Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Ghosts: The Third Story

OK, I upped the cheese factor for this one, a retelling of an urban legend about jewel thief Estelle Ridley, a.k.a Fanchon Moncare. Like a souffle that doesn't quite rise, this story is missing something -- I think the tone is a little off.... it came out sounding a bit Dan Brown (or Caleb Carr!), when I was going for Stephen King. Anyway, hopefully you, dear reader, can overlook its flaws and enjoy the pulpy, silly goodness.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Why story #3 is taking a little while....

"Setting aside the highest masterpieces of literature, there is nothing more difficult to achieve than a first-class ghost story."

- Montague Summers

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Ghosts: The First Story

Telling ghost stories while sitting round the fire (or, if you will, space heater) is a time-honored holiday tradition, one I've promised to share with my readers and fellow spinsters-at-heart this year.

The first is a local tale, from right here in Brooklyn. Gravesend, in fact. It's rather a spooky name, isn't it? Indeed. So without further preamble, here is a very chilling story I heard around the fire tonight; its author claims it is completely true but, of course, punch was served so there may be embellishments here and there, which is to be expected, of a ghost story.

Click here to read "Lady Moody of Gravesend."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Feelin' Christmasy Part Deux


I know technically it's impossible for a person without a "real job" to have a holiday, but I've been verrrry busy lately and today, just today, I seem to have gotten the last of my errands and things-to-do out of the way! Hurrah! Which leaves, between now and Christmas, a delightful window of time to fill however I please, specifically, in the following ways:

1. The baking of cookies
2. The baking of cakes
3. Ditto pies
4. The brewing of punch and drinking thereof
5. Ghost stories!
6. Gingerbread house diorama contest (contestants: self)
7. Prezzies! The buying thereof. Particularly for long-suffering husbands who may or may not have endured a rough week with their insane spinster-wife ("Is my hair turning green? I'm convinced it's turning green.") And holiday cards!
8. Movies!
9. Winter solstice walking tours and Knickerbocker lectures
10. Various festivities, possibly including Festivus... and.... ice skating!

Also, I will be following the Bowery Boys' delightful "A Very Special New Amsterdam Christmas," in which they detail how many of our (national!) Christmas traditions have their origins not in the stuffy Massachusetts Bay Puritans but in our own delightful rollicking roistering Dutch colony. Hurrah!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why I love old ladies -- Reason #294

294. They nonchalantly bake fifteen-layer cakes

'Many experienced cooks in the South assume that everyone knows how to bake. Virginia Willis, author of “Bon App├ętit, Y’all,” sent me a coconut cake recipe she got from an 80-year-old family friend from Augusta, Ga. It begins: “Make a yellow cake.”'

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bond No. 9 Signature Perfume is Gold

What does it take to make me shill a product here on Spinster Aunt? Specifically, a product that retails for $330 an ounce and comes in a gold bottle? In a word: oud.

Bond No. 9 continues to send me free samples of their glorious perfumes, some of which are more memorable than others (my favorites are Saks Fifth Avenue For Her and Chinatown; my least favorite is Nuits de NoHo) but I treasure them all.

Well, a little gold vial showed up at my house last night, and while I was at first merely pleasantly amused by the copy ("Here is the incomparable beauty and derring-do of our island metropolis distilled in liquid form!" Tee hee, I love it!) my benign amusement suddenly turned deadly serious: this is THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER SMELLED. Seriously. I can't stop smelling it.

Do you want to know what it smells like? This is what it smells like:

Will they churn out a version in a non-gold, more reasonably priced bottle? Should they? Who cares! For now, I am going to deck myself out in this powerful sample for as long as humanly possible.... and breathe....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Feelin' Christmasy

1) A rather excellent Patricia Highsmith article in the NYT: "To all the devils, lusts, passions, greeds, envies, loves, hates, strange desires, enemies ghostly and real, the army of memories, with which I do battle — may they never give me peace."

2) Ghost stories. I've been into them lately. Today I had a marvelous experience at the Brooklyn Public Library after a wondrous wintry walk: I got The Hours After Midnight (J.S. Le Fanu, who I've been loving recently) and The Lottery (which I've been dying to re-read; I may love Shirley Jackson even more than Highsmith). So this kick I've been on, it started with the ghost stories of Dickens, moved on to M.R. James, and in the past month has expanded to Le Fanu. I am completely entranced by his "Ghost Stores of Chapelizod" and "Dickon the Devil" (which I have the unfortunate habit of referring to -- in my head -- as "Dikon the Radish," which just makes it kind of cute instead of scary). What am I getting at with all this?

The Point.

3) It's Christmastime (almost) and apparently, in England, telling ghost stories is a Yuletide tradition. Now I reckon there's about two weeks to Christmas, and I really want to write some ghost stories, so here's what I'm proposing: a story or two every couple of days until December 31st (I need an extension on my deadline already!) in rough form, right here, the best of which I shall revise and post on my website. Hopefully I'll get a few good tales out of it. Then again, in England they drive on the wrong side of the road, too.... so....

4) ... oh yes, punch. In Le Fanu, his protags are always drinking "punch." By the fire. With booze in it. Warm and wintry, indeed. In an attempt to be more ghosty, I have made a rather tasty punch of my own, currently simmering on my stove. Which means I stop typing.... now....

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Best of The Aughts...

I think my love for old-timey things is starting to rub off on my long-suffering husband: check this out! It's a run-down of the best short films of 1900-1910, in honor of all the "best of the aughts" lists that are circulating these days, heavy on the Porter and Melies, and totally freaking awesome. Porter's 1907 "Dream of a Rarebit Fiend" didn't make the cut, but I want to include it here since I love anything that has to do with eating too much late at night/bizarre dreams:

Monday, December 07, 2009

Green-Wood's new blog!

The loveliest place in Brooklyn finally has its own blog! It's my most favorite place in the borough, and if you haven't done so already, make the time to ramble through it. But if you have no time today, enjoy a virtual ramble right now!