¨¨¨°º the adventures of choklit chanteuse º°¨¨¨


In the Pudding Club

It's finally time to come out of the closet... I'm knocked up. I've got a certifiable bun in the (rapidly-expanding) oven. After many years of being decidedly NOT ready to jump on the breeder bandwagon, we decided the time was right.

And so, I've spent the last four months in a haze of queasiness, violent mood swings, and heretofore un-imaginable exhaustion. Mind you, this hasn't abated my desire to hunt down all manner of new shopping temptations...

(Hemp & Velvet Booties by Bobka Baby)

So for the time being, I am putting away my corsets and bourbon, in favor of nappies and vitamins. I've been far more focused on important questions like "Is it possible to have an infant in your life and completely avoid *shudder* pastels?" and "How in the world will we decide whose surname this child will inherit?" and frequenting the brilliant alt parenting blog Offbeat Mama more often than my usual haunts of neo~Victorian and steamy blogs.

But fear not, my loves! I don't intend to turn this space into a venue to rant about swollen ankles and cloth vs. disposable diapers (tempting as those topics currently are). We're carrying on much as before ~ my love is already planning what kind of contraption he'll build for this little critter to ride in - no molded plastic stroller for us, no!

When I can muster the energy, I'll certainly still be posting here about all things fantastical and gorgeous. So I ask simply for your patience, dear readers, as I embark on this new kind of adventure!


The Miracle of Mystimation

The lovely and talented Else, proprietress of Latent Twist Spatterdashery, introduced me to a most enchanting film a few nights ago: Vynález zkázy, a.k.a The Deadly Invention, a.k.a. The Fabulous World of Jules Verne.

Now I'm no stranger to Czech animation; given my love of puppets, stop-motion, and surrealism, it's unsurprising that Jan Švankmajer is among my favorite filmmakers, and I've seen my fair share of others, from Jiří Trnka to Jiří Barta. But I'm sad to admit I had never heard of Karel Zeman, who is considered to be one of the fathers of the genre.

This film, released in 1958, was absolutely spellbinding. Zeman artfully blends live actors with sets painted to look like Victorian woodcut engravings, stop-motion animation, miniatures, and special effects to create a whimsical world like none I've ever seen. Indeed, the posters for the American release sell it as "The First Motion Picture Produced in the Magic-Image Miracle of Mysti-mation!"

The resulting hybrid of real actors adventuring in a two-dimensional world is just incredible. And as if the visual effects and textures alone weren't magic enough, the story is filled with fantastical mechanical wonders: pedal-powered blimps piloted through the skies, four-legged mechanical underwater fighting machines, a steam-powered villain's lair inside a volcano, and hand-crank picture-wheel projectors.

Apparently this film was shown frequently on television in the sixties, along with another of Zeman's features, on Baron Munchausen (!) ~ and its influence is clear. Terry Gilliam's early animations come to mind immediately, and I am also reminded of the recent Ramona Falls video that I so adored. But I truly can't begin to describe the wonders to be seen in this film, I simply urge you to find and watch it.

It can be found in parts on YouTube, and indeed, one can even buy it on DVD, although it doesn't appear to be getting the Criterion-Collection-treatment it so richly deserves. You can even track down a making-of documentary about Zeman's special effects. As for me, I'm off to track down every other film Karel Zeman made, to devour them with relish.


August Bradley's Haunting Imagination

I happened upon this delightful series of images from the 2008 Hasselblad Masters book by fashion photographer August Bradley while poking about on DeviantArt a while back.

Admittedly, the first one caught my eye because I recognized Kojii, one of the models from the single season of Project Runway I indulged in watching (it was only for Louise Black, really!), but I was intrigued. I loved Bradley's painterly use of light and color, and the implied drama in the dreamlike pictures.

You can find a number of lovely interviews with him on the web ~ I particularly enjoyed this one, A Trick of the Light. With most of my favorite photographers, it's the ability to hint at a story behind the scene that captures my heart, and Bradley is adept at making the viewer feel like he's frozen a fable in time.

While the world of high fashion and its overly made-up, impossibly lanky women will always feel a bit alienating to me, I can't help but be charmed by the oddity of this series, the Depression-era-circus-meets-post-apocalyptic-fairytale mood.

The faux ravens, the decaying props, the unusual men mixed in with the leggy models... fine. I'll bite. I even found a very brief documentary on the project which reveals a bit of what goes on behind the scenes.

It seemed like a fitting month to feature this particular artist. So carry on, August Bradley, with your fantastical haunting visions. I look forward to seeing more of what comes out of your imagination.