Sunday, April 26, 2009

Style Sheet - Geisha Girl

I have to admit, this week's Style Sheet is influenced by a  passion of mine that has just recently come to fruition. I've been telling myself that I'm going to visit Japan for years now, maybe even take up residence there for a little while, dissuaded only by my weak grasp of the seemingly complex language. This past week, though, I've put my reservations aside and picked up as many instructional books and video games as I possibly can on a whim, and I'm happy to announce that I'm picking up Japanese surprisingly fast! In celebration of my non-failure (for I can't say it's a success until I've completely mastered the language) today's Style Sheet is all about those gloriously gorgeous ladies of Japanese lore - the modestly lovely princesses of Nippon themselves - those daring, darling, geisha girls!

Matsuri Geisha Hair Pin
What's a geisha without extravagantly beautiful hair sticks to don? Described as "mint green Bohemian glass beads on intricately engraved bone," these gorgeously vibrant pins are the perfect cherry to top your super sweet green-tea-ice-cream-sundae of a hair-do with. Wear them with your best pink kimono, tiny blossoms and all, for an electric night filled with sushi and sake, or with nothing at all for a tranquil gardenia bubble bath!
Where to buy:

Lady Snowblood
Remember Kill Bill, that swingin' Quentin Tarantino film from six years back? Lady Snowblood just so happens to be its prickly-sweet Japanese precursor from 1973, a cult flick filled with gangster geishas hellbent on exacting revenge and traveling bandits with a taste for European debutant balls. Vividly beautiful and sharply gory at the same time, Lady Snowblood shows that not all geishas are those elegant and gentle beauties that we've come to expect - they can have quite a naughty side too!
Where to buy:

Roberto Cavalli Chinoise Print Dress
The uniqueness and elegance of traditional Japanese garb will always have its place in the fashion world - for kimonos never go out of style - but it's always fascinating to see the modern twist that designers put on these far-from-modern dresses. Roberto Cavalli spices up tradition with this amazing kimono-esque dress, perfect for hushed spring days spent under explosive cherry blossom trees or mystical festival nights where ponds and lakes and rivers alike light up with tiny paper boats, burning bright into the night with the secrets of the dead.
Where to buy:

100 Poems by 100 Poets White Teapot Set
In order to become a geisha, you're required to be well-versed in a slew of traditional "domestic arts", namely flower arranging and tea ceremony. While not all of us have the precise level of grace needed to excel in the latter, absolutely anyone can indulge in the tranquil thrills of chakai, serving sweets, tea, and a light snack to a cast of close friends. Throw your very own chakai with this traditional tea set, inscribed with one of the 100 poems from the 13th century anthology of Hyakunin Isshu, and refine your natural grace to geisha-like levels!
Where to buy:

Penelope ♥

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Weekly Wishes

I wish... for sweltering, swollen nights spent sitting criss-cross applesauce under a blanket of hazy purpled stars, dreaming of voodoo queens and midnight seances and doe-eyed children in tattered babydoll gowns, running barefoot through bayous and turnpikes and humid everglades with their weeping willows and their hushed lullabies. I wish for slow-dances on the front porch of Santeria priestesses, first kisses under warm mangrove trees still dripping with morning rain, afternoons spent shimmying through the backyards of pastel bungalows protected by jangling painted bones and buried ancient charms - I wish for those sticky-sweet Southern summers that can only fully be experienced at night, kissed by whispered breezes and the distant hum of Creole Crow Dances.

I wish... that everyone believed in the most magical, lyrical, dreamworld, heart-thumping, head-spinning, storybook things, catching only glimpses of them but knowing that they're there nonetheless. I wish that strangers would shudder to a halt, spinning madly on one heel in the middle of the street, swinging to catch sight of pinched imps in fedoras and whistling fauns drifting past the corner of their eye. I wish strangers would tell of how boys in coffee shops steal handfuls of creamers and sugar-cubes, only to leave them in a broken trail in hopes of luring home his sweet-toothed anima. I want quiet girls to tell me in whispered words and hushed tones about how love-struck firebird boys visit them at night, whispering sonnets in their ears when they think they're asleep, and how paper-skinned pixies tell fortunes in the park to anyone who will listen. I wish the world around me would hum to life with long-forgotten tales and dusty stories and folks would tell of how these bedtime stories have cracked into the modern world in tiny, wistful specks of life.

I wish... for pink tights and cowboy boots.

In this quietly spectacular week, my sleepy boys and electric girls, what do you wish for?

Penelope ♥

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Albums For Every Moment

Photo by Paul Broome

I'm a firm believer in concocting the perfect soundtrack to life - stashing away some jazzy and upbeat and melodic tunes for all of those conceivable moments that could require music. Whether it's a single song for those moments when you get the incurable blues or a whole playlist overflowing with swingin', swayin', slam-dancin' pep,  the power of music to change the rhythm of life is undeniable. The question is, what's on your soundtrack?

 For Electric Shocked, Bubblegum Pop, Clap-Your-Hands Moments 

I discovered this triad of merriment no more than a few weeks ago when they opened for Ben Folds at an itsy bitsy show in a local college theatre, electrifying the crowd with repeating beats and swingin' tunes. Before the show the women's bathroom had been crowded with twenty-something girls complaining about how opening acts never made them want to rush out and buy their CD, but Jukebox the Ghost shocked everyone by doing exactly that. As soon as they left the stage, there was practically a stampede of people charging towards their tiny merchandise table! 

Let Live & Let Ghosts is for those moments of chaotically sweet soda-pop bliss - for the upbeat anarchist spray-painting ten foot smiley faces underneath bridges and on empty walls, for tiny girls sipping down chocolate milkshakes in diners and trying to explain the Socratic method to bewildered strangers, for eight year old gangster girls in Converse and tutus, stomping around the playground and cursing like a sailor at anyone who looks at her the wrong way. It's an album about the confusing thrills that make up life, whether it be parking your car in a tow-away zone or surviving the apocalypse only to find, after the dust settles, "a better world than the one you left behind."

Preview (Hold It In):

For Sweetly Surreal, Slow-Motion, Modern Day Moments

Ben Folds has been my personal hero for as long as I can remember (I've joked since the sixth grade that one day I'll get him to come to my birthday party), with charmingly surreal tracks ranging in topic from the club-life of gothic misfits to the daily failures of a college drop-out considering joining the army. His live shows have a kind of communal spark to them that studio-recorded tracks just can't capture which makes this album, in my opinion, one of his best. It's the next best thing to actually being in the audience!

Ben Folds Live is the perfect soundtrack for those moments that require flinchingly catchy yet down-to-earth ballads - for being chased down by the hypertonic scream of a cop car, or watching a car crash shatter in front of you in steamy, dreamy, mistifying slow motion, or daydreaming aimlessly to the haunting question of "What if? What if? What if? What now?" It's music for realists and daydreamers alike, for awkward teens and ever more awkward adults, for strangers and loners confused by the sleepy complexities of life but in love with them nonetheless. It seems that those thrilling je ne sais quoi moments that life quietly slips underneath us can always be filled in neatly with a bottle of beer and a Ben Folds song.

Preview (Zak & Sara): 

For Super-Charged, Ska-a-Go-Go, Save the World Moments

Whether you know it or not, most everyone with a toddler in the house has encountered the Aquabats in one way or another. As the creative geniuses behind the electrifying kids show Yo Gabba Gabba, their music has seeped into houses all across the world in the form of those tiny tunes that your baby sister won't stop humming. Their formal music, though, is far more thrilling, taking on the form of backflipping ska tracks with a full brass band and shakin', cartoon-inspired lyrics.

Perfect for thrashing, bashing, party-crashing moments, Myths, Legends and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 2 makes a ska-a-go-go background to a day spent playing dress-up with wrinkled costumes and kids bed sheets-turned-capes, or cannon-balling in on a hot summer pool party, or speeding towards the beach on an electric yellow moped, revving through stop signs and stop lights and crosswalks alike. For big kids, though, their music is the main ingredient to starting a sweet-and-sour slam-dance-mania mosh pit, no matter whether you're at a club, in a parking lot, or even thrashing through supermarket isles!

Preview (The Wild Sea!):

♥ For Mean Reds, Swollen Blues, and Bittersweet Happiness In-Between Moments

With songs reminiscent of flirtatiously dangerous noir flicks, black and white and splattered with streaks of chocolate syrup blood, Luke Doucet strums out harrowing tales of broken hearts and broken china, furniture tossed from apartment buildings in a steamy frenzy and sloshing glasses of bourbon and rum on the rocks. His characters are acoustic heroes, "martyrs and barflies" tiptoeing through a sepia city sparked by broken neon and shady, rouged girls in golden cocktail dresses. 

For those smokescreen jazz-club moments in life where the blues and the reds collide spectacularly leaving you swaying and woozy, Broken (And Other Rogue States) provides a perfect soundtrack to match your haziness and transport you to a world of sleepy strangers and broken fire-escapes. It's a world of brick apartment buildings and swaying sidewalks, of restaurant powder rooms and young waiters in tuxes and a matching fez, of jazz singers and lit cigarettes and stiletto heels and black suited men. An album for dazed moods and bittersweet blues, Doucet lights up those dark corners of life with mystifying songs and swaying guitar solos.

Preview (Emily, Please):

Penelope ♥

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Peppermint Issue 2 Out Now!

My, my, I've been gone for a while, haven't I? I won't bore all of you amazing girls and boys with the rather drab reasons for my absence, but it's safe to say that things have been nothing short of hectic around here lately! I'm happy to announce that I'm back, though, and with a whole lotta stories to tell! 

First, though, I have a rather exciting announcement to make. Those of you who live in Australia might have already seen the second issue of Peppermint Magazine floating around bookstores and cafes - maybe you've even flipped through it once or twice. If not, go out and get yourself a copy right now! As of issue #2, I'm a brand new contributer with a super special article contained within its pages!

For all of you bubblegum bunnies who live in other parts of the world and are wondering what all the fuss is about, Peppermint is an eco-fashion magazine all about living life to its fullest, and greenest, possibilities, focusing on green fashion, DIY projects, and inspiration for living an Earth-friendly life. As of right now it can only be found in Australian retailers, but absolutely anyone, no matter where you live, can subscribe and receive every issue right to their front door for a super-reasonable price.

With that said, I'd like to welcome all of the brand new bunnies to Cocoa and say hello again to all of the old ones who have stuck around, even through my sporadic absences. All of you are beautiful, intelligent, and all-around amazing people, and we're going to have a lot of fun.

Stay beautiful, angels~

Penelope ♥