Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday We're in Love!

Because we don't discriminate here at Victorian Swag, we thought it only appropriate to show some love to our favorite television characters. In honor of fall TV, here are the psychics, politicians, geeks, vampires, timelords, writers, sales representatives, and special agents that make our hearts flutter.

Clockwise from top: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

Ever After: Books, Gypsies, and a Love Story

Some people have comfort foods, be they gastronomical delicacies or simple fare that brings to mind a specific person or event that holds a special place in their memories. Then there are those who hear a song and are immediately transported back to their first kiss, first drive around the block by themselves, or first day of college. It would be a lie to say that I can't break my life down into little increments of food experiences and musical collages, but I also have certain cinematic moments that surround my mind in a particular time and place. I can tell you that junior year of high school, before a highly anticipated trip to Italy, I watched The Lizzie McGuire Movie every night before bed, and senior year, upon returning from the trip, it was a daily viewing of Under the Tuscan Sun. Sophomore year of college brought repeated showings of Pride and Prejudice, while junior year ushered in my annoying (to some) Hairspray obsession.

Now, it's true that I haven't listed every movie of sentimental value here, mostly because that would take ages, and you, dear readers, would be snoozing by then. So, I'll get straight to the point: childhood. I bet every single one of you could make a list of movies that you watched so many times as a kid, the VHS fell apart. I know you all think I'm heading towards a long “Disney movies shaped my childhood” post, but I'm not. (We'll get to that some other time.)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

proposals gone wrong: the one that got away

I came to the horrifying, yet somehow rather amusing, realization the other day that all of my favorite period piece proposals are complete and total train wrecks. I'm not sure what this says about me exactly, but... Anyway, the guy gets turned down, looking completely heartbroken, and magically you find yourself frantically searching for ice cream in the freezer behind a veil of smeared mascara and tears. Why? Why is it so upsetting despite how many times you've seen it? Surely after half a dozen rewinds you know the girl isn't going to say 'yes.' These life-changing events give me SO MANY FEELINGS that I can hardly begin to translate them into coherent thoughts. But what I can say is that part of the reason that it's so mortifying is because, for my part, I feel I can identify so much with the heroine. You feel that you know her because you are her. And in cases where the heroine is so obviously throwing the fictional-love-of-your-life away with both hands, it's almost offensive, because if you could never do that to him, how could she? So, for instance, when Jo turns Laurie down in Little Women, you might possibly have thrown something across the room while screaming, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?!" Hypothetically speaking, of course. Through the coming weeks, I'll be highlighting some of my favorite travesties on bended knee, BECAUSE I CAN! We'll start with the aforementioned idiocy of Jo March i.e. the only one I'll be talking about that isn't followed by an epiphany, change of heart, and second (or third) proposal i.e. GAHHH!!! Now, let's watch through our fingers as she does what none of the rest of us could have...

Victorian Swag Field Trip

You may think we at Victorian Swag spend the majority of our time on our computers, searching for the perfect Fassy-approved photos to share with you.  Not so.  We believe in active lifestyles in addition to active imaginations and are prone to taking "field trips" in search of a little adventure.

This past weekend took me to the rolling hills of Missouri wine country.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Missouri, we may not seem an entirely credible site for vineyards and the like.  But what we lack in coastline and majestic peaks we more than make up for in tasty reds, delightful whites, and scrumptious rosés.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Reckoning

Before I get carried away with my personal bias concerning this quartet, please allow me to list a few of my favorite things: plaid, banjos, acoustic guitar, harmonicas, mandolins, suspenders, newsie caps, Celtic pipes, Southern gents with unkempt hair, South Carolina, songs with lots of ooos and ohhhs, ear to ear grins, scruff, and dance parties. It may be hard to believe, but Needtobreathe encompasses all of these things. So naturally they turn me into a swoony-toon!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


From his freckles to his sometimes ginger hair to his British-accented voice (which is in my top 5 list of favorite voices, but that's a post for another day...!!!) to his cheekbones and affinity for folk music, we just adore him! We're oh so impatiently waiting to see him in My Week with Marilyn this November in all his three piece suits and 50s stylings. Mostly we just want to let him know there is scientific evidence that we'd be perfect for each other and he should seriously consider ring shopping, for instance.

I Love Muffins

God bless the brilliant human being that invented muffins.  Let’s face it; muffins are really just an excuse to eat cake in the morning.  What’s not to love?  Being the practical person that I am, I like to bake a batch of GIGANTIC muffins (bigger is better, right?) the night before and then wake up to a tasty treat before work the next morning.  This recipe is one of my staples.  It is super easy; I promise you already have all of the ingredients, and while it may not be super-flashy, one taste will convince you that it is chalk full of swag.  Another bonus, on my personal scale of deliciousness it is the fourth tastiest batter in the universe.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wicked - the Swaggiest Play Ever!

Ok, I have no problem admitting I am an addict...a theater addict. I have seen Wicked three times, and it takes my breath away every time. The first time I saw it was with the lovely Sally at the Apollo Theater in London. The outside alone induced many a squee from the two of us, and we were practically bouncing in our seats waiting for the show to start.

I had seen one or two large theatrical productions, but none that could hold a candle to the swag that Wicked possesses. The second the music started, I was entranced. I didn't even realize I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat, gripping the arm rests until the lights came up for intermission. I turned to look at Sally, who was doing the exact same thing, and I realized that I had a tear in my eye. Let me explain to you just how big a deal that tear is. While I am a very feeling person, I am rather unemotional when it comes to movies and plays. Please don't misunderstand me! It's not that movies and plays don't touch my heart in a profound way. It's simply that I seem to be physically unable to cry at such events. Which is why I must impress upon you the impact that this play had on me that night.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday We're in Love!

It's the first day of fall and we just need to HAVE A MOMENT because it's been a wonderful first week for us here at Victorian Swag! Every week we'll be joint-posting on what (or who, let's be honest) got each of us entering a state of hysterical rapture or ecstasy... That's's definition of swoon in case you were wondering (read: it's not just me being extra bizarre). Yep, sounds accurate!

(x, x, x, x)
Mariah's pick: The men of Needtobreathe have done it again. The swoon-worthy, plaid-wearing, banjo playing, southern rockers have just released their forth studio album, The Reckoning, and it does not disappoint. "White Fences" and "Drive All Night" are my personal favorites, but I promise the whole album is sure to give your ears lots of FEELINGS.

Sally's pick: "COACH! CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS, CAN'T LOSE! TEXAS FOREVERRR!" - this was my reaction when I heard that Kyle Chandler had won the Emmy for best drama actor. There is not a single show on television that gives me more FEELINGS than Friday Night Lights and this man has everything to do with it. After five seasons of consistently powerful performances, I'm thrilled to see him finally getting the attention he deserves now that the series has ended (creyes for eyes!).

Ali's pick: Coldplay is one much the most consistently awesome bands on the planet. At least, that's what I thought until I heard "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall," the first single from the upcoming album Mylo Xyloto. Total cheeseball. I mean, waterfalls? REALLY? I was very disappointed. So you can imagine my relief when I heard their second single "Paradise," a beautifully dramatic, lyrically imaginative piece that should have been the ONLY single released. In honor of it's redemptive powers, it was my pick for this week. Check it out.

Sarah's pick: Birthday shout out to Tom Felton! Even though he's 24, I still see him as the little blond Slytherin coming off the Hogwarts Express. He will always be Draco Malfoy to me, but I know that we will see great things from this tremendous actor in the future!

It's Sassurday!

Is there anything better to wake up to than Sassy Fassy's smiling face at the San Sebastian Film Festival this week? We declare there is not! Please note that even though King Fassy rules this virtual kingdom, we are under no contractual obligation to flatter him like this. These fan flails are of our own free will!

Friday, September 23, 2011

To Run Through The Heather With Mr. Rochester

We here at Victorian Swag take our music very, very seriously. In fact, we can make playlists for any event, whether it be real or imaginary - or perhaps a bit of both. I have special collections of music for my baking adventures, for trips to the grocery store, and for imaginary romps through the English forest. This "To Run Through The Heather With Mr. Rochester" compilation is my latest tribute to the exceedingly complex Mr. Rochester with the killer smolder. Which one would you rather run with through the heather?

Toby Stephens?

Michael Fassbender?

The choice is yours, and there are no wrong answers.

To Run Through The Heather With Mr. Rochester

1. Scalliwag - Gaelic Storm
2. Roll Away Your Stone - Mumford & Sons
3. Just a Kiss - Lady Antebellum
4. The Ballad of Love and Hate - The Avett Brothers
5. The Quiz - Hello Saferide
6. Never Gonna Leave This Bed - Maroon 5
7. Faster - Matt Nathanson
8. Tomorrow's Fool - King Charles
9. Restless - Alison Krauss & Union Station
10. Strange & Beautiful (I'll Put A Spell On You) - Aqualung
11. Walk Me Down the Middle - The Band Perry
12. Crazy - Patsy Cline
13. To Be Alone With You - Sufjan Stevens
14. Two Coins - Dispatch
15. Give In to Me - Garrett Hedlund & Leighton Meester
16. Faith (When I Let You Down) - Taking Back Sunday
17. Sway - The Kooks
18. All Your Life - The Band Perry

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Night Circus: "Something about the circus stirs their souls..."

There are many kinds of magic, after all,” the mysterious Mr. A.H. concludes towards the end of Erin Morgenstern's debut novel, The Night Circus. This is meant to be a reassurance to Widget, a young magician who isn't quite sure that his knack for taking the past and weaving it into a compelling story is as important as his twin sister's gift for seeing the future in the stars. While I might not agree with Mr. A.H. on much else, I will concede that the best books have a magic all their own. Considering that The Night Circus is Mrs. Morgenstern's first novel, and all the hype surrounding it (her publishers are trying to recognize it as the next Twilight, even though it has nothing to do with the sparkly undead and is adult fiction, not YA), I was fully prepared to be disappointed. Which means it came as a surprise when I found myself completely sucked into a world filled with magic and wonder, a world that I wished was real even as I turned the last page.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class is swag worthy on so many levels.  First, let me just applaud the casting department on their choice of James McAvoy (Professor Charles Xavier) and Michael Fassbender (Eric Lensherr/Magneto).  It is so easy to get these things wrong and so refreshing to see it done right.  The chemistry McAvoy and Fassbender create is automatic (chess in the parlor, anyone?) and authentic (tears shed over forgotten memories, not going to lie, I had a moment). They make it easy to believe that Charles and Eric were once the very best of friends.  This makes the animosity that later arises much more heartbreaking (and the choice between Charles and Magneto at the end of the movie nearly impossible).  Let’s not dwell on that; back to the eye candy.  Mad props to the casting department again for introducing a couple of relative new comers: Caleb Landry Jones, aka Sean Cassidy/Banshee, aka our favorite ginger mutant; and Lucas Till, aka Alex Summers/Havok, aka let’s hope we NEVER see you opposite Miley Cyrus again. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Junk of the Heart

Whenever I hear The Kooks come on, it's like I physically can't help shouting out, "AHHHHHH THE KOOKS! I LOVE THE KOOKS!" There is nothing- I repeat nothing- better than hearing a British band's accent actually coming through when they sing i.e. category 4 *swoon* inducer! And the first band that comes to mind when I think of this trait is The Kooks. Lead singer Luke Pritchard's distinctive voice has single-handedly drawn me out to some of the best concerts I've ever been to. So when their third album Junk of the Heart was finally released last Tuesday, I was running at it with open arms, full steam ahead. The reunion was not quite what I anticipated, thus, I will break it down track by track...


How could we not honor our honorary husband first? And how we love that face! And those teeth! Now, dear readers, you won't get lost in all of our shark references. We love that he recently admitted that he took on the role of Rochester for his mum and was quoted saying, "It's never too late to try anything." But what's this we hear about a hiatus?? Say it isn't so, Fassy!!!!! NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Victorian Swag: Happy Endings

Victorian Swag is train rides through the Belgian countryside, old-fashioned steamboat cruises, and rainy days set to Coldplay and Bon Iver.  It’s learning how to Foxtrot, paying to see the new Star Trek three times at the theater and making apple crisp every fall.  It is visits to the Museum of Natural History, the first peek at the new Martha Stewart Living, and crepes next to the Eiffel Tower.  
Victorian Swag is written by and for people who appreciate vests, cravats, and Proustian moments complete with madeleines.  It is for those who abhor the complacent imagination and who relish adventure in any form.  Much like the novels that inspired our title, Victorian Swag encompasses all of the happy endings that you know were meant to be.   

Monday, September 19, 2011

Victorian Swag: On Never Growing Up

Lest I sound like a poor copy of my fellow blog authors, I will say that Victorian Swag is all the things they have mentioned... It's that moment when Mr. Darcy appears out of the fog, with his purposeful stride, just to tell Elizabeth that he simply cannot live a moment more without her... It's that moment when Marianne finally realizes that she has come to care very much for Colonel Brandon, despite the fact that he is not who she would have ever imagined herself with. (And who doesn't think Alan Rickman is oddly swoon-worthy? Honestly, ladies!)


But I think Victorian Swag is also more than just our wishes that chivalry still lived and handsome men with lovely accents would come and whisk us away from our mundane lives. It's also the magic in that moment, the little catch in your breath, as you read your favorite book for the hundredth time and Peter Pan asks Wendy to fly away to Neverland with him and stay forever young; the wonder of discovering, yet again, just what awaits Alice down the rabbit hole; or perhaps the mystery, that moment of unknowing, just as Sherlock solves what seems an impossible case. It's listening to the “How To Train Your Dragon” score again and again because you really just can't get enough. It's having a warm cup of orange spice tea while wrapped snuggly in bed.


Victorian Swag is all these things, and perhaps I can't properly put into words all the FEELINGS that run through my mind, but in the end, it sort of makes sense, does it not? Because didn't the Victorian Age glorify childhood and the mystery and wonder that surrounds this time in our lives?

What of all your swooning over Darcy and Colonel Brandon, you ask. And to that I say, let's not forget the era's namesake; was she not one of the greatest romantics of her time? Her Prince was certainly never far from her mind, even though she outlived him by forty years.


So, it seems, we are in great company here at Victorian Swag. And if swooning, romantic, fantastic, magical, and mysterious tendencies bother you, then I would advise you to go find an angry, hipster blog to read.

Victorian Swag: A Definition

Victorian Swag is men in boots. Not just any boots either. Riding boots. A good smolder and brood are also necessary. Pretty much just think of Mr. Darcy…either one.

Of course, there is more to Victorian Swag than just men. It’s anything that makes you swoon. It’s opera glasses, lace gloves, and afternoon tea. It’s a tarte au chocolat and Julia Child’s kitchen.
It’s riding bikes in Versailles and going to Disneyland with friends. When your heart goes pitter pat, you have experienced swag.

Victorian Swag: strictly speaking

I'm sure you're all wondering, 'Why Victorian Swag?' For us, it was quite simple: the title really made us laugh. That and we all have a certain weakness for tea times spent with our favorite Masterpiece Classics. As to what the term even means, with there being four of us, we'd probably all respond a little differently. So tonight, that's exactly what we're doing!

For me, two images instantly spring to mind when I hear the words "Victorian swag" and I feel I cannot proceed any further without sharing them to get my point across (plus, I just like to look at them!). First is Jane Eyre's Mr. Rochester, casually leaning against a bridge upon Jane's return to Thornfield Hall. From the straw hat to the pose and teasing eyes... If you didn't know what Victorian swag was before, now you know! Second is when North & South's Mr. Thornton, looking as dressed down as we've ever seen him, meets Margaret halfway (both physically and symbolically - oh. my. heart.) at the train station. Holy popped collar, *SQUEE*, say no more, and kiss me!  

(x, x)
In the strictest sense, Victorian swag is that je ne sais quoi possessed by some of our favorite fictional gents that makes our toes curl. One minute their eyes are burning with disdain and the next they're smirking till- hold up! Must rewind/reread to admire the Victorian swag! All the while they're being held at arm's length by their heroine, carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders in a heartbreaking manner that makes you bitterly quote Darcy's, "Would I could help you!" from the other side of the screen. They're classy, but sometimes sassy, defying custom, doing the honorable thing, and handing you their handkerchief as you blubber about being born in the wrong century... *le sigh*

As for modern Victorian swag, well, strip away the top hats and pocket watches (curse you, 21st century!) et voila! Basically, it's all about the swoon.

consider this a calling card

There is a scene in The King's Speech in which Lionel Logue announces to his family that he's going to audition for a play saying it's "one of my favorites." His son then looks up and responds, "Aren't they all?" The exchange is brief, but it's one that immediately caught my attention because OMG THAT IS ME!!! I can't tell you how often I have started fan flailing over this or that and whomever I'm with tends to say something along the lines of, "Everything's your favorite! I can't keep up with them all!" Granted, I do have a lot of favorites and they all give me a lot of FEELINGS /an alarming amount of daydreaming material, but... I am not the only one, ok? I have a handful of besties to whom I can turn and say, "Carrots," or "Look back... look back at me," and they'll be right there with me in a puddle of drippy emotion on the floor.

Hence why I have invited them to co-author this blog with me! Are we living vicariously through literature and song? Maybe. Are we pairing baked goods with mini series? Guilty. Are we secretly holding it against blind dates that they're keeping us from our fictional boyfriends? OF COURSE WE ARE. And we regret nothing. But I will stop you right there and declare that we are not completely delusional and heartless. Au contraire; we may be hard to impress, but a lot of things give us what we like to call ALL CAPS FEELINGS. This blog is, therefore, a virtual fainting couch for all things swoon-worthy.


P.S. On behalf of all of us here at Victorian Swag, I'd like to give a little shout out to Michael Fassbender i.e. Sassy Fassy, Sassafass, my our honorary husband/mascot for his Best Actor win at the Venice Film Festival. We are not surprised. And we love your three-piece suit. Did you wear it on purpose? Because *GRABBY HANDS* and *SUH-WOON*!