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Jul. 24th, 2017 10:53 pm
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[personal profile] cupcake_goth
STILL! HEADACHE! FREE!

Since Thursday! This is a damn miracle, that's what it is.

And today we ordered me a motorized standing desk, because the (antique by now, it belonged to my grandparents) dining table I've been using as a workstation for my laptop and two monitors for the past three years was never a good idea. I'd never found an office chair that was tall enough to be comfortable at that table, and that doesn't take into account that any one that was even close enough to use at that table meant my feet didn't touch the ground.

So! Standing desk, arriving this week. It's a good thing I finished The Great Decluttering: The Workdesk over the weekend. (Well, almost finished. I still have to haul some boxes of things out from underneath the table, but that should be relatively easy. Plus the Stroppy One is going to help me.)

Aaaaaand I've finally FINALLY accepted that I need to carry smaller/lighter purses with less stuff in them. Yes, I've said this before (every couple of years, I think?), but it has been made very clear to me that I absolutely have to do this and stick with it. I'm currently making a shoulder strap for a vintage velvet handbag I have, which should be just large enough for me to carry the essentials:


  • Phone.

  • Wallet.

  • Powder compact and two tubes of lipstick.

  • Tiny pill case of anti-anxiety meds.

  • Keys.

  • Sunglasses.

  • Tiny notebook.

  • Pen.

  • Handkerchief.



And maybe, just maybe, my mini multi-tool and tiny sewing kit. What? I actually end up needing those two things fairly often.

NO HEADACHE. I don't think that will stop being astonishing to me any time soon.

Oh dear

Jul. 22nd, 2017 10:00 pm
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[personal profile] cupcake_goth
I have learned that there is a whole world of DIY kits for steeping/infusing your own bitters, that come with all of the "bitter" herbs and spices in the correct proportions. Just add them to alcohol with whatever fruit, flowers, or spices you want, infuse for a couple of weeks, strain out the solids and simmer them with some water, mix the two liquids together, and bottle.

I am very, VERY tempted by this. Because no one is making rose bitters right now, and I am almost out. HOW AM I TO MAINTAIN MY FANCY EXISTENCE WITHOUT ROSE BITTERS, I ASK YOU?

I know, I know, I don't need any more hobbies. But rose bitters! And it's not like I can enjoy rose syrup any more ...

This is weird. Good, but weird

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:53 pm
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[personal profile] cupcake_goth
Today was the Botox injections day. A total of six injections, one on each side in the muscles at the base of my skull, temple, and jaw. My headache (which had come back sometime last night) started lessening after the first two injections. Now? Now it is COMPLETELY gone. No trace.

Being completely headache-free is WEIRD. Awesome, absolutely! But weird. It's been a very, very long time since I've had that. (Like, years. I don't actually know how long.)

Nothing in my face feels odd or frozen, and I can move it like normal. (So, like a cartoon character, really.) Dr. Ryan the awesome dentist said that I should give him updates over the next couple of weeks, whenever I feel like it over on FB, and OMG we need to go makeup shopping together.)

(He also correctly identified which bunny I brought with me for emotional support. (Merricat.)) I LOVE DR. RYAN WITH A PURE AND UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

No headache. NO HEADACHE.

The next step is to talk to my doctor and get her help in convincing the insurance company to pay for this treatment every four months. If they won't, then I am seriously considering squeezing the household budget to pay the over-thousand-dollars ourselves, because this feeling is worth it.

---

In Shallow Fashion Craving news, I showed the Stroppy One that skirt from Amazon that I posted here the other night. He Did Not Approve of the graphic design. He liked the idea in theory, but felt the actually quality of the rose print was lacking. This is part of the fun of being married to an artist - they will give you useful feedback when you're looking at fashion.

(no subject)

Jul. 20th, 2017 05:36 pm
skygiants: Fakir from Princess Tutu leaping through a window; text 'doors are for the weak' (drama!!!)
[personal profile] skygiants
Death of a Pirate: British Radio and the Making of the Information Age is a fairly fascinating book that's trying to do a lot of things at once: the book starts out with the dramatic recounting of MURDER!!! and then immediately takes, if not a deep dive, at least a vigorous swim through such varied topics as the history of British radio and the BBC, Keynesian economic philosophy, copyright limitations, and the founding of Sealand in order to contextualize it.

Once we get back to the story of the murder itself, however, it turns out: IT'S BONKERS. The principals in the case are two pirate radio impresarios in 1966. Oliver Smedley, An Ardent Free-Trade Capitalist, was running a station called Radio Atlanta on a boat off the coast; Reggie Calvert, A Dance Hall Impresario, had taken over an entire abandoned British navy fort called Shivering Sands in the Thames Estuary and staffed it with a rotating encampment of youths running a station called Radio City. At one point Smedley and Calvert were going to have a merger, but then they had an ACRIMONIOUS BREAKUP spurred on in part by:

- the fact that Smedley was supposed to give Calvert a shiny new transmitter and instead provided an old one that never worked
- the fact that Smedley never paid all the bills he had promised Calvert that Radio Atlanta would pay
- the fact that Calvert got sick of all this and decided to merge with another station instead

The reason for all these pirate radio stations on boats and naval forts, by the way, is because in 1966 there was no legal pop radio in the UK (as explained, extensively, via the history of radio and Keynesian economic theory etc. that makes up the first half of the book). Because the pirates were technically outside of UK territory, on the other hand, they could technically get away with doing whatever they wanted, or at least the government like "it will be way too embarrassing to launch a huge naval raid against a bunch of youths on was a fort with a radio transmitter, so let's not."

HOWEVER, the fact that everything was happening outside of territorial waters where British laws and police had no jurisdiction BACKFIRED when:

- Ardent Free-Trade Capitalist Smedley decided he was so mad that Calvert had made a deal without him that he was going to MAKE SURE that the deal could never go through
- he was going to GET BACK HIS PROPERTY [the transmitter that had never worked]
- so he sent an ACTUAL OCCUPYING FORCE composed of out-of-work dockworkers to Shivering Sands, stole a bunch of key broadcasting equipment, took a bunch of it back to the mainland, and left a bunch of toughs to hold everybody who was on the station at that time hostage!!!
- (when they met the invading force, the hostage broadcasters were like 'welp' and made everybody tea)
- ("the vessel had to return briefly to pick up [the contractor who recruited the gang], who had been left behind drinking his tea")
- and then Smedley went to Calvert and his partner, an actual professional broadcaster, and was like 'I will not let you broadcast from there again or finish making your deal unless you pay me FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS'

Naturally, everyone involved was like 'wtf????' and refused to pay Smedley a dime; Calvert threatened to involve the police but the police were like 'ummmmmm technically we can't do anything for the same reasons we haven't been able to stop you from broadcasting;' Calvert then made a whole bunch of other even wilder threats; and all the hired dockworkers sat around cheerfully charging Smedley for hostaging operations which he was rapidly running out of money for.

Anyway, in the middle of all this, Calvert drove out to Smedley's house in the middle of the night and started screaming at him, and Smedley shot him and then claimed self-defense and that his HOSTILE OCCUPATION OF A POP RADIO STATION was just a little joke gone wrong! No harm no foul if only Calvert hadn't been so UPSET about it! It did help Smedley's self-defense case that Calvert happened to be carrying A FAKE PEN FULL OF NERVE GAS at the time, which apparently, according to his family, he always carried around just for safekeeping.

...so the author's point in writing about all this seems to be that a.) this incident was crucial in getting the pirate radio boats shut down and the formation of the current BBC radio system that includes actual pop radio, b.) that this is all a forerunner of later copyright battles and offshore data centers and so on, c.) pirate-radio-on-boats in the 1960s was a WILD TIME. About the latter, at least, he is most surely not mistaken.

(This has nothing to do with the main brunt of the book but I have to spare a mention for Radio City's chief engineer, who later was hired by the mob! to perform an assassination attempt!! using a spring-loaded hypodermic needle full of cyanide!!! in what it turns out was ACTUALLY a sting operation by the U.S. Treasury department who picked the hapless Radio City engineer to act as the assassin because "he needed the fee while being clearly incapable of killing anybody"!!!! This whole incident gets two pages in the book because it's somewhat irrelevant to the author's argument but seriously, where is this guy's movie?

For the record, the same mobsters then tried to intimidate Reggie Calvert's widow into selling them the remnants of the station and she was like 'lol no' and they were like '....well, when a lady knows her own mind, she knows her own mind! No hard feelings.')
cupcake_goth: (Default)
[personal profile] cupcake_goth


Yes? No?

On the one hand: B&W stripes! Giant red roses! Oooh, it's all very Night Circus, isn't it?

On the other hand, I can't tell if this is too busy. Plus, while it's a full skirt, it's also 100% polyester.

But let's be real here, I'll probably end up buying it.
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[personal profile] cupcake_goth
One problem with this new-ish fascination for vintage floral print full skirts is that so many of the sellers on Etsy and eBay use a slur in their description. I know they're clueless and think it evokes a free-spirited air, but dammit.

With that bit of venting out of the way, these are different ones I'm idly contemplating. (All images hotlinked from the various Etsy listings, because apparently that's an okay thing to do now, especially because places like Etsy are never going to run out of bandwidth.)

I really like this one.



The print is beautiful in this, but I'm not sure about the mix of colors?



This is probably my least favorite, mostly because it's similar to the skirt I have that kicked off this whole fashion tangent.

So that's a thing

Jul. 18th, 2017 07:52 pm
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[personal profile] cupcake_goth
Today I had a long-overdue dentist appointment, mostly for a cleaning and checkup. It was overdue because I've been busy and incapable of scheduling things, not because of any apprehension. I LOVE my dentist. As in, I have gone out for drinks with him and his hubby, because I adore him so. He's charming, sarcastic, and incredibly good at what he does.

After the checkup part was done, he asked me a bunch of questions about my (usual type of) migraines, then did some pressure tests on my jaw, temples, and the base of my skull. After I winced away from all of them, he said, "So yeah, your migraines? Probably tension headaches, because girl, you are tense".

Then he said he wanted to try something to double-check his theory, but that it would be "Fuck my life painful" for a few minutes on each side. But I trust him, so sure. Then he stuck his thumb into my mouth on one side, gripped the outside of my jaw, and applied what felt like an appalling amount of pressure. The pain rivaled the migraine that sent me to the ER, and then lessened after a few minutes. Then he did the same thing to the other side.

After he did this torture, my migraine went away. No, you don't understand. I have had some level of migraine pain every day for MONTHS. (Yes, I mostly just ignore it, because what other option was there that wasn't medication that left me a zombie?)

It turns out he has the same sort of issues, and after a lot of research, found the treatment that works for him, which is a fuckton of Botox injections in those three muscle groups. Guess what I'm doing on Thursday afternoon?

I won't lie: I'm kind of freaked out by this. Buuuuuuut, if this is able to drop the migraines, it's worth it.

(no subject)

Jul. 17th, 2017 08:54 pm
skygiants: C-ko the shadow girl from Revolutionary Girl Utena in prince drag (someday my prince will come)
[personal profile] skygiants
[personal profile] genarti read The Privilege of the Sword for the first time recently, because I had been telling her to since 2008, and then kept trying to talk to me about it. Unfortunately at this point I did not remember most of the things she was trying to talk to me about because I hadn't read it since 2007, so eventually I also had to reread it in self-defense.

It turns out this is still and probably will always be my favorite Ellen Kushner book. The central plotline follows Katherine, a cheerful young lady who gets invited to restore the family fortunes by going to live with her incredibly weird uncle in the big city and becoming a swordsman!

Unlike many plucky heroines, Katherine does not initially have really any interest at all in cross-dresing or becoming a swordsman. However, eventually she comes to enjoy swordfighting for its own sake, helped along by the mentorship of her incredibly weird uncle's nice ex-boyfriend, the necessity of dueling for a friend's honor, and the discovery that bisexuality and gender fluidity are potentially relevant concepts to her teen coming-of-age story.

...that's the A-plot! B, C, D, E, and F plots include:

- Katherine's mom's reparation of her relationship with Katherine's weird uncle
- Katherine's weird uncle's actress girlfriend's dreamy new cross-dressing fantasy Broadway show
- Katherine's weird uncle's unfortunate friendship breakup with his mathematician bestie
- Katherine's bff's attempts to overcome trauma from rape-by-fiance by engaging in romantic gay roleplay via letter-writing
- Katherine's other bff's attempts to overcome trauma from an abusive childhood by engaging in competitive voyeurism
- Katherine's bff's gigolo cousin's star-crossed romance with a scriptwriter/potter who is on the run from her abusive in-laws who do not appear in this book
- trade routes?? politics?????

I'm pretty sure that's not all the plots. There are so many plots in this book. It's fine because the plots are barely the point at best, the point is coming-of-age and life after trauma and thumbing your nose at Societal Conventions while getting to know and like yourself! I especially enjoy how in the end, spoilers )

(Note: emo murderous Alec from Swordspoint drives me up a wall in his own book, but is significantly more tolerable to me when he's just Katherine's incredibly weird uncle. I mean he still drives me up a wall here but it's much funnier when he's driving everyone else up a wall too.)
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[personal profile] cupcake_goth
Whooo, I would like to stop being exhausted. That can happen any time now, thanks.

But despite being woozy and exhausted, I did manage to get some badly-needed household chores done today. Then I changed back into a ruffled nightgown and flopped on the couch, reading vintage gothic romances. I guess that's my version of self-care now? Sure, why not.

I've also been noodling around more on Pinterest (clicky-link!), because having "witchy fashion", "romantigoth" and "chiffon death shrouds" boards is entertaining to me. Yes, I also created a "Gothic Charm School" board (erm, last night), because Thea read me the riot act about not actually having one. (Thea is the person who regularly busts my chops about my not being proactive about self-promotion. Yes, I know I need to be better about it, but that means I have to get over my fear of being self-aggrandizing? Something like that.) So I am going to try to be good about making sure there are pins for new GCS posts and whatnot, in addition to photos and fan art.

I have a couple more clothing alteration projects I want to do:


  • Fine-tune the alterations I'm doing to one of the batwing-hem jackets to turn it into a sleeveless, lace-up overdress thing. I thought I had it finished, but it turned out that taking it in down the back did something weird to the pull across the shoulders, and the resulting tension gave me a headache when I wore it on Friday night. (Not dissimilar to the types of headaches I would get if I wore a halter dress, and it went away as soon as I took the overdress off.)

  • Thea's mum, who is one of the kindest, magical people I know, has given me a stack of vintage (90s is not vintage, dammit!) floral rayon dresses. The ones that were made by Nostalgia or Starina. Apparently the bodices are worn or damaged, but she knows I'll turn the dresses into skirts. (I've developed a weird fondness for black with pink, red, or white florals from those manufacturers, worn with black lace overdresses and giant sunhats. Victorian Garden Witch*? I dunno.)

  • I need to unearth one of the full tiered black cotton skirts, and use it as the base for petticoat necromancy, wherein old chiffon and organza petticoats are cut apart and sewn onto a cotton skirt. Maximum floof underskirt, but with a lightweight, breathable fabric underlayer!



The problem with these clothing alteration projects is that I don't have anyplace right now to leave the sewing machine set up, so I have to drag it out each time I do something, then put it away. And by drag it out and put it away, I mean ask the Stroppy One to do that for me right now, because I have mom's vintage all-metal construction Elna from the early 70s, that thing is HEAVY, and I'm not supposed to crouch down and lift heavy things right now. Which brings me right back to I WOULD LIKE TO STOP FEELING EXHAUSTED ALL THE TIME, THANKS.





*Which reminds me, I found a brand-new pair of Dr. Marten's Triumph 1914 (clicky-link!) boots at Goodwill a few weeks ago. They're super-cute, I just need the weather to cool down a bit before I wear them.


(Seriously, florals? Even with everything else black? When did this happen? I am perplexed. Delighted, but perplexed. Which reminds me, I am contemplating this crushed velvet floral skirt, by Nostalgia (clicky-link!. But I'm not sure about the mix of colors.)

(no subject)

Jul. 16th, 2017 09:37 am
skygiants: Nellie Bly walking a tightrope among the stars (bravely trotted)
[personal profile] skygiants
Rose Melikan's The Blackstone Key is one of the few books I've grabbed at random off a library shelf recently without ever having heard of it. Then I immediately grabbed the next two books, The Counterfeit Guest and The Mistaken Wife, so I guess they were doing something right, although also several things not right.

These books are deeply fluffy YA-ish Regency espionage hijinks starring Mary Finch, an impoverished orphan schoolteacher turned (by the end of the first book) surprise heiress with an unexpectedly encyclopedic knowledge of British law and an enthusiastic penchant for Adventures! !! !!!

Captain Holland, the series love interest, is an artillery officer who is good at mechanics and up on new military technologies. Other salient characteristics include:
- a terrible tendency towards sea- and carriage-sickness
- an ongoing resentful inability to understand all the clever literary and historical references being tossed around by the rest of the characters
- CONSTANT MONEY STRESS

I'll be honest, he won me over during the first book when Mary's like "am I a bad person for worrying about how the outcome of all this espionage will affect my potential inheritance?" and he's like "DEFINITELY NOT, if anybody tells you they don't stress about money THEY ARE LYING."

Rose Melikan is a scholar of the period and very good on British military history. She is not so good on plot. The first book is complete, hilariously convoluted nonsense involving SMUGGLERS and CIPHERS and MYSTERIOUS WATCHES and a SURPRISE CHANCE-MET DYING VILLAIN. It turns out that spoilers )

The second book is probably my favorite and definitely the least nonsense plot-wise; it's about the 1797 naval mutinies, and Our Heroine gets recruited to spy on a plotter because she happens to know his wife and will likely be in his house, which does not stretch suspension of disbelief too very wildly. (It's also sort of entertaining to watch the author do a careful dance between what I suspect is a personal sympathy for unionization and strike tactics and the fact that Mass Military Mutiny Is Definitely A Bad Thing, Our Characters Must Stop It At Any Cost.)

...then in Book Three we are expected to believe that an actual professional spy sees no better alternative for an important espionage mission than taking a well-known youthful heiress and society figure whose salient skills are, as aforementioned, a knowledge of British law and an enthusiasm for Adventure, and sneaking her off to Paris in a fake marriage with a clueless American painter while her respectable household desperately tries to pretend she's in London the whole time. At this point suspension of disbelief goes straight out the window again.

I have mixed feelings about Book Three in general; it's the darkest of the three and several sympathetic characters die as a direct result of Our Heroes' espionage endeavors including infuriating spoiler ) I'm not here for that! I'M HERE FOR THE HIJINKS.
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[personal profile] cupcake_goth
Lessee, last I wrote, I was feeling better from chiropractic adjustments. That night, I was tripped by a certain large black cat, and fell down a couple of stairs. The bruise on my rear is spectacular. Thankfully, the fall didn't throw my back out again.

The doctor's appointment was good, and I have a follow-up on the 26, so we can go over the results of the x-rays of my upper spine and base of my skull, and the results of the mass of blood tests that are being run. But I kept having milder versions of the migraine that sent me to the ER ... and then on Sunday, the Stroppy One made me switch back to my old glasses (I'd gotten new ones in June), and we have determined that I probably gave myself hellacious eye strain over a few weeks. It is interesting to note that now that I've switched back to my previous glasses, the swings of vertigo and light sensitivity have died down.

And then on Monday, I slid down two stairs again and banged my right arm up. (Not Vlad's fault this time, but my own carelessness.) And the rotten cherry on this sundae of nonsense: all of this has left me exhausted, so I'm not able to get as much done as I want, and therefore I am feeling unproductive and guilty.

WHY, BRAIN RACCOONS? WHY?!

But! I got a new Gothic Charm School post written, I did slooooowly manage to get a couple of mending projects done, and the bedroom is still tidy after last month's Great Uncluttering. And I'm sloooowly stepping up my witchy work, because it makes me feel better.

(no subject)

Jul. 12th, 2017 11:26 pm
skygiants: Hazel, from the cover of Breadcrumbs, about to venture into the Snow Queen's forest (into the woods)
[personal profile] skygiants
With Sorrow's Knot I think I have now finished reading everything from Erin Bow's backlog, which is good in that I have consistently enjoyed it all, but bad in that I have no more Erin Bow backlog.

All of Erin Bow's work (I can now say, having read all of it) is in some way about death and undeath and the wildly unhealthy ways in which human beings react to loss; however, Sorrow's Knot is EVEN MORE explicitly about this than most. The book focuses on Otter and her friends Kestrel and Cricket, who are all pretty sure they know what they're going to do when they grow up: Kestel is going to be a ranger, Cricket is going to become a storyteller (despite being a boy and getting a certain degree of side-eye for deciding to stay in the women's village at all -- everyone knows it's dangerous in the forest and boys don't have any power to protect themselves with, sorry boys!), and Otter is going to train with her mother Willow and Willow's teacher Tamarack to learn the very important job of being a binder, aka Person Who Stops The Dead From Coming Back And Killing Us All.

Then Tamarack dies -- and then Willow abruptly and without explanation decides she doesn't want Otter becoming a binder after all -- and then the knots that stop the dead from coming back to haunt the living begin unraveling -- and then more people die -- and then Otter and friends get to go on a road trip! It's not a super fun road trip and it unsurprisingly features several close encounters with the dead.

I really liked the worldbuilding and the slow and careful work that Bow does to build out the daily lives of the characters and the culture -- it's a North American-based world without European influence, and I'm certainly not qualified to comment on how well it's done, but to me it felt interesting and non-obvious. Also, Otter's world is almost entirely composed of women and everything revolves around Significant Mother-Daughter Relationships and it's great, although Erin Bow sadly had not yet discovered lesbians as of this book. (Though I feel like perhaps this is the book that led to her discovering lesbians? Like, I do wonder if someone came up to Erin Bow and pointed out that she'd written a matriarchal village where Actual Heterosexual Romance is explicitly rare and still somehow only featured Actual Heterosexual Romance onscreen, and Erin Bow was like 'WHOOPS OK SORRY I'LL MAKE IT UP TO YOU' and then we got The Scorpion Rules. Which, I mean, if this is the case, I guess I'm not complaining, I'm very happy to have The Scorpion Rules!)

I also really liked the importance of stories and storytelling and lore and bits and pieces of information shared and not shared, but the pacing of the way those stories are shared with the reader sometimes felt a little off to me; there were occasionally times, especially towards the end, when I felt like the book was leading me to expect a Big Reveal that had already been revealed. But, I mean, the point of the book is not really to Reveal, it's to examine grief -- and as I have mentioned above, Bow is exceptionally good on grief.

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