Elevate Difference

Reviews by Beeb Ashcroft

The Tiger Next Door

"Experts estimate that there are now more tigers in private captivity in the USA than there are roaming wild in the world." This is the opening line from The Tiger Next Door, a compelling documentary about the surprisingly widespread practice of breeding, selling, and owning exotic animals in the United States. The film focuses on Dennis Hill, a big cat owner who resides in Indiana.

All I Want For Christmas is a Real Good Tan (Yule Log Edition)

The annual Yule Log special on PBS is tied to some of my fondest memories of Christmas as a child. I remember the glow of my parents' tree and the excitement on Christmas Eve, and I got my cookies ready for Santa. Through all of this, Yule Log would be playing in the background, with its cozy scene of a log burning away and a medley of magical Christmas tunes. Whenever I see Yule Log today, all those warm feelings and nostalgia come right back to me. It's one of those little things that makes it really feel like Christmas to me.

Lady Love

It's hard to believe that it's been over ten years since Destiny's Child released their first album. I was a teenager at the time, and as a big fan of bubblegum pop, I always enjoyed their music. One of my favorite Destiny's Child songs was “Independent Women;” their music had a sassy, you-go-girl vibe to it (although I'm sure many feminists prefer their empowering anthems to come from artists who aren't so “Bootylicious”).


Nineties alt-rock favorites Yo La Tengo have released a new album of cover songs under the moniker of Condo Fucks. Presumably taking its title from their 1990 album Fakebook, this eleven-song effort has been christened Fuckbook.

The Turn of a Friendly Card (Expanded Edition)

Alan Parsons needs no introduction. In addition to his production credits on albums like The Beatles' Abbey Road and Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon, this iconic musician achieved success with his own band, The Alan Parsons Project.

Transformation Candle

Aptly enough, I first lit my Werewolf Collection Transformation candle during a full moon. Fortunately, no silver bullets were needed, as this candle merely transformed my room with scent. A mixture of spicy woodland berries and red currant, this candle's deep, pleasant aroma reminds me of men's cologne. As with all of the other Dark Candles I have tried, Transformation's essence is subtle and soft, leaving a gentle aroma in its wake when lit. If you don't like being overwhelmed by aromatherapy, then you will enjoy the light fragrance in these candles.

CosmoGIRL! Make It Yourself: 50 Fun and Funky Projects

CosmoGIRL!, the little sister of Cosmopolitan magazine, has just released it's own make-and-do book of DIY projects for crafty teenage girls. “Hey _CosmoGIRL!_s,” reads the prologue, “You may not know it, but you're the most positive, can-do, pro-active group of girls that has ever walked the earth. I know that may sound like a big statement, but it's true. You're smarter than ever, you're more independent, and no one can trick you because you see right through it.” So what kind of craft projects followed this empowering statement? Why, “Boy-Of-The-Week” panties, of course!


Volta, the sixth studio album from Icelandic musician, Bjork, delivers the kind of offbeat, quirky music that only she could make. With its lo-fi sonics, Volta sounds less polished than some of Bjork's previous releases, which is refreshing.

Pumpkin & Spice Candle

I love Halloween. Every year, I throw a big party in honor of All Hallow's Eve, where I go all out with decorations and spooky-themed food. At least half of the food I serve incorporates pumpkins in some manner; their smell and taste are just so comforting to me. So that's why I was excited to test my Pumpkin & Spice Candle, from the Halloween Collection by Dark Candles. As soon as I opened the wrapper, that wonderful pumpkin pie scent greeted me, gently filling the room after I lit it. The warm, spiced aroma is lovely, and makes me long for fall, even though it's summertime.

Loose Mineral Foundation/Concealer

I have a great deal of fun with makeup. Playing with different looks is a creative outlet for me, and I really enjoy trying different cosmetics. I like using foundation, but I have sensitive skin, so it can be hit or miss finding a brand that doesn't make my face burn. So I was excited to try this product by Jenulence, which is hypo-allergenic, all-natural and cruelty-free. This loose powder foundation/concealer is very light and feels great; perfect for anyone with skin sensitivities. It also provides nice coverage while giving a very natural look.

Skull Star “Pretty In Pink” Sheet Set

My approach to interior design is somewhat offbeat. Between my bright purple walls, baby blue sink and curtains made from Halloween-themed fabric, I like my décor to be fun and reflect my tastes. I enjoy working around the house, and it's always neat to find home and garden items with character. Needlesstosay, I was absolutely thrilled about this sheet set. Made by Sin In Linen, the Skull Star "Pretty In Pink” sheet set is not only bedding that features skulls, but it is also PINK. Bright, vivid, awesome pink. As a Goth with a love of pastels, this was right up my alley.

Massage Oil Candle

When I received this product in the mail, I knew immediately what it was because even the box it was posted in smelled good. Once I opened the package, the candle it contained filled the room with a lovely scent—and I hadn't even lit it yet. But this isn't just aromatherapy; this is a massage oil candle, featuring “Seduction Scent.” Encased in what appears to be either Aladdin's lamp or a metal gravy boat, this candle is just too cute. As a person who likes to decorate her house with foo-foo candles, I would have bought this for the packaging alone. And I get a massage out of it, too?

Cacao Nibs

When my Cacao Nibs arrived in the mail, I was entertaining some friends who were visiting. When they saw the arduous task ahead of me – reviewing chocolate – they kindly offered their assistance in testing the product. And they tested it very thoroughly – the four little tins were almost empty by the time they left. Made by sweetriot, a company dedicated to social responsibility, these pure Cacao Nibs are dipped in varying flavors of chocolate.

Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? the eighth album from Of Montreal, is trippy, offbeat, and terribly infectious. With their quirky brand of psychedelia, Of Montreal (who are actually from Georgia) manage to somehow combine upbeat, catchy, pop music with incredibly depressing lyrics.

Living Well

Rob Crow definitely has one of the greatest album covers I've seen in a while. It's a photograph of Crow, wearing a demonic-looking t-shirt while drinking a cup of coffee and standing in front of some pumpkins and several hand drawn, paper tombstones. With a cover like that, I was a little surprised to find that Living Well had a much slower tempo than I was expecting. Although it seems that was the point – the Pinback frontman made this record at home after the birth of his first child, opting to slow down and spend time with his family while writing more introspective music.


When I received this CD in the mail, I must say that I was disappointed. The Fort Knox Five, who claim they don't remix songs, they remint them, which kept with the theme and designed their CD cover to be reminiscent of a $5 bill. Clever packaging, but I thought I was actually being sent money, so to find that it was in fact a CD was a bit of a let-down. I felt better after I popped the disc in, though. Featuring 12 “reminted” tracks by various artists, the CD is thoroughly ‘70s, with funky retro beats that give the album a nice feel.

Dismissed With a Kiss

Described as music with “attitude and ovaries,” Dismissed With a Kiss is the first album from New York-based Spanking Charlene. This record features rock and roll with a lot of feminist reflection, as frontwoman Charlene McPherson sings about misogyny, how women treat one another and how perfect life will be “When I'm Skinny.” This album has a lot of potential, but it's lacking punch, despite the garage-band guitar riffs and provocative lyrics.

Velvet Facial Creme

I am on a constant quest for new and improved beauty products. To me, a new lipstick or hand lotion are one of life's little pleasures. Not only do I enjoy using them, but it's a small fantasy fulfillment as well. Realistically, I know that a new hair product will not make me a supermodel, but I humor myself anyway; and the end result is that I feel glamorous, so it's a moot point. One frequently used tool in my beauty arsenal is facial moisturizer, so I was looking forward to testing out this product.

Snake Oil Perfume Oil Blend

With the right concept, packaging alone can sell a product. Bath & body products are my favorite for this – in fact, my bathroom décor is mostly comprised of attractively packaged products. If the bottle looks neat, they've probably won me. “Snake Oil” is produced by the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, which carries a line of popular perfume oils aimed at goths. The label looks like a carnival poster, asserting, “Cures what ails ya. Accept no substitutes.” The advertising is ingenious: my fragrance came with an Ouija board-shaped magnet. But the contents are just as appealing as the bottle.

Facial Moisture Serum with Blue Chamomile

Although I am blessed with a complexion that is normally clear, in the past few months I've had some trouble with blemishing. I've tried anti-pimple potions before, though I steer away from most of them due to the harsh chemical content, as my skin is somewhat sensitive. I was interested to try Suki's facial serum, since it's made from all-natural ingredients and would, theoretically, be gentler on my skin. The primary ingredient is Jojoba oil, so it has a somewhat greasy consistency.

Comic Book "Girl Power" & "Ladies Night" Tees

Batgirl has been my hero since I was a small girl. As a young comic book geek, Batman was my favorite comic universe, and I absolutely adored Batgirl, because she had all the cool things that Batman had – but she was a girl. Supergirl was another favorite. I remember being four years old or so, and staring at the cover of a novelization for “Supergirl” the movie; it was frustrating, because I hadn't learned to read, but I liked looking at the picture. Needless to say, these shirts are a fun homage to my childhood heroes.