Book Review – Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson

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It started out so well. The perfectly suspenseful opening scene immediately hooked me.
And then, the mysterious female explained what she was. Spoiler alert: she was not a werewolf. This is not a book about werewolves, despite what the cover and summary and reviews suggest. From then on, the novel got increasingly frustrating.

The main character is insufferable and unbelievable. He’s supposed to be smart, yet it takes him almost the entire novel to figure out what the reader already figured out in the first quarter. For a moment, I thought that this was one of those novels that lead the reader into thinking they knew for certain what was going on, only to crush those expectations and blow their mind with new information. It was not. It was exactly as I had suspected all along. How uninteresting.

I also couldn’t deal with the ‘scientific’ explanations of the characters’ supernatural powers. As if that wasn’t tedious enough, those scientific explanations are revealed to be a part of a totalising theory about two races continually at war. All great mythical stories are linked back to this theory. Not to mention things like the Inquisition, which this theory justifies. Sigh. I’ll just attribute this to the time in which the novel was written.

It was not all bad though. Many descriptions were great. Without being too long-winded, they painted vivid pictures in your mind. The descriptions of the violence were perfectly gruesome. Only sometimes descriptive phrases were overused. After a certain point, every time I read “sleek white bitch” or “linkage of probability” I wanted to fling the book against the wall. Or out of the window. Or into a volcano.

Going back to the positive, the pacing was well done. The story consistently keeps building. Important information is withheld until the right moment. The tantalising question of ‘But, what’s in the box?!’ kept me reading until the end.

That’s all I got. Why people consider this one of the best werewolf novels is beyond me.

Live Review – The Dillinger Escape Plan

Review of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s show in 013 (Tilburg) on January 27th 2017. Support: Bong-Ra.

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One-man electronic performances have always gone over my head. I really liked Bong-Ra’s music, but as a live performance it fell short. Especially as the support act for a band such as The Dillinger Escape Plan. It did nothing to warm one up. Most of the other people in the venue seemed to agree with me. They did not let the musician performing on stage deter their conversations. A lot of people also seemed to prefer to stay downstairs in the parlour. Later in the show, with more fast-paced songs, the small crowd started getting into it more. Two or three people were happily bouncing around, seemingly having the time of their life. Many more were bobbing their heads along to the beat. I think I would have enjoyed Bong-Ra’s music a lot more at a festival or dance party. As the support for Dillinger, it was strange.

The mathcore kings launched into their set with the fantastic ‘Limerent Death’. It took the crowd a little while to get into it. The thing about mathcore is that it’s hard to move to. I have been to several mathcore shows where people plainly did not seem to know what to do with themselves. At Dillinger’s show however, there was almost constantly a moshpit.
Their show was calmer than the last time I saw them (no swinging from lamps or crawling on speakers), but that didn’t matter. The band was as passionate as ever. It was a tight and professional show, with a good mix of new and old songs. The old songs remained the most popular with the crowd. The first stage dives took place during the old ‘Sugar Coated Sour’. The poppier songs ‘Black Bubblegum’ and ‘Milk Lizard’ got the whole crowd singing along.

Personally, I would have liked to hear more from Option Paralysis. They did play ‘Farewell, Mona Lisa’, which was easily the highlight of the show for me. It is one of my all-time favourite songs. The intensity of that song live was magical; it gave me goosebumps all over. The rest of the crowd also went wild during that song. After that, only a couple of songs were left. The band gave everything they could give and left the crowd dazed.

It’s hard to believe this was one of Dillinger’s final shows. They will be sorely missed in this kingdom they have built.

My blog in 2017

To the one or two people who might still look at this blog, my apologies for not posting for so long. Between my bachelor’s thesis and another major writing project last year, I’m afraid I have completely forgotten about this blog. I mean to get more into blogging again this year.

I have just finished my study. I’m currently looking for a job. Ideally, I would like to do something with writing. “Specialist journalism” as our career officer called it. To write for something like a book or music or fashion magazine/blog. For that I would need to polish up my non-fiction writing skills. So now is the perfect time to get back into blogging!

I’m still figuring out what exactly I will post on this blog. Lifestyle and fashion related things I love writing about. I’m also trying to write more reviews about books I read, shows I go to, and other media I consume. Maybe some personal musings. We’ll see, we’ll see.

Layout and sidebar information I will overhaul at some point. The banner I have now was only supposed to be temporarily, but it’s been up for as long as I can remember. So much work ahead of me. Better get started.

the end of penny dreadful?!

(spoilers ahead)

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Josh Hartnett as Ethan and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 9). – Photo: Patrick Redmond/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: PennyDreadful_309_1579

when i innocently logged into netflix today to watch the new episode of penny dreadful, i had no idea what was in store for me. i thought it was just another episode of the week. it seemed like there were still some more episodes in store, counting them by number. of course, looking at what last week’s episode had set up, i should have suspected something. suddenly there was a big climax and the dreadful words ‘The End’.

it took a while to process.

however, now that i have gained some distance, i have to admit that it was a spectacular finale. i’m sad that i don’t have an episode to watch forward to next week & that vanessa died though. vanessa died! what! i was considering possible deaths for almost all the other characters (really crossing my fingers for frankenstein), but vanessa! i did not see that coming at all. it does make sense, but it did seem like a very bleak ending. earth has nothing but suffering in store, so better to take an early train to heaven. the religious thinking behind it is so typically 19th century; fascinating in such an otherwise modern show.

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speaking of that big plot point, the scene in which it played out is done fantastically. the way ethan goes up the stairs, all the candles, vanessa in the white dress, the prayer at the end, & the acting of both of them… wow. the aftermath, in which the other characters grieve for her, is also beautiful. it’s the little things, like how frankenstein hugs ethan before he leaves. aww. in a sidenote, that hug was also one of those things that redeemed frankenstein a bit. he was such a jackass this season.

there are so many cinematographic things that i could praise in these two last episodes. london covered in fog. the woman singing to her child integrated with the edited opening credits. our heroes entering the slaughterhouse. dorian in his empty room flooded with light. the burial. the creature reciting the poem at the end. so many things. this whole season was on a much higher level than the previous ones. i loved all the new characters too. catriona hartdegen, oh my god. her character is slightly anachronistic, but so fabulous. i love her intelligence, attitude, & how she saves so many male characters at some point. dr. seward is also badass. inventive interpretation of the dr. seward of bram stoker’s dracula. i love how many more coloured people there are this season too. of course they had to do something after killing off the one black character, but i choose to see it in a more positive light.

as for the storylines of the other characters, they were wrapped up nicely. i was glad to see the vulnerability & change in lily. brute strength aside, she becomes a much stronger character towards the end. we also got to see a new side of dorian, though he of course goes back to how he always was. fitting for his character. the creature has a predictable sad ending. however, it was interesting to see how he deals with it.

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frankenstein i have already touched upon. this season he was significantly more monstrous than his ‘monsters’. he pissed me off more with each episode. yes, he was devastated by all that had happened, but that is no excuse. in the second to last episode he finally recognised how wrong he had been, in another beautiful scene with lily. & then he is reunited with our heroes, just in time. interesting how he then immediately seems to become more heroic himself. it does seem that it was his isolation more than anything that led him down that dark, dark road. anyway, his clumsy way of fighting later provides some chuckles in that otherwise dire situation. luckily he has miss hartdegen to save him.

& then there are ethan & sir malcolm. it is touching when ethan calls sir malcolm ‘father’. even for the viewer it is comforting that, though vanessa died, they still have each other. vanessa! before the episode had ended, i already thought there was no way they could go forward from here. penny dreadful is vanessa’s show after all. it’s good that they ended with this season. the plotline of vanessa eternally being hunted by some demon/the devil was already getting stale in this one. looking at it as a whole i did love it though. it had its faults, & it had jackass frankenstein, but it is definitely worth a re-watch. the whole of the show is. it is so complex, centered around loveable, intriguing characters, & an aesthetic delight. i do think this show will stay one of my all-time favourites.

book review – the life-changing magic of tidying up by marie kondō

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i have seen so many people raving about marie kondō’s the life-changing magic of tidying up, i had to read it myself. the summaries they gave sounded promising. i bought the e-book last night & i read the whole of it today. it’s a nice short read. at first it really put me off though. in the beginning kondō came across very elitist & she made it sound like no one had learned to tidy properly, they were all going wrong about it, except her, & she was here to show you The Way. i almost put it down, but i trudged on & it became better.

this tiny book is full of interesting ideas. i love kondō’s approach to possessions, although i can see why some people would write this off as insane. she is very adamant about being grateful for what you own & treating them with respect, even the things you get rid of. as someone who has a really hard time getting rid of things, this really spoke to me. i believe her that being grateful for what those things have done for you & realising that they have served their purpose will make this a lot easier.

another thing i loved was how she wrote that the only criteria for getting rid of or keeping things is essentially personal. for this you need to ask yourself whether a thing gives you joy or not. she is not going to tell you exactly how to go about it or give you exact guidelines, but wants you to hone & trust you own intuition & decision-making skills. she wants you to find out for yourself what you’re comfortable with. the goal is to only have what you truly love & this differs from person to person.

i also like how she stressed that ‘solutions’ for storage are no solutions at all. she writes that the first step is getting rid of the excess, then you’ll find that storage is no longer a problem. however, she also provides some small, useful tips. the tidbits from her own life & her clients’ experiences were interesting & amusing too.

one criticism i have is that it could get rather repetitive. then again, how much different things can one really say about tidying? another thing that bothered me was how selective the categories she discussed were. these were: clothing, books, miscellaneous items & things with sentimental value. the first two are concrete, but the last two are very vague. she leaves a lot of things out (although you could theoretically take ‘miscellaneous’ as broadly as you like), which takes away from the credibility of her statement that that konmari method will totally make & keep your whole house tidy forever. she also completely ignores creative people & their material needs. of course, with that second point you could argue that practically no artist is interested in these sort of books, so these books are not written for them. it’s probably a criticism very personal to me.

this is not a book for everyone, but if this book piqued your interest & you are interested in both becoming tidier & improving your life, & you are open to unconventional ideas, you will probably love it. if you’re not already interested in these things, or you’re only looking for a quick fix, or thinking about objects as living things with feelings sounds too ‘woo-woo’ for you, don’t bother.

2015 recap

TarynDavidsonfantasy7photo by tim walker

before we head into the new year, i thought i’d do a little recap of 2015 here. this has been a pretty big year for me. i think i have put down enough of a foundation down to make 2016 my biggest yet. so much that can, & is bound to, happen… but for now, 2015.

some goals i had for 2015 were to improve my singing, learn more about (making) music, learn to write lyrics, make more art in general, make more videos, read more & save money. i think, overall, i have done well. with a lot of hard work, my singing has greatly improved. i still wouldn’t call it ‘good’, but i have reached a point that it is not unpleasant to hear. you should know that i have no natural talent for melodic singing whatsoever. later in the year i have also been working on more aggressive vocals. i think that i am much better at that.

this year i also learned to play the guitar! something i never thought i could do. i had lessons in the first half of the year & then just kept practicing on my own, & with my brother. i also tried to learn some musical theory, but that ended up being a disaster, haha.

as for other arts, i did a bit of sewing, drawing, & painting. i ended up mostly writing. in november i spontaneously participated in nanowrimo again & succeeded in writing a novel of 50,000 words. i wrote some short stories too. & even some poems, which could also be lyrics.

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i didn’t make as many videos or read as many books as i planned, because i honestly wasn’t as interested in it as i expected to be. & my last goal of saving money…. hahahahaha. what a spectacular fail. it was an educative fail though.

but enough of the boring goal stuff. i also did a lot of fun things this past year. some of my biggest highlights were my trip to england to see frank iero & later the wgt festival in germany with one of my favourite people in the world. i went to a lot of parties & other events with people i adore. of course i also went to a lot of concerts. i saw quite a few amazing bands more than once. even sort of befriended some of them. big highlight there is every time i die, who i will see again, at least three times, next year.

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i traveled around a lot more than i had expected this year, which was fantastic. budapest, brighton, oxford, around germany & just new places in the netherlands. this year i have really come to realize how happy traveling can make me. compared to that, all the material shit that i usually spend my money on means nothing.

speaking of material shit, this year i have been put off materialism and capitalism like i never have before. while i have also become obsessed with lolita fashion. oh, the contradiction. but especially later in the year, i really have become less materialistic. while i did spend a hell of a lot of money this year, i don’t think i bought that much (compared to previous years). a major reason for this is music. i am listening to stray from the path’s black friday as i’m typing this. i can’t tell you how many times i’ve heard TOO MANY PEOPLE BUY TOO MANY THINGS THEY DON’T EVEN NEED in my head as i was contemplating some essentially useless purchase. stray from the path has been one of my biggest musical obsessions this year. along with bands like cancer bats, counterparts, letlive. & rolo tomassi. it’s like i’ve fallen in love with hardcore & hardcore-related music in general all over again. more than ever it felt like that is where i belong.

yes, this has been a good year. of course, there were also some less pleasant things, but they are so small compared to the rest. i am so grateful for the many nice experiences i’ve had & the things that i’ve learned. thank you to everyone who was a part of it!

some honourable mentions: ♥ growing my hair out & dying it green ♥ turning 25 ♥ that crazy weekend around my birthday ♥ confirming my eye surgery ♥ comic books ♥ gala darling providing endless inspiration ♥ getting back into games ♥ successfully finishing the second year of my study ♥ being secretary of my study association, with a wonderful team around me ♥ anime ♥ meeting so many fantastic new people ♥ including online friends & acquaintances ♥ wearing my same favourite clothes over & over again ♥ knitting ♥ the shows penny dreadful, vikings, & gilmore girls ♥ re-reading all the harry potter books ♥ scents ♥ the elf fantasy fair ♥ pop punk ♥ making a 2015 playlist on spotify ♥ minimalism ♥ having a decent hardcore festival in my old local town ♥ shamelessly indulging in my girliest side ♥ re-discovering old favourite things ♥ enjoying a subscription to rock sound ♥ visiting libraries for fun again ♥ wandering around new cities without any plan ♥ honesty ♥

my first lolita tea party

frankmillarphoto by frank millar

last sunday i went to a lolita tea party at summer tales boutique, right at the centre of the dutch lolita community. it was the first time i went to a lolita event. i got all dressed up in my angelic pretty dress, slapped pastels on my face & donned a long wig and a cute bear hat. i think i did pretty well with my coord; i even got some compliments. unfortunately i forgot to take pictures, otherwise i could have shown you.

since i live relatively close by, i went on my bicycle, getting lots of interesting looks along the way. i arrived at the same time as some other guests & i walked behind them to the main area. before i had reached the top of the stairs i was already thinking what the fuck am i doing here? (behold un-lolita language) it was a phrase i would repeat several times in my head throughout the afternoon. it’s strange getting involved into such a new community. when i stepped over the threshold i stepped into a whole ‘nother world. the smallish space was filled with petticoats. all the people in-between looked spectacular. it’s nice having other people to dress up with.

i sat down at one of the first tables i reached, joining two others. they were lovely. everyone was lovely. we had our first cups of tea & waited until the rest of the guests arrived. there were 55 in total. finally, the charming girl behind the boutique went up front to welcome us all. she also showed us the new collections she & her team had been working on for the past few months. all perfectly charming pieces. i was already questioning my fragile resolve not to buy new clothes anymore. i can’t get that chiffon babydoll dress out of my head. perhaps… it is important to support small businesses…

after her talk we could go down to the store to admire all the fine pieces & buy what we wished. i only bought one of the new rings, since i didn’t really have the money for more. i would have liked to try on one of the new dresses, but it was so packed in that small store. & everyone was wearing petticoats. at several points i found myself stuck in a group of people, immobilized by petticoats. we could all laugh about it though.

later we went back up to eat. when everyone was seated again, platters of baked goods and sandwiches were deposited on all the tables. i had let the people who organised it know beforehand that i was vegan. i thought that they would probably put some small things on the side for me & other vegans, but i got a whole plate for myself! a whole meal, which was fantastic. i got a sandwich, a fruit salad, a cupcake, & a scone with soy cream & jam. my mouth is watering just thinking about it. it made me so happy that they made such delicious food for vegans as well. there were more vegans there than i expected too.

then it was time for the costume contest. there were five contestants, all dressed fantastically. one girl in white had a handmade tophat with flowers and fairy lights; another had made almost her entire outfit herself, complete with an elaborate headdress with even more fairylights; there was one in oldschool lolita with bells in her hair; one girl who took inspiration from the story of christ; & a girl who was dressed as a present & threw glitter everywhere. it was amazing. very motivating to go further with my coord a next time.

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after the contest there was also a lottery. to my great surprise, i won something! i won two rings from the new collection. i went home with a lot of new rings. there was also one in the lucky pack that i had gotten along with my ticket. in my lucky pack there was also a hair bow and a rosary necklace.

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to close the event, we all went outside & braved the december cold for some group pictures. before we left, we could take a card from the small christmas tree. earlier in the day we had all written something nice on a card & hung them up. i went home with a card that said (translated) that i looked fabulous. i thought that was a sweet little extra.

it was a magical experience overall. the only thing was that i still felt a bit awkward & out of place in that community, but i think it will be better a next time. i do fully intend to go to a second lolita tea party. time will tell how i fit into the lolita community in the long run. if i don’t, well, i still have my gothicly inclined friends.

video – the benefits of morning pages

absent for a couple of weeks & wordpress has completely changed on me again. oh well. the past november i’ve been busy with nanowrimo & the past two weeks i’ve been busy recovering from nanowrimo. but now i’m back!

i made a video again. this one is on the benefits i’ve been experiencing from writing morning pages.

hope you like it.
i’m working on a review of mockingjay part two, which should be up soon. tomorrow i’m going to a lolita tea party, which i think i will also write about. some things to look forward to 🙂

book review – the art of asking by amanda palmer

this week amanda palmer’s the art of asking was released in paperback. like when it first came out last year, she asked her fans to spread the word about it. i was already meaning to do a review on it, so here it is.

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i have been following amanda palmer & her work for years & years now. from the dresden dolls, to her solo album, evelyn evelyn, the grand theft orchestra, ukelele madness, ted talk… she has done so many wonderful things. i don’t love everything that she’s done, but this book is definitely one of the many things that i do.

the art of asking is basically about amanda’s experiences with asking & what she has learned from those experiences. it could be categorised as a self-help book, but it is so much more. it is also a meditation on human relationships, vulnerability, trust & art & all its facets. then it is partially a memoir of one of the greatest artists of our time.

in the art of asking amanda questions a lot of notions that most of us in the western world probably grew up with. like how we are supposed to be independent & never need help & distrust everyone else. how we think artists are supposed to earn money. fundamentally, how we are supposed to be embarrassed by asking for help. she shows that there is another way. she shows a glimpse of a better, more open & loving world.

the whole book filled me with such inspiration. it made me want to be better to other people, allow myself to be vulnerable, create more art. it changed my views on certain things, for the better. i would recommend everyone to read this.

some of the passages that i highlighted while reading the book:

Everybody struggles with asking.
From what I’ve seen, it isn’t so much the act of asking that paralyzes us–it’s what lies beneath: the fear of being vulnerable, the fear of rejection, the fear of looking needy or weak. The fear of being seen as a burdensome member of the community instead of a productive one.
It points, fundamentally, to our separation from one another.
American culture in particular has instilled in us the bizarre notion that to ask for help amounts to an admission of failure. But some of the most powerful, successful, admired people in the world seem, to me, to have something in common: they ask constantly, creatively, compassionately, and gracefully.”

“Those who can ask without shame are viewing themselves in collaboration with-rather than in competition with–the world.
Asking for help with shame says:
You have the power over me.
Asking with condescension says:
I have the power over you.
But asking for help with gratitude says:
We have the power to help each other.”

“Seeing each other is hard.
But I think when we truly see each other, we want to help each other.
I think human beings are fundamentally generous, but our instinct to be generous gets broken down.”

“I think the real risk is the choice to disconnect. To be afraid of one another.
We make countless choices every day whether to ask or to turn away from one another. Wondering whether it’s too much to ask the neighbor to feed the cat. The decision to turn away from a partner, to turn off the light instead of asking what’s wrong.
Asking for help requires authenticity, and vulnerability.
Those who ask without fear learn to say two things, with or without words, to those they are facing:
I deserve to ask
and
You are welcome to say no.
Because the ask that is conditional cannot be a gift.”

i think i need to go re-read this…

if you want to read it too, you can buy the paperback at amazon, barnes & noble, books-a-million, indiebound or porter square books. you can find a bunch of links for the hardcover, audiobook & ebook here.