Saturday, June 25, 2011

Zombie Ball

I haven't posted in the last week, due to being down with the flu. So I would like to thank everyone for their kind patience.
That being said, I did attend a fabulous social last Friday night, the Zombie Ball put on by the Elysium Social Club, a great local gothic social event club. (Check out their link to the right).
For those of you that don't know what a social is, it's an event peculiar to Manitoba Canada. It's usually held to raise money, mostly for upcoming weddings, but it can be for any fundraising reason at all. A community club or hall is rented for the evening, and tickets are sold in advance, for the event. The hall is decorated and a dj is hired for music. During the evening, one buys tickets for drinks, which are then redeemed at the bar. At the bar, there is usually a selection of a few different types of beers, and hard liquor that can be mixed with soft drinks. One can also purchase raffle tickets, for a draw at the end of the night. At most socials there is a selection of various prizes one can put their raffle tickets in for. During the evening a buffet table of food is also served, usually of cold cuts, bread, cheese, pickles, chips etc.
The night if drinking and dancing is then capped off by the raffle draws.

I have to say I thought the ESC put on a great night. They encouraged people to dress up as zombies, and even had people on hand doing fabulous zombie makeup. Personally I am not a zombie fan (I don't like gore), so Ms. Chloe and I dressed as potential zombie meals (regular people).



The hall was decorated in a lovely undead theme - check out the table centre pieces (sorry no flash on the iPhone).

The music provided by the DJs was great, and the raffle prizes were very tempting. I ended up putting in tickets for some great steampunk jewelry by Thorgrid jewelry and for a gift basket from Hungover Empire, a local alternative clothing store (check out their links listed to the right). Amazingly, I actually won the Hungover Empire gift basket! I got a gas mask, some cute black tights with pink skulls on them, shoelaces with skulls on them, coffin earrings, a t shirt and a belt, and nail polish. Thanks Hungover Empire!

Check out alternative model Joan V's outfit! (see her page listed to the right).

It was all in all a fun evening - good music, good friends, and a great showing for the Winnipeg goth community.

So what type of events dies your local goth community put on?
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Soft drinks - a Victorian health tonic?

I have to admit, I am a big fan of soft drinks. Those fizzy sweet drinks, so cold and bubbly, especially on hot humid days like today. While we take them for granted now, due to their ready availability, soda pop is actually of Victorian origins, invented as various tonics, with health beneifts in mind. It's hard to believe that what is today's junk food was once considered a health drink. Then again, soft drinks have changed since they were first introduced to the public in the 1800s.

Carbonated water was first invented in 1767, by an englishman named Joseph Priestly, who discovered that suspending a bowl of water above a vat of beer, created a pleasant fizzy drink. He marketed it as soda water, and after further experiments, published a paper in 1772 describing how to infuse the water by driping sulfiric acid on to chalk, and then suspending a bowl of water above, to create the carbonated water. A Swedish scientist, Torbern Bergman invented a soda fountain in the 1770s, allowing for large amount of soda water to be produced.

Pharmacies started selling carbonated mineral water in the early 1800s, and many started adding their own recipes of herbs for their health benefits, and flavouring to make the new drinks more tasty. The first ones often involved adding lemon or orange flavour to the plain carbonated water. The drinks were called "soft" drinks as they did not contain "hard" liquor. The first of today's well known sodas to be invented, was Ginger ale, introduced in 1851, by a pharmacy in Ireland. Root beer was introduced to the public in 1876, containing various roots, said to improve your health and vitality. Pharmacies found these new soda fountains to be very popular with the public, and a great source of revenue.

The most famous of all soft drinks, Coca Cola was invented in 1886, by a pharmicist named Dr. John S. Pemberton. He claimed his new drink cured morphine addiction, headache and impotence. At first he sold it just out of his drugstore in Atlanta Georgia, but then sold the recipe in 1886, when it then became available to the wider public. The first recipe included cocaine, a drug popular in many medicines and tonics during Victorian times, until it became illegal in the 1930s. It was then that the recipe was changed to no longer include the narcotic. Pepsi was invented in 1898, and Dr.Pepper in 1885, both by pharmacists as well.

As these new drinks gained in popularity, it became more about taste and the emphasis went away from their supposed "health benefits". As manufacturers moved towards bottling these new drinks, the soda fountain slowly wained as a staple in the local drugstores.

So as you drink whatever variety of fizzy pop you enjoy, just remember, it was originally intended for your "health".

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review - Marked

I downloaded this book, as something to read while I was on my trip to the UK. I wanted something light, but entertaining for my trip across the pond. A friend of mine mentioned the House of Night series, written by P.C. Cast, so I thought I would give it a try. The first book in the series is called Marked. Set in Oklahoma, the story told in the first person, by the main character Zowie Redbird.

The story starts with her hanging out with her best friend at high school, when a vampire tracker marks her. Once marked, your destination is to go through “the change” which will result in you becoming a full fledged vampire, or if the change is unsuccessful, in death. The only way to go through the change successfully is to go to a special boarding school for fledgling vampires called The House of Night. Even then, some fledglings still die.
As soon as Zowie is marked, she becomes an outcast to her family and friends. Upon telling her family, her mother and very religious step-father try to stop her going to the House of Night and blame her for being marked. Zowie runs away, to seek the advice of the one person she knows will not reject her, her grandmother Redbird, her maternal grandmother of Cherokee heritage. While running away to her grandmother’s Zowie passes out and has a vision of the Goddess Nyx, the patroness of the Vampires, who tells her she has been specially blessed by her. Zowie then wakes up to find herself at The House of Night, which her grandmother has safely brought her to.
In her new life at the Vampire boarding school, Zowie is assigned a mentor, the High Priestess Neferet, and must learn to adjust to her new life as a young vampire in training. She is placed in the girls dormitory with her new roommate Stevie Rae, and begins to make new friends. Classes are all held at night, and she is introduced to subjects such as vampire sociology, literature, fencing, horseback riding etc. She loves the new classes and friends, but her new life is not without conflict. Her mentor Neferet instructs her to join The Dark Daughters, an elite student group of vampire priestesses in training, run by the popluar and seemingly perfect Aphrodite. Aphrodite and her gang of followers, are typically snobby, and turn out to hate humans, and act generally badly. Add to that, her human ex-boyfriend is becoming obsessed with her, and she is falling for Aphrodite's former boyfriend, the handsome and talented Eric.

The plot in the book moves along fairly smoothly, and keeps the reader's attention. I found it to be a pretty typical vampire teen book, but still reasonably entertaining. The characters are generally believable, and the writing was clear and descriptive. My one complaint about this book is that the main character comes across as a bit of a Mary Sue. She is pretty, smart, and the most gifted vampire to attend the House of Night in generations, plus guys keep falling for her. I don't know about you, but I find it hard to like a character who's too perfect.
Except for this one flaw, I enjoyed the book overall, enough to give the second book in the series a try. I give this book 4 out of 5 parasols.
If you read this book/series, what did you think? I'd love to know. :)

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Tarot of the Vampyres

While I was on holidays in the Uk last month, I picked up a few new items. I'm a sucker for book stores especially, so I picked up numerous books while there. It was particularly bad in Shrewsbury, where Waterstones bookstore is directly across from the Starbucks on the town square. It was a magnetic vortex to me!
One of my favorite purchases there was a new set of tarot cards titled The Tarot of the Vampyres by Ian Daniels (published by Llewellyn). I have read tarot cards for 16 years, and over the years have collected many decks (and given many away). I just keep my very favorites now, but every so often a new one catches my eye.

I love the art work on many of the cards in this deck. It's gothic vampire cliches at their finest! I can't help but love it.

Back of cards

I wasn't expecting much from the book to be honest, but it's actually written quite well. The author discusses the image of the vampire from a Jungian point of view, using both light and shadow aspects of the vampire archetype. I thought it was an interesting take on tarot symbolism and meaning. He also uses traditional tarot comparisons such as the Cabalistic Tree of Life to help explain tarot symbolism.

I thought I was buying the cards just for the images, but find I am using them regularly in my readings. Some of the images are below. What do you think?

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Clotted Cream

During my travels around the UK last month, my dear cousin Paul introduced me to the culinary wonder that is clotted cream. A bunch of us cousins got together in Oxford for a picnic, and Paul, who knows of my love for English food, brought cucumber sandwiches, homemade scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream. For those of you not familiar with this delight, it is eaten on scones with either raspberry or strawberry jam.  I had never eaten it before, as it is not something you commonly find in Canada.

It reminds me of a cross between butter and cream, being white like cream, and creamy tasting, but with the spreadability (is that even a word?) of butter. Clotted cream, also called clouted cream, double cream, Cornish cream or Devon cream, is primarily from south west England. It is not known how far back this food goes, but there are literary references to it in medieval times.  In the 1800s it became popular to serve it with scones during tea time, as it did not spoil as fast as regular cream.
Clotted cream is traditionally made by skimming the cream off the milk, then heating it in a water bath, and afterward cooling it slowly. This causes the cream to rise and form clots. These days clotted cream is made mechanically using a simular heating method, or by using centrifuges to separate the cream. The clots are very high in fat, being at about 60% fat, as opposed to regular cream wich is about 18%.

There is debate over whether to put the jam or the cream on scones first to put on first. Apparently the Cornish school of thought is to put the jam on first then the cream, and the Devon way is to put the cream on first then the jam. I've tried both ways, and I'm personally partial to the Devon way.
I managed to find a small jar in Sobey's, thanks to my Mum who knew where to find it. It's pretty expensive, but worth it. I had it with scones and blackberry jam, and also with crepes. So good!

What are your thoughts on clotted cream?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Steampunk Music part 2 - Emilie Autumn

Okay, so I admit, I'm late to the game on Emilie Autumn. I really only just found out about her this past fall. Isn't that terrible! I guess that's what happens when you are returning to the scene. I always feel so out of the loop.
I think it was October or November when I went over to a friend's place (Jill you rock) and a few of us were sitting around, and she put on Emilie Autumn's Opheliac and Laced and Unlaced albums. I thought - "this is awesome" and now I'm hooked! The Opheliac album is definitely my favorite, I listen to it all the time now (plus Abney Park's new album End of Days) How did I not know about her before?

She also showed me her book Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls. I love the concept and think it's beautifully illustrated. I'm trying to find a copy, but the official website says the original print is sold out. So I guess I'll just have to wait until the new run is available.

I'm also eagerly awaiting the upcoming album Fight Like a Girl (FLAG). It's supposed to be harder and more metalish (squeal)!

Is there anyone else who feels like they discovered something way after everyone else?

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