Thursday, May 21, 2009


Have you ever watched the 1996 French film "Microcosmos?" It is intensely awesome. That up-close with the lives of insects and so intimately involved with the state of the Earth, it is a new way of looking at things. And, the way it is filmed makes you feel as though it's all fake--just a little dreamworld. It is quite lovely, between the nearly still, simple images to the downright laughable parts. And, you certainly shouldn't miss the highly dramatic and somewhat awkward snail love scene, set to beautiful operatic music.

This video is made by YouTube user jthelms. It is Radiohead's song "All I Need" set to scenes from "Microcosmos." Very lovely!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

2010: The Year of Lewis Carroll

Oh my goodness. I don't think that any movie except for Sophia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette" has much influenced fashion and design lately. But, in 2010, this is very likely to change. You see, 2010 is the release year for Tim Burton's mostly-live-actor remake of "Alice in Wonderland" and Marilyn Manson's "Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll." No, read that again. Yes, Marilyn Manson.

It may surprise you that Marilyn Manson is venturing into film, but he has long expressed a desire to explore film and art forms other than just music. "Art?!" you scoff, "Marilyn Manson doesn't make art!" Well, call it what you will, but whatever it is, he has done it unabashedly (but if he ever tries to cover Gary Numan's "Down in the Park" again...).

And, I have incredibly high hopes for his upcoming film, which is a deeper look into the man behind Alice in Wonderland, a man which Manson describes as being of "a split personality--a person who was deaf in his right ear and left-handed. He was a mathematician and an artist, a deacon in a church who believed in evolution."

The story that Manson is choosing to tell in his film follows Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Charles Dodgson, as he unfolds his novel and is haunted by his creations. Manson relates to Carroll in a way, which is why he has chosen him as the center of his movie. Explains Manson, both he and Carroll are "odd," creating mostly at night, and have changed their names in an attempt to reinvent themselves--or hide from past demons.

Manson's film is an attempt to bring back Alfred Hitchcock-style horror, something I am incredibly grateful for. I cannot stand blood, gore, and the meaninglessness of current horror films. Says Manson, "Sometimes what you don’t see is scarier." He also mentions that he would like to skip the computer-animated effects altogether, instead opting for a magician alone.

The premise of the movie, then, is Lewis Carroll, played by Marilyn Manson himself, haunted by his creations. It also includes someone whom I'm very excited about (and is basically the reason I needed to write this post)--Lily Cole as Alice! I'm not sure why, but ever since I saw her in a Vogue-produced magazine called Fashion Rocks about three years ago, alongside Marilyn Manson, I have been intrigued. In the spread with Marilyn Manson, she rocks a kind of goth/punk vibe, which I enjoy immensely. She has a lovely, doll-like face, but something darker there too. I find it to be kind of a welcome departure from the almost too light and cheerful trend recently. Don't get me wrong--I love ditsy flower prints as much as you, but I enjoy diversity and dark mystery, cozy comfort, too. Oh! It also has another light-and-dark girl, this one a past girlfriend of Manson, Evan Rachel Wood. She plays Alice's alter ego. I'm beginning to think Manson should just go the whole nine yards and stick another of his past muses in his movie--Fiona Apple.

The soundtrack will likely be original music by Manson that was "too theatrical" to be placed on any of his albums, and also probably the song "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" by Roxy Music. Umm. Should be interesting.

Will Manson go completely over-the-top with this? Of course. It may be altogether unpleasant to watch. But at least it will be an attempt at innovation, and hey, it will have Lily Cole in it. It doesn't particularly get better than that.

The other Lewis Carroll movie, for which my excitement pales in comparison to "Phantasmagoria," is Tim Burton's remake of "Alice in Wonderland." Burton has once again cast his crew of regulars, including Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Burton's wife Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen. Also a return from Alan Rickman (as the Caterpillar, how great!), who is just generally an enjoyable actor. Nothing impressive of his casting of Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. I don't think I've ever seen her in an enjoyable movie. But, I am excited about Stephen Fry as the Chesire Cat! Oh my goodness! He was so great in "V for Vendetta." There are several other noteable actors and actresses, but that is what the IMDB page is for.

So who is Alice? It is Mia Wasikowska, whom I've never heard of, but that just makes her all the more interesting. She beat out Lyndsay Lohan and Amanda Seyfried, both of "Mean Girls" fame, for the role. I would kind of have liked to see Lindsay Lohan, but it's just because of my potentially unhealthy love of redheads.

This film is Burton's remake of sorts of Disney's 1951 film. However, this is essentially a new story, more focused on Alice's return to Wonderland several years later. She finds it rather overgrown and perhaps a bit haunted, but very colourful still. She escapes from Victorian society, where she finds she doesn't exactly fit in, to visit Wonderland. It perhaps will be an interesting take.

Really, it's likely that neither movie will be exactly what we want as far as plot goes (much like "Marie Antoinette")...but, they will likely be a lovely montage of decorating ideas, if nothing else. And, I am still unabashedly excited for "Phantasmagoria." For sure.

What are your preliminary thoughts on these films? And who are your favourite light-and-dark girls (and, for goodness sake, suggest a different name for such girls, haha!)?

(Images of Lily Cole and Marilyn Manson from Fashion Rocks magazine; other two are Google images, hooray!)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hungarian Fruit Squares.

A few weekends ago, I visited my mom for Mother's Day. She informed me the day before that I needed to make desert, so I chose something easy and delicious--Hungarian fruit squares. They're good for last-minute deserts because the materials are almost all household staples.

For this recipe, you need:

3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup margarine/butter

2 eggs, beaten

2 tsp vanilla

2 10 oz. (possibly more, depending on your taste) jam/jelly/preserves of any flavour

optional: chopped walnuts

Simply sift together your flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. We ended up using salted butter, so we used half of the salt recommended (and it really made no difference). Using your mixer (or arm strength if you're a warrior), cut in your butter/margarine. Add your beaten eggs and vanilla, and mix.

Set your oven for 350 degrees and grease your cookie sheet (disregard my fruit squares photo...because obviously I had no cookie sheet). Divide your dough, 3/4 and 1/4, and stick your 1/4 mixture in the fridge. Spread the remaining 3/4 of the dough onto the cookie sheet. Spread half of your jam on one half of the dough, and the other half on the other. I chose this great kiwi jam and also conchord grape jam that Cody's dad made. We had a ton of both, and they were delicious!

Once the remaining 1/4 is fairly chilled, spread some flour on your work surface (and your rolling pin...or uhh Pom glass as was the case for me) and roll it out. Then, cut it in thin strips for lattice-work over the top. My grandmother used to use a fancy-edged tool to make it look really pretty, but it will look nice either way. You might want to try to press the edges of the lattice into the bottom dough, but it really is fine either way. At this point, you can sprinkle a few walnuts over the top. I chose not to because we didn't have walnuts on hand, and because Cody is allergic to nuts.

Bake for 30 minutes, cut, and serve!

Friday, May 15, 2009


We had a lot of white-tailed deer where I grew up in Ohio. As you drove at night, you would see their eyes, glinting yellow or green, along the road. They always traveled in groups. People tried to hunt them, but to no avail. Our county was simply overrun with them.

I followed their trampled-earth trails in the woods, and sometimes found the ground beaten down where they had slept for the night. There is something poetic about a deer; they are so elegant and beautiful.

Cardboard Safari. Recycled cardboard that comes to you ready to assemble. They have bison and other trophy heads as well.

E. Soule. Great Polaroid prints! They make me dream of a beautiful little world.

I Suwanee mentioned her mom's "banantlers." They are so fantastic...I am completely reminded of hunting for deer antlers in the woods and fields. Bucks rub them off on trees after mating, and you have to get to them before the mice do.

This office over at Apartment Therapy just makes me giddy. The silly deer (maybe more of a caribou?); the green glass; the antique table; the plant; the's all so quirky and perfect.

(First photo is of Neko Case, a fantastic singer/songwriter/musician)

Friday, May 8, 2009


I have been wanting to start a covers version of my blog for a little while now, so I thought I'd start it off with the song "Jimmy," or "Jimmy Adja/Aaja," which seems to mean "Jimmy, come here" in Hindi. I really consider a cover to be successful when it has taken an original song and made it new in the style of the artist covering it, and here is a great cover of a song from a 1982 Bollywood movie called "Disco Dancer." It was remade with new English lyrics (minus the chorus, of course!) by the amazingly talented M.I.A. M.I.A.'s version was later covered by my favourite band at this time, Of Montreal, who slowed it down into a less hyper little groove.

So, to start with, I have an unnatural obsession with Indian culture. I'm not sure where I picked this up (perhaps my favourite childhood movie, the 1995 remake of "A Little Princess?" This was also probably the origin of my attic fascination, love of Victorian fashion, and strange obsession with mopping...?!), but my ultimate dream country has got to be India. I guess I have a longing for an incredible vibrancy in life--I'm attracted strongly to kirtans, which is a mimicking song (or can also refer to a group of people gathered to sing devotional songs) like in bhakti (devotional) singing, or India's devotional songs, called rajas. I actively practice yoga and am interested in the religions, languages, foods, ideologies, and everything else about India. I also have a quirky penchant for the overly-dramatic aspect of Indian culture.

When I lived near downtown Boulder, I loved going to Gypsy Jewel. It was honestly the absolute greatest store that Boulder had to offer. True antiques from all parts of Asia, it had things you didn't know existed (at least outside of movies!). Didn't know you could really and truly purchase. It was fantastic. The owner of the shop was beautifully eccentric and absolutely glowed. I loved talking with her about her adventures to India, and I always left desperately yearning to travel. One of my favourite aspects of her shop--excluding the altars where you could leave a few pennies to a Buddhist or Hindu effigy--were her Bollywood movie posters. Epically and hilariously dramatic, they depicted Indian women with tears streaming down their faces or evil-looking men strangling other men with ties. Seriously. Epic.

So, in light of that, you have to understand now my weird obsession with Bollywood. And so begins our look at the song "Jimmy," originally from "Disco Dancer." Check out this freakin' pristine video. Though please excuse the poor quality. Eh, YouTube. Ya'know.

Fast forward. Over 20 years later: M.I.A.'s cover. M.I.A. is a British-born artist of Sri Lankan descent. You likely know her from the song "Paper Planes." She is probably, in my opinion, one of the most innovative artists still creating music. In her cover, M.I.A. keeps up with the Bollywood version in terms of hyperactivity and general style. For example, her video just screams "Bollywood!" However, M.I.A. has made the song her own by writing new English lyrics to the verse and incorporating her own loud (and awesome!) fashion sense into the video. M.I.A. rewrote the song after a journalist exploring Rwanda offered to take her on a "genocide tour," though she declined and wrote the song instead. M.I.A. is just cool.

Lastly, I cannot even imagine anything more amazingly perfect than my favourite artist currently (whom I fell in love with all over again after downloading their album "Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?"), Of Montreal, to combine so many of my favourite elements. Of Montreal transform this song into a pretty chill and kinda funky beat. I just love that about them. Those of you familiar with Of Montreal will hear that this cover is a little more groove-worthy than dance-worthy like much of their other work, but it still carries a lot of Of Montreal's elements, which is why it's completely awesome. I think they would have made a fantastic music video for this song, but alas, that has not yet happened. Instead, enjoy the mp3!

I hope you are having a great Friday. =)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Book shopping!

My Half-Price Book finds for today:

Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni, which is a memoir of growing up in an Iranian diaspora community in the U.S., and also moving back to Iran as an American.

The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad, which I talked about in this post.

Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez, about an American woman who helps women in Afghanistan by opening a cosmetology school and allowing Afghanistan's women to become breadwinners for the family.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, a memoir about teaching Western literature to Iranian women.

The Solitude of Self by Vivian Gornick, a short reflection on Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who fought against slavery, pushed for women's suffrage in the mid-1850s, and then finally took on the power of the church. Awesome much?

I have also been trying out Swap Tree, which I have enjoyed thoroughly. This week I traded Faust and The Member of the Wedding from a comparative studies class I took last quarter. In return, I received:

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, is on the Oprah's Book Club list, which is good enough for me.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, about an autistic kid who doesn't understand human emotions, and is initially blamed for the death of a neighbor's dog.

Cody's finds for today:

Moby Dick by Herman Melville, you know.

Black Hole by Charles Burns, because it's my favourite graphic novel! Totally creepy, it's about a mysterious STD that's being passed around at a Washington-area high school in the 70's.