Sunday, August 26, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Icicles - Chilling Poems & Photos by William P. Robertson

One thing I love about traveling and being part of reenactment and living history events is (aside from the retelling an reliving of history) getting to reconnect with friends and make some new ones! This year, I had the pleasure of meeting so many awesome people that I hope to run into again at future events.
One such person I met this year - at Fort Niagara to be exact - was author William P. Robertson. The story goes as follows. I was sitting in the castle cooling off and contemplating where I was going to explore next to get more photos and video. I had a couple artists (painters) ask to take my photo to serve as possible inspiration for their future art pieces. Robertson also approached me as I fanned myself with one of my many hand fans (seriously, I'm obtaining quite the collection) asking for my photo as he was seeking out inspiration, but for this future books.
William Roberston writes French and Indian War era novels and has accumulated quite a number of titles under his belt. But imagine my delight when he told me that he also writes in the horror genre. Of course, I was interested in checking out some of his works and he was nice enough to send a little care package. It included his dark poetry book, Icicles - Chilling Poems & Photos and a CD of music titled Until Death Do Impart that he collaborated on with a band called ShadowFox (I will be reviewing this in a future post). But it was fun getting to know Robertson as a writer through Icicles.


From the 1980's through 2002, William P. Robertson was a prominent voice of the small press horror scene. Adept with both rhymed and free verse styles, his Gothic, Medieval, and dark humor poetry appeared in over 500 magazines worldwide. In addition, he released the audio book, Gasp, on which he rapped, recited, and rhymed his way through his best-known poems. The CD drew rave reviews. Jim Lee of "Scavenger's Newsletter" called it "an uproarious, standalone success" while reviewer, T. M. Gray, said, "There aren't enough superlatives in the English language to express how awesome Gasp is!" Containing ninety-nine chilling poems, Icicles is written in the same haunting fashion that impressed critics and made William's work so popular in Canada, Australia, the US, and the UK.

The poems range from rhyme to (verse, and horrifying and cringeworthy (and I mean that in a good way) to more humorous. I would not, however, recommend this book to the squeamish or if you think you might be offended by gore or content that teeters on a more explicit side.

 I would say that this writing (at least in the horror genre) definitely has an elegant flair while also tilting toward the more twisted side. There are definitely hints of Gothic romanticism within the verse, while others give me a sort of Grindhouse vibe. Poems like What Do You Do? give nods to the great Edgar Allan Poe while Mini Marts Attract Monsters are reminiscent of the lower budget horror films of the 1980s. And while none of the poems are that long, even the shortest ones might stir up a bit of dread within the reader.

With the Halloween season and autumn equinox approaching, this is a great book to pick up and chill (ha ha! :P ) out with on a dark autumn night with a pumpkin spice latte, tea, wine (Merlot is what I personally recommend) or whatever you want.

Now that I've experienced a little of William Robertson's horror writings, I look forward to reading his historical fiction!

Check out his works at the following links:
William P. Robertson's Historical Fiction

William P. Robertson's Horror Fiction

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

History...and a new podcast!

Hey there!

So first, I am on a bit of an 80s kick today and this happens to be the song currently on the playlist as I begin typing this post. I'm leaving it for you so that you can also listen while you read. You're welcome.

This song is very infectious and I find myself putting it on repeat anytime it's on...

As many of you that follow my blog, social media, and website likely know, history is one of my greatest passions and influences. This is one of the many reasons why I got the idea this year to start recapping my time at living history and reenacting events beyond the photos on social media. Over these last few months, I've been reflecting more on why doing this is of such great importance to me. Aside from a fascination with the idea of another time and place existing outside of my own (which also ties into my interest in Fantasy themes) and the aesthetics (ie the clothing, architecture, etc), I feel that history is among the most important subjects to be taught but sadly, over the years, the ability to see and understand its importance - along with having an interest in learning it in the first place - has been in a sad state of decline.

A great blog that I recently came across is one called Silk and Sass 1776. A young woman by the name of Eliza (who is also involved in the reenacting and living history scene...she liked one of my posts on Instagram, so I followed her and found her blog as a result) runs it and she has some excellent, thought provoking, and very entertaining posts. One post in particular, however, grabbed my attention, and that is one titled Why Do I Do this to Myself?'.

Here is the link to the article if you want to check it out:

In many of her posts, she reiterates why so many of us in the living history and reenacting worlds do what we do. In fact, it got me thinking of why I got into it four years ago. For as long as I can remember I've had an interest in history in some form or another. It was always among my favorite subjects in school and my studies in music, theater, dance, and literature fed it even more.
 When I actually got started at my first living history site, my first priority was conducting a more indepth research for my novel series, The Birthrite (since that and much of my other stories are against historical backdrops). But that very quickly evolved into becoming a large part of who I am, also producing even more opportunities in music, writing, or and being on staff at sites. I gladly accepted these because if there is one thing I enjoy, it's challenging myself. Plus, these new opportunities offered even more insight and knowledge, adding to what I was already bringing in. That's a large part of why I love doing this. You're always learning something! :)

Now one term that Eliza has used pretty frequently on her blog is 'farbsplaining', a term used to describe an individual who behaves as if he or she knows what they are talking about when they in fact do not. One book I often recommend to newbies in the reenactment/living history world is one called Death By Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked by Mary Miley Theobald, who has also done research for Colonial Williamsburg. I'm not saying that this book is a 'be all, end all,' nor am I saying that I agree 100% with every last thing she says. But what it does offer is a look into what not to say. Because I am a firm believer in that knowing what NOT to say is equally important, if not more important than, knowing what TO say. Few things bring more cringe to many a researcher and lover of history than hearing a historical myth that has been researched and debunked ten times since Sunday still being spoken of as fact. And to top it off, those listening to such farbsplainers are eating it up, completely buying into it without any questioning.

this best describes me if I find myself witness to such a thing

Or even worse. How about those clickbait articles that show up in the old social media newsfeed every so often. You know, the ones that have titles like "OMG! 18 Disgusting Facts About the 18th Century that You Won't Believe!". I will confess that I did click on one of these articles out of  mere curiosity one time. I don't recall the title of said article but I do recall that pretty much everything on their list - along with the 'explanations' - was either wrong or an embellished half truth. There might have been one or two things correct but unfortunately not properly explained as to WHY it may have been as it was.
The comments section was even more depressing, as is the amount of shares these articles get.

Seriously, they spread like the plague. The worst part is that these articles and spliced together videos are not being taken with a grain of salt or skepticism, but as the written gospel. Anytime someone does comment to correct with actual facts, they are either ignored or met with scorn from other commenters that apparently know better. They haven't researched much beyond click bait articles, but they still know better.

what my facial expression probably looks like when someone is - as Silk and Sass puts it - farbsplaining (be it online or in real life) with an air of "I'm the smartest person in the universe" and I'm having this inner struggle with whether it's even worth it to be the "well, actually..." guy

Now with that said, I am also willing to say that I'm not perfect, nor do I claim to know all there is to know about history. Have I gotten things wrong? Absolutely. But when I do, I'm willing to learn from it and correct it. It's this unwillingness to learn facts that troubles me and I think many others. Though on the flip side, much of this is due to the fact that history is often presented in a way that makes it unrelateable to the average person. Eliza explains this well in her blog post. Another reason why many don't even think to question or research is due to the fact that, well, people have lives and while the internet has many good aspects, there is a lot of information overload happening out there.
Myth busting is among my favorite things to do when I talk history with the public. I also make it a point to bring to light events that aren't often taught, or taught at all. When I do this, I find that people generally take well to it. Sure, they might have questions or look confused at first because "that is not what you typically hear" (yes, this is a phrase I hear quite often). I will also add that while the clickbaiters are typically out for, well, clicks, there are "farbsplainers" out there that do mean well and are doing the best with what they know. In fact, I can kind of understand why even some pretty knowledgeable people tend to think that some farbsplained myths are 100% fact, because a few do seem relatively plausible. As I implied earlier, there are history myths that do have kernels of truth that were embellished over time.

And this brings me to the podcast part of this blog post. :)

What many of us within the reenactment and living history communities aim for is making history real and relatable. This is also why I started doing things like taking video, a lot more photos, and even interviewing some sutlers, guests, and reenactors at events. However, i conducting a couple interviews, I've found that there are many a camera shy folk out there. Since I am not the least bit camera shy, I do sometimes forget that others are! Therefore, I got the idea of perhaps offering the option of an audio discussion for those that don't mind being interviewed but aren't too into the idea of an on camera talk. I also really liked the idea of having some of these in a sort of podcast form and have thought about just how much audio recordings can really add to this blog.
I've toyed with the idea of a podcast in the past and have off and on interviewed people for not only my blog and video channels, but also a few music and film webzines. Originally, I wanted my podcast to be based on music (preferably within the Rock, Celtic, Gothic, and Metal genres) with some film thrown in, since music is my thing. However, there are a gazillion music and film podcasts out there. With a focus on history, I can cover topics that are important to me, tell of my latest research, talk to some more awesome people in the history world, AND I can still cover bands, since many within my preferred genres are often inspired by historical themes. In fact, one topic that I intend to cover in the future are the many similarities between music of the Baroque era and heavy metal. :D
The first podcast episode will go up very soon. In fact I plan to have it out next week. The first couple episodes will be in video form as I am experimenting with the audio recorder. Once I have that all figured out, I will also do audio versions of the first couple episodes. The great thing too about the audio recorder is that it is a hand held device that I can just stash in my basket or in the pockets under my petticoats at events until I have to use it. :)
And yes, the podcast will share this blog's title and I'm excited to get started. :)

But first, coming up on the blog is a review of William P. Robertson's (one of the many awesome people I met at Fort Niagara) poetry book, Icicles and more Eddie Funkhouser product reviews in the Health and Beauty section. :)

Til then.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Whiskey Rebellion, Historic Harmony, Treasure 15, Slim Forsythe (July Music Gigs)

Hey there!

So you know how I said my next blogpost was going to be on the vintage inspired cosmetics I love so much?

Well, I lied.

Yes, that post is still coming soon, but I realized I still have a lot of photos from my July gigs that still have yet to see the light of day, or at least this blog. A lot went on in July as far as history events and music gigs went and it seemed I was going nonstop (and I kind of was). But here is a little recap of July gigs and you will be able to see even more at my email tribe. :)

Whiskey Rebellion Festival

I performed here with Wayward Companions and we had two slots; one on the main stage and the other in the garden of the David Bradford House.

Photos taken backstage and inside the VIP room:

Performance on the main stage:

Lunch break at the Union Grill (I will be doing a write up of this cool little pub!):

And our performance in the David Bradford House garden:

And what would an event commemorating the Whiskey Rebellion be without a good old fashioned tar and feathering:

in the end, it's all in good fun :D

Treasure 15 Ethereal and Dreampop Night

Not even a week following the Whiskey Rebellion Festival, I was back performing my own music again at the Treasure 15 Ethereal and Dreampop Night, which took place at Howlers in Pittsburgh. For this event, I kept the arrangement simple and had my friend and pianist, Laura Martin, performing with me. :)

 The song "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by the Bauhaus was playing when this photo was taken...the goth kid in me was happy :)

Performing with Wayward Companions at the In Harmony Music Festival in Historic Harmony, PA

Wayward Companions and I were back in Historic Harmony for the fourth time and the second time at their annual In Harmony Music Festival. The era of this location is Regency era, so my attire was more Jane Austen for this gig. :)

 We performed two Wayward Companions show and the second with the Pittsburgh Historical Music Society Orchestra

 getting home and some much needed sleep!

Slim Forsythe Concert

And lastly, I got to perform in the Slim Forsythe concert/my friend Chuck's bday party. This was a little different from what I normally do musically, but stepping outside your comfort zone can be fun.
My outfit was inspired by Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock attire, and I also wore the daisy earrings my grandfather gave my grandmother when they were dating. I topped it off with and Everly Brothers pin I found at a music store and a dove pin in memorium of a friend from the reenactment community that passed away suddenly. And of course, my grandfather's fan club card was in my back pocket. <3
And yes, I did take several selfies because I loved the look I was rockin' that evening. :)

Yeah, I'll say it: brows and lipstick were on fleek that night

 photo op with Tricky Mannion, who played fiddle for Slim :)

There were also a couple other events I attended, and if you still have yet to check out their respected blog posts, here they are

Fort Niagara, Part 1

Fort Niagara, Part 2

French Creek Heritage Festival and 18th century Ice Cream Social at the Depreciation Lands Museum

And that was July for me. Pretty amazing!

Now stay tuned for the new Health and Beauty blog post were I will cover my favorite vintage inspired cosmetics line! You don't wanna miss it (especially if you're a Snow White fan like me). ;)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Bushy Run Battlefield (Jeannette, PA)


August has been a rather interesting month. My traditional music group, Wayward Companions, is taking some down time from gigs and for the most part, August this year is a downtime kind of month (save for rehearsals and a couple film shoots). But how we utilize our downtime is what matters and yes, sometimes you do need a little R&R, though with the Lion's Portal occurring a couple days ago, this is a time to step outside the box a little and take on new challenges. Which is interesting because I had every intent of using this month to tackle new and unfinished projects. Wayward Companions and I are taking action to take what we are doing up a notch, along with me looking for ways to do that with my own stuff. I am wanting to shake things up a bit with my fitness routines and coming up with more fun ways of eating clean. I'm an 80/20 girl when it comes to my eating, meaning that 80% of the time I eat healthfully and 20% of the time I indulge. I'm thinking of changing it up to 85/15 instead and seeing how I do, but I digress :) . So really, downtime month is more of a regrouping time month. Plotting the next move month. In the midst of it all, though, I still find time to get myself out to some cool events in the history realm, even if I didn't dress in period clothing for the last two.
Last Saturday was such a day when I ventured to Bushy Run Battlefield for the 255th anniversary of the Battle at Bushy Run. I hung out with friends and got to know some new cool people, which is part of why I love these events!

On the Saturday morning that I went out to Bushy Run, I did have a couple errands I needed to do first and my original plan was to set out at 8am, do what I needed to do and then be at Bushy Run at 10am when it opened. But after a great but hectic July, my body had other ideas and it just wasn't having me getting up any earlier than 8am. So I ended up being an hour behind schedule and instead set out at 9am.

Me at 9am when I set out

After getting done what I needed to, I finally went out to Bushy Run and ended up arriving at around 11am, which was all good.
A quick shot of the British encampment after I arrived before heading over to my friends' (Claus and Truax Jackware) sutler tent

a view from the inside of Claus and Truax Jackware

the Clause and Truax guard turtle working hard to keep thieves and looters at bay

This was my second year at Bushy Run (last year I camped) so while it wasn't a new location for me, it is still quite beautiful and I always love taking in the scenery. The Native encampment is always especially nice to behold.

Native encampment

In addition, the museum was also open to the public and yes, it was crowded.

the museum's exterior

But I still got some pretty nice shots of the interior.

After a couple hours, I needed a coffee break, so I some at one of the concession stands. They also tempted me with a Klondike bar. So I caved and got one of those as well.

coffee and ice cream are a lovely combination...and for those wondering, yes, this was part of the 20% of my 80/20 eating rule :P

Now for the really fun stuff and my favorite part. Yep, that would be the awesome sutlers and blanket traders!
When I first got to the Claus and Truax tent, I was immediately drawn to the tent beside them as it boasted some really lovely items. The tent was that of Penny River Historic and Custom Costumes and I purchased the following from her:

the beautiful neckerchief that I purchased from her

Penny River is owned by proprietor, Jessica Young, who also worked for Colonial Williamsburg (so you know her stuff is the top notch realm). Not only is she talented, but also a lovely person and I enjoyed hanging out at her tent and chatting for a bit.

Jess and I in the Penny River sutler tent

I also couldn't resist taking some photos of her lovely displays.
Seriously, what's not to love??

I am totally getting me one of these cool "Time Traveler" shirts in the very near future :)

Jess has an Etsy shop, along with an Instagram and Facebook page. Check her out as she is a must follow. 

In addition to some awesome sutlers, these events also have some nice blanket traders. The great thing about blanket traders is that you can often purchase some very good gently used items for a reduced price. Not too far from the Penny River tent was a trader whose blanket had all kinds of cool and for great prices too!

I have a weakness for wooden boxes. This was adorable and when I saw that it came with a small rose inside I couldn't resist :)
I also found some new reading material, THE FIRST FOUR GEORGES and A FRIEND AMONG THE SENECA. I might do a write up or vlog on these books after reading them. 

all the trader had to offer :)

 Since many blanket traders are not businesses in the way that the sutlers are, a lot of them don't really have links on the web. But if you are at any historical event, do stop by a few and see what they have to offer. :)

I ended up having to leave Bushy Run an hour before the event closed due to other plans I had that evening, but just as I did last year, I enjoyed my time there. It is a beautiful site that is rich in history and a definite must visit. Check out more information at their website and see what they have going on throughout the rest of the season!

Up next will be a blog post on one of my favorite cosmetic lines in the Health and Beauty section. A post on a line of vintage inspired makeup. :)