Saturday, March 26, 2011

Of her mental soundtrack

Well my waltzing dancers, in the absence of any crafting adventures to recount (though there will be soon, I hope), and because I don't know if you'd be interested in the mild drama of realizing one has to choose between a lolita tea party meetup and a cosplay picnic (for this blogger, that's a very hard choice, you know!), I've decided to tread the path of other bloggers and recommend to you a few bands that might appeal to my fellow gothic and lolita types.

I suspect most of us lolis are somewhat familiar with the gorgeously frilly side of Japan's music scene, and might recognize the names Kanon Wakeshima, the band Kalefina, and (my all time favorite) Versailles. But outside of Visual Kei and Jrock, I'm a diehard metalhead--symphonic, gothic and doom metal, to be precise.

Recently I've been looking for new metal bands, and also I've explored some new (to me) genres, so let me show you what I've found so far. Since I'm not too familiar with these styles of music, I'm a bit scared to ascribe genres (I'm afraid someone will bite me, upcoming mention of vampires notwithstanding). However, I'll let you know when something is metal--usually in the symphonic or melodic styles. Unfortunately, I'm not sure of the protocol of imbedding youtube videos in a post, so I'll leave you with clicky links.

A female-voiced metal band from Norway. I've fallen in love with their dreamy, wistful sound, exemplified in songs like Winterborn 77 and Sister Nightfall. To me this group has a rather atmospheric quality, but retains the energy and brilliance of sound that makes it metal.

An Italian band. I discovered them during National Novel Writing Month, and they immediately went on my novel playlist. They have a very melodic sound combined with the "ponderous romantic gloom" (my inner poet has an odd way of describing things) that's one of the qualities I've been looking for in my music-listening ventures. Two of my very favorite songs of Svenia's are Death is Waiting for Your Heart and My Nuptial Sepulchre (the other thing I love about Svenia: their song titles!).

A group from Belgium. I've only heard a few songs by this band so far, but I already love them. I can't think how to describe their sound, but it reminds me a little of Lareine, former band of Versailles' vocalist--probably because Alucard's vocalist has a similar tenor quality to his voice. (Is it strange that the singer of this group even looks a little like Kamijo, to me?) I'll start you off with the music video for Cold.

~Amberian Dawn
Another gorgeous metal band, this time from Finland. If you love pure, soaring female vocals, I strongly recommend them. So far the songs I know are He Sleeps in a Grove and River of Tuoni.

And last but not least, I imagine some of you darklings might have heard of this next group, but they deserve to be mentioned anyway.

~The 69 Eyes
Also known as the Helsinki Vampires (see, I told you there would be mention of vampires--and that's not even counting Kamijo). Remember the "ponderous romantic gloom" of Svenia? This band has it in spades, along with a dash of sarcastic spunk. I have several favorite songs, but I'll confine myself to mentioning Brandon Lee and Devils. If you're not sure you like deep-voiced vocals, Jyrki will convince you otherwise.

That's all for now, my Ballroom guests. In writing this, I thought of several more artists I would like to recommend, so maybe I'll do posts like this in the future. But now, go forth and listen to music! (And no biting.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Of a King who found his voice

This isn't strictly lolita-related, but it has to do with something lolitas might enjoy. Have any of my Ballroom guests seen the recently released movie, "The King's Speech"? If not, I highly recommend it. The film centers on King George VI, and it's filled with the sort of beautiful period dress and settings that lolitas (and goths) tend to love. However, I personally have another reason to love the film besides my love for England and historical movies.

I assume most of you have heard the movie synopsis by now, but anyway: King George VI stammered quite severely, and this made it very difficult for him to speak in public. He found an Australian speech therapist who was able to help him gain enough fluency to give speeches to England--quite a feat for anyone with a stammer (or stutter, as it tends to be called in the USA).

I don't know much about this part of history besides what I learned from the film, unfortunately, but it resonated with me in several really profound ways. All my life, I have stuttered, and my stuttering has often taken on the form of blockages (an inability to get sound out), similarly to the king's. I'm much more fluent now, but it's still an issue sometimes (now you know my secret reason for not rushing to do a vlog, though I wouldn't mind in the future).

Besides the accuracy of Colin Firth's portrayal of stammering, two things profoundly struck me in watching the film. One, it was the understanding and friendship of the king's speech therapist that helped him the most towards fluency--not a cure (there is none), but he does indeed "have a voice," in the sense that he can communicate.

Two, the final speech made an excellent climax to the dramatic arc (there's my writer side coming out), because the movie succeeded in portraying that speaking really is that scary and dramatic for people who stutter, whether in addressing a nation or ordering fast food. I feel that this film has not only shed light on the subject of stuttering, but really ennobled those who do--it's given us back our dignity, if you will. At any rate, do see the movie! And if you'd like to learn more about stuttering, let me give you a link to the National Stuttering Foundation's website.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Of picnics, writing, and A Slightly Personal Confession

Note: I've delayed posting this for a couple days, as it felt strange talking about personal matters in light of the recent disaster in Japan. I can't tell you how troubled I am, along with many others, that this has taken place. Thankfully everyone I know in Japan (at least that I have contact info from) is safe, but hearing about this sort of event, especially in a country I love so dearly, leaves me quite shaken nonetheless. I'll certainly be keeping Japan and those in and from it in my thoughts and prayers. 


My dear ballroom dancers, I feel as though I've been abandoning you a little bit, what with all that's going on. I can't remember whether I'm posting any less often than usual, but I've certainly had less energy than usual for blogging and the like, which I wish wasn't true. The worst part is, I know it isn't just the (admittedly very stressful) outside circumstances. At the risk of getting slightly personal (which I've been told is a good thing for bloggers), let me say I can empathize with those of you who have anxiety and/or mood disorders. And I know it isn't fun. I have OCD and, I strongly suspect, a mild form of depression (don't worry, I have help I'm getting). Currently both of those things are wreaking metaphorical havoc, so if I do post less often or less energetically, at least you know what's probably the cause. I DO intend to continue blogging, however.

NAO, for some funner stuff. I tried to organize a small, local meetup about a month ago, but while a few people expressed interest, no one ended up being able to come. But it was nice sitting in the park with my sister, munching on the red bean muffins I'd made, and sipping Arizona iced tea.

My coordinate, which is the fourth one of the seven~

I've decided I'm a bit bored of this challenge, so while it was a great idea, I won't force myself to complete it. Plus I've discovered one of my favorite gothy dresses has room for a petticoat, and I've been dying to try out that theory...

Fun Thing II
Remember that writing blog I threatened to start? Well, I have! If you're interested in reading about my WIP (Work In Progress), a fantasy series full of faeries, vampires, gothic dreamers and midnight teaparties (and ballrooms), feel free to visit me at The Dreamer's Raven Quill.
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