Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Book Review: Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, by Caroline Weber

                                              

I will admit, I don't usually do book reviews. At least, on here. I'll talk about my addiction to goodreads.com in another time, another post. I LOVE YOU GOODREADS!!! *pants*

....anyway. I decided last night (a bad time to make definite decisions, for the record) that I was going to finally do a book review on here, and I was surprised at how easily I picked my choice. I quickly ruled out Book Thief by Markus Zusak, because then this post would be way too long for even a saint to read, and I would give out too many spoilers. I also ruled out The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield for similar reasons (though I may do Thirteenth Tale anyway, just for grins and giggles). 

So obviously, I had to do the biography of Marie Antoinette.

Let me explain: in school, at the beginning of second semester, we were assigned a project in my World Literature block. It was a three month assignment to research anything under the sun and make a final essay. Or should I say thesis, since it was long enough, and had the trademark blood, sweat, and tear stains on the final copy?? But anyway, I did mine on how fashion reflected Marie Antoinette's life and how it ultimately caused her downfall. And one of the books I read for it is the one I am to review for you now. Now, let me just write down a warning: this book became my life for those months; it never left my side, and it basically became the centre of my universe. I became so obsessed with Marie Antoinette, that all I would read or watch were biographies/ documentaries about her, and my parents were glad when the assignment ended so they could stop worrying about my precarious sanity balancing on a guillotine blade. 

So let us begin, shall we?

The book goes chronologically, beginning at when Marie left Austria for France at fourteen to marry Louis Auguste (Louis XVI), and ends with her execution in 1793 to debut the Reign of Terror. It explains how her fashion was intertwined inherently with how her life would end, and her life in general. 

Weber does an amazing job in giving a side of Marie Antoinette's life history shuts off, simply because she is the person people love to hate. Humans all need a person to hate, and at that period, it was the Queen. Some things I learned in this book include, but are not limited to: ripping her away from her homeland forever; not allowing her to take her beloved dog over to France with her ("she could have as many French dogs as she pleased"); seeing her best friend's head stuck on a pike and paraded in front of her window without mercy; taking her toddler son away from her in jail, and neglecting him so that he died of malnutrition; and finally, not allowing her husband to say goodbye to her before they cut off his head. 

I love this book because it offers a strong opinion, and gives you the rest of the book to have no choice but agree. But Weber cites every fact and quote she gives, to the point that the citation section at the end of the book makes up a solid half inch of the pages. She offers both her opinion and the facts, but uses the facts to her advantage without bending them, which many writers struggle with. 

Weber also makes this seem less a biography, than a novel which ascends genre. It has so many different genre elements, so that it reads like fictional book, has the facts of a textbook, the plot of a nonfiction, the character of a biography, the lyrical writing of a poem, and the ability to stir your sympathy like that of a particularly tragic obituary. 

When I turned the final page, my emotions can only be described by John Green: "sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird, evangelical zeal and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless all living humans READ THE BOOK."

I can see why my parents got a little worried about me.

The main reason I loved it, though, is because it proves a point far beyond the French Revolution: that fashion is an integral part of the history of humankind. In places such as ancient China, there were laws which allowed only certain classes to wear certain colours and fabrics; in Scotland, every family had its own clan colours, which they alone could wear. Fashion was a source of power and a sign of status, and even now, it is used as a medium of expression and a way to mark ourselves as different from every other man or woman. 

Weber conveyed that by using Marie Antoinette, because who else could you write an entire book about their clothes alone? Well, maybe Empress Cixi, but let us not get into that can of worms quite yet.

Because of this book, I think I'll always have a special place in my heart just for Marie Antoinette, and will never tire of lecturing others when they call her a spoiled little queen with a shopping problem.

If you, too, would like to read the book (which you should, because it will make you more smarticalz), you can buy it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. However, if you need more convincing about how amazing this book is, you can go to Goodreads for more reviews and information.

If you do not read le livre, you will be judged.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Period.

Yeah, this is about periods. I figure it's only fate that a female blogger posts at least once about her period, because it takes up 1/4 of our month. Odd to think about, really. Such a waste of time.

But anyway, I knew this period would come for me someday. Because this isn't a normal period; it is special, because it marks the end of my golden age. See, I was always that girl that shrugged and went "aw, it's not THAT bad!". Now, I am one of those girls that rips the previous girl apart in frustration. To compare, I'm like a woman in her late sixties who is slowly becoming incontinent. Soon, she will have to wear diapers like the rest of them, BUT SHE IS IN DENIAL. And like her, I too feel my old way of life slipping away. No longer can I just pop in a tampon and frolick about in the pool all day. No longer can I change my pad every four hours. 

No.

Now, I must overdose on Midol, and lay on the floor all day, wracked with exhaustion and pain. Now, I must avoid sugar and any good tasting food all day, for fear of making my PMS worse; now, it is nothing but eggs, turkey, spinach, mushrooms, and bitter chocolate. 

And whenever I see a tampon commercial, I wish to rip their jaws off and watch them squirm. HOW DARE THEY SAY "Have a happy period"! No, YOU have a happy period all by yourself, you skinny b*tch. Go off and limbo the night away in a white string bikini. How cocky do you think you can be?? A bikini itself is pushing it, but a white one? You aren't God. 


I would love to see her fail. I'm sorry, but I guarantee you, men, every girl who watches that commerical wants nothing more than to see her have a bloody accident mid-limbo. 

And once, I heard that it was a scientific fact that you actually bleed only about two tablespoons your entire period. Ha. Ha. Ha. NO. I don't know what kind of girls they tested on, but I bet my left arm I could at least fill half a milk jug. 

But anyway, in short, my periods are getting worse each time. I don't know how long this is going to last until I reach my maximum occupancy load of pain, but I hope it's soon. Because at this rate, I'll have to wear a diaper. And not to sacrifice what dignity I have left, but wearing a diaper doesn't seem like a half-bad idea. I mean, it would surely be safer? 

God, what am I thinking. 

Most girls: Gee, I would like to get those special pads made for thongs! So I can wear my sexy underwear no matter my time of the month!

Me: Huh. An adult diaper seems nice. 

But be honest, how many of you actually get action on your period? How many of you even want it? Unless you're a vampire, blood isn't exactly a turn on. So why the thong?? Why would you even suffer through the constant worrying of wearing a flimsy THONG when you're BLEEDING OUT YOUR VAGINA? I mean, if you're out on the third date wearing a tube dress, and you've been playing footsie under the table all night, a thong might be a good idea. But sitting alone wearing a robe and covered in heating pads, a thong seems asinine. However, apparently now, they have underwear specially designed to look cute and to also keep leakage from getting out, with adorable period-related designs, like a unicorn covered in blood. Okay, maybe not 'adorable' per se, but relevant. (They're called Harebrained Period Panties)


And why do we need SO MANY different brands of pads and tampons? Walking into the feminine hygiene isle is like walking into a totally different world. No wonder men seem so lost and intimidated in that isle; I am too, and I've been going there since I was eleven. One thing I and my friends know well? The store brands are awful. You would do better with a wad of toilet paper and duct tape. Seriously.

Oh, and going to the pool when you're on your period? Seems like a good idea, but not; like communism. However, it's doable. Just make sure to take these things: tampons, Midol, a dark bathing suit, chocolate, and shame. So, so much shame.





Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer Playlist

I don't know about you, but I have different sets of songs I listen to based upon the season. A lot of them transfer through, but a few are very distinct to the weather. Which makes a lot of sense because everyone subconsciously switches song based on the weather or what is happening in their own lives. For example, I tend to listen to slower, melancholy, classical piano songs when it's grey and rainy out. Now here, I will just list some songs I tend to listen to during the summer months. MUSIC TIME!

The Dark Streets of London// the Pogues

Pale Blue Eyes// Velvet Underground

Forever Yours// Alex Day

Neptune// S. J. Tucker

Mordred's Lullaby// Heather Dale

Cheshire Kitten// S. J. Tucker

Do It Anyway// Ben Folds Five

Crazy Love// Mindy Gledhill

A Song About Love// Charlie McDonnell

Kiss With A Fist// Florence + the Machine

Concerning Hobbits// Howard Shore

Plant Life// Owl City

Good Morning Sunshine// Alex Day

Little Talks// of Monsters and Men

Faerie Queen// Blackmore's Night

The Great Escape// Amelia

Under the Sea// Samuel E. Wright

Dúlaman// Celtic Woman

Green the Whole Year 'Round// Celtic Woman

Observation// Eddie From Ohio

Chariot// Gavin DeGraw

Navy Taxi// Kate Nash

Le Festin// Camille

By Your Side// the Black Crowes

I'd Like To// Corinne Bailey Rae

Nights in White Satin// Moody Blues

Folding Chair// Regina Spektor

Fairy tale// Sara Bareilles

Waiting on the Sun// Sixpence None the Richer

Ottoman// Vampire Weekend

Brand New Shoes// She & Him

La Vie en Rose// Edith Piaf

The Foggy Dew// the Chieftians

Hong Kong Garden// Souixie and the Banshees

Fools Rush In// Bow Wow Wow

All Cats Are Grey// The Cure

The Melody of a Fallen Tree// Windsor for the Derby

Cold Coffee// Ed Sheeran

The A Team// Ed Sheeran

Hold On// Wilson Phillips

A Little Fall of Rain// Les Misérables cast

The Game is On (Sherlock)// David Arnold and Michael price

Moon Trance// Lindsey Stirling

Dragonborn Comes// Malukah

Honor to Us All// Mulan cast

Ravens in the Library// S. J. Tucker

Were-Owl// S. J. Tucker

Rabbit Heart// Florence + the Machine

Radioactive// Imagine Dragons

Zelda Rap// Smosh

Poison// Carrie Hope Fletcher


Whew, that took longer than anticipated. I may post another of these when summer fades into fall, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it ^_^. 

Either that, or a post about the menstrual cycle. Because that seems like a trending topic that has stayed popular since the dawn of time.



Sunday, June 9, 2013

The difference between Earl Grey, English Breakfast, and Irish Breakfast!

So, I've always been mildly irritated whenever someone assumes that Irish Breakfast and English Breakfast are the same thing. Because they are not; that's why they aren't the same tea! And Earl Grey always gets confused with English Breakfast, and it's just this huge mass of confusion that I thought people should just have a solid reference. So today, I will be talking about the key differences between Earl Grey, English Breakfast, and Irish Breakfast, because I have no life outside of my house. In its simplest terms, it is this:

So basically, they all are made with the same base ingredients, but it is what is added and how it is made that makes the flavor intensity fluctuate, producing different flavors for different times of day. 

  • Earl Grey. Earl Grey is the first on the chart because it is the lightest in flavor, and was traditionally favored by the British Prime Minister, Earl Grey. It uses a variety of black teas from China and India, blended with natural Oil of Bergamot from Italy (which gives it its slightly exotic flavor). It became 'the' tea to drink it the upper echelons of aristocracy, and was by far the most common tea to find in fancy European drawing rooms during tea time. The ladies of the time liked Earl Grey because of its flavorful, yet not really 'strong' taste. It was not overwhelming to the senses, which made it very enjoyable. And in the modern era, Earl Grey is still enjoyed as a great afternoon tea to refresh you, like an alternative to lemonade. Earl Grey can be enjoyed a number of ways, with or without milk, with or without sweetener (very versatile).  To better make you understand, if Earl Grey were a type of fabric, it would be a light muslin. Enough to feel and appreciate to soft texture, but light enough not to weigh you down.

  • English Breakfast. Ah, the Tea For All Men. Unlike Earl Grey, English Breakfast was celebrated later on as a tea for all classes, while even today Earl Grey is seen as a delicate, refined tea. English Breakfast is also much simpler; it is just China black tea (100% Keemun), and a nice simple way to begin the day. Or end the day. Of whenever! English Breakfast is enjoyed no matter when, and has a nice toasty aroma, with just a hint of a honey taste that is naturally within the Keemun leaves. English Breakfast can be flavored with ANYTHING. Milk, sugar, honey, lemon, cinnamon, just plain, whatever! Add ice cream; I don't care. Whatever floats your boat. Also to compare English Breakfast to a fabric, English Breakfast would be a warm fleece blanket; snuggly enough to keep you comforted and warm, yet not too heavy to make you uncomfortable on spring days. 

  • Irish Breakfast. Finally, our heady tea. This tea was extremely popular in Ireland (obviously) for its ability to warm you up quickly after spending all day out on the clammy, foggy moors. Farmers and fishermen used it to wake them up in the early morning when they had to begin work, but they also enjoyed it at the end of the day to soothe them and bring a flush to their cheeks. Simple like English Breakfast, it is made with 100% Assam leaves, which gives it such a 'spicy' flavor. Irish Breakfast is usually fixed with milk and sugar, since the flavors harmonize well and also because it would be much too stout for the typical pallet. There is subtle taste of roast malt, giving it a great alternative for coffee drinkers who are taking a break from the hardcore stuff, and also because of the similar amount of caffeine. To compare it to a fabric, it is a heavy wool tartan; great for chilly mornings, and to keep the blistering cold from cutting right through you, and not for the faint of heart.


There we go darlings! Was that as simple as I had anticipated, or did you get totally lost? Now, even if you dislike tea, there was still a benefit to reading this; you can show up people who have no idea what they're talking about. And that, is ALWAYS a plus.











Friday, June 7, 2013

The A to Z of Me, and also Knitting Revival!

This is probably going to be a short post, because reasons. But anyway, I thought I would do an A to Z list so you may get to know me on an intimate level *uninentional wink*. So let us get started, shall we?

A is for alpacas/ Adventure Time/ Addams family

B is for Big Bang Theory

C is for chamomile

D is for dragons

E is for eggplant (both the color and the vegetable)

F is for French

G is for Gandalf

H is for Howl's Moving Castle

I is for Ireland

J is for Jake from Adventure Time

K is for kawaii

L is for Lilliputian

M is for Medieval

N is for Niffle (my favourite made up word. It means cold. "It is so niffley out!")

O is for old books

P is for poisonous plants/ pachyderms

Q is for Queen of England

R is for raspberries

S is for Studio Ghibli/ Sherlock/ Soul Eater anime

T is for TEA

U is for uranography

V is for viola ( go Jake!)

W is for Wiccan music/ winter/ werewolf

X is for xenops (a small tropical rainforest bird)

Y is for Yule/ yaks

Z is for zoos (my favourite place)

Alright, I feel as though we got to know each other a bit better! Even though you didn't share anything with me.....you awful creature. Anyway, I also recently began to get back into the groove of knitting! During the school year, I didn't have much time for anything non-academic, but now that it is summer, I'm finally getting around to finishing up my two scarves that have been sitting in my bag for a embarrassingly long amount of time. It was really my best friend who gave me the inspiration again by giving me a fantastical pin that has a piece of knitting pictured above the word "wit". Get it? Knit wit! HAHAHA!!! I love it. So yeah, that pin was more inspiring than any inspirational poster.  


So yeah, KNITTING MACHINE RAAAWWRRR!!! 

Also, this is what an xenops looks like:


Oh and one more thing: my next post is most likely going to be a horribly boring rambling about tea.

                    
  











Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Studio...Ghibli!

I'm in the mood to be a critic tonight, and I was going to wait and save this for a more boring day, but I thought today was as good as any to do a giant write up of my favorite Studio Ghibli movies. If you don't know what that is, here is the summary: a Japanese animation film studio located it Tokyo, famous for it's anime feature films. So basically, the Japanese equivalent of american Disney, with Hayao Miyazaki being the Japanese Walt Disney. Princess Mononoke was pretty much my childhood, so I have a deep love for all things Studio Ghibli. I hope you will love these films as much as I do, and I hope you go out and watch them immediately if you already have not!

1. Princess Mononoke



Set in 14th century Japan, it depicts a mythical battle between the Animal Gods of the forest and the humans who have begun to destroy it. A young man, Ashitaka, witnesses the Wolf Goddess Moro (basically the leader of the Animal Gods) begin the battle against the human leader Lady Eboshi, who runs the giant coal factory. He also meets Mononoke, the feral human raised by the Wolf Goddess. This seems like an innocent enough premise, but this movie has more than enough grit for even a hardened adult. You see the Animal Gods dying off slowly as Lady Eboshi gains power, and the Wolf Goddess is driven permanently mad seeing all of them fall around her. The humans slaughter the children of the forest senselessly, and there is such an intense hatred burning within Princess Mononoke because she, whether she likes it or not, IS a human, as much as she wants otherwise. There is this bloody struggle between the guardians of the forest and the humans of the Iron Town who wish to consume its resources and you just get so caught up in the pain of the characters and AH! I love this movie. (Spoiler: no one wins.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHaHjriRJWY

2. Howl's Moving Castle



This has got to be one of the most of the strong, epic romances of all time, and it isn't even listed as such! But anyway, this is set in a magical universe, akin to a steampunk version of Victorian England, only with a war between wizards going on. It is centered around Sophie, a plain, quiet teenage hat maker who never thinks of herself as pretty. All the people at the shop constantly gossip about the dashing, 'soulless' eccentric wizard Howl, who lives in a moving castle in the Wastes. However, an evil witch puts a spell on her to turn her into a 90 year old woman, and she finds her way to being Howl's cleaning lady. He sees through the spell, and they teach each other extraordinary skills, her how to love herself, him how to have a soul. Amazing battles take place, and a bouncy dog is present, as well as a turnip scarecrow and a snarky fire demon named Calcifer (*SIGH*!). You know, normal Studio Ghibli fare. What makes this story so great is that Howl hides behind his good looks (and blond hair, which he later forgoes), and she thinks she IS the ugliness of her awful curse, and she discovers that only she can save him from becoming the awful monster wizards can become when they lose too much of their souls. They blossom around each other, and it's just great. This is probably one of my favorite movies EVER.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UibodUGoL4M

3. Spirited Away




This, also, was a big part of my childhood. This summary is going to sound really creepy, but it'll make sense when you watch it: it tells the story of Chihiro who, traveling to a new home, accidentally enters an alternate reality filled with ancient Japanese spirits. Her parents are immediately turned into pigs by the evil witch Yubaba, so Chihiro is forced to take a job at Yubaba's bathhouse (which caters to exhausted spirits) in order to free herself and her family and go back to her realm. This movie can get so trippy, and you can get a headache if you think too hard at things which are not supposed to make sense, but this movie has a special place in my heart. It opens your mind to the thought that maybe, just maybe, there really ARE spirits out there, and PERHAPS, there exists a special bathhouse where they can go to rest. And MAYBE, somewhere, there IS a woman named Chihiro with a husband who looks quite a bit like a dragon, and who knows a lot about how hot a Japanese forest spirit likes its bath water.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6az9wGfeSgM

4. Castle in the Sky



This is the first Studio Ghibli film made, in 1986. This, also, is a bit trippy: in times past, humans built flying cities destroyed by a mysterious catastrophe caused by greed, forcing the people to become grounded, and the cities destroyed; all except Laputa, concealed from the world by a cloud. Fast forward, and a normal boy (who oddly just LIVES ALONE) finds a strange girl in the middle of nowhere, holding a necklace of aetherium crystals formerly used to keep Laputa afloat. Long story short, a lot of people want her so she cat unlock Laputa's location, because she is discovered to be of the flying city's ancient royal line. An unusual amount of mystery is hidden in this movie, and I love that about it, although it sometime's gets too confusing for my taste; as in, there are so many loose ends that Miyazaki has trouble tying it all back up again. Still, you must watch it, because for me, every time I see a big cloud, I wonder if the ruins of Laputa are hidden within secluded away from the human race forever. Plus? AIR PIRATES.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McM0_YHDm5A

5 Kiki's Delivery Service



This is another older Ghibli film, but I LOVED it as a child, as well as now. Kiki is a young witch of 13, and according to tradition, a 13 year old witch must live on her own for a whole year and make her own way in the world, along with her trusty broom, and adorably talkative black cat Jiji. She goes to a little beachside village instead of the popular inner cities, and gets a reputation as the best delivery girl in town (via the broom). This movie sends a strong message about creativity, independence, responsibility, and finding yourself by going outside your comfort zone. Please take the time to watch this movie, and love it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piIdiZ44zzU

Please, watch ALL these movies, and try to love them as much as I do (I know you will), and fall in love with at least one of the characters! ではまた。!
















Sunday, June 2, 2013

the Boil Phenomenon!

It always concerns me slightly when girls in any developmental stage have this idea of love:


Because that insinuates that only by having a significant can you be whole. To me, there isn't some person out there who will complete you. You are not a piece of a puzzle. You're already whole. Right now, reading this, you, your soul, your heart, and your mind are all completely, 100% whole. 

I'm going to use myself as an example to get across what I'm preaching, here. Right now, as I type this, this is what my 'heart' looks like:


I have no desire at the moment to have a boyfriend. I just don't have that hole to fill at the moment. I have my books, my friends, my art, all these things that fulfill me. Later, as I grow and become even more of my own person, this will happen (I call it the Boil Phenomenon):


I will still remain the same person, whole, but all of a sudden, something will happen. Maybe someday I will be reading a romance novel, and decide that something is kind of missing. I won't lose myself, but my heart will suddenly grow and I'll have this space that will be filled by a special kind of companion (you know what I mean *wink*). Some day, I'll meet a guy, and we will talk and I'll think, "He's just the thing!" and he will fill the little growth. If something happens and we don't work out, I won't become half of a person or anything dramatic as that; i'll just go back to being 100% instead of a 110%. It will feel as though I'm not whole, but I won't be. 

Later, I will see another boy, and ZOOP, the Boil Phenomenon will happen again. If this time, we fall deliriously in love enough for me to happily become a part of the ancient patriarchal system known as marriage and become Mrs. Him, then my heart will look a little like this:


That thing which began as a boil will slowly grow over my heart and then permanently meld, over time, so that I will forever be 110%. 

A similar thing happens to men, I'm sure, but I won't get into that because I am not a man, so I can't technically fact check. However, my papa (the resident man for questions like these) says it's the same thing, only the Manly Man Heart looks like this:


For some people, the boil will never grow. That's okay. Sometimes, I look around me, and I see all these girls being in relationships and think "huh", but then I realize that, for some of them, they have the idea of being a part of a puzzle, and once you find that SPECIAL GUY, you will complete each other. It's a nice idea, I'll admit, and a little more romantic that a boil, but much less practical. It means that every moment you are single, you are only 50% whole, which isn't true. 

You aren't looking to become 100%. You already are. You're just waiting for the boil to tell you that it's time to be 110%.

And remember, you cannot force the boil. DO NOT FORCE THE BOIL. THE BOIL COMES WHEN IT WANTS.