Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Favorites 3.8.13



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Have you seen these gorgeous anatomical portraits by Fernando Vicente Vanitas? They're some of my all-time favorites and I do believe I may have found a new favorite artist in Vanitas (though I'll always have a soft spot for the art of Mark Ryden). I would love to purchase prints of some of these to decorate my bedroom when I finally redo it. 

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Whenever I go to flea markets and antique stores, I love digging through boxes of old photographs hoping I run across gems like the one above. This photo is one of my absolute favorites, though sadly, I found it online and not in a dust covered box at the back of a secondhand shop. But seriously, what on earth is the context behind this photo? What possessed this dude to throw on a Mach 5 and stand there all NBD? And why doesn't the woman look remotely phased or amused by it? I could spend hours imagining different scenarios that led to this photograph being taken, but alas, I'll never know. Someone should write a bad ass short story about it and send it to me!

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While I typically consider myself more of an arachnid lover than an insect person, I have a strange obsession with members of the Acherontia family, better known as the Death's Head Moth. I recently got one of these  ghoulish looking fiends forever imprinted on my skin in the form of a tattoo I've been too lazy to take pictures of. This wooden necklace by Enchanted Leaves on Etsy is simply gorgeous, don't you think?

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I really don't know what else to say about this other than it's a cat dressed as Amy Winehouse, and therefore, it would be my spirit animal if I believed in such things.

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March is traditionally Colorado's snowiest month, so if you're wondering why I'm posting yet another scarf DIY during what should be "springtime," that's what's up. I love this scarf I found on Nome e' para Fracos, and I'm glad I can pretty much figure out how to make it from the images above since I won't pretend for a moment I speak a word of Portuguese (though it is a lovely language and I definitely wouldn't mind learning it someday).

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Oh dear, this ridiculous meme/picture/whatever had me in stitches the first time I ran across it on Tumblr. Since I found it on a site where no one seems capable of sourcing 90% of what they post, I hope I'm actually attributing it to the proper person. If not, and the original creator happens to stumble upon my blog, I'm sorry. Don't sue me. Just let me know and I'll fix it.

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Nimble Matters is the only taxidermist on Etsy I feel comfortable buying from, because I know she doesn't kill any of her creations and instead opts to use frozen mice from a pet store. I purchased a lovely little mouse from her as a gift for Zack for our first anniversary, and her work never ceases to amaze me. I recently quit smoking, and I'm half tempted to add this delightful little creature to my collection to commemorate the occasion.
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Could you imagine flipping through your local paper or favorite magazine and stumbling across an ad like the one above? I can. And it would be awesome. I would order a Yorick of my own straight away.


Ladies I Admire

In case you didn't know, today is International Women's Day, a day all about celebrating how awesome it is to be a woman, and naturally that makes today an entirely appropriate day for this post. You could say I'm about as big on the concept of "Girl Power" as the Spice Girls were back in 1996, and thus, I really, really like seeing women who have found success doing something they love. If what they love happens to be the slightest bit obscure or taboo, I'm even more impressed and interested. Since my own interests tend to border on the strange and macabre, I think it's only natural for me to look up to women who deal in such things. 

Alas, I have rambled on enough. Here's a list of women I admire immensely whom I feel should be celebrated today.

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Caitlin Doughty -- also known as the Rachel Ray/Martha Stewart/Paula Dean of Death -- is on a mission: to change the way you, me and the rest of the world think about the ever so taboo subject of death. She's the gal who started The Order of the Good Death, and in her own words; 

"The Order is about making death a part of your life. That means committing to staring down your death fears- whether it be your own death, the death of those you love, the pain of dying, the afterlife (or lack thereof), grief, corpses, bodily decomposition, or all of the above. Accepting that death itself is natural, but the death anxiety and terror of modern culture are not."

She also has a series of slightly hilarious informational videos on Youtube called "Ask a Mortician" where she tackles many user-submitted questions regarding the big sleep, including such gems as Do caskets explode? How does decomposition work? and Do corpses poop? -- complete with a cheesy theme song, silly sound effects and lots and lots of death-related puns. I tend to think of her as a more attractive and more lively version of the Crypt Keeper from "Tales from the Crypt."

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(Yes, there are a lot of pretty ladies holding human skulls in this post)

Lindsey Fitzharris -- Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris, I should say --  is the woman behind the case files at The Chirurgeon's Apprentice, a blog dedicated to the gruesome history of pre-anesthetic surgery and other ooky things. She's a medical historian with a doctorate in 17th-century alchemical medicine, which is basically just a fancy way of saying she's a professional bad ass. Some of my favorite posts of her's include Syphilis: A Love StoryReal Life Zombies: A History of Cotard's DelusionThe Rotten Tooth: A Brief History of Dentistry and Behind the Mask: The Plague Doctor. Oh, did I mention she's also currently working on a television documentary called "Medicine's Dark Secrets"? Does that sound nearly as interesting to you as it does to me? Wonderful! You can watch the trailer here.
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If you've ever seen the show Oddities, you're probably already well acquainted with Laura Flook, the mortician turned model turned fashion designer who's a regular customer at Obscura. She's also been featured on the spin off, Odd Folks Home. Laura is probably on my top five list of people I would love to hang out with for an afternoon because she's just.... super out there and I think she's fascinating. Her clothing is inspired by Victorian fashion and memento mori, and her dresses are absolutely stunning.



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Current Reads: Cadavers, Crypts and the Afterlife

My friend Melissa is one of those people who, rather than telling you how supportive she is about decisions you've made, shows you by showering you in gifts relevant to said decisions. The decision I'm referring to would be my choice to make a living in the industry of death, and these books were gifts from Melissa for my birthday last week. Being the ridiculously indecisive person that I am, I couldn't choose which to pick up first so I'm currently reading all of them simultaneously.


First up we have The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade by Thomas Lynch, which is essentially part autobiography/part philosophical rambling about death through the eyes of a small town funeral director. It covers everything from late night removals and pre-arrangements to the author's experience embalming his own father, and it's a fascinating -- though rather depressing -- read. While the prose in this one is fantastic (Lynch has also published a number of poetry books), I've had a hard time reading this one because it's just so damn gloomy. I know, you're probably thinking "Well obviously, Bronwyn, it's a book about death" and wondering how on earth I plan on working amongst the dead 365 days a year if a silly book had me feeling down in the dumps. The best way I can explain it is Lynch is a little bit too honest at times. Some of the thoughts he puts forth are things I think we all think from time to time, but they're the sort of things we only let cross our minds for a finger-snap's length of time before we force ourselves to imagine, puppies, kittens and other cuddly, happy things.



Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach is a book I'm pretty sure every current and/or aspiring funeral director has read in his or her lifetime. Roach discusses over 2,000 years worth of shit corpses have been put through in the name of science, including being tested in guillotines and riding in space shuttles. She attempts to tackle it with a twinge of humor, which may seem out of place to some but keeps it from reading like a mortuary science textbook you'd be assigned in Funeral Service 101. Her descriptions are also a bit gory at times, so I don't recommend this one for the faint of heart or the easily offended. 




Another book by Mary Roach, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife is perhaps one of the most interesting (to me at least) books on this list, and the title pretty much tells you exactly what it's about. In Roach's own words, it's "a book for people who would like very much to believe in a soul and in an afterlife for it to hang around in, but who have trouble accepting these things on faith." As an atheist who's on the fence about whether we go to some other realm, come back as insects or simply cease to exist when we die, I'm really enjoying the information and theories presented in this book. Again, it has Roach's trademark wit and humor which rubs a lot of people the wrong way (just take a five second peek at her reviews on Amazon and you'll see what I mean) but being an incredibly politically incorrect person myself, I've taken little issue with this.



Melissa picked out Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts: A History of Burial by Penny Colman for me because she thought it looked like it would make an excellent coffee table book, and while it's certainly by no means an all encompassing or comprehensive history of burial practices and rituals, it's been a good read nonetheless. It discusses various burial rites from different cultures around the world, and I think it's a great starter book for people who are just beginning to gain interest in death culture (yeah, that's a thing) and history.



I'm always on the hunt for new books, and I enjoy reading a wide variety of genres covering many different subjects. I also love, love, love receiving recommendations for new books I should read! What books have you read (or are currently reading) that you think I should check out for myself?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Favorites 3.1.13


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No, that is not a bad Photoshop job and yes, this perfume by Demeter Fragrance Library  really does exist and is in fact called "Funeral Home." Alas, it does not smell like formaldehyde, decomposition or death in general, but rather like "lilies, carnations, gladiolus and chrysanthemums, with a hint of mahogany and oriental carpet." Marvelous. That sounds like something I could totally get down with. Since Bath & Body Works discontinued my Dark Kiss perfume, I think I might order myself a bottle next week. Who knows, it could become my new signature fragrance. Heh.

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My poor sad ears have shriveled up from 00g to somewhere between 10-12g, and I can't wait to start stretching them back up. It's going to take a while for me to get them where I want them, but once I get there, I'm definitely getting these awesome tarantula plugs for my lobes. 


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I found this Beetlejuice terrarium on Etsy and instantly fell in love. It's the creation of Face of the Earth, a fantastic seller who has tons of delightfull terrariums up in their shop including some fabulous graveyard scenes that are a bit more in my budget than this beauty. 


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I love this mismatched flannel scarf DIY I found over on Jessamity. She used old plaid shirts to make her's, but I think I'm going to try to make one using a bunch of flannel quilt squares I inherited from my Nana's craft stash. 

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BlackMilk is probably my favorite clothing company that I never seem to be able to afford, but their Burned Velvet Evil Cheerleader dress needs to find a home in my closet as soon as possible. I think I would literally wear this dress everyday if I owned it.


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