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Hey, anybody interested in two free tickets to the Chester County (PA) Historical Society? I got them in a silent auction at the CSA symposium and then forgot about them. I think a bunch of you are in that general area - I'm happy to stick them in the mail if you think you might actually go! But they expire on October 19 so I've got to do something with them.

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Carnival Row

It's an interesting show. (Amazon Prime.) The basic premise is that humans and the fae - represented in two varieties, one with ram's horns, one with wings - coexist in a secondary world setting; some humans have been killing the fae and chasing them out of their lands, which leads them to flee to The Burgue, a human city somewhere, where in many ways it's a basic immigrants vs. natives story. Which does lead me to wonder, why bother making it secondary world fantasy? As someone who routinely makes up non-magical secondary worlds just for the purpose of writing alternate history without the pressure to make everything but the one changed thing the same, I shouldn't be so judgy, but there's a part of me that wonders, "If you want to make a show about prejudice, nativism, classism, deportation, and so on, why not just make it about our world instead of fantastic racism?" But then, the main mystery did rely on magic. (The fae themselves don't seem particularly magical. The ones with wings fly. I'm not sure if they're legit called pixies and the ones with horns are calls pucks, or if those are supposed to be racial slurs.)

The costuming of the wealthier characters is very interesting. At first I didn't like it: it's 1890s but with bustles, and there's one outfit I really hated with an Edwardian shirtwaist and one of those pointed belts with a smoothly-cut Edwardian skirt ... but it's also cut to smoothly fit over the bustle. It was ugly. But as the show went on, I found myself wanting to actually make some of the gowns, particularly Indira Varma's kind of vampy, bold princess-line gowns with 1890s sleeves, very reminiscent of that one Worth teagown. Tamzin Merchant also has some fantastic ones.

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Gosh, Tumblr is particularly insufferable lately. There are always a few posts floating around re: "I was labeled gifted/smart in school and it gave me anxiety/meant I never learned how to study," but for some reason this week they seem to have set off a bunch of scorching discourse on why it's bad to do programs aimed at high-achieving students and if you enjoyed or benefited from them it's because you think you're better than everyone and are probably racist. Which is interesting, because I never thought my elementary/secondary school administrators were on that site! *rimshot*

Finally got the lunch buffet at the Indian restaurant. Went for quantity over variety and just ate a ton of chicken tikka (delicious but not spicy at all) and about ten pakoras. Then a serving of cream of wheat for dessert. Got my money's worth! it was good, not the best, but it is actually in town so that does a lot. I gave them a five star rating and review on Google to encourage other people to go there so it will stay open. Then went to a nearby thrift store and got a set of four goblets and two small tumblers with cute little silhouettes and the words "OLD FASHIONED" on them, because I did not previously own actual glass glasses. Hey, I came of age into a recession!

Did a little housewares shopping later in the afternoon as well - I got three of those cube boxes (in turquoise) for the cube storage unit I bought ages ago and barely ever touched, which let me put some of my sewing stuff away that had been sitting around. Also new cushions (turquoise) for my chairs, plus two smelly candles. And a couple of other functional things: a rack for toilet paper and a sponge-holder. (I really need to find some kind of organizational solution to my bathroom cupboards - they are extremely narrow, like 5" wide, and deeper than arm's length.) After getting the sewing stuff a little neatened up, I pushed three boxes of books into the hall and put them on the short bookcase out there. No more Box Island in the middle of the sewing room!

There's still a lot left to do in the apartment as a whole. I suspect I'll finally have everything put away by the time I move. I'm writing interpretive plans for a few of the period houses at work to explain how they should be furnished - I think I need to write one for my apartment, lol.

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BPAL Reviews

I kinda stopped wearing scent when I started the new job because I'm already pretty weird, didn't want to also be "the perfume lady". But some days I spend a lot of time alone, so I've gone back to it. Some from the "unreviewed" pile that I've been going with lately:

Languor: An opiate torpor, soporific, trancelike, and sublimely languid. A poet’s morphine dream, a listless journey into a gentle dream and the precipice of intoxicated madness. Paperwhite and black narcissus, three lilies, black poppy and tuberose and a hint of hypnotic opium den haze.

I have categorized this as a more "perfumey" scent because it's not based on florals or foods as far as I can smell, but according to the description above, it, uh, is based heavily on florals. It just smells nice to me, and lasts all day. I guess I get narcissus and lily? All of these flowers are ones I don't really have a particular smell memory for.

Hunger: Evokes sheer, unadulterated carnal lust. An undeniably warm and sensual scent. Black narcissus, orange blossoms, and vanilla.

I always love how extra BPAL descriptions are because I'm so basic. Smells nice! A bit like Languor, but sharper, which I think is the orange blossom. Also long-lasting, nice to sniff at in the afternoon when it's calmed down and soft.

Tushnamatay: Pure internal harmony and spiritual bliss: the perfected meditation blend.

The one I wore today and last Friday. To me, it's a very lush and blooming floral - not that I can pick out any of the notes, but it shouts "flowers!" in a way the others don't, even though they are apparently also florals. People in the forum talk about sandalwood and incense, which I think are what bring out the floral. Also, they're clues that I can't identify smells without knowing what the smells are supposed to be, lol.

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and just a great movie in general

1) The stepfamily have carefully drawn characters - they aren't just stock stereotypes. Do they still fit within some pretty obvious tropes? Yes, but each one has their own motivations. The stepsisters are also intelligent, which is often not the case in more recent Cinderella movies. Marguerite is clever and her well-planned flirting would work on someone less jaded; Jacqueline is obviously presented as the less-pretty and less-clever sister, but she's never stupid. The old family retainers don't get much to do, but they have their own strength and resilience, and their own moments of emotion.

2) Danielle is set up from the start as tomboyish, fighting with Gustave in the mud, and she's never shown doing anything "girly" - most of her work on the estate is physical - but there's no dialogue pontificating on how she's not like other girls. It's clear enough from what we see that she's scrappy and that she does things (whether out of inclination or because she's ordered to) that ladies in general and her stepsisters wouldn't. Likewise, she's both intellectual (reading and internalizing Utopia) and clever (taking Henri as "anything [she] can carry"*), but she's never set up to knock down a cardboard sexist who thinks women are dumb. Essentially, the filmmakers put her strength and unconventionality into the story, rather than coming up with ways for people to announce and signpost it, apart from one line of dialogue from Henri, where he's admiring her many abilities.

3) Danielle's best friend is Gustave, who is physically less strong, generally averse to conflict, and an artist - not traditionally masculine. At the same time, he never resents her and also isn't a Nice Guy. Solidarity!

4) The costuming is top-notch. No, it's not an accurate representation of sixteenth-century French dress (it's more like fifteenth-century Florentine), but everything fits and is well-made. The details are excellent and the fabric looks real; worn clothing looks tired out from actual wear. Nothing stands out to my eyes as chintzy or cheap, or like a dozen were made from the same pattern.

5) It sticks to the Cinderella framework enough to feel familiar, but only uses it as a framework, rather than a stencil that must be filled in. Probably the biggest divergence is to make the ball the scene of Danielle being found out and rejected, the opposite of its function in the fairy tale, but using Leonardo da Vinci as the godmother and then working the godmother into the story as a mentor for both Cinderella and the prince is inspired.

I just ... really love Ever After, okay. It holds up!

* Okay, if there's one way it's not a great movie it's the use of the Roma as plot element and threat, and then a way to show how enlightened Danielle is

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The BoysCollapse )

The tl;dr is that it's sexist and racist, but mostly by omission. There are some horrifyingly bloody scenes but there's a lot more talking than violence.

I also watched the new season of GLOW, but I don't have much to say about it because I just loved it to bits. Maybe tomorrow.

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Not sewing lately

I got a guitar last week! A parlor guitar, to be exact. I have never been able to play regular guitars comfortably because my torso being so short means that they're too hard to get my arm around, especially sitting down - but this is closer to a ukulele size (though still bigger than a ukulele) and fits me perfectly. I'm taking "lessons" via JustinGuitar.com, and have done A-D-E, as well as the corresponding minor chords. It's a great site! It's also pretty cool to come to learning an instrument as an adult, when you have the self-motivation to practice, particularly exercises - one of the JustinGuitar things is to do changes between two chords back and forth for a full minute, which is the kind of thing I would have found painfully stupid when I was 12 but I can see how much I improve every day from it now. Just this evening I transposed "Look For the Silver Lining" into A from E-flat and accompanied myself. So much easier than trying to do that with a piano!

I attended the opening of the Schuyler sisters exhibition at the Albany Institute last week, and it was great, but I was a bit sad to see the underbust stays from Historic Cherry Hill on display labeled as ca. 1760. Howevs, HCH posted on IG about the stays with my research, crediting me, which was very nice. You should definitely see the exhibition if you're going to be in the area.

Last Sunday, I went to Klea Blackhurst's one-woman Ethel Merman tribute show, "Everything the Traffic Will Allow," at Glimmerglass Opera. It was fantastic! I got to tell her afterward how much I love this music when she signed my CD booklet (yeah, I bought the CD - that's how much I liked it, I'm a Spotify Millennial), and I felt like we connected.

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ohhhhhh myyyyyyyyyy

Today I dressed a dress form for the museum's gala, which went trickily. I'll quote myself from elsewhere:

See, the original gown I intended to use (a grey silk damask evening dress made by Moshier's of Utica around 1895) turned out to have been made for a woman whose build did not match any of the dress forms. She was rather robust, with broad shoulders and a long torso, but her waist was still somewhat narrow. I tried a male dress form first, but the waist was not small enough. I tried a female form next, and it proved impossible to get the shoulders big enough because the padding squished down and in and the bodice just kept falling off.

After more than an hour of futilely wrestling with this, I tried another dress. Needing something that didn't require much under the skirt, I tried a beautiful late-1830s evening dress made from an 18th century brocaded blue silk. A little clumsy, but so pretty. But late 1830s evening necklines are quite wide, and I ran into the same problem. On a mannequin, with a relatively full body, you have arms to help hold up a wide neckline, but on a dress form, just very soft stumps at the shoulders. Finally put it back.

Third try was another mid-1890s evening dress in various shades of purple-grey. (It was worn, according to the donor, to one of Mrs. Astor's famous New York balls with extremely restricted guest lists. It's not what I would call ball dress, though ...) This had a narrow neckline, not-too-broad shoulders, and a shorter waist, and it went on the form ... I wouldn't quite say "without a hitch", because I had to do some jiggery-pokery with the skirt to get it to stay on, and I also missed a button halfways down the bodice and had to undo and redo so many small silk buttons. But it fit and I was able to walk away, and that's the important thing.

It was a pain in the ass. But it was soooooo nice to look through hanging storage! Just ... so many beautiful things. So many fan-fronts. There's a white organdy and satin dress with short sleeves and a half-high lining, so adorable! And this luscious early 1830s dress in an intricate cotton print with a crossover. And so many pieces from this era, I can't get over it, so many details and tiny points of perfection. Honestly, I do always get kind of choked up when I see historical clothes in a collection I manage. It's hard to describe - it's like this intense feeling of gratitude that I'm able to see them close up, and admire them, and interpret them to other people. A warm glow!

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Last night I finished reading one of the most poorly-written books I've ever fully consumed, and then I dreamed I went to Albany to meet [personal profile] ktlovely and drive to GCV with her (despite it obviously being in 100% the wrong direction to meet up with her IRL). In the dream, I had managed to curl the front of my hair into two perfect bunches with a wet set. I think this is a good omen, although for some reason I had decided to go late 1820s and wear my yellow checked dress to an 1812 event. Hmm.

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This evening I figured out how to turn an Adobe Illustrator file into a both a plain and a tiled PDF, so I'm basically unstoppable now. The final stone in the Infinity Gauntlet. (This is especially good as the thing I thought I had to do where I imported the AI file into Photoshop was not effective.) (I should probably upgrade to proper AI instead of continuing to use the free CS2 version.)

I've been poking around drawing up the patterns for a fancy Swiss waist kind of thing (it has straps and a peplum ... I don't quite know what to call it) and a very simple ca. 1911 dress (the entire bodice is one piece, with a narrow gore under each arm). The former has lots of pieces but the latter takes a lot of paper. Not sure which is better.

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Some book reviews

The patterns are almost ready! I wrote the instructions tonight, and I just need to update a couple of words on the pattern itself to reflect changes I made doing the previous - I'll be printing them out tomorrow at OfficeMax, but I probably won't be able to put them in the mail until next weekend. [personal profile] robinsnest and [personal profile] atherleisure, can you PM me your addresses?


I don't think Lucifer is a particularly good show, but every so often it delivers well on the emotional iddy stuff and it does make me understand the appeal of wingfic, I guess. Also, Tom Welling got OLD and tbh I think he's hotter as a salt-and-peppery beefsteak than he was as a really old "teenager". After Tom Ellis played an amazingly sucky Claudio in the ShakespeaReTold version of Much Ado About Nothing (with Billie Piper), I didn't think I could find him sympathetic ever again, but he's good. So, grudging single thumb up.

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Dear JustMarried Writer

I don't know if you remember my wild searching a year or two ago for an 1840s gown with a stamped dressmaker's label on the bodice lining? Well, I either found it or I found one from the same period in the Fenimore collections. My joy is unbounded and now I have to choose between my Sahlin Perfect Form project for the 2020 CSA symposium or writing this up ...

Pro-Sahlin: nice visual, clear narrative (here's the pattern, here's how I made it, here's how it affects a body and looks under a dress)
Con-Sahlin: not really much substance there, no discovery, not a garment I can use personally
Pro-stamp: take that, Worth!!!
Con-stamp: how do I turn a cool discovery into a whole paper?

I've already tried looking into the dressmaker (a Miss Warnock of Cedar St in New York) and have found nothing. Maybe I should try contacting the MCNY or N-YHS before I give up on it, though.

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I've been following the discussion about the Met Gala for days and I'm still not 100% sure on how to define camp and whether it can even be discussed as fashion divorced from a fictional/theatrical context.

Speaking of which, who here is as obsessed with Riverdale as I am? I'm watching last night's episode as I type and it's just incredible. The pinnacle of television as well as the purest expression of camp. The Met Gala should have been "come as your favorite Riverdale character," no I am not accepting criticism at this time.

Packing is ... going. I would say that I have over half my stuff packed at this point, and more than half of what's left is stuff I can't really pack until the last minute. I have culled a box of tchotchkes that were presents from relatives who don't know me well/like buying tchotchkes, plus a bag of clothes I have accepted will probably never fit me again. I've also found that I tend to hoard a lot of plastic that I don't want to throw away and have sit in a dump for thousands of years, but unfortunately I'm having to throw it all out now and it kind of sucks.

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Apr. 16th, 2019

Dee: His scent is soft English leather, rosewood and tonka with a hint of incense, parchment and soft woods.

As with The White Rider, the leather smells really disinfecty in the bottle and wet. When it dries - after roughly the time it took me to walk to work - it's much nicer, with the tonka", rosewood?, and incense? coming out. I don't love the doctor's-office stage, but the other is a nice non-food/spice, non-floral option.

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Snake Oil: Magnetic, mysterious, and exceedingly sexual in nature. A blend of exotic Indonesian oils sugared with vanilla.

Very sharp in the bottle, softer on me; as it dries, I lose the disinfecty tinge. Quite similar to Van Van, Voodoo Lily, and Has No Hanna, which is not really that surprising, considering that I'm bad at picking out spice notes individually! HNH and VV are darker, VL has the floral note. (I can't quite sense a difference between VV and HNH, to be honest.) I think I like it more than those three, a bit, though I get the sense a lot of people love it a lot more than me.

Allergies have started. :((( I'm not into it.

Finished my blog post on the New Look! Gosh it's hard to get ahold of mid-century primary sources. Editions Jalou used to host a lot of relevant fashion mags, but something must have happened to that because it's been down for like a year.

The weather was nasty all day, so I never even got outside my apartment. How can it rain all day and still give me itchy eyes? A mystery.

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The Sportive Sun: Heliotrope, amber, almond flower, frangipani, cedar, and calamus.

In the bottle, it's definitely darker than on my skin. I think the cedar/amber come through loud and clear ... maybe frangipani beneath them? The scent feels warm and dry - not tropical, but "place with a warm climate" more than "summer".

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Ile de la Tortue

Damp air trapped in limestone caverns, heady greenery, hothouse orchids, nicotiana blossoms, bois de chandel, elemi, palm wine, garambullo, pega-pega, flame of the forest, and a swirl of Haitian vetiver.

I know what almost none of this smells like and can't pick out any notes (even wet stone or greenery), but it is definitely a warm, tropical floral! I feel like I'm getting some kind of citrus, too. Eventually (after lunch) faded into something that just tickles my nose.

Haven't been up for writing much at AH lately due to the work drama, and then the busyness of everyday life. But I did just answer this one: Louis XV kept a place called Parc-aux-Cerfs (The Deer Park): a harem of young women he could have sex with. What was it like and what kind of life would the women of the deer park have? (The answer is, of course, "wow, you're wrong," as per usual.)

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Trying to get back on my reviews!

Arcana: This is a scent that I classify as just smelling like "perfume" to me, rather than any individual notes. (Which probably means that the frankincense and/or neroli are the strongest ones and I just don't know what they smell like, as I can never recognize anything beyond most spices, basic garden flowers, and food.) It has a bite to it, which may be either the rosemary or the neroli (bitter orange flower). I don't get much of a change through the dry-down, either, just a gradual softening/mellowing, maybe a tiny bit more flowery. I do like it as an alternative to the florals I tend to gravitate to.


Work on my latest dress is coming on apace ... I actually did a couple of skirt seams on the machine the other day! Of course, one of the seams was because I needed to piece the back right skirt panel as I thought it was a scrap and accidentally cut a chunk of it out for the waistband, but still.

I should probably go through and top-stitch all of the scallops on the neckline and pockets at this point, but I hate top-stitching, boo hoo.


Interview went well. I felt really good about it as I was leaving, but by that night I was like, "well, I always feel like I 'made a good connection with the interviewers' and I still never get asked back, so let's not hold our breath." I really want to get an apartment in Oneonta and have a sweet little black cat named Spock, though.

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