Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Beauty of the Rubaiyat ~

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) is a collection of quatrains that focus on the "live in the present moment and enjoy yourself" ideal. They express a desire to drink wine, be blessed with the light, and of the mystical. Rather than do a "review", I wanted to share several of the quatrains and hope that perhaps you will want to read the book as well. I also included several of the illustrations by Edmund Dulac so as to add to the overall aesthetic (pun!) of the work. The illustrations came from various websites and blogs - I apologize for not listing the actual link.

Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.

Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
To-Day of past Regrets and future Fears - 
To-morrow? - Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.

I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in her Lap from some once lovely Head.

Ah, Moon of my Delight, who know'st no wane,
The Moon of Heav'n is rising once again:
How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same Garden after me - in vain!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Book Review - Five Night Stand by Richard J. Alley

As many of you know, my love of jazz stems from two sources: watching Peanuts cartoons and my granddad with his vinyl collection. Although I love all forms of music, jazz is my soul.

One exception - Vivaldi. Anyway, I digress.

To me, jazz is an art that speaks to the soul, breathing life into a person or a place and giving it something it may never have experienced before. Either that, or the music is simply Life itself. Thanks to the novel Five Night Stand by Memphian author Richard J. Alley, jazz does just that. Within the novel, the readers are introduced to Frank Stevens, a recently fired journalist from Memphis who travels to New York seeking out an interview that may change his life; Agnes Cassady, a young and unconventional woman whose life is spiraling out of control thanks to a debilitating disease; and Oliver Pleasant, an aging jazz pianist who is ready to retire from the "security" of a life that both uplifted and brought him down.

Although most of the novel takes place in New York City, there are flashbacks to Winona, Mississippi; Memphis, Tennessee; and New Orleans, Louisiana, and the flair that each city gives off in the form of music. The music that connects whites and blacks in the time of Jim Crow; the music that changes a young black man's life forever; the music that gives a dying woman a possible hope for something better. Each of the main characters has, thus far, simply "existed", yet when they come together for five nights of Oliver's last performance, the music suddenly reminds them what Life is all about. True living is painful and beautiful, sad and graceful, hopeful and forbidden. When Life comes, all secrets are revealed, long ago sealed wounds are opened again, and finally a breath can be taken without shame or guilt. It is time, simply, to Live.

Alley's voice is so powerful that I had to post about the book after reading only twenty pages of it. You feel the tremors in Agnes' hand while she listens to Oliver play and nothing else. You want Frank to make that comeback in his career while completely understanding his drive to be a writer. You want to hear Oliver play that tune he wrote for his deceased wife, Francesca. Each character is a distinct voice, a complete entity that projects themselves off the pages and into our minds. When I finished the book earlier today, I couldn't stop thinking about the characters and silently hoped the best for them. Even Agnes.

Thank you, Richard, for such a powerful book. I look forward to reading more of your work.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Vampiric Night Moves

Jury duty.  Gotta love it.

Of course, one good thing about it is that you may have time to read a book. Thanks to my good friend, author and all around cool guy John Hartness, I had the pleasure of diving into Knight Moves, the third book in the Black Knight Chronicles, and finishing it as well. Let me just say that it was grand to see the boys Jimmy and Greg again!

If fighting in Faerieland wasn't enough for our two lovable (and geeky!) vampires, now they have to deal with a new threat - more vampires! Someone has been creating vampires in Charlotte and the boys aren't too happy about that, especially when their forces are increased by a cute girl turned vampire named Abby. Who has been creating these new vampires and why? Also, a blast from Jimmy's past makes a grand re-entrance and suddenly, everything is no longer what it appears to be, even under the cover of night.

Hartness, as I have said many times before, is a master of the written word. His writing makes you flip the pages, all the while laughing your ass off because his characters are REAL with everyday problems blended with a spark of the supernatural. I do forget that Greg and Jimmy are vampires because they remind me of friends in my life! Hartness' characters remind us of friends that we either do constant face palms, have invited over for a game of Magic:The Gathering, or enjoy a cold six pack with records playing in the background. Although I would love to sit down this evening and read the fourth book, Paint it Black, I need to spend time on my own writing, yet it was good to have Jimmy and Greg with me as I experienced jury duty. Hartness, you are amazing!

Oh yeah: seeing as how the third book is titled Knight Moves, I figured I would add the video for the song Night Moves by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. It's a damn good song and why not?


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Of Ghosts and History - Woodruff-Fontaine House

The Woodruff-Fontaine House is part of Victorian Village, one of the many historical places in Memphis, Tennessee. According to the website, the history of the house and its original owners are thus:

Amos Woodruff came to Memphis in 1845 to expand his carriage-making business. He bought the property and began construction in 1870. Completed in 1871, the first event held at the mansion was the wedding of Amos’ daughter, Mollie Woodruff. This is significant in that the mansion has a tradition of weddings from 1871 right up to the present! Amos Woodruff was a very successful carriage maker, and not only became very wealthy, but became one of Memphis’ most distinguished builders and supporters during a 25 year period. He was president of the city council, was a mayoral candidate twice, organized and presided over two banks and the Memphis & Ohio Railroad. He also presided over the Overton Hotel, the Southern Life Insurance Company, and was in the cotton and lumber business!

Noland Fontaine, was the second owner of the mansion. The Fontaines of Kentucky and Memphis are descendants of the Huguenots who fled from France to England after the 1685 edict of Nantes, immigrating to Virginia in 1716. Mr. Fontaine was a Cotton Factor of the very prominent company of Hill, Fontaine & Co. He died in 1912 and his wife died in 1928. In 1929, the estate was sold for $25,000.00 with the intention of becoming an antique shop; however, that venture was never realized. The house was subsequently sold to Rosa Lee for the purpose of expanding her Free Art School. The art school moved to Overton Park in 1959, and the house remained vacant until 1961, when the Association for Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities saved the mansion through a public fund.

However, all is not what is seems; the house is also quite haunted.

Thanks to my friend Stephen, I was able to conduct an intimate photo shoot within the house as well as receive a history lesson for each of the floors within. As I took my photos, I wondered about the previous inhabitants and their lives within such a beautiful place. At one point, I did ask Stephen about the ghosts and if they were "friendly", to which he replied that for the most part, they were. Although I spent over an hour in the house, I did not encounter anything supernatural . . . 

However, I did feel as though I was being watched, making sure that I gave the house the proper respect. I made sure to do so.

If you are ever in Memphis on vacation or you live here, please take a tour of the house or attend one of the many events located there. Stephen is part of a group known as Historical Haunts Memphis; they are always having events either at the house or at IONS: A Geek Gallery located in the South Main District in Memphis. 

I hope you enjoy the sample of my photo shoot and thank you again, Stephen!

 (the mannequins were dressed for a funeral)

 (one of the salons/parlours in the house)

 (the ceilings have their own story)

 (a Victorian mourning wedding dress. Love it.)

(the wallpaper of a room that instantly drew me in. I felt as though I wanted to live there immediately)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Shadows of October

I love discovering comic books and graphic novels that are not mainstream. Reading them is like falling down a really cool rabbit hole in Gothic shadows and philosophic discussions that last for hours, all the while dressed in illustrations that draw you in and refuse to release you. David Mack's Kabuki and Transmetropolitan are but a few, and of course I'm always in the mood to read about a certain Knight of the Moon (grin). However, I was recently introduced to The October Faction through IDW Publishing and, after literally devouring the first graphic novel in one sitting, I can honestly say that I'm hooked.

Meet the Allan family, as it states on the back of the first graphic novel of The October Faction: Frederick and his wife Deloris, and their children Vivian and Geoff. They look like a normal loving family; that is, if you consider The Addams Family or the Munsters to be your kind of "normal". Just enough Gothic and evidently familiar with the supernatural, the Allan family is not your ordinary family. Written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Damien Worm, The October Faction is what you need if you are looking for a delightfully creepy and well written story that is open to many layers. Rather than tell you the plot, I just want you to pick up a copy of the graphic novel or the individual comics and see for yourself. Don't say I didn't warn you . . . .

And, seeing as how Autumn is literally right around the corner with promises of everything pumpkin spice flavour, I thought I'd end this review with some good Gothic music.

Enjoy ~

Monday, September 14, 2015

Scandal, French Style!

Every so often, I do enjoy reading about historical scandals. The Profumo affair, for example. So it was that, while during one of my regular visits to the library, that I came across a slender and strange book about a woman I knew nothing about. I read the book in a matter of hours and wanted to know more. La Grand Therese by Hilary Spurling is your answer to wanting a book regarding history, France, art, decadence, and the power of the imagination.

Therese Humbert, nee Daurignac, was born in 1856 in the southwest of France in a province called Languedoc. Therese, as a child, was wont to create imaginary bloodlines for her family, thinking herself to be more important than her realistic and humble roots. It was her imagination, and later her lovely well formed habit of deception, that changed her from a simple peasant girl to one of the most important women in the high society of France. She even had "dealings" with the artist Henri Matisse. Yet, in quoting Tolkien, all that glittered was truly not gold . . . . 

La Grand Therese is a must read for anyone who thinks that Truth is very much stranger than Fiction!


Oh yeah, how about some Matisse, seeing as how he unknowingly played a "part" in the scandal?

The photos were taken from multiple websites and blogs, purely used to show off Matisse's talent and nothing more. Vive le France!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

To Know New Orleans is to Love Her . . . .

Let's face it.

New Orleans is one of the most mysterious, eclectic, adventurous, decadent, etc. etc cities in the United States.

Although Memphis has my heart, New Orleans has my soul. That's why I was more than excited to read the book The Casquette Girls by author Alys Arden. Thanks to the lovely store Boutique du Vampyre on St. Ann Street in the French Quarter, I was able to purchase a copy of this book. If you enjoy a good novel filled with believable characters, magick, history, and romance that is written by a strong voiced author, The Casquette Girls is for you.

Adele Le Moyne, the novel's heroine, returns to New Orleans after the Storm of the Century, and finds that her comfortable world has been turned upside down. Yet, her life becomes intertwined with the supernatural, history come alive once more, and a long forgotten diary that is the key to who and rather what she is.

I was first introduced to the history of the Casquette Girls several months ago while on a tour of the Quarter through Haunted History Tours (hi, Kalila!). Their haunting story gave me enough of a reason to purchase Arden's book the next day and it was well worth it. Even if you've never visited the Big Easy before, you'll come to love Her as much as everyone else does. New Orleans is a powerful and beautiful city and The Casquette Girls reflects that. In fact, I'll be heading down there for Contraflow in about three weeks!

Thank you, Alys, for writing such an amazing book. Thank you for adding your voice to such a city.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Monster Boyfriends, OH MY!

Thanks to my friend, the highly talented author and video game writer Dan Jolley, I got introduced to the series My Boyfriend is a Monster and I'm so glad for the introduction! I just finished reading the book Wrapped Up in You, and I'm already thinking of when I can purchase the other books in the series. Wrapped Up in You tells the story of high schooler Staci Glass and how she feels "cursed" - saying and doing the right thing at the wrong time. Yet when her friend Faith invites her to participate in a seance with three unusual girls, her world gets turned upside down in the form of a young man named "Chuck". Mix in power hungry witches, a history museum, Incan myths, and the lessons of Life and you've got one hell of a story! Complete with great illustration provided by Natalie Nourigat, Wrapped Up in You is a great addition to anyone's biblio collection.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Of Black and White . . .

Southaven, Mississippi, copyright 2015

I recently asked some good friends of mine, as well as the One Who Makes Me Smile, if they preferred black and white photography to colour or vice versa. All three replied that it depended upon the subject matter, and I had to agree with them. I enjoy capturing slices of life on my cameras and showing the world the beauty that surrounds them. A girl eating ice cream. A single dead leaf on the ground. A statue of a praying angel in a cemetery.

I do enjoy black and white photography when I want to make something stand out or present a stark irony in what I see. Sometimes, however, I take a photo in black in white just to see the world without any "additives". And still sometimes, I take black and white photos just because.

So, I figured I would post several of my favourite black and whites that range in subject. If there is one or several that you like, comment on the post! Also, and yes this is shameless promotion, if you see a photo that you'd like to purchase from me, send me an email at artgirl74@gmail.com and let's converse.

All right, here we go!

Memphis, Tennessee, copyright 2015

Memphis, Tennessee, copyright 2014

Memphis, Tennessee, copyright 2014

Memphis, Tennessee , copyright 2015

Santa Fe, New Mexico, copyright 2015

Memphis, Tennessee, copyright 2014

Memphis, Tennessee, copyright 2014

New Orleans, Louisiana, copyright 2014

Memphis, Tennessee, copyright 2015

Memphis, Tennessee, copyright 2014

Memphis, Tennessee, copyright 2015