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maybe it's because i missed "friday favourites" last week [sorry about that], but i feel compelled to share some favourite things, as i periodically do. although i'm a fan of whiskers on kittens and bright copper kettles can look kind of cool, raindrops on roses are not my thing [i accept rain as a necessary evil] and warm woolen mittens have a tendency to make me break out. so, in place of those, here are the things that work for me. [and yes, there's a "dark" theme, in keeping with the season.]

music to get in a halloween mood

1. nightmare lodge :: the musical project of ivan iusco, head of italy's minus habens label is a fascinating beast. on the one hand, it very soft-edged, melodic electronic music, some of it even a little danceable. on the other hand, there is something a little spooky and unnerving about it. the first track that i ever heard by him was a compilation track called "two lovers", which starts out as a happy little synthpop track and morphs, slowly, into something that sounds like a monster eating your legs. seriously. i was hooked, needless to say.

much of nightmare lodge's oeuvre owes a debt to john carpenter's soundtracks for his own films, but that's truly not a bad thing. i will always have a soft spot for the album "negative planet", which is at once sweetly naive and somewhat unnerving [like the best 80s horror films], but if you can get your hands on it, the best release for the season is undoubtedly the "nosferatu" 7", inspired, of course, by the 1922 movie of the same name.

2. shinjuku thief :: specifically, in this case, the witch trilogy of music inspired by the age of the inquisition and attendant superstitions surrounding witchcraft and the "left-hand path". darrin verhagen, who, like ivan iusco, is the head of a label [dorobo], creates something that plays uncannily like a film soundtrack- i can see it fitting very well with something like benjamin christensen's 1913 masterpiece "haxan: witchcraft through the ages".

as a bonus, both the individual cds and the box set are exquisitely packaged- verhagen is, understand, a graphic artist as well as a musician and his label's releases reflect that.

3. the ultimate rockin' halloween party :: ah the sweet innocence of a time when the bad guys had the decency to be literal monsters. i stumbled across this by accident [i can't even remember the accident, actually] and was immediately won over. some of the tracks will be familiar, but others have been snatched from obscurity to offer spook-tacular entertainment and some excellent offbeat moments for my dj sets. i'm fond of throwing in something truly "golden era" at any time, but if this tickles your fancy, i can promise that there will be some choice morsels at the next [just barely post-halloween, but still seasonal] edition of the caustic lounge.


classic csi episodes

1. 4 x 4 [season 5] :: as much as i love seeing the team [the original team, from seasons 1 through 7] work together, i absolutely adore those times where they're all running around doing different, sometimes intersecting things. this episode really has it all- a warped timeline, multiple cases, sly humour and bizarre tragedy showcasing the unreal experience that is las vegas. one of the reasons i especially like this episode is because normally police shows need complex plots in order to make the stories compelling, whereas a lot of regular police work is dealing with stupid people doing incredibly stupid things. this one starts out with a crime that lab supervisor gil grissome describes as "the dumbest thing we've ever heard". nice reality check, guys.

2. homebodies [season 4] :: as much as i admire the comedic moments throughout the series, crime is usually not funny and it doesn't get any more sobering than this. the parallel cases of an elderly woman left to die in a closet and a home invasion illustrate the possibilities and the limitations of forensics, as well as the effect of working in law enforcement for the people who do it. some excellent guest performances [no big names] as well as the regular cast make this quite heartbreaking.

3. rashomama [season 6] :: ah yes, crime scene investigation would be easy but for the people involved. this single-case episode provides a look at how the team copes with varying individual perspectives when things go really, horribly awry. it's a great look into the various characters we've come to know and at the complexities presented by multiple viewpoints. since the victim in this case is pretty unsympathetic, you don't have to feel too badly about finding the whole thing pretty hilarious.

4. invisible evidence [season 4] :: there are several episodes where the team gets blindsided by something in court, but this, to my mind, is by far the best because, rather than relying on a dramatic reveal, what throws things into disarray is a procedural detail. this is another "single case" episode, with everyone under a lot of time pressure to work through evidence that would normally take weeks to process. catherine's explanation of a "rush" case is one of the truest things i've heard on television.

i'll stop there. fans of the series are likely to be scratching their heads over the fact that i'm not including the tarantino-directed season 5 finale "grave danger", which is always the popular favourite. although it's interesting and i enjoyed it, i actually find that the "tarantino-isms" seem a little forced and that there are moments where the characters act strangely inconsistent [normally, character consistency is one of the show's strengths]. i will say that i would be remiss if i didn't mention the series pilot as a great place to start. although there's always some awkwardness in introducing an audience to a group of characters who have supposedly known each other for years, the elements that made the show immensely entertaining are pretty immediately obvious. also, the season 7 episode "lab rats" is a personal favourite, since it finally shines the spotlight on the series' minor characters, most notably the arrogant, narcissistic and yet still somehow wonderful character of david hodges [introduced in season 3]. ok, really, i'll stop now.

devilishly dark lipsticks

[i'll admit up front that i borrowed this concept from the lovely christine at temptalia, who did a similar post of her own.]

ballet russe [chanel rouge coco] :: this isn't over-the-top dark, but it is a lovely, deep plum shade, both red and purple with beautifully rich coverage, so you don't have any of that patchiness that screams "drug store bargain bin". although it's dark, it is the kind of thing that you could pull off during the day, as long as your comfortable with your luscious lips attracting attention. you can see a look i did with ballet russe here.

let me get tribalist on you
tribalist [mac amplified creme] :: mac has done some very nice vampy shades, both as part of their regular line [dark side, hang up, media] and in limited editions, but this one is a real standout to me. it's an extremely dark shade of berry, like a decadent pie filling you can wear. this one is the kind of shade that's going to attract some attention, so it might not be the kind of thing you want to try out at the office [although, really, it's entirely dependent on your particular office- don't let me stop you]. the shade was a limited release with their "style warriors" collection from summer 2009 and is no longer available from mac, although, a quick google search reveals that it is still out there.

black orchid [tom ford] :: as sinfully expensive as it is sinfully dark, this was part of ford's original lipstick offering and, happily, has been carried over now that the designer/ parfumier/ film director has launched a complete cosmetics and skin care line. an ultra-rich dark red- purple- brown colour, it looks a little disturbingly like a thick drop of dried blood [although the formula has a glossy sheen, so it doesn't look dry], but i guess that's the very definition of a "vampy" shade. i apologise for the fact that i don't have a picture of this one to share. although it's a favourite of mine for nighttime outings, i don't seem to have ever snapped a photo. [note to self- correct that.]

if you'd like to see some more vampy shades, you might want to check out my "30 days of lips" page, since there are a few there.

if you're curious about the dark side, but aren't sure you want to go all the way, you could always check out this post, which has some more subdued alternatives.

halloween costumes past

i can't say that i've dressed up every halloween i've been on the planet, but i make a solid effort whenever i can. here are a few highlights.

indian princess :: ah, the seventies, when political correctness meant that you voted for people who won so you could get a fat government contract. i think i was about six, traipsing around the neighbourhood in a fringed brown robe and moccasins, face obscured by a happy pocahontas-like mask, complete with a feather sticking up in the back. nowadays, i'd be lucky if i wasn't beaten for wearing a costume like that, but at the time, we were all kind of ignorant and it was pretty cute. my mother has photos of this somewhere and, when i'm [in]famous and everyone is dying to find some dirt on me, i just know they'll end up in a tabloid somewhere.

cat :: you didn't seriously think i'd gone my whole life without dressing up as a cat, did you? actually, i had two separate cat costumes, a black one, from when i was very young, and an amazing deluxe plush one that my grandmother made especially for me. i remember being fascinated by the sewing pattern, which seemed like a sort of foreign language. i wore it for three years running, until i had to admit that i'd grown enough that it was giving me a perma-wedgie.

pile of laundry :: i was a broke university student when i did this and i was really impressed that i managed to think of something that required no cash outlay whatsoever. i just wore a body suit and quickly stitched some socks, a couple of shirts, a tea towel, whatever i could find that wasn't too cumbersome [i didn't want to destroy the body suit]. my roommates and i had a party that year and i remember that people kept pulling on the various things attached to me. i spent a lot of time that night yelling "stop taking my clothes off" and ended up wandering around in a body suit with a sock sewn to the shoulder.

voodoo child
nun :: i've used this one a couple of times, because it's a great fallback for someone with a lot of black clothing. the first time i did it, a woman waiting in line at the subway started asking me if i was really a nun [because it's not like i was standing with a bunch of people in strange costumes or anything]. after a few minutes, she started going on about how she hoped i wasn't a nun, because that would be a waste, such a great waste, because i was way too good looking to be a nun. i have no idea who this woman was and, although she was quite adamant that she was straight, apparently something about my appearance [minimal makeup, hair pulled back] in a nun's costume that really lit some fire in her. that might be my scariest halloween experience, actually.

voodoo priestess :: the first halloween dom and i were together, we didn't really know what to do with ourselves and we didn't end up dressing up. [correction- he dressed up, but only to go into the office.] the second year we were together, we determined that halloween was a very big deal for both of us, which was one more reason why we were so well-suited. so we dressed up with a vengeance. i decided to do a whole voodoo get-up, using some of the goth-ier selections from my wardrobe, an awesome hat from retro g and some very authentic props [those are real veves on my hands and chest]. no one knew what the heck i was supposed to be, but i still had a great time.

and here's a little video i shot while i was out in search of halloween. it's set to music by nightmare lodge. [sorry the quality is grainy, i was rushing... hope you enjoy it anyway.]


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