Here are some examples of my writing. If you need a reliable freelancer to create or edit your press releases, web copy, catalog descriptions, or articles, please get in touch!
- StrangeBlog - My personal website and blog, featuring articles and other resources relating to Jane Austen's Emma, historical and plus-sized fashion, and more.
- Instructor Guide - I recently finished updating the instructor guide that will accompany the latest edition of a widely-used, college level Western Civilization textbook. Ask if you'd like details.
- Beatnik Fashion: Not every member of the Beat Generation wore a beret! - A piece on "Beatnik" vintage fashion for a costumers' guild newsletter.
- Couture Collection - Product descriptions I developed for a fashion designer's portfolio site.
- Boutique Profiles - Two of a series of fashion boutique profiles I wrote for StoreAdore.com.
- BeneFit Cosmetics Catalog - Sample, unused catalog descriptions I rewrote for a cosmetics site.
- E-newsletter - Copy I rewrote for an internet radio station. The piece uses some airline-style language to reflect the site's Disney vacation focus.
- Mysteries and Facts of the Haunted Mansion - An article "ghostwritten" for Haunted Attraction Magazine's 2002 Disneyland Haunted Mansion issue.
- Fashionable Emma Woodhouse: Costuming in Austen's Emma Adapted - An article about period fashion in the 1996-97 TV adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma. I wrote this for the esteemed Jane Austen Today weblog.
- Costuming the Emmas - My original Austen adaptation costuming article, written for E. Farrell's Celluloid Wrappers site.
- Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: Guest Blogger Kali Pappas Chats about Movie Fashions - Another Austen adaptation fashion article, this time for the Austenprose blog.
- Emma DVD Review - I review the special features included in the BBC/Masterpiece Classic DVD.
Bram Stoker's Dracula Ensemble
Who says vampire tales are only for Hallowe'en? The designer brings a touch of the macabre to spring with this fabulous jacquard bustled ballgown, inspired by Mina Harker's spectacular crimson dinner ensemble from 1992's Bram Stoker's Dracula.
The designer combines sleeveless 1880s ballgown styling with the rich, floral texture of the fabric to create elegance without overcomplication. The historically-correct asymmetrical overskirt and intricately-draped bustle and train capture the essence of the original film gown without overpowering the crisp simplicity of the separate bodice.
Deco-inspired Wedding Gown
The designer conceived this feminine and sophisticated bridal gown with the elegant shapes of art deco design in mind. The fitted waist and sweetheart neckline recall the glamour of the early 1940s, while the creamy-white silk satin conjurs snowy visions of the perfect winter wedding day.
18th Century-inspired Robe a l'Anglaise
Inspired by fashionable, controversial 18th century figures such as Queen Marie-Antoinette of France and Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, the designer presents a glamorous silk bengaline robe a l'Anglaise fit for royalty.
The coral-pink gown features hand-beaded embellishments on the skirt and fitted bodice. Worn with a detachable, bustled overskirt, the ensemble creates the impression of an 18th century polonaise worn over a petticoat.
Dark Garden Corsetry
Amazing customer service and eye-popping custom corsetry have made Dark Garden more than just a Bay Area favorite. Celebrities (such as retro striptease artist Dita Von Teese and singer Christina Aguilera), period costume enthusiasts, brides, fetishists, and couture fashion fans from all over know they can depend on owner Autumn Adamme and her talented team for great fit and superb design. Visitors to the Dark Garden storefront will be met with friendly service in an elegant, completely nonjudgmental atmosphere. Whether you're a corset novice or a longtime tightlacer, staff members are happy to share their expertise with you. If the dazzling array of custom corsets, corset dresses, and bridal ensembles aren't quite within your budget, consider one of the store's gorgeous ready-to-wear designs, available in a range of sumptuous brocades. In addition to corsetry for both men and women, the store features a revolving selection of vintage-style jewelry, accessories, and period-look clothing from designers like Adjowah Brodie and labels including Forever Young and ReVamp Vintage, Dark Garden's Los Angeles-based sister endeavor.
Alla Prima Lingerie
San Francisco's two Alla Prima lingerie boutiques offer classic European frills and frou-frou from brands like La Perla, Sarda, and Cosabella, showcased in elegant, chandelier-spangled surroundings. If the promise of luscious satins, nets, and lace in luxurious surroundings isnít compelling enough, consider the health and sartorial value of an expert Alla Prima bra fitting! Recent studies show that most American women unknowingly wear the wrong bra size, which contributes to back trouble, shoulder pain, and ill-fitting clothes. The accommodating staff will help you find a flattering bra in your actual size, up to 42F. In addition to bras, both shops carry a pretty selection of panties, sleepwear, jewelry, French skin care products, and floral-scented, hand-milled soaps. The new Hayes Valley location also carries bra-fit swimwear, a tremendous boon given that summer is just around the corner!
BeneFit Cosmetics Catalog Rewrites
Be sensible about your skin without settling for another ordinary moisturizer. Our tinted SPF 15 formula defies convention with a unique blend of antioxidants, aloe vera, and allantoin for healthy, protected skin that looks and feels wonderful.
Dr. Feelgood has the perfect prescription for your complexion woes! Our lightweight and colorless mattifying balm is your vitamin-enriched antidote to complicated skin, absorbing excess oil as it reduces the appearance of fine lines and large pores. Trust the good doctor for silky-smooth, healthy skin that feels great!
Perk up with this pretty pink powder! Soft, natural-looking, and gloriously alliterative, Dandelion adds instant, youthful radiance to any complexion.
Summer is shaping up to be an exciting time at our site! From now until August, we're adding tons of new features, expanding content, and making technical enhancements to improve your listening experience.
A new, reliable server!
Broadcast speed and reliability are our foremost concerns. For the past few months, our old server has been showing its age. We've cleaned it up to make sure it's responding as quickly and efficiently as possible. More, we've made concrete plans to upgrade to a new system that will better serve our growing listener base. Watch for speedier server responses in the coming weeks!
Free Frequent Flyer Miles!
The staff wants to honor its loyal listeners and welcome back old friends with a one-time gift of 100 Flyer Miles to all registered members! Site supporters will receive an addition 50 Flyer Miles to thank them for their help in keeping the site online and financially solvent over the past year and a half.
We understand that dedicated listeners and friends like you comprise the core of our community. We cherish your presence and input and hope you will enjoy your points as well as our upcoming server, site, and programming enhancements.
For the first time in over a year, we're offering new programs! In August, you'll be listening to three new shows with fresh hosts and all-new themes! First on the rollout docket are:
- E's EPCOT Experience - A journey through the EPCOT Center of Yesterday and the Epcot of today. Relive your favorite Future World and World Showcase memories!
- Your Way - The show where our supporters get to play DJ! Twice a week, enjoy 60 minute shows compiled - and, if they so choose, hosted - by a supporting member. Stay tuned for more details!
We've obtained over 1000 new tracks from some of your most requested and beloved attractions. You read that correctly - over 1000 tracks! That's a veritable avalanche of new audio! Watch for these gems as they fly into rotation over the coming weeks.
But wait! There's more!
In addition to our old favorites, we've got a ton of new features to offer you:
- A mascot tour and group bonding experience featuring our new mascot, Figment! (Ee-maaaaaaaaaaaaaa-gin-aaaaaaa-shun!)
- A brand-new layout and personalized site schemes.
- Improved site functionality.
- More shows to enjoy!
- More fun contests!
- A fresh reward program for loyal listeners.
- Special goodies for our contributors and supporters.
- Continued weekly chats, forum discussions, games, and more!
We're excited about the changes, and we hope you're excited too! As always, we encourage you to come chat on our community boards and enjoy the numerous games, discussions, and contests we'll be sponsoring throughout the rest of this year. Have a wonderful summer, and don't forget to spread the word about the site to your friends and fellow Disney fans.
Mysteries and Facts of the Haunted Mansion
(Written under a pseudonym for Haunted Attractions Magazine...)
"Almost sold out! 999 Ghosts And Restless Spirits Have Chosen Active Retirement in the Haunted Mansion. Should You Desire to Become Number 1000, Visiting Privileges Have Begun..."
The previous message was written on a sign outside the Disneyland Haunted Mansion before its opening in August of 1969.
What many may have wondered then, and what many of us wonder now, is exactly who (or what, precisely) these hundreds of happy haunts are. While some patrons may be content to assume that these silly spooks are simply an entertaining collection of "Imagineering" effects, others know differently. Depending on who you hear it from, many of these ghosts have names and histories. In fact, some people will swear they have met real ghosts in this moldering sanctum. Whatever you believe, there are a number of interesting stories and myths surrounding the Haunted Mansion and its various "personalities."
Perhaps one of the most basic questions folks ask is, "Is there a storyline to the Haunted Mansion, and who exactly are the characters involved?" The short answer is no, there is no official story, and there aren't many officially named characters, either, besides the disembodied medium named Madame Leota and the Ghost Host himself. As it is ultimately presented, Disneyland's Haunted Mansion is merely a haunted house - a collection of ghostly gags and clichés without a storyline. However, that was not the original intention.
One of the earliest concepts, designed in the 1950s by Ken Anderson, was a revolving theater attraction (very much like the early Disneyland attractions Carousel of Progress and America Sings) to feature characters from Disney's adaptation of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," a story playing prominently in 1949's two-part cartoon feature "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad." The Headless Horseman would have played a prominent role in the storyline, with us as the guests, filling the shoes of the superstitious schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane.
Eventually, the Sleepy Hollow theme evolved into a more generic "Haunted House" idea. Story concepts revolved around various characters at different points in development. At one time, Walt Disney's "Imagineers" considered using the prankish spirits from the classic 1937 animated short film "Lonesome Ghosts" along with other supernatural Disney cartoon personalities. Later on, the attraction's designers thought about telling the stories of the murderous "Blood Family" set out to destroy their guests with canopy bed traps, or of "Pirate Captain Gore" (also known as "Bloodmere" in some versions) and his doomed bride, Priscilla. Vestiges of the "Pirate Groom/Doomed Bride" story remain in the Disneyland Haunted Mansion to this day, from the lonely bride hiding in the attic to the ship-shaped weathervane atop the Captain's Walk. Incidentally, nearly 30 years later, the tragic wedding story concept was resurrected in the planning and construction of Disneyland Paris' Phantom Manor, which roughly tells the story of a beautiful girl (who fans often call "Melanie") whose groom is murdered by the evil Phantom, who in turn makes her his captive.
Various character elements researched for the attraction in the mid-sixties included Rolly Crump's "Museum of the Supernatural" (also known in some proposals as the "Museum of the Weird"), featuring a dripping, waxy candle man, and a living gypsy cart. Marc Davis' famous changing portraits and stretching pictures, too, were in the mix as early as 1965, when Walt Disney showed them off in a "Disneyland Tencennial" television special. While the "Museum of the Supernatural" never made the finished attraction intact, several of Marc Davis' supernatural portrait personalities certainly did.
These personalities were never given proper names by their creators, though a good number of fans have named them, and linked them via homemade storylines to each other and to other characters, for ease of identification. Internet fans may often be witnessed referring to Davis' snake-haired gorgon as "Petra" and his aging lady as "April December," in honor of the designation of her youthful self as "April" and her older self as "December." Imagineers and Disney Cast Members have unofficially named other characters directly or indirectly: The "Phantom Five," a.k.a. the "singing busts," were given working names during attraction production that are sometimes used for unofficial identification.
The hanging skeleton in the stretching room was, according to some, given the working name "Phineas Pock," which then carried over to a character appearing in a 1969 radio spot advertising the Haunted Mansion's opening. Some instead attribute the hanging skeleton to the suicidal remains of the Ghost Host, which is a decidedly different character than the one in the aforementioned radio ad. Those who do link the ghost host to the hanging man also consider the skeletal portrait with the noose and axe, which hangs in the Mansion's "Corridor of Doors," to be the only visual representation of the Ghost Host, having just "cut himself down."
In the end, however, the conclusion is yours to draw. The possibilities are tantalizing. Attempting to draw together some of these tempting "story" threads, cast members at Walt Disney World kept a binder of unofficial identities in their Haunted Mansion, several of which have been adopted for use by fans of the Disneyland Haunted Mansion. Some of these unofficial identities were derived from the names of both Imagineers and fictional names used on the tombstones decorating the exterior queue of the Mansion (although Disneyland's tombstones are now long gone). In particular, "Master Gracey," named for WED effects designer Yale Gracey, became an unofficial name for the Ghost Host and the Pirate Groom character, which so many Haunted Mansion fans love to combine.
Aside from the obvious Mansion personalities, there are a couple of classic Disney characters that inhabit the cobwebbed recesses of this attraction. There are a few "hidden Mickeys," most notably the three-plate silhouette of Mickey that can be seen at each place setting on the ballroom banquet table, and one "hidden" Donald, located on the seatback of a chair next to the endless hallway. Trivia lovers will also appreciate the fact that the ballroom organ is indeed Captain Nemo's own, as the organ in the Haunted Mansion set is the actual prop used in the film "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."
Knowing what made the cut, whether hidden or obvious, may leave you wondering what splendors were relegated to the archives of the "Mansion that Could Have Been." One of the crazier rumors in this area accuses Disney of creating an attraction that was "too scary" for the public. In short, the story claims that the original Haunted Mansion was so frightening that the first guests incurred medical problems, forcing the Imagineers to cut out portions of the attraction. In reality, nothing was significantly altered after construction, and no one has suffered because the attraction was "too intense."
What sparked this rumor? Who knows? Perhaps reality can offer some explanation of how the truth can be obscured through numerous retellings...
You might know that the Haunted Mansion façade, the "house" structure you enter, was designed and constructed in 1962, well before the actual ride concept was finalized. Originally intended to be a walk-through attraction guided by a host or hostess, the attraction eventually became a ride-through, making the original house building too small. As a result, a larger, warehouse-style show building was created outside of the park's berm. This change of concept hardly indicates a change in an established attraction, though it could confuse an uncritical listener.
There is also the fact that a good portion of the Imagineers' character concepts was scrapped before construction, or at the beginning of the attraction's public life. A number of characters were conceptualized for the hall of changing portraits alone. There was a mesmerizing Rasputin whose eyes fused into one, piercing eyeball; an old man who spontaneously combusted; a safari hunter having a bit of difficulty with his embittered tiger rug; a blushing bride who turns into a decomposing skeleton; a man who turns into a collection of vegetables; and more. It's possible that by learning of these pieces, someone could have been led to believe that there used to be more in the Haunted Mansion than we see today.
Beyond the changing portraits are even more tantalizing personalities that were cut out during the last phases of development or significantly modified before the attraction was officially opened. The omnipresent raven, now a crowing observer throughout the ride, was at one time intended to be a more central character. In some concepts, he was to be a black cat. The infamous "Hat Box Ghost" is perhaps the best-known example of a last-minute deletion. His role in the "storyless story" isn't known, though many fans like to refer to him as the secret lover or protector of the murdered bride. His removal from the attic scene was fast, to say the least. Some claim he was removed before guests were invited to ride the attraction for the first time in the summer of 1969. Others say he was removed early in the "soft opening" process. Whenever he was actually taken away, the reasoning behind his disappearance sparked quite a bit of rumor. The real reason he went away was because his special effect, the appearance and disappearance of his head within the hatbox he held, didn't work properly, and so Imagineer Marc Davis ordered him removed. However, it's possible that many attributed his deletion, and the rumored removal of more attraction elements, to the idea that the ride was "too scary" for the first guests.
Although there have been no provable deaths or overly dramatic injuries at the Haunted Mansion, there have been some interesting stories involving strange events and ghost sightings. Some Cast Members swear that they have seen the ghost of an old man in custodial whites appear and disappear at odd intervals. Others claim to have seen a phantom boy, crying alone, near the exit escalator. Disembodied voices (other than those intended by the attraction's creators) and odd presences round out some of the other phenomena experienced. There are also rumors of séances taking place after-hours at Madame Leota's table, whispered by cast members to one another. Some even claim that various pieces of furniture decorating the show were selected for their occult provenances. While none of this can be proven, at least one exciting Mansion legend has been explained. The bullet-hole in the ballroom glass, now obscured by a cleverly placed spider-web, was apparently created by an inebriated and over-exuberant guest with a handgun (no, the dueling portraits had nothing to do with it!)