Friday, October 31, 2014

The Professor's Homework Assignment: Halloween!

This month's assignment is specifically about Halloween at home -- how you decorate, treats you make, how you spend the holiday with family and friends. So I thought I'd show some scenes from the Halloween party my husband and I have hosted, off and on for the entire time we've known each other. We call it the Famous Dead Person's Ball -- where everyone comes dressed as someone at least marginally famous and at least temporarily dead. I've collected and crafted decorations for decades, and we put things all over the front yard and porch, and all throughout the house. It's a huge production, so we don't do it every year (the last one was in 2012 -- we're due to hold another one soon!).

Here are some views of the decor we've done...

Welcome to the FDPB in 2005
Frank the Skeleton promises a good time!
Our spooky walkway from 2008.
A deadly buffet is laid in 2005.
Candles, cobwebs, & roses on the living room mantle.
In 2010, we didn't have a full party, but we had another couple over for a spooky dinner. I set the table with our best gothic linens and china and made a fall-themed menu.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday Wondering: Retro Style

Prompt: If you could bring back certain fashions or hairstyles that are no longer in style, what would they be? Why do you want to revive them?

I'd bring back more elaborate hairstyles in general -- long and styled hair for men, styled updos for women including curls, braids, and false hair. Whether beehives or poufs or towering edifices, even if just for special occasions like weddings and award shows, I'd love to see these things as more than high-fashion art pieces in the realm of Lady Gaga. 

Maybe it's because I feel so hemmed in by my lack of hair right now. I do know that I always feel more fabulous wearing a tall wig. There needs to be more casual acceptance of that in modern life!

Questions culled from the discontinued Writer's Block feature on LiveJournal.

What I'm wearing: Grey & white stripe cardigan, Forever 21 | Black ruffle-front sleeveless top, Macy's | Grey corduroy skirt, Newport News | Black leather belt, Macy's | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black heeled lace-up boots, Aerosoles | Silver sugar-skull earrings, random accessory store

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Meme-Day: 100 Things

Bold the ones you've done
* the ones you'd like to

1. Started your own blog -- Duh, you're soaking in it :-)
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii -- a bunch of times!
5. Watched a meteor shower -- often combined with #2
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland -- & DisneyWorld (first)
8. Climbed a mountain -- many mountains, not esp. high ones, but they count as mountains
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped -- was tempted!
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch -- what haven't I taught myself from scratch? I did learn to sew from my mom & grandmom, but that was just the basics, anything more specific (or historical), I had to figure out myself.
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty*
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France -- & was not impressed
20. Slept on an overnight train -- altho' "slept" is an overstatement
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb -- I've held a baby goat tho'
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon -- I've run two 10ks, but I guess that doesn't add up :-(
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice -- so worth it!
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors*
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language*
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied*
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person*
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David -- he *is* all that & a bag of chips!
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt*
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance -- & it took years to pay off that damn bill
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China*
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia*
60. Served at a soup kitchen*
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies -- no, but I've eaten a ton of 'em :-)
62. Gone whale watching* -- but I've seen whales breach from the shore
63. Got/gave flowers for no reason -- done both
64. Donated blood, platelets, or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter -- no, but I've been in a super-tiny prop plane a few times, which feels awfully close
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square -- well, breezed thru
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone -- my leg once, my ribs twice
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person*
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem*
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating -- fishing, heck yeah
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

What I'm wearing: Dark grey dot-patterned jacket, H&M | Black knit dress, Target | Black lace tights, unknown brand | Silver-grey wedge pumps, Anne Klein | Black & white branch-patterned scarf, bought on business trip | Silver medallion earrings, random accessory store

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bram Stoker's Dracula Podcast

Want something to listen to as you finish your Halloween preparations? Download the latest Frock Flicks podcast -- it's a critique of the 1992 movie Bram Stoker's Dracula, starring Winona Ryder and Gary Oldman. This classic gothic love story features gorgeous Victorian-esque costumes, Art Nouveau styling, blood, and baby eating, which we analyze in depth (with both academic citations and a few Pink Drinks ;-).

Check it out on our website, and download the whole series from iTunes, where we've reviewed everything from Marie Antoinette to the current Outlander TV series, and we have more movie critiques coming soon. We also blog about throwback costume dramas, upcoming films, man-candy in costume, and we're on Twitter and Facebook as well.

Frock Flicks is a project I've been doing off and on for the past seven years with my two best friends, and recently we've ramped it back up to do regular podcasts and blogging. Because we all need something different, and honestly, it's pretty fun! Listen, and you'll see why!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Wondering: Elevator of Interest

Prompt: If you had to be stuck in an elevator for 24 hours with one TV character, who would it be and why?

My very favorite TV character is Hawkeye Pierce from "M*A*S*H*" and I bet he would be pretty darn entertaining to be stuck in an elevator with. Of course, he'd prefer to have a bottle of booze, and he'd spend a lot of that time hitting on me, since he was a notorious womanizer. But he was so smart and funny, a dedicated surgeon and an avowed pacifist, I'm sure we could figure out something to talk about too.

Questions culled from the discontinued Writer's Block feature on LiveJournal.

What I'm wearing: Brown paisley coat, custom-made | Grey plaid vest, vintage | Black ruffled knit top, Newport News | Black trumpet skirt, MetroStyle | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black ribbon-tie pumps, Clarks | Silver filigree earrings, Target

Hawkeye as played by Alan Alda

Monday, October 20, 2014

Subtle Geekery

I've never been shy about flying my freak flag, even at work. I've talked about historical costuming during interviews, and I wear my studded leather cockring every single day. After all, if you google for images of me, you're going to see everything from me in 18th-century male drag to my boobs inscribed with "CorpGoth" calligraphy. Not subtle!

But this outfit is a more tasteful version of geeky CorpGoth. I got the T-shirt at the new Diagon Alley in Universal Studios, where my husband and I indulged our love of all things Harry Potter. Of course, I went for the spooky side with the Dark Mark. Which coordinates nicely with my everyday wardrobe.

Do you try or have to sneak your geeky or fandom faves into your work wardrobe?

What I'm wearing: Black velvet jacket, White House Black Market | Grey "Dark Mark" T-shirt, Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter at Universal Studios | Grey striped skirt, Nordstroms | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black T-strap flats, Aldo | Silver filigree earrings, Target

Monday, October 13, 2014

CorpGoth Status Report: Office-Friendly Skulls

When I think of how one an incorporate a touch of goth into a corporate-friendly wardrobe, I automatically think about this skull-print scarf. Yep, that's right, skulls. Now this may seem contradictory to some of my advice like "minimize references to death & religion" in your outfits. But this specific style of scarf is an exception.

See, it's an interpretation of the iconic Alexander McQueen skull-motif scarf. Not an exact knock-off, but it's close enough to pass as "fashionable" or even "trendy" instead of "morbid" or "creepy" to mainstream eyes. If you work at an office where you have to keep your gothic style on the down-low, this sort of accessory could be a nice way to save some of your personal aesthetic while blending in just a little.

I don't have to worry too much, even though I work at a more conservative employer right now. Still, I paired the skulls with a purple dress for a little contrast.

How are you wearing skulls at the office for this report? Is your workplace OK with it?

What I'm wearing: Purple knit dress, Land's End | White & black skull scarf, | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black & white T-strap flats, Zappos | Black & white stripe bead earrings, Kohl's

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Five: Growing Up, Moving On

1. How many schools and colleges / universities have you attended in all?

Eight (that I recall). A little bit of switching around in the grammar-school era, but after that we lived in mostly the same neighborhood. Plus I stayed in one university and did my portion of grad school in one place.

2. How many states have you lived in? How many countries?

Two states, just the one country ... so far :)

3. Have you ever seen the hospital where you were born -- where is it/what's it's name?

Drove past it once, it's in Florida, don't recall the name and not sure if it's still there!

4. Do you plan to live in the same state in which you were born or somewhere else?

When I was little, I wanted to live back there, but I quickly realized the benefits of staying where mom had moved us.

5. Do you still talk to people from elementary school, middle-school, high school, college?

I have exactly two friends from junior high / high school who I still talk with (mostly through Facebook) and one good friend from college who I still talk with. Otherwise, I've drifted away and moved on. Funny, I've stayed physically in the same place a whole lot more than I have socially or, I guess, emotionally.

Questions culled from The Friday Five on LiveJournal.

What I'm wearing: Purple ruched-shoulder cardigan, H&M | Black crochet skirt, Coldwater Creek | Purple & black stripe tights, WeLoveColors | Black flats, Aerosoles | Black & silver crystal earrings, random accessory store | Skull pendant on velvet ribbon, Jewels by Olivia

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesday Wondering: Major Impact

Prompt: What was your college major? Do you use it for your career?

I majored in English Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and I nearly got a Master's degree in the same subject. All during my undergrad years, people would say, "English major, so you're going to be a teacher, right?" And I said, hell no.

But I struggled to find a decent-paying job fresh out of college and quickly went back to school for an M.A., somewhat resigned to that teaching career. I loved the academics but did not relish the idea of grammar or high-school level teaching, which was where the vast number of jobs were, especially in California.

Then, a little thing called the Internet came along. A local newspaper was trying to get itself online, right when I was playing around with teaching myself to build webpages in my spare time. That was the beginning of something ... I combined a knack for learning software with writing and researching skills honed in academia into a online journalism career and never looked back.

I've been writing for the web since 1995, about everything from digital music to the environment to hard drives to Medicare. So yeah, my college major has been pretty useful in my career after all.

Questions culled from the discontinued Writer's Block feature on LiveJournal.

What I'm wearing: Red sheath dress, Target | Grey color-blocked cardigan, Macys | Grey tights, Target | Silver grey wedges, Anne Klein | Black & red glass bead necklace, made by me | Silver hoop earrings, random accessory store

Monday, October 6, 2014


No, not one of those cat-suits -- totally wouldn't be work-appropriate and you wouldn't really want to see me in that anyway. But this outfit is a little suit-like and it has cats. Because my husband and I finally got kittens after a hiatus that felt too long (but was really just long enough since we had some house projects to finish up first).

We adopted three, female, 2.5-month-old liter-mates from the local shelter, and they are freakin' adorable! My chances of getting anything done outside of work have gone down by at least 80% but my overall happiness has gone up by at least 120%. Fair trade.

The black one is Bellatrix, the stripey one is Hermione, and the stripey one with ear tufts is Luna. No, their names were not at all inspired by our recent trip to the Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Nope, not at all :) Let's face it, we're geeks, and these three are cute little witches who've cast a sweet spell on us.

What I'm wearing: Black piped jacket, Speigel | Black T-shirt, Old Navy | Black, white, & pink cat-print skirt, Etsy | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black perforated d'orsay flats, Target | Black & white beaded necklace, made by me | Silver hoop earrings, random accessory store

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Five: Yay, Shoes!

1. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
I had to count 'em -- 64 pairs. That includes *everything* not just my regular everyday shoes, but also my slippers, several pairs of flip-flops, the rubber boots I wore in Antarctica, shoes that are waiting to go the cobbler for repairs, & over a dozen shoes that only go with costumes. Kind of sad, because that's down from a few years ago when I had at least 80 pairs of shoes *not* counting the costume ones.

2. Why or when do you buy shoes?
I buy shoes for particular needs or when current shoes wear out. For example, my current job is a couple blocks from public transit, so when I started, I needed more office-appropriate flats suitable for walking since I only had one pair. Every summer or so, I buy cheap new sandals because they wear out so easily.

3. What's the most expensive pair of shoes you've ever bought?
Black suede thigh-high flat-soled pirate boots for $100, sometime in the late '80s or early '90s. Sadly didn't wear them too often, so I eventually sold them on eBay for half that. I have one pair of knee-high riding boots now that originally cost that much but I bought them on sale. Most of my  shoes are in the $60 range these days (which is up a bit from the past, see below).

4. Carrie Bradshaw -- whimsical fashion diva or fool who wastes money on shoes?
A bit of both! I used to call myself the Carrie Bradshaw of Payless Shoe Source (since I used to buy SO MANY of their $15 shoes), so I can understand her passion for cute shoes, but I do so on a lower budget. $400 Jimmy Choos? Not my lifestyle!

5. Describe your fantasy perfect pair of shoes & where you'd wear them.
I dream of something like a wacky Irregular Choice pump with an 18th-century curved Louie heel & flared vamp, in a purple damask with a giant black silk satin bow. Gothic & gorgeous for everyday, but just enough historical style for costumes.

Questions culled from The Friday Five on LiveJournal.

What I'm wearing:  White & black pinstripe jacket, Macy's | Red bow-tie top, Target | Black skirt, NY & Company | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black Union Jack pumps, gift from my husband | Pewter key earrings, made by me

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

CorpGoth Status Report: Skulls

Subject: To prep for Halloween, let's get spooky -- but office-appropriately spooky. Add a skull or two (or more!) to your work attire. See how CorpGoth you can go.

Due Date: Monday, October 13 to Wednesday, October 17

How to File Your Report:

1. Post to your blog on or around the due dates.

2. Include the following code in your post so the This Is CorpGoth Mid-Month Status Report graphic will display (if you're using Blogger or WordPress, switch to the 'HTML post' setting & then paste this code in):

<a href=""><img border="0" src="" /></a>

3. Comment on my Monday the 13th post including your blog link.

4. Read everyone else's reports via their links in the comments!

Sophistique Noir Monthly Theme: Black & White

What a great theme Victorian Kitty chose for this month! Who doesn't love the combo of black & white? And naturally, it comes down to stripes, because I have a ton of 'em in my wardrobe. I wish I had more black & white damask or other prints, but the stripes are overwhelming. But I did get to mix in my very favorite sweater in a black & white floral.

What kind of black & white do you wear?

What I'm wearing: Black & white floral sweater, White House Black Market | Black long-sleeve T-shirt, Old Navy | Black & white stripe skirt White House Black Market | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black patent pumps, unknown brand | Black beaded cameo necklace, random accessory store | Black & white stripe bead earrings, Kohl's