About Me

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I am the creator of steampunk reviews, a woman in love with history, mystery, and the fine things of life, though not necessarily in that order. As a self-styled aristocrat, I've aimed to cultivate an old world (real or constructed via movies being irrelevant to me) sense of elegance and taste, and have been going to great lengths to fulfill that goal. It is my aim to live a life that is enjoyable, rather than one obsessed with being 'perfectly good for me in every way'.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Current interests, part 2

Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne. This anime looks like a total mind screw, on so many separate levels. From what I've gathered about it, it is most certainly not for the faint of heart, and anyone who's interested in watching it should go in fully aware that it is for the mature crowd in every sense of the word. I still plan on seeing it, though. I've yet to meet any book/film/tv series/anime that could freak me out enough to make me totally flip my wig. I have, on the other hand, encountered just the *descriptions* of a few internet memes that did just that. Draw your own conclusions as to which ones they were.

Cooking and Indian food. I've recently gone off on a huge cooking jag, and have been absorbing recipes right left and center. I don't think we'll be treated to my turning into Julie from Julie and Julia but I think you can all certainly expect to hear about my cooking endeavors, experiments, and abject failures. I am currently focusing my attentions on Indian cuisine, mostly due to the fact that volume four of Black Butler featured copious references to curry and piqued my interest. I also have been drinking more chai tea, specifically a new flavor from Teavana known as Maharaja Chai Oolong. Oh my word, it's spectacular!

The Secret History. This has always been one of my favorite books, but I've recently been re-reading it (or at least re-reading specific passages). The plot, which features a group of sophisticated classics students who get sucked into their own modern version of a Greek tragedy, is gripping in the extreme. The book is notable for its amazing characterization and superb (albeit deliciously dysfunctional) group dynamics, and I've always been fond of two of the lead characters: Henry Winter, a Mycroft Holmes-esque polymath with ice in his veins and a nasty attitude, and Francis Abernathy, an aristocratic drama king whose shoes I often seem to find myself in when I'm at Miskatonic. (Feelings on that subject: THANK GOD I'M HOME.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Etiquette: You are not exempt from it.

I suspect I am not the only person this has happened to. Tell me when this starts sounding familiar: You spend the first decade or so under the careful tutelage of your parents, who do their absolute damnedest to instill good manners and etiquette in you, their offspring. If your upbringing was similar to mine, this also involved being taken to various formal events where it was an unspoken fact that bad behavior would be eliminated with extreme prejudice, further cementing the behavior. You may not think of yourself as egregiously polite or well mannered, but that’s primarily because you spend most of your time in contact with those who hold themselves to a similar standard, whether any of you know it or not. Everything is dandy.
Then one day you find yourself in an environment where none of this holds true. This may or may not occur when one is in any level of grade school. For myself, I certainly experienced less than pleasant exchanges with many of my fellow students in high school, but I usually chalked that up to their dislike of me, rather than their having been raised in a barn. My big awakening occurred at Miskatonic. ANYWAY, you have been dropped on your ass amongst a bunch of cretins who don’t say please, thank you, or bother with utensils. Usually, I find, this inspires rage and frustration in the subject, and, if you’re Hannibal Lecter, psychopathic behavior. For me, it certainly entrenched my misanthropic view of humanity even deeper.

So let’s get something straight here: MANNERS ARE NOT OPTIONAL, FOR ANYONE. They provide orchestration and direction that prevents idiotic mishaps. Perfect example: Last week I was going down a narrow, crowded stair case. I kept to the right, AS YOU SHOULD, and so did most people. A few jackasses, however, decided that the line wasn’t moving fast enough, went into the ‘oncoming’ lane, and tried to make a break for it…only to have people need to get past them on their way up. Cue massive pile-up and delay. And for those who say that manners are sexist, I have this reply: They shouldn’t be. Just as an example, everyone should hold doors for everyone else, gender being utterly besides the point, and those having doors held for them should thank the holder. (As a side note, I find most women to be far ruder than men. They don’t bother to hold doors, smack people with their purses, and act infuriatingly entitled in every damn way you can imagine. NOT ACCEPTABLE, FELLOW FEMALES.)
Finally, there comes a point where things just go to far and, in my opinion, the only correct response to such blatant rudeness is to throw it back in the face of its progenitor. To illustrate: The Miskatonic café has limited seating. Around lunch time, when I am usually there, the seating becomes even more limited when scores of troglodytes troupe in, drop their bags and coats on every table in sight, and then go to lunch, leaving their things, supposedly secure in the knowledge that the table in question is ‘saved’ for them and rendering people like me, who can’t get there till class lets out, SOL if they want to sit down to eat a meal like a civilized human being. After a few weeks of this, I lost my temper and decided to play their game. So if there is nowhere to sit in the café I MAKE a place, shoving people’s stuff to the side or transferring them to another table and taking what wasn’t theirs to begin with. Obviously I’ve received blowback for doing so, but in every case I’ve been able to use a combination of good manners and a pointedly worded explanation that should make the idiot brigade in question think twice before usurping a table they won’t even be using. 
As an added bonus, manners are far more productive than *eating* someone, fava beans or no. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dress has always been my strongest suit

Recently, while thinking about the impending Steam Expo, I was struck by a bolt of clothing related terror. All my outfits seemed shabby, most certainly unfit for an aristocrat intending to make her obligatory splash at a big Steampunk con. I frantically began searching the internet for some new outfits but - Quelle horreur! - all were so expensive and I needed that cash to purchase a mask for the masked ball! I was in a state of full blown hysterics when I actually bothered to start digging through my closet. That's when I realized that there was nothing wrong with my wardrobe - only with my perception of it. I had plenty of outfits, but lack of reason to get dressy had stunted my memory. So I began a delighted reunion with my varied bustles, corsets, and bloomers, and came to an understanding. Simply put: A wardrobe renovation need not require breaking the bank.

Step 1: If you feel your clothing habits have stagnated, it's best to ask yourself why. In my case, being shut up in Misktonic without any real reason to get dressed up had driven a couple nails into the coffin of my struggling fashion sense, aided by the fact that the bitterly cold winter precluded anything less than the sturdiest outfits. Jeans were the only reasonable leg-wear, coats were mandatory, and the threat of frostbite was certainly enough to keep me out of my silks and lace in favor of down and canvas (the winter did, however, provide a good reason to wear fur).

Step 2: Begin any potential renovating by getting reacquainted with your various clothes. Go through drawers. Dig through closets. As soon as I began to do this I discovered I had plenty of perfectly wonderful outfits just waiting to happen. Remember that both closets and drawers (as well as hat boxes, bureaus, chifforobes, laundry bags, wardrobes, attics, and what have you) are sneaky bastards who tend to skew your opinion of the state of your clothing affairs. Act accordingly.

Step 3: If you feel the need, remove any worn out clothes/clothes you just have absolutely no use for whatsoever. It may occur that your drawers are packed full of perfectly awesome day and night wear, but all that has been buried under ugly but well intentioned sweaters from Aunt Millie or t-shirts your co-workers/fellow students/WHOEVER keep giving you. Get rid of these. Give them away, re-gift them, turn them into quilts, use them as cat beds, stuff them under the door to prevent drafts, just get them the hell out of your wardrobe.

Step 4: Assess what is left behind. Is your selection of clothing satisfying? Do you feel you have too much of one thing and too little of another? Here is where you begin planning - if you find the need - to go shopping for fresh clothes. Be strategic. Don't just go out any buy a whole bunch of stuff because 'you need something new'. Instead, decide that, for example, you could use more leg wear and carefully select three pairs of new trousers that you can match to almost anything. Hell, if you can afford it go out and get three pairs of all purpose trousers tailor made for you. Using forethought in wardrobe renovation means you should have fewer things to buy and, as consequence, allows you to spend more money on them to make sure they last.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Current interests, part 1

The Kowloon Walled City: I hadn't heard of this place (it is no longer in existence, for better or worse) till today, and quite honestly I'm fascinated. Virtually any fan of Sci Fi, Fantasy, and, of course, Steampunk, is well acquainted with the trope of a slum, often walled off from an otherwise perfectly respectable city, where the buildings have grown so out of control that people walking around at the ground level can't actually see the sky, where police refuse to go into unless
in force, and wbere one can go from one side of the place to the other without ever needing to touch the ground. Whether it's the Narrows of Batman Begins, the Infinite Fortress from Getbackers, or the Raft from Snow Crash, the trope is EVERYWHERE. And, as I discovered today, there was, once upon a time, just such a place in reality. That place was the Kowloon Walled City. Look it up. It's kinda weirdly awesome.

Merimask: Expo time is creeping up on me again, and as such it's time for me to buy a new mask for the masquerade ball. So, as I have in the past, I turn to Merimask. This supremely talented mask-maker has been putting out some truly gorgeous new designs, including this particularly lovely specimen that I'm salivating over. The mask was inspired by the Greek god Hermes. And is uber expensive. But, my god, I just may starve myself so that I can buy it.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Yeah, I know. Me and everyone else. Honestly, though, if you get into the book or see the (ORIGINAL SWEDISH) movie, and cannot be just a *little* enamored of Lisbeth Salander and the sheer level of badass she embodies, I suggest you go hide under whatever sheltered rock you came out from under and stay there.
Rasputina: This band has obviously been around for quite a long time, and I’d heard about them in passing, but only recently did I start listening to them, and I’ve become very fond of the music.
Red Riding Hood: Yes, it’s directed by the same woman who did Twilight, but it looks so pretty….and it has Gary Oldman….and whatever you say about the Twilight films, the issue with them is more inherent in the source material than the actual direction. That and Kristen Stewart seriously needs to wake up fully before she opens her mouth. And Robert Pattinson needs a bath.