Lady Devinity Cosplay


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Devinity’s Favourite Beauty Products

I adore makeup. It’s something I use on an almost daily basis and am constantly buying. It’s gotten to the point that they know me at the local Sephora. Makeup is also an important tool in creating the perfect cosplay look. Eyeshadow can be used to create alien skin tones, foundation and concealer can create the flawless skin of literally any fictional character and mascara and hairspray can be used to create stubble on a female cosplaying a male. So I thought that I would go through my favourite makeup products for May’s blog.

  1. Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick

I love lipstick. It’s my absolutely favourite cosmetic item. I have almost every shade with only yellow excluded (I’m the wrong skin tone for it). I match my lipsticks to my clothes to the point that I always wear blues or aquas with my blue work dress and blacks, greys, crimsons or dark purples with anything that looks even slightly goth. And lipstick is an important player in cosplay because some characters have unusual skin tones. I’d much rather use a proper lipstick on my lips than costume paint. And my all-time favourite lipstick is Kat Von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipstick. It has a matte finish so it is drying. But it has a matte finish so it lasts all day long. And it comes in so many shades. I personally own shades in bright blue, black, light grey, two different types of crimson, red, pink, two types of purple, orange and a peachy pink that works as a nude on me. And there are more shades to come out this year. Gold shade I’m looking at you.

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The collection so far

 

  1. Urban Decay Vice Special Effects Long-Lasting Water-Resistant Lip Topcoat

This product only has twelve shades on the market but they are amazing. They go on top of lipstick and change the shades of them. Most of the topcoats are tinted with colour and all have a sort of glitter in them. It creates an iridescent look. This is great for creating original looks. I paired a clear topcoat shade called Litter with a green-aqua lipstick one day and felt like a mermaid all day.

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  1. Too Faced Sweet Peach Creamy Peach Oil Lip Gloss

In the vein of lip products let’s talk about Sweet Peach lip gloss by Too Faced. These lip glosses are tinted but I always found that lip gloss tint doesn’t really show up much. I like this product for when I cosplay men and need to have a more natural lip look. The gloss feels moisturizing and keeps the lips from looking dry and cracked. Also, the gloss is made from free peach oil so it smells and tastes delicious. I would recommend this product for people who don’t even enjoy makeup but want to keep their lips looking healthy.

  1. Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water

If you have any experience with makeup past the basics of foundation, eyeshadow and lipstick then you know about your primers. There are your eye primers, your lip primers and your skin primers. The purpose of primers is to prep the skin before you put on makeup. Primers act as a sort of adhesive to help the makeup better stay on the skin. This also helps keep the makeup on the skin for extended periods of time. I’ve used the same eye and lip primers since I started getting serious in the makeup game but I’ve tried a lot of skin primers. And my favourite is the Photo Finish Primer Water by Smashbox. The primer is, given its name, a liquid. The bottle has a spray nozzle so you can spritz it all over your face. Then you just rub it in with your fingers into the skin. You could also use a makeup sponge I guess. But this stuff is so light weight and dries so quickly that I just like using my hands. The best part of its light weight formula is that it doesn’t feel like its clogging up the pores like some other primers.

  1. Tarte x Grav3yardgirl collab: Swamp Queen eye and cheek pallet with brush

This is my favourite eyeshadow pallet of all time. It has nine eyeshadow shades, a highlighter, a bronzer, a blush and a makeup brush. These are matte shades that are mostly neutrals with a couple of purples thrown in. Some are super shimmery. All are extremely pigmented. I haven’t really gotten to the blush as my cheeks are naturally pink anyway but I use the bronzer and highlighter as eyeshadows. If you’re cosplaying a character that has a smokey eye look but you prefer browns over blacks and greys or if you just want to look amazing then this is the pallet for you.

  1. Sephora Collection Solid Clean: Solid Brush Cleaner

Eventually you need to clean those makeup brushes. Bacteria can build up in the bristles and old makeup trapped in the brushes can change the look of what you’re applying to your face. The solid brush cleaner at Sephora is great. It’s a solid bar of soap and comes with a spikey silicon pad that you can rub your brushes over once you’ve dampened them and lathered them up with the soap. The pad helps remove makeup from the brush, adding an extra level of cleaning power. I literally tried it for the first time yesterday and was amazed at how clean my brushes came out. Almost all of them came out looking brand new.

  1. Olehenriksen Stay Balanced Oil Control Cleansing Clothes

So this product is actually a skin care product. But it’s one I bought at Sephora so into the list it goes. I got into this one when I was going to the gym and working out caused me to have super bad breakouts- my skin plus excess sweat are not friends. One of the Sephora sales girls recommended this to me when I came in to ask for solutions to my new gym going problem and I never had a bad workout related breakout ever again. You’re probably thinking “That’s dandy and all but how does it relate to cosplay?” Well, have you been to a big convention? They are hot. There’s so many people creating massive amounts of body heats, costumes don’t breathe and it’s usually a warmer summer or fall month. You are going to sweat. You are going to feel gross sometimes. These clothes will wick away the sweat leaving you feeling cleaner. They also have a cooling sensation so you’ll be refreshed. Unfortunately you can’t use this if you’re wearing makeup and aren’t ready to remove it yet. But if you are sweating and in full makeup you can invest in blotting paper or sponges. Those products absorb oil and grease which keeps your makeup from running. They don’t give a cooling sensation though.

So there you have it. My favourite beauty related products! What are yours?

Love,

Devinity

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Convention Season is also a time to explore

Well, it’s con season again in St. John’s. And I did not go. Although I did continue my annual SFOTR tradition of going to an escape room at Escape Quest with my brother. He also did not attend SFOTR as he had to work all weekend and thus it made no financial sense to buy a pass. This meant that we did not attend the special Escape Quest event at the con. Instead, we headed down to the actual Escape Quest location on Duckworth. Grabbed some con-going friends and survived the Great Fire of 1892.

That happened Saturday and what a Saturday it was. My biannual “the seasons have changed” cold is upon me so April 29 was the day winter officially ended and spring began. It was a warm, sunny day and I was out on an adventure with the mother and the aunt. We ate at Jungle Jim’s, looked at crocuses in random downtown front yards, saw a random chicken, and went to Cape Spear to see the remains of an ice burg before it was time for me to meet up with the brother. Then brother, friends and I had a treat at Coffee Matters and went to brave the fire.

Which is all to say: cons are also a great way to check out local places!

Now, I’ve never con to the mainland just for a con. My friends and I usually stay a full week and take in the sights. Sometimes it’s touristy stuff, other times it’s the theatre. In the case of local convention Avalon Expo (year one) we went to the playground next to the building and played on the swings.

I’ve seen Linkin Park and Voltaire in concert, explored Casa Loma (a must see sight for any geek as many a movie was filmed there), visited some incredible shops and saw so many Broadway shows.

One of my favourite shows was an off-Broadway play called “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.” I recently learned that Phillipa Soo, the Natasha in our show, was the original Eliza Hamilton in the hit Broadway show “Hamilton”. She’s now performing in “Amelie.” So that’s almost the same as seeing “Hamilton” right? Actually, it’s better because the theatre we were in served food and we got to try the most God-awful beet drink. That was an experience! And Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams, Doctor Who) was also in the audience. We also saw shows like “Cats” (pretty good), “Rock of Ages” (amazing!), the” Lion King” (don’t bother) and the Blue Man Group (loud and messy but totally fun). I’ve been to two Cirque du Soleil shows on top of all of this.

If you are in Toronto, go to Stratford. Just do it. There’s a shuttle that picks you up in Toronto and takes you out to Stratford. I think it was $20 round trip? The Stratford Festival is known for Shakespeare so I saw “King Lear” with Colm Feore. That’s one of the tragedies and although I couldn’t catch all that Shakespeare talk, I was devastated at the end of it. Luckily, I also had tickets to “The Man of La Mancha” and that was beautiful, funny and mostly lighthearted (there was some dark scenes). It was a nice ending to a wonderful day of theatre.

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Seriously. Go.

 

Travel is also a great time to get some culture in. And it can be weird culture too. Last time Mad Maddox and I were in Toronto we went to the Bats Shoe Museum. It’s filled with shoes. Just shoes. Well, there were a couple of dresses too. But it was predominately shoes. We also checked out the Gardiner Museum, Canada’s only museum that specializes in ceramics. There were some lovely pieces but there was also a special show on called “Clay is Gay.” It was an exhibit on gay artists. We saw a lot of dick that day. I can’t find any penis art photos so we must not have been allowed to take photos in that exhibit. I would have taken pictures if it was allowed. Some of those statues were pretty special.

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These leg sculptures were in the Bata Shoe Museum

 

Visit Toronto Zoo or Ripley’s Aquarium if you love animals. Check out New York Botanical Gardens or Allan Gardens in Toronto if you love plants. Go to Medieval Times if you love food, horses and jousting. If you are a total morbid freak like me then there are graveyards! I have an entire tourist book on graveyards in New York and the various famous dead people in them. The girls and I personally checked out Woodlawn and it was amazing. There are as many dead people in Woodlawn as there are living people in the entire province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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I love how simple this tombstone is. Who’s Mama? Did she have a name or was she forever destined to be just a mother?

 

Obviously there are the traditional tourist destinations as well- CN Tower, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (which is haunted btw), the Empire State Building and The Rockefeller Center. Plus the traditional museums like the Museum of Natural History and The Royal Ontario Museum.

SFOTR and Avalon Expo are both downtown this year so you can go up to Signal Hill for drinks at the Newfoundland Chocolate Café and cosplay photos. There’s so many places to eat as well. You can go to Escape Quest like I did or check out the Rooms. Especially do these things if you aren’t living in St. John’s and are just visiting the cons.

Conventions are so much fun. But they are also crowded, hot and sometimes overwhelming. Break up that time with an adventure. It is both an enjoyable time and an enriching experience.

Love,

Devinity


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Happy Birthday Sanji!

One of my favourite anime/manga series is pre-time skip ‘One Piece.’ In addition my favourite character from the series is Sanji. I’ve been watching the anime since my high school days and have even cosplayed the character at two different conventions. And it just so happens that our birthdays are one day apart. Mine was yesterday (March 1st) and Sanji’s is today. Given how slowly manga/anime time passes I am now no longer younger than Sanji. Indeed, I now have several years on him. Still, considering the closeness of our birthdays I thought it would be fun to write about him.

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One Piece Cosplay, Anime North 2010

Now, I want to get it out of the way and state that I think of Sanji of a problematic fave. I have favourite characters that are pure evil, potentially rapist, face stealing assholes (like Pavi from ‘Repo! The Genetic Opera) and I would never feel the need to apologise for that. But Sanji is supposed to be the good guy so maybe he shouldn’t have certain traits. Like the fact that he’s actually super sexist. I know in recent chapters we have found out that Sanji doesn’t hit women because Zeff told him not too. But I think its sexist that he doesn’t hit women. Okay, hold up a second there and let me explain. Generally, men shouldn’t hit women. They are physically stronger in the upper body and carry more weight so there’s an advantage there. Also, society encourages aggression in men and weakness in women so men are more likely to know how to properly hit someone. So guys shouldn’t hit chicks. Unless that woman knows how to fight or is trying to murder you. Sanji should have made an exception and fought Kalifa in the Ennies Lobby arc. By not fighting her despite the fact that he needed to get Kalifa’s key in case it unlocked Robin’s handcuffs, Sanji basically endangered Robin’s life and any chance of saving her. And Kalifa is certainly weaker than Sanji but she could have held her own. What she doesn’t have in strength she has in technique and devil fruit powers. I think this problem is seen clearly when you contrast Sanji with Zoro. Zoro knows that it doesn’t matter if someone is a man or a woman. If they truly want something then they should do their best to achieve it. So Zoro was upset that he lost to Kuina so many times because he wanted to best her but he wasn’t upset to be losing to a girl. Because Kuina was better than him despite her gender. Sanji would never fight a woman, even if she wanted to fight just to become a more skilled combatant.

The womanizing doesn’t bother me. Sanji has never sexually harassed anyone, other than being a nuisance, so I don’t care that he acts like a desperate slut. Although it did get uncomfortable when he was mad that Absalom having the invisibility devil fruit made Sanji upset that he would never get to spy on women naked in the bath. There are lines you don’t cross Sanji. Just saying.

Then there’s the whole transphobia problem. I don’t like how Sanji sees MTF trans women as men. But given how he was chased around that bloodly island by a bunch of man-starved he-shes and then forced into a dress and the female gender, it’s hard to blame him. This is more a fault of Oda and the anime team’s writing than it is Sanji. I’ll be skipping the fillers for this part of the show from now on.

But 99% of the time I love this guy. Sanji is fiercely loyal, as seen by the fact that he was willing to give up on his dream of finding All Blue just to see Zeff’s dream of a sea restaurant succeed. This despite the fact that Zeff also believed in All Blue and wanted Sanji to live his own life. And now, in the current chapters, Sanji wants to save his family from Big Mom even though he should hate them.

Sanji is also full of love and concern. He wants to take all of Luffy’s pain and damage in the Thriller Bark arc so that Zoro doesn’t. He doesn’t want to see Zoro die. In the current arc, Sanji leaves the crew to protect them from Big Mom and his family. He’s just as depressed as everyone else when Usopp leaves the crew in the Water 7 arc. Sanji also has a giant martyr complex. Since meeting his father I know understand why Sanji thinks he’s the least important person in a room but it still makes me sad. Also, we all know from previous journal entries that I like depressed/suicidal characters the best.

I love that Sanji is a total dork on top of everything. Most of the time he’s this super cool, impeccably dressed Mr. Prince type of guy that is nothing but leg. And then he whips out the ugliest tropical shirts you ever did see, loses his goddamned mind over insects and spiders (made all the more dorky by the fact that Usopp isn’t bothered at all) and dreams of refrigerators with industrial locks on them. The dude is completely lame. It’s so cute.

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Look at this dork in his pink shirt with weird flower pattern and orange goggles. Look and be embarrassed for him.

 

Sanji’s hot. I don’t have anything to add to that. Almost all of my favourite characters tend to be good looking males (especially a good looking male villain. Yum.). So that’s probably why I don’t mind that Sanji’s a womanizer. I’m a manizer I guess? Is there a female equivalent to the term womanizer?

I adore his shitty accidental ninja luck. I love how no one knows who he is. Bon Clay was able to copy all the Straw Hats’ faces but Sanji’s so Crocodile and Baroque Works didn’t know to look for him. The lens was still on the camera when the marines were taking photos of the crew for their wanted posters. Sanji’s poster looks like Duval instead. I understand why Sanji’s current wanted poster has his actual (hearts-in-eyes) face on it but it makes me sad that people now know what he looks like. It was super convenient for the Straw Hats to have a crew mate that could go out in public incognito and just get shit done. Then there’s the fact that Sanji always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Case in point: when he saw Robin getting on the train with CP9 so he followed.

And finally: I love how easy it is to ship Sanji with Zoro. I have a tendency to ship male characters with other male characters. This is probably because I usually prefer male characters over female. Or it’s because boys are cute together. I don’t really know why I like it. And I love characters that don’t get along or at least act like they don’t but still have the other’s back. Sanji and Zoro are always arguing- which makes for great sexual tension by the way- and yet care about each other. They both tried to take Luffy’s pain in the Thriller Bark arc. Sanji doesn’t want to see Mihawk kill Zoro during the Baratie arc. Zoro is concerned when Sanji hurts his leg fighting Kuma. They are both extremely skilled at their chosen fighting styles and are equals. They have each other’s backs. I like that.

So happy birthday Sanji. You’re a complicated mess of a human being and I love you for it.

~Devinity

Ps. Leave a comment telling me your favourite One Piece character.

Pss. Still not sold on the time skip story line.


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A Quick Game of Catch Up with Devinity: What I’ve been doing and what I hope to be doing in 2017

Well, we’re two months into the new year and I haven’t seen you all since I posted my best of 2016 list back in January. The closest I’ve come to cosplay and geekdom this year is sitting in a room while a bunch of people made steampunk Sailor Moon cosplays while I wrote up a lab report for my microbiology class.

Well, I did buy Neil Gaiman’s new book “Norse Mythology.” I haven’t started it yet as I’m currently reading “I’ll be damned” by Eric Braeden (Victor Newman on the soap opera “The Young and the Restless”).

So life has really been work, school, endless exhaustion, Trump-related frustration and cats. Today the cats got high. It was cute. Catnip makes everything better I think.

Yet good things are around the corner. Geek things. Movie geek things.

THE POWER RANGERS MOVIE!!!!

Yes, I am ridiculously excited for the Power Rangers movie. I can’t say I’m a Power Rangers fan and I doubt the shows are even watchable anymore. Power Rangers seems like something that only appeals to kids and adults suffer through it. But man, did my brothers and I ever love the classic series with Jason, Billy, Kimberly, Trini, Zack and Tommy. We had the merch, we saw all the movies, we pretended to be them. Pink was my favourite colour as a kid so Kimberly was my favourite. Youngest brother liked red so his was Jason and I don’t remember younger brother’s fave. Probably Zack? Yellow was his favourite colour at the time but yellow was a girl so it wasn’t Trini. And yes, we were the type of kids that picked our favourites on their gender. That’s the other reason Kimberly was my favourite. Although we all liked Billy and Zack.

So this new movie has some of that nostalgia kick to it. I also just want to see Bryan Cranston as Zordon. It looks like it’s going to be a good movie though. It seems like it’s going to be silly and fun and yet more serious than its source material.

I’ve ended up on a bit of a geek kick with the British royal family lately. Netflix had the “Victoria” film with Emily Blunt up. I find Victoria fascinating. There’s no real reason for it. I think it just comes down to the fact that Victoria was on the throne when Sir John A MacDonald and a bunch of other politicians went over to England to ask that Canada be allowed to be its own country. But the stuff in this movie was fascinating and I spent most of it on my phone, on Wikipedia, looking the stuff that was happening in the movie up. Like, Victoria was raised in isolation and wasn’t allowed any friends. Her mother and her mother’s advisor wanted Victoria’s power so they tried to make her weak and dependent on them. If you know anything about Queen Victoria then you know she was an incredibly stubborn and strong woman. I wonder was kind of domineering force she would have grown up to be if her mother tried to build her up instead of tear her down.

I haven’t been much involved in the geek community itself though. I have been living a self-contained life. Sci-Fi on the Rock is coming up in April and I still haven’t heard back about hosting any speed dating panels. I mean, I’d understand if they said no. I insult them at every opportunity. But I still deserve a rejection notice. I could also be rejected because I want to host three sessions and that may be troublesome to fit into the schedule if there’s a lot of panel requests.

Still, it was a few months ago that I sent in the application and other people know if they have panels going ahead. I’ll look into it.

I need to think of panels for Avalon Expo in August as well. It’s probably going to be three sessions of speed dating but I’d like to do something else as well. Not Romantically Apocalyptic because I’m still mortified about how the last one went over.

Well, thanks for reading my ramblings on my geek activities this year so far. Hopefully we’ll see some substantial stuff come March. Maybe a Powers Rangers review?

Love,

Devinity

PS. What do you think I should do for a panel? Leave me a comment!

PSS. I bought the material for my goddess of death and suicide original character thing. Now for someone to tell me what to do.


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Devinity’s Top 16 of 2016

 

  1. HBO’s Westworld. I just love this fucking show
  2. Melanie Martinez’s Cry Baby album
  3. Sephora custom make-overs. I love the looks I had for Avalon Expo and Halloween
  4. Accidently stalking/meeting Eugene Simon (Lancel Lannister)
  5. Getting first place overall at the Steampunk Showcase (something I don’t completely understand haha)
  6. Making a music video with photographer Ashley Harding, youtuber Swarley Pilgrim and various others
  7. Escape Quest and Breakout NL. I just love escape rooms
  8. Cats. Will my cats ever not be a high light of my year? Nah
  9. Another excellent Romantically Apocalyptic photoshoot with my friends and fave photographer
  10. Ouch! Productions open mike show. I love people’s embarrassing stories
  11. Easter frappes at Starbucks
  12. My speed dating panel at Avalon Expo went off really well (although there were hiccups galore)
  13. Girls weekend at SFOTR/Sheraton Hotel
  14. Rock of Ages came to the Arts and Culture Center
  15. It’s been an excellent year for collecting new makeup products. Very pleased with the Swamp Queen pallet by Tarte Cosmetics and youtuber Grav3yardgirl
  16. Basically getting through a shitty year and ending it with fireworks and Krampus and apple pie liqueur


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Books: The reason why Devinity is a nerd on top of being a geek

Right now I’m working at a bookstore. And we’re putting up our staff picks and why we picked them. So I thought, why not do that for you guys? After all, both geeks and nerds love books! Books are the source of some of the biggest fandoms out there.

So I’ve created this list of my favourite books just for you. That means that these are not the greatest books of all time. It’s all personal opinion. So you won’t be seeing major fandom books like Twilight (which I will never read) or Harry Potter (which is really only an okay series in my opinion).

  1. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

This is my favourite book of all time and I don’t even care about dinosaurs. I do love science and this is pretty heavy in pseudo-science, from Ian Malcolm’s chaos theory to how Henry Wu created the dinosaurs. Now, I don’t know much about chaos theory but there’s some pretty interesting genetic mumbo jumbo in there. Like, you are so not getting viable dino DNA from fossilized mosquitos but A, G, T and C are real DNA bases. Yet it all feels like it could be real science talk if you’re not aware of what the impossibilities are. Also, the book was written in the 80’s, before we knew some dinosaurs had feathers. So real life science has made the book more unlikely.

But more than that it’s the characters and how they respond to this crazy action adventure movie that they’ve fallen into. I won’t go into a whole Jurassic Park rant so instead I’ll just talk about one of my favourite characters, Ellie Sattler. Oh my god, Ellie! Has there ever been a better female character than Ellie? She’s smart, she’s hot, she’s totally down for seeing some dinos. And she’s brave and strong and kind. She deliberately gets the raptors to chase her because they need to divert the raptors attention. At one point she has to jump off a building and into a swimming pool and she just does. Partly it’s due to adrenaline and partly it’s due to the fact that if she doesn’t a raptor will eat her but it’s also because she trusts herself to make the landing.

I also love the fact that there’s no romance between her and Grant. In the movie there’re hints of sexual tension. In the book Ellie is still a grad student and Grant is her supervisor. They have so much respect for each other and there’s a lot of admiration. But there’s no romance. They are friends. And I love that. When I think of truly strong, admirable female character it’s always Ellie.

But brilliant Grant, pessimistic Malcolm, oddly bad ass lawyer man Gennaro and drunk-yet-totally-right Muldoon are amazing too. Then there’s Hammond who is just so is evil. Seriously, why was he such a sweetie pie in the movie? Hammond is 100% pure asshole.

Oh. And there’s a motherfucking T-Rex.

  1. Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

When you read the first couple of volumes of Fruits Basket you’re going to think “oh, this is going to be such a cute series.” You would be terribly, horribly wrong. Fruits Basket is the story of high school girl Tohru Honda. Her mother has recently died, her father has been dead for years and all of her relatives (except for Grandpa Honda) don’t care for her. She’s living in a tent when a landslide takes it out and she ends up living with her super popular classmate Yuki Sohma and his cousin Shigure. She soon meets another Sohma cousin, Kyo, and then discovers that they are all cursed. They turn into animals when hugged by members of the opposite sex. Hijinks ensue.

Cute enough. It is a girl’s manga after all. But this series will wreck you. Tohru spends most of the series in mourning but hiding it because she wants to protect and eventually break the curse on the Sohma family. Kyo is going to be locked away forever when he graduates high school because he’s cursed with the spirit of the hated cat and Yuki is incredibly distant as he has no friends and his parents don’t love him. Enter a head of the family that can do whatever he wants with no consequences, including pushing a girl out of a window. Add to the mix suicide, mental abuse, physical abuse, parental abandonment and a whole pile of emotionally crippled teenage boys and you get a story about a group of people who simply want to make some decisions of their own. And then there’s sweet Tohru who’s doing her best to see everyone’s side of the story and to heal what emotional wounds she can.

Fruits Basket is the ultimate love story. There are romantic plots in there but it’s really a story about learning to love oneself and respect the people around you. It’s a tale of moving on and finding your own path even if you have to leave the things you knew or once believed in behind. For me, Fruits Basket is a solid story. But for anyone who’s having a shitty life right now, it’s a story that shows that things can get better. It’s not always easy and sometimes you get hurt along the way but you can have a good ending.

  1. The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

This one is a Batman title. If you’ve been reading my blogs since the beginning (especially this one) then you know that I am a huge Batman fan. I live and breathe Batman. And it is my personal opinion that The Long Halloween is the perfect introduction for anyone thinking of reading a Batman title. Firstly, it’s self contained. Some collections have certain story elements unexplained because those elements were introduced in a different story line. This is not the case. Everything you need to know is in the Long Halloween. Secondly, it has all the major characters: Batman, Catwoman, the Riddler, the Joker, the Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, the Mad Hatter and Two Face. It also has the other side of the Batman crime world equation: the mob families. Batman was never just the Arkham crazies. It was also the Falcon and Marconi families. The Long Halloween takes place in the early days of Batman’s career so characters like Robin and Harley Quinn aren’t in it. Every holiday on the calendar has a major crime happen. So the crime in April is on April Fool’s Day, the crime in February is on Valentine’s, etc. But it’s not that super lame, not well known Calendar Man organising these crimes (a fact that Calendar Man is not too pleased with).

So we get to see all the Rogue Gallery in action as well as the mob. Selina is a main character and we see her motivations and goals as well. But the best part is that it’s a mystery. Batman started out in Detective Comics. So it’s good to see him try to figure out what’s going on.

  1. Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

A very simple, short story for teens that works for adults too. This story is a metaphor for the events of 911. Terrorists have destroyed the city and Green must learn to live without her family. She was the one left behind to take care of the farm while her parents and little sister went to sell wares in the city. Green gets ashes in her eyes from the fire but refuses to cry so she loses most of her vision. She cuts off all of her hair, sews thorns into her clothes and covers herself in tattoos.

Green Angel is the story of a girl learning to find herself again after losing everything she thought she was.

It’s a beautifully written, almost poetic, story. It doesn’t come right out and say it’s a 911 story and there are supernatural elements in it. And you can read it within an hour if you don’t have time for a longer story but want something of substance.

  1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I’ve read all of Neil’s adult fiction and American Gods is my favourite. It follows Shadow as he meets various gods- some old, some modern- that want his help regaining their formal status. Gods lose power once people stop believing in them after all.

I can’t say too much about this. It’s brilliantly written and has many layers to it. It’s not a quick read though. I personally love mythology (check out my piece on why I cosplay Loki) so that’s probably the major reason why I love American Gods more than Neverwhere or Coraline.

  1. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

This one is a non-fiction book! Jenny is entertaining, crazy and downright devastating at times. We see her life growing up with a father whose main hobbies are taxidermy and recuing wild bob cats, to being a very socially awkward adult, to going on a women’s retreat and to living through the pain of multiple miscarriages. Jenny suffers from anxiety and depression and yet she tackles everything in her life with hilarity. This book will make you laugh and cry. And maybe you’ll find something you relate to in here whether it’s the suffering that comes with anxiety or, in my case, having a wild man for a dad. Seriously. My dad has never done taxidermy and he takes in stray cats instead of bob cats but he’s just as much a weirdo as Jenny’s father.

  1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Do I need to explain the plot of this? Charles is a nobleman from France during the French revolution that runs away to England. There he meets his future wife as well as the English lawyer Sydney, who has the same face as Charles. Charles and the wife build a life together. Charles and the wife have to go back to France. Charles is a nobleman from France during the French revolution. I think you can figure out the rest.

What I love most about A Tale of Two Cities is how bitter and depressed Sydney is and yet he’s so incredibly generous and kind under all the bluster. And I think that makes three books now that feature people who suffer from depression now.

  1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

(i) Gimli and Legolas going from worse enemies to bffs

(ii) Book Three. Merry lying in Pippin’s arms and asking if he’s going to die

(iii) Merry and Pippin in all the books. Especially in book one where they form a friendship with Boromir

(iv) Tom Fucking Bombadil


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Happy Halloween! A short recap and a spooky story

It’s that most wonderful time of year: Halloween! The 31st of October has always been my first love. It comes before cosplay, before biology, before even *gasp* Batman!

I haven’t gone trick-or-treating in about ten years so my traditions have changed a little. Still, there’s always a party on the closest weekend to Halloween and there’s always movies to watch on the actual day. Right now I’m watching Shock Treatment, a sequel/alternate universe to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s sort of like a world where Brad and Janet never got lost on the way to see Dr. Scott and so never met Frank-n-Furter. Not going to lie, there’s a lot in it that I like just as much as the stuff in Rocky Horror. I actually prefer Jessica Harper’s singing voice over Susan Sarandon’s.

Costume wise, I had no idea what I wanted to be. So I went and booked myself a Sephora appointment. Together, although mostly on the part of my lovely Sephora associate, we came up with an Alien Empress look. I broke out my old bridemaid dress and a spider crown and looked amazing!

Of course, this look was for my party just this Friday past. Actual Halloween saw me dressed as a witch and giving out candy at the mall where I work.

Now here’s a spooky story that I wrote a couple a years ago to send you off this Halloween season:

                                                                        Lady Fatality

She was completely nude except for the spiked heels on her feet. Black body paint covered her except for where the artisans had painted the bones. A skeleton lady. Rumour said that she had learned to dance in the best whore houses in the country. Others said she had come to realise her craft in a vision while lounging in an opium den. And still others said she was just a performer, a talented gymnast with knowledge of silk dancing perhaps, but a performer nonetheless. Those last rumours came from those that did not believe in the death magics of the Cirque de la Mort.

Many thought that the circus could let them see beyond the veil and possibly reunite with lost loved ones. Others still wrote the circus off as just another gimmick to bring in money. I never cared any which way. The circus was what it was, something to be marvelled at. It went from town to town to town, attracting an audience. Just like any other circus I suppose. It just looked different from the others.

When it came to our town, the boys dared each other to go while the girls played at being scared little things. The circus had not even had its first showing and tales were spreading that they killed men and summoned devils all for the purpose of entertaining a town before claiming the souls of the town’s inhabitants. But I had known we would go and be there for opening night. Our parents would forbid it and we would all sneak out to Natalia Harris’ house as her parents were out of town. And that is what I and the other girls did. We put on dark lipstick and purple eyeshadows because somehow that seemed spookier than the usual pinks or nudes. We’d all wear cute dresses that may have been a tad too short and heels if we could walk in them and stylist flats if we couldn’t. I wore flats and a plain dress because I was plain but April and Ariel, the twins, would force me to let them curl my hair while Natalia brought up a bottle of whiskey for liquid courage. We were barely legal although that didn’t stop us. Only Dani Elizabeth voiced any concerns and the others overrode her. And then the boys picked us up. They wore jeans and button down shirts and brought beer.

I think they thought that if they acted like it was any other time we snuck out for parties or dates then maybe the circus wouldn’t be so scary.

We had to use fake IDs to get into the circus as it had an age requirement of eighteen or older. And I could see why. The circus was typical enough although the tents were striped black and poison green instead of the usual cheery white and red. But then they unleased the clowns to open the show and things were no longer typical. The clowns were not truly clowns. They were misshaped and wore grey rags. Their faces were either those of demons or of the damned. Dani Elizabeth was already crying before the ringmaster even came out and her boyfriend had to hold her close. The twins had both grabbed their respective boyfriends’ hands in their nervousness. I was without a boyfriend and Natalia had refused to let one accompany her. She laughed at the demonic clowns in good cheer and I knew she did not bring one of her many boys because she had no need of one.

There were magic tricks that involved the raising of the dead and there were performers that juggled skulls of different creatures. There was a trampoline act where the jumper never came back down and we did not know where she went. There was a man that granted wishes. And then there was Lady Fatality, the nude woman painted as a skeleton.

I could not tell you if she was originally a pole dancer or a silk dancer. She danced like a pole dancer although her pole was made of rope and it was dangling from the ceiling. The rope terminated at the bottom with a noose that held a struggling man. The strongman came up to toss Lady Fatality into the air at the beginning of her performance. She caught the rope and swung herself around before she held herself upside down and spread her legs. She was showing off how strong and flexible she was, no doubt, as I knew it was not easy to do what she did on a moving pole. The rope was swinging in a pendulum motion from the force of her grabbing hold of it after she had been thrown. The hanged man gurgled horribly and turned an awful shade of purple. The noose was tight enough to strangle him but not to kill him.

“This isn’t real right? He’s a prop or just pretending to choke right?” April asked nervously.

Natalia shushed her.

Lady Fatality then flipped herself over and let her feet rest on the hanged man’s head. She held the rope with only one hand so she could lean out and wave to the audience. A crack could be heard and, if that was a real man, the lady’s weight had helped the noose finish him off. Lady Fatality giggled at the shocked gasps before she swung herself back upside-down and hooked one leg around the rope so she let go with both hands. With only one leg holding her in place, she let the rope swing and take her where it would.

I thought it was lovely in its own way although both the other boys and girls were frightened. All except Natalia, who had smiled.

*

Alice Munro had been in the audience opening night as well although I did not know it until after the show. Munro was a private detective that most thought insane. He was good at his job but he talked to invisible women and befriended men with Jekyll-and-Hyde personalities. Whenever he would walk by on the street or if he happened to be in the supermarket, parents would grab their children and glare. He was avoided by everyone unless someone had a job for him. I liked Munro well enough despite the talk about him. It was said that he always knew who murdered a person once he touched the victim. It was said he could reach into their heads and pull out their last memories. Munro had come from the same town at Cirque de la Mort so I was not surprised to see him. He was staring at the corpse of the hanged man. After Lady Fatality’s act, the Ringmaster had decided to leave it there as he felt it was an omen of what had been and what would be. The circus folk had that sort of humour.

As far as I know, Munro did not. He was fine most of the time but he was a suspicious sort at times like Halloween. It was said he believed in the supernatural. That was not unusual. Half our town did. Half the world did. There were things that the scientists and the police and the government could not explain. The reason for so many rumours were to give some kind of comfort as one or two rumours always seemed some sort of normal, human thing.

“He knows it’s a real corpse.” Natalia said, causing me to jump. I had not known I had been staring down Munro. The others had left us or Natalia’s comments would have caused tears and screams and denials to pour from our friends. Natalia was pretty and popular and feminine. You would not guess her to be the type of girl who could say such a thing so casually.

“No one is fool enough to murder a person in front of an audience full of witnesses.” I said.

Natalia titled her head. “Is it foolish when people would easily explain the murder away as nothing of the sort? Anyway, you know that was no fake hanging.”

I did. Just as I knew the Cirque de la Mort to be filled with magicians and sorcerers and demons. Just as I knew Munro for a dead man’s psychic. I did not know Natalia knew these things. As I said, she was pretty and popular and looked to be a person of little substance. Everyone was for the most part.

“Let’s go see what he’s after. Munro is too quiet to come to a circus for the fun of it.” Natalia said as she grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the detective.

Munro was startled to see Natalia although he barely glanced at me. Had I been a girl of little self-esteem I could have said it was because Natalia was the prettier of us. Natalia was tall and shaped like a woman. She looked older than eighteen although she did not yet pass for twenty. She had picked the smallest dress of all when we were getting ready and shoes that were impossible to walk in for anyone else. She also smelled of whiskey and roses. But I was cursed with a great deal of awareness. Munro did not startle when he saw beautiful women. He was startled because Natalia was Natalia and I did not like that Natalia was something to be startled by.

“You’ve changed.” Munro said. While he did not speak in monotone, Munro’s voice was often flat and lacked emotion.

“Not yet.” Natalia said.

“Why did you kill him?” Munro asked. The question was matter-of-fact.

“I couldn’t say. I haven’t met him yet.” Natalia laughed as she tossed some hair over her shoulder. “You should take us out for a drink. I think this town needs a little scandal and what better than the creepy private eye taking two underage girls out for drinks?”

Munro looked me over. “Why bring her along?”

“She’s a teenager. She was going to be here because she wasn’t allowed here. That’s why all the teenagers came. And she knows this place for what it is anyway.”

“Human?”

“Human. She’s cut from the same cloth as you Alice. Although I haven’t found what she can do yet, if she can do anything at all. She’s been my friend.”

“You have friends?”

“Everyone has friends. Even Lady Fatality.”

I chose to speak up then. “You’re not Lady Fatality.”

“No, not yet. But I was and I will be and I am.” Natalia explained. “I traded my soul once, a long time ago and in a time that’s still yet to come.”

I knew then. I always know eventually. The Cirque de la Mort was eternal. It was born with the other demon magics and it would live as long as humans lived and perhaps past that point too. Natalia was saying that she had not yet joined the circus but when she did she would be with it for eternity. And eternity included the past as well. Munro had met Natalia’s soul before at the circus, at another place. He had not known that it was eternal either but he was coming to that conclusion. He knew it through experience and studying whereas I just knew.

“Did you know you’d be here when we all agreed to come?” I asked. Natalia had not been the one to suggest coming. We had all overheard our parents complain about such a morbid show coming to our town and then the boys made the decision to come. Had Natalia recognised herself and known then her future or had she always known?

Natalia smiled but offered no explanation. Those that knew of the occult or cursed with a gift such as mine or Munro’s seldom spoke of it. Speaking about a supernatural thing could make it happen. And girls like Natalia were not honest girls in general.

Sighing, Munro stood and faced Natalia. I was startled to see that Natalia was a full foot taller than him in her heels- she had to have six inches on him without the stilettos. I had not realised how small a man Munro was or how large a girl Natalia was. Natalia always seemed to take up a great deal of space because she had charisma, popularity, the ability to make people think she was attractive and powerful. A creature to be admired. I had not realised she had true physical need of the space she commanded. The combination of her tangible and intangible traits served to make Munro, a thin, short man, even smaller.

“You should head home. You’re not Lady Fatality yet and your friend is just a girl.” Munro said. If it bothered him to have to look up to a girl barely seventeen I never knew.

I was beginning to know other things about Munro however. He did not want us here. We were young and Cirque de la Mort was dangerous. He intended to cut down the hanged man and read his memories. If the murder was of a man belonging to this time period, a victim and not one of the circus’ immortal souls, then Munro would confront the ringmaster and Lady Fatality. He thought he could play detective and pretend the circus was just another crime scene.

I knew he would die if he followed through with this plan.

Natalia, however, had belonged here in the past and would in the future. The circus would not hurt her, I knew. So when she laughed at Munro and asked if I would go with her to meet herself I said yes. Perhaps it was because I knew I would be safe with Natalia. Perhaps it was because I was enraptured with Lady Fatality. Perhaps it was a little of both.

“How often does a girl get to meet herself?” Natalia asked as she led the way to the back of the tent. We had watched the performers exit through the back. Munro followed, the intent to play the protective adult clear on his face.

Whoever had set up the circus grounds knew the local geography well. My town had always been small and paranoid. When the Cold War was in its early days, the townsfolk built a complicated labyrinth of tunnels underground instead of simple bomb shelters. The circus tent led down into this labyrinth.

Natalia did not know which way to go and chose her direction randomly. That was how I knew she was not yet Lady Fatality. Fortunately, we both knew the tunnels. My classmates would hold parties down in the tunnels. Our friends would get drunk or have dates down here. Half the people I knew lost their virginity down here. These tunnels were familiar.

They did not look it. Many of the tunnels led to make shift rooms set up by the circus folk. One tunnel was inhabited by the bearded lady, who was sat at a grand makeup table and eating the eyes out of what appeared to be the skulls of infants. The contortionist was down another tunnel, folding herself up into a small bed in a box for the night. I saw lions lock their feral tamers into cages. I saw the demon clowns paint spells upon the walls in red. The trampoline artist finally came down from her jump and landed in another hallway, her bones shattering on the floor. The strongman and a hunchback had to sew her back together again.

“Don’t talk to any of them.” I told Munro. “Pretend you never saw the dead man hang.”

Munro started to speak but Natalia hushed him. “She always knows, Munro. She can’t always tell you why but she always knows. I’d do as she says.” Natalia said casually. I wonder when Natalia realised what I could do. She had told Munro that she had yet to learn my curse.

“Haven’t we always done as she’s told us?” Natalia asked. Her voice seemed to come from all around us. It was eerily familiar and different. Older.

It was not my Natalia that had spoken.

Lady Fatality emerged from the shadows before us and bowed low. She still wore the body paint so I could not tell whether or not she looked like Natalia. The eyes were the same but the bone structure was hidden under the skull painted on face. She was fuller in the hips as she was older. Her bust was smaller but that was due to the lack of body fat on her frame. Lady Fatality was strong and muscular like a gymnast or dancer.

She smiled and the sight of her real teeth under the painted skull’s teeth on her lips was disconcerting. Munro made the attempt to stand between us and Lady Fatality. I let him but Natalia did not. He did not realise that the Cirque de la Mort was more dangerous for him than it was for Natalia. As for myself, the circus folk had no reason to even acknowledge my presence.

“Will they come for me soon?” Natalia asked.

“Sooner than you realise. But not in this moment.” Lady Fatality said. “You have yet to prove what you are capable of.”

“Then there’s no point in hanging around.” Natalia said, sighing as she flipped her hair. “Dani Elizabeth has probably tattled on us for being gone so long anyway.”

“You mean she’s probably tattled on me. She’d never say anything about you if she knew you’d find out about it.” I said. Natalia was the kind of girl other girls wanted to impress.

Still, we did try to leave. Natalia had taken Munro by the arm and had already turned her back on herself. I was giving Lady Fatality one last look before we left. I was the only one to see her raise one eyebrow as Natalia sometimes did when she thought someone was being cutely ignorant. We would not be leaving easily tonight.

“Oh, you may leave, my younger self, and our lovely friend too. But Munro has not been given permission to do so.” Lady Fatality said.

“Why not?” Natalia asked. It was the first time I heard anything other than total confidence in her voice. She may have only now realised what danger we had walked into. Natalia had seen the evidence that she was to see an older age in Lady Fatality. She had no proof that Munro and I would see another day.

“It’s fine. You two go on ahead.” Munro said. “I suspect I know what this is about.”

“You suspect a lot of things.” Lady Fatality agreed. “Some of us do not appreciate it.”

“Are you one of them Nate?” Munro asked. Natalia glanced at me. Never had I heard her addressed as Nate. Her face suggested that she had never been called by that name either. Munro and Lady Fatality knew each other. They had a history. Natalia liked to play with Munro as she liked to play with all males. She called him Alice because it amused her to try and get a grown man flushed. I doubt she ever expected to be on a first name basis with the detective even if she had known he was gifted.

“Oh Alice, you should know me better by now. I am so looking forward to when young Natalia there finally meets young Alice Munro. Did you know this was the town I was born when you came here? Were you investigating me?” Lady Fatality asked. “I don’t mind you stalking me. You can’t do anything to harm me or Cirque de la Mort. Unfortunately, I am one of the few here who believes that. Old magic has always feared human things.”

“What does that mean?” I asked. I suspected I already knew

“It means I won’t hurt him. But he’ll never get out of the tunnels alive.” Lady Fatality said.

“We’ll see about that.” Natalia said. She then started to drag Munro away. He struggled, knowing that he was a risk to her. But Natalia was so much bigger and she had always been so determined. If need be, she could carry him.

I closed my eyes and thought. Natalia did not realise she was leaving me behind. But I had to know. If there was a solution then I knew it. I always did. Yet I had never tried to force the knowing to come to me. I saw the circus folk attacking Munro. He had been investigating the people that went missing every time Cirque de la Mort had a show since his youth. I saw that he had the potential to break the deals the circus had with demons if he learned what he hoped to learn. I saw that he was safe so long as he stayed away from the fair grounds and Lady Fatality.

The fair grounds were the answer. The circus only had magic where they erected their tents. The performers did not inhabit the tunnels that were not directly under the fair ground. We needed to get deeper into the tunnel system.

“I’ve forgotten your name, I’m afraid.” Lady Fatality said once the others were out of earshot. “You’ll be famous for all time because there are so few that foresee the future by willing it. People will call you Soothsayer and Clairvoyant and Diviner and your real name will be forgotten by even those that know you.”

Of course someone who had once been my dearest friend would know what my gift of knowing meant.

“But I won’t tell anyone what you have just learned if you act quickly Soothsayer.” My pole dancing, murderous Natalia told me.

“What do you bring to the circus that they’ll let you run around freely with Munro?” I asked. I had to focus on escape and could not try and know what Lady Fatality was. So I had asked in the hope that she would simply tell me.

“The men and women that go missing, that die in our shows, are tributes. The circus trades souls for favours from devils. I am a grim reaper, Soothsayer. They need me to collect the souls.” Lady Fatality said.

She was a Death.

“My name is Sybil.” I told her. It was all I could offer her.

*

When I finally caught up with Natalia and Munro I saw that they had been attacked. Munro was unconscious and slung over Natalia’s back. There was blood on the floor. Natalia was unharmed but I knew that was only because the circus could not risk its Death.

“We need to go down this tunnel.” I told Natalia as I pointed down a dark alley to her left.

“That will take us down to the school. We’ll be heading deeper into the tunnel system.” Natalia said. “The exit we came through is only four feet away.”

“We need to get away from the fair grounds. We do not want to be in the heart of it.” I said. “Did you not tell Munro to do as I say?”

“I dislike how fragile mortals are.” Natalia muttered under the breath as she slung Munro down off her shoulders and shoved him at me. I doubt she noticed that I had heard her. Yet I took the man from her and did my best to drag him towards the right tunnel. I was barely strong enough. Yet I managed to take Munro to safety as Natalia stayed behind to defend us.

The Cirque de la Mort was about to learn what it’s Death could do.

*

Natalia never came home.

Munro explained that a reaper would have been immediately recruited by the circus. Natalia gave up her life as Natalia Harris for an eternity as Lady Fatality and for our lives. Munro told me he intended to head home and continue his work there. I would continue my education here and live as a normal teenage girl.

And maybe someday, in a time that was and a time that will be, a soothsayer will reunite with a reaper.