things is stupid. 

If anyone doesn’t like you for being yourself, you’re better off without them. Whatever or whoever you are, fucking own it.

I didn’t want this to be a “New Year” post, but I think it’s a bit unavoidable at this point. 2014 was hell, but I’m ready to throw down with 2015 if I must.

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The Introvert’s Guide to Dealing with People

Today is my first day off after working sixty hours in eight days. I aimed to spend today in the traditional way–in my pajamas–but sadly, the A/C blew last night, so I have to put on pants in order to deal with the repair guy.

I‘m an introvert in the classic sense: I can handle being around people, and sometimes I even enjoy it, but if I don’t get enough alone time to recharge, I am miserable. Unfortunately, my Day Job is not one that provides a set schedule, so this week I opened, closed, opened, closed, worked a mid, closed, and then opened. In addition that just being batshit insane, we also had the joys of Independence Day Weekend, which means the stupidity was out in additional force.

Seriously, I answered the phone only to be asked if the store was open. Multiple times. No, I’m just here, alone, answer phones because it’s my greatest pleasure in life.

As a result, I royally sucked at writing. I brought my laptop every day to work on break, I edged in a few words before my shift and after, even dead on my feet. I only made my goal once this week. I knew that making full-time meant writing would be harder, but this level of exhaustion is ridiculous.

I can go five, maybe six days dealing with people before the giga-sass levels rise beyond reasonable control. Luckily, I’ve come up with a way to deal with having to deal with people.

  1. If you smile hard enough and say everything like a Disney prince/princess, people won’t see the rage burning in your eyes. Conceal, don’t feel.
  2. Play a mental game of Search and Destory. Is that customer continuously whistling at a high pitch without regard to the 154 other people in the store? Imagine the pitches he could reach if confronted by a piranha.
  3. Keep a pen and paper handy for subconscious doodling. What? That’s not a noose at all. I’m totally a people person.

Okay, okay, I’m kidding (sort of.) I have employed the first one, but usually I fail at the subterfuge and get in trouble for being too sassy. I also draw on anything I can get my hands on. It’s tough to rake in enough isolation time when you’re constantly being spoken (read: yelled) at, answer phones, helping coworkers, keeping the store clean and well swept, and trying not to dissolve into homicidal rage.

Here’s some real advice:

  1. Try to carve out time for yourself and just be, quietly. I spend all day dealing with people, then come home to deal with my mother and sister. Those precious hours mom’s at work and my sister is lounging in her room are GOLD. You don’t have to do anything: write, draw, marathon The 10th Kingdom. Do whatever helps you cultivate the energy you need.
  2. I am a firm believer in escapism.Writing is my out, whether I’m thinking about a scene or I’m play-acting as a character. I let myself wander the space in my head. I think about costumes or makeup or what I’ll need for DragonCon. I have a collection of other-name nametags for when I just don’t want to be Meghan. I spent last week as Lydia, and it was pretty nice.
  3. When things don’t go as planned, plan different things. Like I said, I was really jonesing for a pajama day, but it’s just not happening. Instead, a took a nice shower this morning, not worried about being anywhere. I did a conditioning treatment on my hair, I used my favorite soap, I gave myself an awesome leg message. Let me tell you, there are few things better than a leg wrap. Cat and I had it done last time we went for pedicures and you don’t realize how much tension you hold in your legs until you’re mummified in a towel. I even put on lotion. I hate lotion, but now I feel and smell nice.
  4. Try not to stress about things you can’t control. Do what you can. I didn’t have a choice about the sixty-hour week. Did I do my best? No, but I did something, even if it was only 100 words. Acknowledging and honoring how I felt was part of my personal care. If I was too exhausted to write, I didn’t force it. I went to bed. I fell asleep to audio of a guy drawing mandalas in chalk. I grabbed a bag of M&Ms because I wanted one. I’m doing little things around the house and I’m taking my off day slowly, bit by bit.

The important thing for me is that I recharge. I only have some much energy I can use before I shut down, and my weeks are demanding between work, writing, and being a taxi. Do the things you know will revitalize you. Don’t feel guilty for turning people down, for saying no, or for taking time for yourself. You need it. I need it.

I’m going to finish this chapter, hopefully see the repair guy on his way, and head out to begin building my costumes. The only way out is through, the only way through is art.

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Penny Dreadful, and the Remarkable Eva Green

If you know me outside the internet, you know how much I’ve been freaking out over Showtime’s new series Penny Dreadful. The show follows Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) and Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) as they tread through worlds unknown in search of Murray’s daughter, Mina. Yes, that Mina. They are joined by Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) and Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) in their macabre search. Even Dorian Grey (Reeve Carney) shows up for the party, invited or otherwise.

First of all, Victor Frankenstein. The very fact that the show pulls from both Dracula and Frankenstein was enough to interest me in the pilot. I might also have an unholy crush on Treadaway’s Frankenstein. His Creature is also part of this new mythos, and I am pretty delighted with what they’ve shown of his past. Plus, the Monster is NOT refered to as “Frankenstein.” You all know how much that bothers me.

Okay, I admit it. I have a type.

Showtime has done a wonderful job with the production alone. It’s beautifully shot, the colors are saturated and richly dark, the costumes… Oh the costumes. Penny Dreadful weaves the characters together very smoothly. There is, of course, the blood and gore rightfully belonging to the penny dreadfuls of the show’s namesake, but it’s also surprisingly funny, charming, and I don’t think there’s been a week yet where I wasn’t staring gap-jawed at my screen.

The real show stopper is Miss Eva Green, who plays the mysterious Vanessa Ives. She’s connected to the this world, the Demimonde, more surely than any other character. Ives knows more than she’s letting on, and her past is certainly coming back to haunt her. Her story, revealed in “Closer Than Sisters” (Ep. 5), is one of the most intriguing of the series, as was last week’s episode, “Possession.” Green does an outstanding job of walking the line between proper Englishwoman and possessed medium. I don’t have words enough to describe her performance. It is mesmerizing and mind-blowing.

I’m digging this series because it’s basically everything I’ve ever wanted: a gothic retelling which brings my favorite literary persons to life, beautifully shot and scored, with a host of damaged characters, demons, monsters, and the occasional poison garden.
Reeve Carney (Dorian Grey) live-tweets episodes with hilarious commentary, the community of fans, The Dreadfuls, are all lovely and the show (@SHO_Penny) isn’t afraid to interact with the Dreadfuls on Twitter.

As appears to be a habit with all the TV shows I like, the plot goes a bit off-kilter. Penny Dreadful begins, rightly, with a series of grisly murders. Sir Malcolm attributes these to the vampire holding Mina hostage, but then they’re sort of forgotten in favor of hunting the vampire, even though the bodies were torn apart in a very un-vampirelike fashion. I can forgive it. I’m too in love.

The other drawback is the first season is only eight episodes, and ends tomorrow. I’m not sure how I’m going to fill the void, but Penny Dreadful will be back next year with a ten-episode run. That’s some small comfort. I’m interested to see how this season wraps up, and just how soon I can own the series on DVD.

The up-side of the short run means YOU have plenty of time to binge watch the seven episodes leading up to tomorrow night’s finale.

Do you believe in curses? Do you believe in monsters?

I do.

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Vampire Girl’s Adventures in Disney

There’s nothing better than sleeping in your own bed after a week of sharing a hotel room with your mother and little sister. The Princess Tiana room at Port Orleans Riverside was actually pretty cool: allusions to other Disney films, a Little Mermaid-themed shower curtain, light-up headboard.

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curtain

Little Sister had never been to Disney before, and in the wake of the divorce and our grandfather passing away, mom thought we could all use a break. I hadn’t been to Disney since I was ten, since I wasn’t sure what to expect. Disney has started this new “Magic Band” program, which is actually pretty cool. They send you a rubberized bracelet that acts as your payment card, room key, and allows you to access “Fast Passes” to certain rides.

You bet your ass my first request was The Haunted Mansion.

mansion

Parts of the park were under repair or reconstruction, but we hit up the Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor, the Mad Tea Party, Peter Pan, It’s (Unfortunately) A Small World, a couple of boat tours, blah blah blah. The coolest thing we did the first day was have lunch at the new Be Our Guest restaurant in Belle’s Castle.

castle

It. Was. Gorgeous. Sadly, there was no library room. I think they really missed an opportunity there.

We tried the grey stuff. It's delicious.

We tried the grey stuff. It’s delicious.

Wednesday, we went to Epcot, which sucked. It was hotter than hell and there really aren’t many things to do other than walk around the World Showcase. We headed back to the hotel for an extended nap, followed by dinner at Planet Hollywood and Cirque du Soleil’s La NouBa show, which was AMAZING.

Thursday, we accidentally caused my sister to have a panic attack on the SpiderMan ride at Universal Studios. In our defense, we asked the lady if it was a rollercoaster and she said no, it was a flat track with a couple of car spins.

She wasn’t WRONG, but she neglected to mention the ILLUSIONS of rising and falling. Little Sister was pissed.

I thought it was a cool ride.

Since Universal is mostly rollercoasters, we didn’t do much more than walk around the park. We hit up Olivander’s in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I got a butterbeer, Moaning Myrtle haunted the bathroom, oh, and Ginny, Fred and George were there. I didn’t meet them, but I saw them.

meade

At Universal Studios, I caught the Horror Makeup Show, Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue, and a magic show.

lon

Lon Chaney’s makeup kit. I might have freaked out.

 

It was my very real fear that Chucky doll would animate and host the show. Thankfully, it didnt happen.

It was my very real fear that Chucky doll would animate and host the show. Thankfully, it didnt happen.

The Horror Makeup Show was hilarious. Having sat in the center front row, it was my treat to attempt to dislodge the stake from our host’s chest. I told them it was not advisable to remove the object of impalement, least he bleed to death.

They asked if I was a doctor.

I hemmed. “You… could… say that….”

Friday, we were back at Magic Kingdom (where I was once more in The Haunted Mansion), and we had high tea at the Grand Floridian Hotel, which is so wonderful. We had the Buckingham Tea, which consisted (for me) of a pot of Mad Tea Party tea, a selection of six finger sandwiches, a scone and strawberry tartlet, and a dessert. I got the English torte. I was delighted.

YUM

I rounded out our adventure by adding to my collection of Alice in Wonderland tea sets with four new cups, a tea-pot, and so much Wonderland tea I’ll be set for months.

tea

I also used an entire bottle of sunblock and as a reward, have not suffered sunburn. It’s a freaking miracle. Sadly, it wasn’t the most relaxing vacation and we weren’t home five minutes before mom and Little Sister were at each other’s throats. I might need a vacation from this vacation.

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#YesAllWomen, Including Me

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of or seen the #YesAllWomen tag on Twitter. It’s been highlighted by Time, on MSN, and the feed has been running since Friday. I don’t generally participate in hashtags or social commentary or political views. We’re taught to fear what we put out on the internet, but this tag is born of fear, born from the experiences of women, strangers and friends alike.

So I joined in. My dash was flooded by women and men retweeting my comments. I felt connected, and then horrified because we were connecting over abuse, tragedy, being told we are worthless because we are women. A lot of hate and backlash rose on that tag, from strangers belittling our experiences, to telling us to STFU, to responding to our accounts of being threatened with harm and death with threats of harm and death.

So I raised my voice.

b/c street harassment isn’t a compliment, and it’s sure as hell not a privilege.

b/c the women who AREN’T harassed FEEL UNWORTHY, DEVALUED AND ASHAMED. Never feel bad for a lack of NEGATIVE attention.

because YOU ARE WORTHY OF RESPECT, AUTONOMY and LOVE. Yet we’re constantly told we’re worthless.

What was more heartbreaking to me was realizing I had stories to tell as well, not just blanket statements of self-worth and self-love.

I’m constantly being told sexist jokes or being harassed by male customers. Would you tell your daughter that vibrator joke?

An older man was complaining about the price of batteries and told me it must be because of our (women’s) “vibrating companions.” Would you say that to your daughter? Your granddaughter?

No, the answer to “Did you find everything you needed?” is not “No, what’s your phone number?” or “Yeah, you and me on a plane to Mexico.”

My smile is not a token you deserve simply because you asked for one. Especially not if you DEMAND it from me.

I owe you nothing. Not my time, not my energy, not my smile, or my attention, or my body, or my love.

I will not “lighten up” when you make a sexist joke or comment at MY expense. I may work in retail, but I will burn you.

Because basic body parts are sexualized for women, but not for men. Should I cover my ankles, or are they too distracting?

Because I was told by MY FEMALE MANAGER that I couldn’t wear a tank top off clock b/c I was a DISTRACTION to my male coworkers.

Customers wear less. My epidermal layer of skin is not a distraction. It is SKIN. It’s also not my job to police my male coworkers’ actions. I won’t cover my shoulders because you think the joint connection my arm to my torso is an issue.

Yes, I graduated college. No, I didn’t graduate with an MRS. No I don’t need a husband to “take care of me.” Thanks for asking

My destiny is not merely to be someone’s wife.

If you ask if I’m married, and I say no, your next question should not be “Why not? You’re pretty enough.”

How about “Because it’s none of your business.”

And those are just the recent experiences.I’ve collected the tweets in Storify, which you can see here.

When I was in college, my roommate and I went into a Blockbuster looking for a movie. This guy followed us through the entire store, hovered as we checked out and followed us out. We drove out of that parking lot and took every back road we could to make sure he didn’t follow us to our college.

The same thing happened at a Target, where five guys in a Jeep honked and yelled at us and followed us into the parking lot. Did we “deserve it” because we were sitting in a car?

Last year, when I was in NYC, I ran around that city like I owned it. But when it was time to go back to the apartment, and I got on the subway, and I rode to the end of the line, that fear crept in. It was just me and an older male on the train. I left the station. He followed. Okay, well, there is only one exit after all. I turned my block. He followed. He stayed behind me right up to the apartment door.

My thoughts bent to murder. To rape. To being taken, beaten, robbed.

And then he held the door open for me and I realized the one thought that never crossed my mind was that he lived in the same complex.

There’s a lot of fear, and no, not everyone harbors the same fear or as much. Not all men are violent.

But this fear promotes two things: That all women are weak and all men are rapists.

Imagine you have a bowl of M&Ms in front of you. 10% of them are poisoned. Go on, eat a handful. Not all M&Ms will kill you. -TheFrogMan.

For every tweet on #YesAllWomen, there are five more ladies too afraid or too ashamed to speak out. It’s all fear, fear we’re letting perpetuate. Do you want this legacy for your sons and daughters?  A world built on hate? On violence?

I’d like to think I’m a self-reliant gal, but I have this fear. It creeps through the cracks of my confidence. No, it’s not all men, but it’s enough, and yes, all women have encountered them. Myself included.

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