Monday, January 14, 2013

About sleep

Many people, given the amount of brainless pop and boring new age I listen to, will be quite surprised to learn that one of my favorite bands is Sopor Aeternus & the Ensamble of Shadows, fronted by the lovely person below.

Now let me make one thing perfectly clear. I don't care about musicians, unless they have been dead for long enough to have an interesting biography or biographic movie. I'm not sure if I could recognize in a photo even musicians I actually like and listen to on a regular basis, like Late Night Alumni or Purity Ring. Unless that musician is Anna-Varney Cantodea. As you can see, it's quite impossible not to know how she looks like. Also, she takes her name from the antagonist of a Gothic novel, Varney the Vampire which by the way is not a book, it's literary Chinese water torture. Seriously, it has to be the slowest read in history and not because it's bad, but because you'll end up reading the same pages over and over again trying to find the bits you skipped but guess what, you'll never find them, because they don't exist. Just like Anna-Varney's marbles. But that doesn't change the fact that she is a brilliant musician. My favorite part of any Sopor song is the music, which is usually a clean, harmonious construction of classical instruments with minimal production. If I were to use one word to describe it, it would be "cleansing". In fact, one of my favorite songs, Les Fleurs du Mal, is a perfect example of Anna-Varney masterful composition, with two eargasmic violin solos. 

Anna-Varney's voice is interesting enough, but like most artists, it's at its best when subdued. The moment she starts wailing she looses me and (I'm not gonna make any fans for this) her weird cry-wail-scream thing she does just pisses me off. 
I like the lyrics, and despite the weird, disconnected thematic of some songs, I still feel an emotional connection to them. For example, the German lyrics speak to my prolonged suffering at the metaphorical hands of  German grammar. Seriously though. When you are "the weird one", it's comforting to have someone who's in the same position even if it's a different kind of weird. It helps you sleep better at night. Supposing you're not cowering under your pillows for fear of Anna-Varney coming to eat your soul. 

If this is nightmare fuel, you're welcome.
 Oh well. have some more awesome music.

Good night, kiddies.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bergeron's Broomstick
PR and HR specialists agree that in the workplace it is better to overdress than underdress. The way you present yourself shows others both how you see yourself and how you approach your job and it's a proven fact that the more put together you are, the more chances you have to be heard, respected and hired. 
But clothes are a very simple issue, as anyone can slip into a nice suit. But what about the things that are not that easy to change? Tattoos, for example. Yes, let's talk about tattoos.
A long time ago, tattoos were the mark of foul-mouthed sailors, cons, criminals and social outcasts. But I think I can safely say that is no longer the case. Sure, foul-mouthed sailors, cons, criminals and social outcasts still get inked, but nowadays people rarely frown upon it. Personally, I frown at tramp stamps and douchebags getting generic tribal things on their arms because it's cool, but there is an abundance of amazing tattoo artists and equally amazing tattoos, each with its own story, ranging from intricate memorials to loved ones to abstract promises for the future. 

But the important question is, will employers frown over them and assume that you're not appropriate for their company or even not good at all? I have no idea. I don't have tattoos. Then again I don't have a job either. So I asked some people with with both jobs and tattoos what they about the issue. 
For example, 27 year old Finnish blogger Karoliina Kalma notes the importance of the work environment: 
I live in the biggest city in Finland. It's a large city, possibly the highest percent of students of all the large cities. This means there's a lot of alternative looking people, which is bound to affect the way people react. I've studied traditional arts and than moved on to graphic design and media studies, where looking different was practically the norm. I've been working in the games industry now for around five years in various positions. I've switched companies three times.
So far I haven't encountered any mistreatment and I've done well in my jobs and gotten along well with colleagues. Many of them are "traditional nerds", people with not so good social skills but high intelligence and very specialized fields of expertise. The only problems I have encountered are with male colleague who assume I'm "easy" based om the way I look.
Victorian Kitty, the always-elegant voice of Sophistique Noir, stresses the importance of professionalism.
I think the ability to get away with displaying tattoos in a corporate environment has much to do with the professionalism, maturity and respect shown by the tattoo bearer. It is important to excel at your job, maintain a positive attitude, be friendly, follow the rules and always do your best. Bosses are often more tolerant of minor displays of non-conformity when they know you are a stellar employee. In my experience, the single largest factor in "getting away with" being a bit of a non-conformist in the workplace has always been that I am the best at what I do, and I always have the best attitude.
Using discretion on when you show your tattoos will earn you greater respect from your superiors, and respect usually equates to you being able to get away with more. There is a time and a place for letting your tattoos be exposed at the office, but never during interviews, important meetings, meeting with conservative clients and such. Quantity and quality are usually also critical factors - we can often get away with one or two small, tasteful pieces while full sleeves or questionable subject matter might not be acceptable. Placement also plays a huge role, in my experience. A tattoo on the ankle, forearm or bicep is fairly commonplace in today's world, but on the neck, chest or face would almost certainly be an issue at work. You have to balance the element of non-conformity with what is socially acceptable.
Line of work makes a considerable difference, as well. I went into the field of Graphic Design not only because it was my passion, but it suited my personality type. Most businesses, even more conservative corporations, expect their designers to reflect an artsy and unique perspective to some degree. Some even value that (I was once told in an interview that they appreciated that I "looked like an artist"). People in more creative lines of work can often get away with more aesthetic individuality, including a visible tattoo here and there.
Location can also have a lot to do with it. I live and work near Los Angeles, where people are more liberated aesthetically. When I went to college and first began my career in Kansas, far more attention was paid to any aspect of my appearance that seemed out of the ordinary. Overall, tattoos are more commonplace and acceptable in popular culture these days than they were even 10 years ago, and therefore seem to be considered less shocking or distracting in the workplace than in times past. However, if you live in a very conservative part of the county/world, you might find your employer less understanding than in more progressive areas such as major cities.
The bottom line is to never, ever argue if you are asked not to show your tattoos at work, as long as that policy is upheld consistently throughout the organization. The workplace dress code is a condition of your employment and should not be challenged. Everyone must concede to these rules; even the conformists who would rather be wearing jeans and t-shirts over business attire. However, if others in the organization are allowed to show tattoos and you are asked not to, I think it would be acceptable to respectfully inquire why you are treated differently. Your boss might have a very good reason that you never considered (such as, if you have to deal with the public and your tattooed co-worker is totally behind-the-scenes) but either way you must be prepared to accept the boss's final decision.

Well, it all seems valid enough, but does it work for Romania? Well... I think not. If you are going for an interview that involves either young people with vision and /or a skill test or overalls and a shovel maybe, but looking at our Prime Minister repeatedly giving everyone the middle finger regardless of the perfectly valid accusations of plagiarism coming from all sides of the academic world, I guess never mind the twenty-first century, we never made it in the the twentieth to begin with. I know there are traditionalists everywhere, but witches are real in Romania. You have a tattoo? Good for you. Now hide it. Under the rug with it! Well, sleeve, and we should count ourselves lucky because our great equalizer is the suit. If we were sharing the same world with Bergeron, we'd be wearing weights to stunt us, masks to cover our beauty and evil noise headphones to stop us from being smarter than everybody else. Smile, dammit.  

Friday, November 2, 2012


Don’t you just hate it when people ask you to pick your favorite thing-that-you-love-so much? It’s like when you were a little kid and some annoying middle-aged person would ask you who do you love more, your mom or your dad. Well wasn’t that like the big middle finger of existential dilemmas pointed at you, was it? And just when you thought you cleverly fixed it by saying “I love them both the same,” the bastards go about changing the rules! Oh, I can’t love them both the same? Well I’ll have a suitable answer for you after I learn how babies are made, just you wait!
Anyway, as you might have guessed from the title, this is about books. Not my favorite books, just books in general, because when asked the dreaded question, I just put in the fanciest title I can think of to impress people. Like my Dad, what’s your favorite band? Queen. What’s your favorite movie? Citizen Kane. What’s your favorite cartoon? Tom&Jerry. What’s your favorite comic book character? Rahan. Ok since the blond pre-historic Tarzan is not exactly The Dark Kinght, I guess you can have this one BUT back to the problem at hand. I’ve always loved fairy tales, and after the fateful “Red Riding Hood” event I thought I could never look at an edition of Immortal Tales ever again, but the truth is, after I’ve gone through the whole you-murdered-my-childhood drama, knowing the history and the full symbolic scope of them made me appreciate them even more. Bonus points for murder, rape, cannibalism and matricide - I mean Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and all the rest.
For a lover of the fantastic the shift to the science-fiction and fantasy genera was natural, and you can’t talk about that without the maker and shaker of the space-time continuum, Dune. Yeah, remember that one? Those two books in which everyone talks in inner monologues and that needlessly became more than I’d care to count? And I don’t care, Dune had already started circling the drain by the time Children of Dune came out.
I’m still reading The Lord of the Rings. I’ve gone as far as the first part of The Hobbit and I’ll probably finish the whole thing by the time the reboot hits theaters. I have no idea why it’s such a slow read. And you know what else was a slow read? The Name of the Rose. I’ve gone as far as page 6, and that was 8 years ago. Some might blame the stuffy writing style but I’ve not only read Cormac McCarthy, I actually like Cormac McCarthy and The Road, which is downright biblical in its writing style is one of my favorite books ever! I’m sorry, random literary critic, but Umberto Eco is NOT Agatha Christie.
There was a phase in my life when I only read classics. And believe me, they make an impact, especially when you read close to 1500 pages worth of them in less than three days. Yeah, these classics usually came with a deadline. It almost made me hate the entirety of Romanian literature and that’s something for someone who memorized a three-page poem just by reading the hell out of it. Yes, it’s Miorita. It was only after I finished high school that I started to really appreciate them for what they were, pieces of literary genius and not just exam subjects. I’m still amazed how our internationally revered education system can drag your love of writing and your creativity behind a wooden shed and beat it to death with a shovel. I only got it back when I did my diploma paper and realized that instead of slaving deep in the night and reading hundreds of books you can just make shit up and since  it’s literary shit no one can tell you you’re wrong.
But let’s be philosophical for a moment, and ask ourselves what is the purpose of books in general. Some people - I’m not pointing any fingers her but they generally have long beards and wear long black robes say that they are nothing but lies. Evil lies, too. I mean there was this whole mob protesting that Harry Potter promoted witchcraft and Satanism to kids (Satanism is not devil-worship, for God’s sake do your research!) but hey, if I’ve learned anything from the Politics Channel, it’s that people liked being lied to. We like to believe that somebody will just wave a magic wand and fix the economy. Maybe when our latest relationship crashed and burned we’d like to believe that love is forever and that there is a happily-ever-after. Or maybe you’re an asshole and you like to read about people’s lives being shittier than yours.
Because you see, as lately people keep pestering me with inspirational quotes (attached to pictures of overly-photoshopped women), I realized that I don’t have a favorite quote, I have a favorite made-up term. No, notwarp speed, but close enough – it’s reality dampeners. In the Discworld novel Small Gods, Terry Pratchett deems it people’s ability to not be awed by all the amazing things around us, like the sun rising, flowers blooming, etc. But I like to think of them as the ability to not be horrified by all the horrible things going around us. There are people dying of hunger in the 21st century. Just think about it for a second. Think of the enormity of it.
If we are to get political about it, you can find the funny version in the aforementioned Discworld novels. I’d like to live on a flat world sitting on the backs of for giant elephants sitting on the back of a giant turtle flying through space. I’d like to live in Ankh-Morpork where you pay thieves not to rob you and you can walk on water (but that’s because the only thing that qualifies the Ankh as a river is the fact that it moves slightly faster than the land around it.) I’d like to see a battle bread museum. Eat some cabbage sausages in Sto Lat, see the feminist Cinderella of Genua, have a staring contest with the sacred (or just certifiable) cats in Djelibeybi, maybe rob a temple in Klatch and have some of Nanny Ogg’s famous mostly-apple-brandy in Bad Ass. I’d even like to see one of the daily schisms of the Omnian Church and ride a kangaroo on the Last Continent. Theoretically you could ride a ‘roo in Australia too, but my mom won’t let me go there so I guess it’s Discworld or bust.    

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

End of summer

Today was officially the first day of fall - cold, misty and melancholy. So here are some bits and pieces of summer, now rightfully "last"...

... and Johanna!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wolf stories

Awoooooo! Hmm. Yes. Moving on.

At the very edge of the pastures and forests belonging to our village there is an old hill, once a mountain, called Preluca. Even today, if one has hay there, they must remain there until the hay-making is done. A family went on such a task, taking their two cows with them; they were done on the third day before noon, so the youngest, a lad of fifteen, decided to stay with animals until sundown.
Midday came with unbearable heat, such as he had never felt, so he took shelter in the woods. He sat next to the oldest cow and fell asleep. He awoke some time later to gentle sounds of maiden’s laughter and singing. The woods were deadly still – no birds chirping, to flies buzzing, no wind rustling; so he himself sat very still and awaited for the fayes, for that is what the maidens were, to take their dancing elsewhere. He dared not even open his eyes, for he knew that such devilish creatures will steal the sight of any man who dares look upon them as they dance. Later, much later, when the sun was nearing the horizon and faint roosters’ calls could be heard, did life return to the forest; he took to his home and lay bedridden for six weeks.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Midsummer favorites

Do you know that feeling, when you've been bumbling around with someting that you don't necesarily like, but a better option just doesn't occur to you? How about that awesome feeling when you find the thing that's right for you? Well, I just got that feeling two days ago. Now I've never worn a maxi skirt before because everybody was like, they're not for short girls. But while I was in Timisoara dealing with some academic stuff, I had some time to kill and entered a store called Terranova (they have great-fitting simple tees that seem to always be on sale). And while I cringed at the neon-ness of it all, I did get two tees (one gray, one black) and decided to try on this navy and purple kind-of-paisly (that how you spell it?) maxi skirt and I decided not to get it the first time. But after a debate, I went back for it. And when I was walking down the street in it, I felt like a goddamn Princess taking my unicorn for a walk. Seriously. 
I've always been kind of contrary in my make-up choices. Usually the norm is dark lips in the cold seasons and tinted lip balm in the summer; natural make-up for autumn-winter and bold, colorful looks for spring and summer. I think that's stupid. Why bother with elaborate eye-makeup when you'll be wearing sunglasses anyway? Isn't it more logical to wear bringht lips in the summer than in winter when IT'S SO FRIGGIN' COLD that you go through a chapstick a day? I think so, anyway. So I recently discovered a really great lipstick - the NYX Round Lipstick in Hero.
I was really surprised by the quality of this lipstick. It's smooth and has quite the staying power - I tried it on just before bed and just pressed my lips against a tissue twice. Then I slept for 8 hours and when I woke up I was surprised to see the color still on my lips. What kind of person doesn't move in their sleep? The only thing is, although it looks burgundy, it has quite a strong blue base and in a thin layer looks more of a pinkish dark red. We call it rotten sour cherry in the village.
I've been really into mundane turn-of-the-century novels lately. I've read The Devourers by Annie Vivanti Chartres, which takes a look at the lives and times of the "doves of prey", the wonderchildren that devour their parents - the brilliant poetess Nancy and her musical prodigy daughter and all the people they have crushed to be themselves crushed. Right now I'm finishing The Vanity Girl by Compton MacKenzie, about the life of a self-centered Vanity actress and starting Waterfoot - The Dream Ship by Cynthia Stockley. 
Also, if you feel the need for a really light chindren's novel read, try the Madge Sterling Series - The Missing Formula, The Deserted Yacht and The Secret of the Sundial. You can find all of the above in e-book format on
Another thing are re-imagined 80's cartoons that feature strange hi-tech medieval worlds - Thundercats and He-Man. 
The Cruxshadows galore!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The awkward chubby one and the Internet

On every single blog I read there was at least one post about self-confidence. I'm not saying I don't enjoy reading them, or they don't help me at all, but let's be honest - there is only so much words can do. There will always something to bother you and potentially ruin your day - like I was obsessed and depressed about my thick arms today. 
From a fashion perspective, I've always stood in-between mainstream and alternative. My decision to incorporate a lot more goth into my wardrobe is fairly recent, and I think my Chictopia account - my bastion in the world of ardent fashionistas is something I will keep.
Now most of you may have noticed the Nu-Goth (or pastel Goth or hipster Goth, as it is sometimes called). Some cringe at it, some accept it; but looking at it from an overall fashion perspective, it actually represents the unprecedented liberalization and personalization of fashion. The editor-in-chief of Elle Romania said about a year ago that people need to be more involved in fashion, and not just follow trends; in short, they need to "get power" - get the confidence to rock whatever they like. And yet...
Staying at my aunt's house overnight, I've taken a look at my teenage cousin's favorite website, weheartit. Ignoring the abundance of Justin Bieber, some group of teenage boys I don't recognize and brunette Hannah Montana pictures and all the hipster and pseudo-inspirational pictures, the fashion section revolves around denim cut-offs, impossible shoes and pastel dip-dyed hair. However, model-wise sultrily helpless waifs prevail. Who needs power when you've got swag?
Chictopia is overrun with them as well. The occasional glamorous diva like Diya ( aside, everyone seems to be going for the melacholic pose/ poetic title combo. Do you have to name your post featuring a picture of your outfit and a link to your blog "I'll cry when the movie's over"? Maybe I don't want to read your blog to find out exactly why you'll cry when the movie's over. I just like your jacket. 
So. Are people getting power? I'd say no - just more trends - the vintage trend, the Nu-Goth trend, the hipster trend, the you-name-it-trend. I'm not saying, they are all very stylish people and I'm just like one of those cartoon characters that find themselves in the middle of the highway (to fashion hell! had to be said) - trends and ideas whizz past and just make me dizzy.
I'm not going to lie; I looked at the aforementioned pics wishing I was thin like that. Because I'm human. But I've got my Death Glare of Intellectual Superiority and a good friend to smooth down the ruffled feathers of my ego. Stupid chubby arms.