Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Well, from where I'm looking at things there are about four hours and 45 minutes left to the year 2012. Perhaps for some of my readers the new year has already begun. In either event, I'd just like to offer you all my best wishes for 2013. May it be the year in which all of  your dreams come to reality--except of course, for your most frightening nightmares. Those hopefully, will be left to fantasy. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Finally, A Gothic Event--or Was It?

From time to time, either on this blog or in my comments on others, I bemoan the fact that there have been no Goth events in my community for quite some time; that is, as far as I know anyway. Sure, we have an active metal scene; but as much as I love metal, I have to admit that the gatherings are not the same. Imagine my surprise when, almost two weeks ago, I got on Facebook, looked at the local events and discovered that a group called Neo Victorian was co-sponsoring a costume and dance party called The Party at the End of the Universe at a nearby venue!

It just so happened that the tea society I belong to was holding its monthly gathering that Saturday, so when we got together I informed my friends, whom I suspected would be interested, about the upcoming; so, we made plans to dress up and attend. During the following week, DJ Infamouis, who along with DJ Dubspeak, would be providing the music, took song requests on the event's Facebook page. Both my excitement and expectations heightened when I looked at the bands the attendees were asking for--Bauhous, Souxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Fields of the Nephilim and The Cure.Oh this is going to be good, I thought to myself. 

Saturday night finally arrived and we found ourselves sitting in a very comfortable and somewhat dark corner of the nightclub. As we sat with our drinks chatting, it eventually dawned on us that we weren't hearing any of the music that had been requested earlier in the week. Speaking only for myself, I fully expected to hear some electronic, but for most of the night, we were offered a musical itinerary that leaned heavily toward that genre and more specifically, dubstep. While the music was certainly danceable, very few attendees seemed overly inspired by it. Many it seemed, had been hoping for a lot more old-school Goth. 


We, the members of the tea society. From left to right, myself, Erin, Mimi the Victorian Clockwork Doll and G. 

Late in the evening--or should I say, early Sunday morning, a member of my party put in a request for Bauhaus and returned to tell me that DJ Infamous was going to play it. That's when the music finally took a turn for the better. Not only did he play Bauhaus' She's in Parties, but then he came down to me and asked if I had any requests. "Sisters of Mercy," I told him. Then, lo and behold, he played one of my favorite songs by them; Lucretia My Reflection, a most inspiring song indeed! The Goth set was finished off with something by the Cure. Now that's what we wanted to hear!






A clockwork doll and a storm trooper? Now that's an interesting combination!

All in all, there weren't as many folks at the event as I would like to have seen; but considering that mankind had just survived the apocalypse at the end of the Mayan calendar, it was common knowledge that there were parties all over the place that night. To tell you the truth, I was happy that I got to attend the event. I danced, drank a couple of margaritas that I have to rank as likely, the most lethal I've ever had, and overall, had a great time. I enjoyed seeing the ladies dressed in their finest and it was nice viewing some of the guys wearing top hats and other interesting apparel. There was even one of Darth Vader's Imperial Storm Troopers in attendance. It doesn't get much better than that. 



 D.J. Infamous supplying the tunes

 While I'm not sure that this was the Goth event that I'd been hoping for, it certainly was a step in the right direction. Still, further encouragement came to me after I had just exited the venue and was starting on my way home. I was only a half block down the street when I bumped into a lady I had met at the party a bit earlier. As we were exchanging pleasantries I mentioned the scarcity of Goth music and dark wave at the event and she, as an apparent organizer, was in general agreement. Much to my delight the lady informed me that her group wants to hold similar events at least every couple of months or so and that she at least, would like to see more dark wave offered in the future. After saying good night, I walked away feeling quite elated. Something good seems to be on the horizon.    

  

    

 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Newtown Tragedy, Goths and the Media

As a person who once worked for the local school system and had students of all ages under my care, it's really hard for me to think about the horror that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday. Sure, there were times when I would have liked to give a few students, especially a few smart-ass teenage boys, a quick trip home courtesy of my foot. Still, after all was said and done, I knew that they were just kids; and even though I sometimes had to use the existing disciplinary procedures in order to correct them, I certainly never wished them any real harm. It's hard to fathom how a person can commit as violent an act against children--young ones at that, as the one perpetrated in Connecticut last week.

As for the reasons why the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy took place or which preventative measures should be implemented--well, those are issues that will likely be discussed for years to come and it's not my intention to talk about them here. Instead, I want to take a few minutes to address how quickly the media began identifying the perpetrator, Adam Lanza, as a Goth. I know that this issue is being covered in other blogs as well, but I'd just like to throw in my two-cents worth on the subject.

In reporting on the Newtown tragedy, some news outlets made a point of it to mention that the shooter had been a Goth. The United Kingdom's Mail Online went so far as to call him a "killer Goth." Looking at his photos, the young man didn't look very Goth to me; but then again, many of us do agree that Goth is more a state of mind, which involves having certain interests in music, literature and aesthetics as opposed to specific styles of dress. According to some media reports, Lanza was a self-proclaimed Goth. Be that as it may, I find the media's desire to stress his so-called affiliation with us as a bit disingenuous. After all, the American domestic terrorist Timothy McViegh was a fundamentalist Christian; yet, the media rarely set out to link his religious beliefs with his abhorrent behavior. It does appear to me that the press, and especially through the tabloids, is trying to sensationalize this tragic story even further by exploiting mainstream society's fear and ignorance of our subculture. Like other Goth bloggers who have written on this subject in recent days, I do take offense at how easily the media sets out to demonize us.

There is one other aspect to this topic however, that I haven't seen anyone else mention. As Goths, we do go out of our way to appear spooky. Let's face it, that's a big part of what we're about. Even I (and I'm hardly in my teens or twenties anymore) still enjoy wearing my more expressive attire.. Oh yes, I have my vampire, skeleton and metal t-shirts, bat and dragon necklaces, skull and studded bracelets, a nose piercing, chains,--and I'm almost always wearing at least some black attire even in my most casual moments.

Since we are, as Gothic people, inclined to have a somewhat ghoulish aesthetic, can we reasonably complain when some folks get a little spooked by us? I'm not excusing the media's attempts to demonize us as they certainly have the resources to learn what we're really about. Still, it's probably just a fact of life that there is occasionally a price to be paid for being different. I don't like it, but this might be one of those times.

Photo source: Darkmus.com
Author unknown

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Surprising Acquisition

Although I'm kind of the outdoorsy type, I do like to occasionally take a pilgrimage to the mall, which is on the north end of town. My hour spent there is usually the same every time. First, I pop into Hot Topic just to see if they have anything new that is of interest. Next, I walk down the hall past the food court for a slightly longer browsing experience in Spencer's. I spend a bit more time there because their inventory seems a bit more extensive to me, and because, from time to time, I find some interesting jewelry or Living Dead Dolls there. Finally, I head to the food court for a bite to eat before making a quick exit. I suppose I'm a typical guy in this regard; when it comes to shopping, I'm in and out in little more than a heartbeat. 

Yesterday was no different--that is, not until I was leaving. That's when I saw it out of the corner of my eye--a simple T-shirt hanging on the wall in a store I had never before visited. Still, the garment stopped me in my tracks. When I went inside, the clerk told me that the shirt was a part of the O.G. Abel Collection, someone I had never heard of. Long story short, I made an unexpected purchase and took my new possession home. You can probably understand why. While I don't want to use this blog to make any commercial endorsements, you might want to go to this person's website just to see what type of material he or she creates.

That said, I love my new shirt.  

O.G. Abel's website


Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Haunted Hotel

About 50 miles to the northeast of where I live is situated a very unique community. Eureka Springs, often referred to as the "Little Switzerland of the Ozarks," is a somewhat secluded municipality whose streets are lined with various types of boutiques, art galleries, museums, spas, restaurants and a diversity of interesting shops. The city's entire downtown area has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and Eureka, as we locals often call it, clearly emanates the feel of a Victorian village due to the abundance of period homes dug into and otherwise lining the local mountainsides. As if standing watch for the rest of the community from its high vantage point on Prospect Avenue stands the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa, a venue that has over time, gained the reputation of being"America's Most Haunted Hotel." 

As the beginning of its name implies, the newly constructed hotel opened with a huge gala event, which took place in its Grand Ballroom, on May 20 of that year. For the first 15 years of its existence, the Crescent served as a high-end, year-round resort for the so-called "carriage set." During those first years the venue maintained a stable of about one hundred "sleek-coated horses" for the riding pleasure of its guests, according to information provided on its website.

In spite of its grandiose beginning, the establishment fell into financial difficulties and by 1908 had reopened as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women. The school didn't fare any better financially than had the original hotel and by 1924, it too had been forced to shut its doors. After that the Crescent went through a number of incarnations, which included serving as a junior college and later, as a summer hotel. 

In 1937 the property was bought by a wealthy man named Norman Baker. Although known as an inventor, Baker fancied himself a doctor; this, in spite of his lack of any medical training and his having been run out of the state of Iowa for practicing medicine without a license. The Crescent's new owner, who claimed to have discovered cures for various diseases including cancer, opened the establishment as a hospital and health resort; this, primarily to heal his cancer patients and others with the promise of miraculously curing their afflictions with spring water. Eventually, federal charges were filed against him and Norman Baker spent four years in prison, leaving the Crescent closed and without an owner until new investors obtained the premises in 1946. The new ownership then set upon the task of restoring the old hotel to its original purpose and former glory. The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa  has remained a top-notch establishment ever since--a venue however, that is well known for sightings of ghosts and apparitions as well as strange sounds that can be heard both day and night. 

With its rich history I don't find it at all surprising that the Crescent Hotel of today is believed rife with paranormal activity. According to the website entitled America's Most Haunted Hotel,
ghost sightings include that of the Irish stonemason Michael, who fell to his death during the building's construction, Theodora, one of Norman Baker's cancer patients, a mysterious patient clothed in a white nightgown who sometimes appears in the luxury suites, and Norman Baker himself, clothed in a white suit and lavender shirt.
Of course, there are skeptics and I know lots of people who would scoff at any notion of there being ghosts, life after death or of human beings even having a spirit. Yet, the stories of paranormal activity at the Crescent Hotel persist. 

In an attempt to resolve this issue in my own mind and to give my readers something to consider, I turned to a young lady named Jordan. She is a friend and neighbor as well as a  practicing witch, who not only grew up in Eureka Springs, but has been inside the Crescent Hotel on multiple occasions. In preparation for this article, I asked her opinion about the hotel being haunted and asked if anything out of the ordinary has ever captured her attention while there. This is how she responded: 

"I'll start off by saying that whole area is buzzing with activity from the houses and land surrounding it to the Hotel itself. They are most active at night for whatever reason, but some will interact any time day or night.

"Now about the Hotel: The Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks has always been like a second home to me.
Since I first set foot in there as a little girl I have made friends with many entities. A young Irish man, an old woman, a young lady in a Victorian dress follows me around the hotel, a cat walks across my bed and a few other unidentified entities will pick on me or follow me as I walk the halls. I hear voices sometimes and the usual bumps and creeks in response to things I say. Some follow me around outside or greet me as I get out of the car.

"They are all reasonably friendly except one who keeps kicking me, pushing me and/or tripping me. That one is a man; not the Irish boy, but he's older and he doesn't like me for whatever reason."

I also asked Jordan is she would describe one of the most memorable experiences she's had at the Crescent:

"Well, there are two very memorable moments--well, three. My brother and I were quite young at this time. We were sleeping and my brother woke me up saying something was on the bed. I waited a moment and felt what seemed to be a cat walking over me. We looked and there was nothing but four indentations the size of cat feet at the foot of the bed. We also heard meowing and purring.

"Another was when I tripped down the stairs and something caught me! A strong but gentle hand grabbed my arm and pulled me back to the landing I could see the indentation where they gripped my arm and I felt a gentle tug on my jacket as they pulled me back from the edge. I said thank you and felt a pat on the shoulder. I wish I knew if anyone else witnessed this!"

The only thing I can add to Jordan's experiences at the hotel are that I trust and respect her abilities and therefore, her opinions. I have long considered her an exceptional human being. Beyond that, you the reader will have to make your own mind up as to whether you believe that the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa is haunted or not.

By the way, if you're ever in Northwest Arkansas you might just want to experience the Crescent Hotel yourself--and they offer nightly ghost tours!

Interesting links:

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

America's Most Haunted Hotel

The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa

Photo's author unknown. 


    

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Reminder of Our Vulnerable State

For most of yesterday, I found myself in one of the strangest but most intense head spaces I've experienced for quite awhile. The day was dark and cloudy with a rain that quickly washed away any memories of the delightfully warm weather that had existed only hours before. I was alone, but there's nothing unusual about that as most of my time is spent alone; and truth be told,, I enjoy the dark and dreary days of November. I spend a good part of the year looking forward to them and the melancholy feeling they bring to me. Yesterday was different however, and the unusual mental state that served so well to unnerve me came, not as a result of the day's bleakness, but rather, from an occurrence that took place the day before. 

On Saturday I was at my son's house playing with my granddaughter. She had just ridden her toy scooter down the street's mild slope for the length of a few houses and then turned, bringing her scooter to a stop. "Mind if I have a turn?" I asked when she returned. After she agreed, I carried the scooter a couple of houses up the incline, jumped on and let her rip. 

In what seemed like no time at all my tiny vehicle had accelerated to a fairly rapid pace and I found myself moving rapidly moving away from my starting point. To avert any further movement away from the house, I attempted to make a wide turn. The next thing I remember was sitting on my son's porch; people were gathered around me and my daughter in law was applying an ice pack just above my right eye, where I had a very deep gash. "You need to go to the hospital," she told me. At first I objected, but was quickly convinced that I had to have stitches. All in all, I suffered a concussion, got several stitches near my eye, pulled the muscles in my right arm and chipped a tooth. To say that I got a black eye would be an understatement, and today, I'm slowly working my right arm back to usefulness. Oh, and did I say that I'm sore? 

Just a night or two before my avoidable accident, I had watched a film entitled Hereafter. Produced by Clint Eastwood, the movie explored a French TV anchorwoman's near-death experience and her boyfriend's refusal to give her experience any credence. "I just think that when we die the lights go out," he told her, "it's into the void of nothingness." Of course, I didn't die before being resuscitated as had the lady in the film but. still, I had never been knocked unconscious before, and the stories of neighbors coming out of their houses to check on me as well as my walk back to the porch draws a blank. As I attempt to put it all into perspective, I'm reminded of the boyfriend's contention in the film. For a few moments on Saturday I had truly entered a void of nothingness. 

As I sat in the quiet of my cottage yesterday, I contemplated these questions about life and death. As a magical person, I've had other experiences that have led me to believe that there is much more going on than what we ordinarily meets the eye. So, why was I doubting everything yesterday? Additionally, I thought about my country's refusal to implement a sensible universal healthcare program, which as in other nations, would spare people like me from crippling medical expenses should an accident or sickness occur. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I pondered both human and my own vulnerability--how fragile our bodies, minds and spirits really are. In spite of my best efforts to get back into a more normal state of mind yesterday, which included watching the first episode of The Walking Dead, I simply couldn't escape the dark cloud that had overtaken me.. 

We all like to think about ourselves as strong people who create our own realities and are able to overcome any adversity. We like to wear our uniforms proclaiming to the world that we are Goth, members of some other elite group or otherwise, super cool in some way. Still, when the chips are down, we are all fragile, vulnerable human beings living in a world that is as as turbulent as the sea in a North Alantic storm. And when reality occasionally slaps us on the head, we react like all other human beings--with fear and uncertainty. 

Of course, my experience could have been much worse, and many people have gone through far worse than I ever have. Still, Saturday's experience gave me a moment of pause. We are all fragile and vulnerable beings, whose lives, hopes and dreams can be changed significantly within a matter of seconds--and Saturday served as a potent reminder to me.  

Photo source: Gothic Pictures Gallery
Author unknown. .      

Friday, November 9, 2012

Saga of the Combat Boots: The Finale

Right about now I can imagine the reader's reaction to seeing another post here about my combat boots. "Oh no," he or she is probably saying, "not more about those danged boots!" 

Well here's the thing folks, this entry is not about those boots; you know, the ones that I purchased several weeks ago and which were about three sizes too big. You're viewing a different pair. Here's what happened. 

Just before Halloween I walked into my favorite resale shop as a part of my perpetual search for appropriate clothing and I saw this pair occupying the same space where I had found the other ones. Looking them over, I quickly ascertained that they were a size ten and one half--an exact fit. I quickly tried them on and was delighted to find that they had a zipper on the side, which made putting them on and taking them off a true delight compared to the others. There was plenty of room for my feet without any need for concern about slippage.   

While checking them out the same store clerk who left open the possibility of a swap was passing by. I mentioned my new find to him and remembering his kind offer from a few weeks previously, he suggested that I bring in the old pair and we would just trade out. First thing the next morning, I was there to claim my comfortable new combat boots. I need not worry about friction burns or wearing three pair of socks with them--and I got them for the low price of $15.00 What a deal! And on this note, I'm very happy to report that this blog's Saga of the Combat Boots has come to an end.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Post Halloween Blues

Well, another Halloween has come and gone and I find myself going through the motions during the short limbo that is situated between All Hallows Eve and the beginning of the holiday season. It's a time during which October's bright autumn colors, although not completely faded, begin to take on more of a brownish hue--their November look, as I like to call it.

Once Halloween passes, I attempt to hold on to it a bit longer by embracing the Mexican Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, which actually includes both November 1 and 2. Still, these two days and nights pass by quickly as well, and I am soon faced with a dreadful but inevitable truth: The autumnal celebrations of the macabre have truly passed for another year. Still, the vampire Lestat, whom I rescued from the local Halloween Express recently, has now come inside to join forces with some of my other spooky acquaintances in an ever-growing group effort to give my humble abode the feel of Halloween all year round; so all is not lost.

Due perhaps, to both the passing of another Halloween and some personal issues, I'm in a bit of a creative lull right now and am coming up with a blank in terms of what to cover in future blog posts. Still, when I get it all figured out you'll all be the first to know. 

Photo Source: Gothic Pictures Gallery.
Artist unknown

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Legend of the Scarecrow

Well, the long-awaited day is almost here; Halloween that is, and I'd been wondering what type of post I'd like to make for the grand occasion. Just a few days ago, I stumbled upon the answer.

While checking out a new band discovery on YouTube, I found the following short film, which was released in 2005. Written and directed by Marco Besas, this video tells the story of a lonely personality who spends his entire existence working in the wheat fields; that is, until tragedy strikes unexpectedly. Although the short film is not exactly about Halloween, I think it fits in with our most favorite of days (and nights) magnificently.

So then, I present to you, The Legend of the Scarecrow with a musical soundtrack provided by the Spanish death/doom band, Evadne. May this All Hallows Eve be your spookiest ever and may it fulfill your darkest dreams and desires.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Look Who I Found!

Yesterday, I decided to make my yearly pilgrimage to the local Halloween Express. No sooner had I walked in the door than I found this guy lurking in the corner. Why it's the Vampire Lestat, I thought to myself. I wonder how he'd like hanging out at my place this Halloween!  

As far as I can tell, he's enjoying it just fine. After all, what self-respecting vampire doesn't enjoy keeping watch over cemeteries?. The interesting thing about his marionette is how closely it resembles Tom Cruise's characterization of Anne Rice's most popular creature of the night. . 

After this year's All Hallows Eve passes I'll find him a nice spot inside the cottage somewhere. I'm sure he'll enjoy spending time with my other creepy friends..I sure do love Halloween!  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Outfit Post

As I've mentioned before, I really don't like photos of myself and am quite modest about letting other people see them. Several months ago, I was interviewed by a local TV channel about some storm damage that occurred to the wall encircling the Confederate Cemetery. Other than for locating that video for a friend, I otherwise refused to even look at it. That's the way I am with photos of myself. 

That said, one of my readers requested an outfit post after I posted my story about the combat boots I had acquired. Since I requested reader's feedback on the wisdom of buying boots that are too large for my feet, I feel it only fair to grant her request by offering a picture or two of me wearing the footwear. That way, you all can see if they match with my body size or whatever. So without further ado...
















A side view looking at the camera. That is part of the Confederate Cemetery in the background, incidentally.


















And a frontal shot. I know it's hard to get a good look at the boots in these photos but hopefully, they are visible enough to show how they look on me. By the way, the t-shirt, which comes out of the Anne Stokes art collection and is entitled Await the Night, was purchased through Black Rose
out of London. I've gotten several items and really feel that they have some of the best t-shirt collections around.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Restoration Complete

This past Sunday the contractor overseeing the Walker Cemetery restoration project pulled up in front of the burial ground. When I walked over to talk with him he informed me that the work would be finished within a day or two. I knew they were awfully close. To me, it was just a matter of when they got back to finish up. By midday on Monday, the workers drove off for the last time. After some five months of on-again off-again bursts of impressive craftsmanship, the graveyard has been completely restored--and in a way that allowed it to gain acceptance on the National Register of Historic Places, which occurred about three weeks ago.  So then, the following should be the last in a series of photos I've taken to document the project's progress.



This is the marker for Rebecca Washington's final resting place. If you look closely, you should be able to see where the application of new concrete was used to re-seal the monument back together. Before work began the upper portion had completely separated from the main body of the marker. Workers later separated the base from the higher, thinner section and refortified it.




     These are the crypts belonging to two young children that were interned here long ago.The cover pictured on the left was in a state of total disarray before restoration began. I wondered how the workers would ever manage to properly fit the pieces of that jigsaw puzzle back together; but they did. If you get close enough you can even make out some of the original lettering that lined the cover. It's hard to read, not because the workers didn't do a good job, but due to the effects of wind and rain over the decades.  You can go here to get a better look at how these looked before work began.





This is where Jacob Wythe Walker is interred. The crypt's cover was obviously broken in pieces as was the portion of the brick wall shown here on the far right.










In a manner similar to that of Rebecca Washington's, Captain Jack Walker's monument was fused back together. The marker is no longer leaning to one side either.










Alas, all is as it should be in this tiny but historic graveyard. As the first of autumn's colorful leaves begin falling to the ground, this final resting place for some of Fayetteville's most prominent early settlers takes on a rustic feel.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Story of the Jack O' Lantern

The air here in the Ozark Mountains has been crisp of late--unusually so for early October and cloudy weather is beginning to linger for days on end before it finally makes way for an ever diminishing supply of sunlight, both in intensity and duration. Autumn's gloom is slowly descending upon the hilly landscape; and although the foliage is still mostly green, a few patches of red, orange and gold are beginning to appear in the trees. A few colorful members of this season's leafy bounty have already performed their death dance; that graceful and swirling ballet that takes place on the breath of the wind when the months-long connection to the mother tree is finally broken--when her children must fall to the ground--the ultimate sacrifice to the Earth from which they came.

 When occurrences such as these begin to transpire it can only mean one thing: Halloween is approaching and soon the glowing faces of Jack O' Lanterns will be staring out at us from front porches and steps everywhere. Have you ever wondered how the tradition of carving pumpkins into Jack O' Lanterns began? Have you ever heard Jack's story--the one derived from folklore? If not, continue reading; for nothing is more synonymous with the celebration of All Hallows Eve than the fiery persona of the Jack O' Lantern.

As the tale goes Jack lived many years ago in the Ireland of old. He was well known as a quick-tempered drunk Apparently, he was quite the trickster as well. One year, on the night of All Hallows Eve, Jack had gotten himself quite intoxicated at the local pub when suddenly, the Devil appeared to claim his soul. Not wanting his earthly life to end, Jack pleaded with Lucifer to allow him just one more drink before claiming his prize. Once he received the Devil's agreement, Jack announced that he was short on money and asked his dark companion if he would assume the shape of a sixpence so that he could pay the bartender for his final drink. Again, Lucifer agreed. Once he had assumed the shape of the coin however, Jack quickly placed him inside his wallet, which just happened to be equipped with a cross-shaped latch, thus imprisoning the angel who had come to claim his soul. Filled with anger, the Devil screamed, demanding that Jack release him immediately. Now in the driver's seat, so to speak, the clever man told Lucifer that he would release him from the wallet only if he would agree to prolong the claiming of his soul for a full year. Not in a position to refuse Jack's terms, Lucifer agreed and was immediately released.

Grateful for another full year of life ahead of him Jack mended his ways and for awhile at least, became a responsible member of his family and even gave to charity. Over time however, he slipped back into his old ways; and on the following All Hallows Eve, the Devil reappeared as he was making his way home. Demanding that Jack accompany him at once, the man convinced Lucifer to first pick an apple from a nearby tree. Once the evil one had climbed up however, Jack quickly carved the shape of a cross into the bark of the tree, imprisoning his tormentor anew. As before, the Devil demanded his immediate release and in exchange, told the man that he would not come to claim his soul for another ten years. As terms of release the man insisted that Lucifer never bother him again; and after all was said and done, the Devil had no choice but to acquiesce. After that, Jack continued on with his less than honorable lifestyle and was never bothered by the dark angel again.

About a year later Jack's body, no longer able to keep up with his unhealthy lifestyle, gave out and the quick tempered drunkard died. First Jack attempted to pass through the heavenly gates but was barred from entering because of his meanness. Next, he tried to enter Hell but the Devil, still angry because of the embarrassment he suffered due to the man's trickery, refused him entry into the fiery inferno. He did however, toss Jack one burning coal from Hell's eternal fire to help him find his way through the eternal darkness of limbo. Jack placed the ember inside a turnip, which in turn became known as a Jack O' Lantern. It is said that even now on All Hallows Eve you can still see Jack's fire burning as he searches for a place to call home.

It's interesting to note that the original Jack O' Lanterns were made from turnips. It was only when Irish immigrants came to North America that pumpkins, which are much larger and better suited for the job, became a replacement.         


Photo courtesy of Free Stock Photos.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

End of Another Era

Most Nightwish fans are likely, familiar with the DVD entitled End of an Era, which is a recording of a concert the band performed at Hartwall Areena in Helsinki on October 21, 2005. It was the final concert of a world tour and the last time that group founding member and vocalist extraordinaire Tarja Turunen, performed as a member of Nightwish. The DVD's title is more than appropriate as Tarja's talents were a crucial part of the group's success. Her departure certainly did mark the end of an era, and it must have been difficult to find someone who capable of taking her place.

Eventually, the guys chose Anette Olzon, a Swedish vocalist who has performed with several different bands. Although not an operatic singer, as is Tarja, Anette brought a very soulful flavor to the group's sound and has a talent for making songs that Tarja originally performed her own.  

The first album featuring the voice of Anette Olzen was released in 2007. Dark Passion Play brought the troupe back into the forefront and demonstrated that, with Anette's efforts, Nightwish would not be relegated to the annals of rock n' roll history. 

On November 30, 2011, the group released an album I can only refer to as a masterpiece. When I listen to Imaginaerum, I feel like I'm engulfing myself in a 74-minute classical music piece as opposed to a collection of songs put on a CD. Anette absolutely shines on that album; and after first listening to it, I came to the conclusion that she fully had integrated into the group and had earned her rightful place as a contributor to the genius that is Nightwish--and then this afternoon happened!

I was watching a live performance from their appearance at the Masters of Rock Festival, which took place earlier this year. For whatever reason, I decided to quickly read up on Anette; so I opened another tab and went to Wikipedia. Imagine my shock when they described her as "the former lead vocalist of Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish."  

This has got to be some type of Wikipedia screwup, I thought to myself. How could it not be? After all, they're touring and will be playing in nearby Oklahoma City in a few days. I went to the group's website and found the following press release: 

"Another chapter of the Nightwish story has ended today. Nightwish and Anette Olzon have decided to part company, in mutual understanding, for the good of all parties involved.

"In recent times it has become increasingly obvious that the direction and the needs of the band were in conflict, and this has led to a division from which we cannot recover.

"Nightwish has no intention of cancelling any upcoming shows, and as a result we have decided to bring in a substitute vocalist starting in Seattle 1.10.2012. Her name is Floor Jansen from The Netherlands (ex-After Forever, ReVamp), and she has graciously stepped in to help us complete the Imaginaerum world tour.

"We are all strongly committed to this journey, this vehicle of spirit, and we are sure that this will lead to a brighter future for everyone.
 

"We forever remain excited about the adventures to come, and we are extremely proud of the two beautiful albums and the wonderful shows we shared together."
 

- NIGHTWISH & Anette Olzon

I'm glad that Nightwish is continuing with it's world tour and Floor Jansen is an excellent choice as a fill in. Still, I really feel sick at heart tonight. Good bye Anette! No matter what happens next, you will be missed. 




Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Good Purchase or Not?

For the past six weeks or so, I've kept my eyes on a pair of combat boots, which suddenly showed up at my favorite resale and vintage clothing shop. In spite of having some reservations about buying them, due to factors that I'm about to explain, I purchased them Friday morning. I'm just thrilled to have them, but the fact of the matter is, they are between two and a half to three sizes too large for me. Why did I buy them? Here's my logic:

For whatever reason, I tend to have problems with almost any shoes that I buy. I walk a lot and before long, I either get friction burns on my feet somewhere or even more frequently, the shoes that fit comfortably when I first put them on grow tighter and tighter until eventually, they seem way too small. 

The boots I just bought, on the other hand, feel very comfortable and provide me with a lot of extra space; there's no way they're going to feel too small for me and may even fit a bit better after I've been walking or standing in them for awhile. A pair of thermal socks over another pair in cold weather might even help them fit more as well as providing a bit of practicality. These should provide me with plenty of traction on slippery landscapes during the winter months and truth be told, I've wanted a pair of boots like this for a long time, even if they do make my feet look bigger than they actually are due to their extra size. Most importantly, they were priced at $20.00; and after discussing their advantages and disadvantages with the store clerk, he sold them to me for $15.00--along with the offer that if they didn't work out for me, I could return them and trade for something else. Finally, I'm really glad to finally have a good pair of boots that can supplement my style.

Here's my question to you the reader: All things considered, do you think I made a good purchase or not? I'd be interested to hear what you think about this.

    

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cemetery Update

I haven't come up with very much to talk about this week but fortunately, the work crew has repaired and reinstalled the iron fence at the Walker Cemetery; so that gives me something to write about, even if this post will be kind of short.  

While this development doesn't signal the end of the restoration project, it does mark a major cornerstone as straightening an entire cast iron fence and anchoring it to its former cement-encased moorings can't be easy. The work took months to complete. 







I am very happy to see this gate restored. Before the restoration work began, this opening portal was resting upon the ground and was basically, preventing the collapse of the adjoining fence structure.   











This is just another shot looking toward the north. I'm really amazed at the craftsmanship it took to bend back into shape and evenly align the entire barricade. 








Next, the work will likely refocus on the graves, some of which are still in need of reassembling. You can view photos of the burial ground before restoration began by going here.

 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Cellar: A True Story

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It was a dark and dreary night
Around the campfire bright
The captain said Antonio
Tell us your most fearful story
And Antonio, he began.

I don’t remember how I caught on to the fact that some mysterious and yes, even frightening occurrences had been witnessed by members of my nuclear and extended family. Perhaps it was one of the many conversations that I used to have with my Dad when one of those dreary and rainy New England afternoons descended upon us.

My father had a workshop in the basement where he used to sharpen saws, lawnmower blades, knives, and other such things; this, as a sideline to his regular day job. He spent many long hours there at night and on weekends. I could always tell what he was doing, even if I wasn’t with him; each of his machines had its own sound and personality.

The basement itself—no cellar, because that’s the word New Englanders use in describing such lower chambers, was a marvel to behold—at least for a child. A flick of a light switch from the kitchen illuminated the steps and their immediate surroundings, where stood two washing machines and a sink to the right. So much for the mundane, I guess. On the left stood an old coal furnace, which had been converted to oil-burning capacity. Behind it, and a bit closer to the workshop, stood a similar burner. It belonged to my aunt and uncle, who lived on the second floor.

The rest of the cellar maintained an ambiance that was unlike any other in my experience. The rooms contained within it held mysteries of their own—relics from years gone by. An old hand-cranked adding machine that once belonged to my grandfather sat in the shadows. I would sometimes play with that machine, but it stood in the darkness—that off to the side part of the basement where even the light dared not go.

The closer to my Dad’s shop you got the more interesting, yet ominous, the cellar became. On the left, just in front of the workshop, was a narrow room that contained shelving, upon which lay carpentry tools and supplies. At some time in the distant past it served as a dark room—a place where my father practiced his photography. At the far end of this over-sized closet was a collection of old-time sheet music.

The dark room was a peculiar setting. When the light was on it could be an intriguing place. When the light was off or the door shut however, it evoked a feeling of foreboding and dread--as if some unidentifiable, yet unspeakable horror lurked just beyond its wooden gate. In the dreams that would later come to me, it did.

There were other frightening corners in that cellar as well, but I lay no blame upon it for the things that transpired down there. No, it wasn’t the cellar; it was the knowledge. Once I knew—once I had knowledge as to the events and occurrences that had taken place…well, it opened a portal to another world—a world of frightening and almost unimaginable terror, whose spirit entities visited the darker regions of the cellar from time to time. AND THEN, THERE WAS THE CELLAR OF MY MIND!

I still remember the dreary afternoon upon which I relentlessly pressed my father to reveal the secrets—to speak to me of the unexplainable occurrences of which I had inkling. “If I tell you it will frighten you,” he would say.

“No! No it won’t scare me. I’m not afraid of that stuff.”

“It was a dark and dreary night…around the campfire bright…” he responded.

This process kept repeating itself; my frustration with it growing.

“It was a dark and dreary night…”

Why does he keep repeating that poem? I thought to myself, it doesn’t go anywhere!

“It was a dark and dreary night…around the campfire bright…”

“Why do you keep repeating that poem Dad? Can’t you just tell me?”

Then…he suddenly…RELENTED!
…………………………………………………………………………………………........

I listened to the stories as, one after the other, they spoke of things more horrible than I had ever imagined. Perhaps they were horrible because they were real. How could they not be? Had I not been relentless in pressing my dad to tell them? Had he not been reluctant to speak of them?

Where do I even begin to describe the horrors—the otherworldly phantoms that assaulted me from some dark and forbidden place? How do I relate the feeling one gets knowing that something kept walking up Aunt Elsie’s stairwell—that kept attempting to open her door—ALL NIGHT LONG!

Then there was the priest with a horse’s hoof instead of a foot—a priest that was standing in a closet when someone tried to open the door!

As my father continued on with his telling of these tales, I remained transfixed. I learned of the clock that no longer worked, yet chimed just at midnight one Christmas Eve. “Someone is going to die within the next year,” it was proclaimed, and someone did. The following Christmas Eve the non functional clock, as if arising from its own death, struck twelve once again. That was when my great grandfather, who had once lived in the same cellar that I was now sitting in—that’s when he departed from this world.

Most hideous and unnerving of all however, was the alarm clock. Oh yes, the alarm clock. It wasn’t my alarm clock—the one that woke me for school most mornings. No, it was the one of which my father spoke—the one that rang without being asked to—the one that also didn’t function!

I didn’t know who that hellish clock belonged to or where it was physically located, but I understood its power—ITS POWER TO TERRIFY! It haunted me in my dreams—ringing and spinning—ringing and spinning on some unknown ledge as it hurled its spine-tingling waves of terror at my very soul. Still, even that repellent clock, with all the evil it could cast, was not the worst of it.

Once I learned the secrets my world changed. My nights alone—those nights when my folks would go out--they became fearsome things. On those nights I would hear objects moving around in the darkness of the cellar. Something would slide; there would be a crash. I intuited that the sounds came from the wooden flats, upon which mason jars filled with nails, screws and washers stood. These would slide and crash—slide and crash. Yet, whenever my father next returned to his shop NOTHING WOULD BE OUT OF PLACE—NOTHING!

At times I told my parents about the sounds in the basement, but they didn’t believe me. How could they? After all, nothing was out of place Still, I knew, and just about every time they would allow me to stay home alone for part of an evening, I would hear the sounds.

Yes, the cellar was a dark, mysterious and frightening place. Still, when it entered my dreams, it was even worse—much worse! On those nights I slowly walked the cellar’s ominous dreamscape. At times it was well lighted and it was on the first of these nights that I discovered the circle—a red circle. Within its perimeter was the head of a bull; its horns were prominent and I knew they signified something sinister. The bull’s head was a passage way to the lower levels. Yes, below the cellar with which I was familiar there were lower levels—subterranean chambers that contained the dark secrets ordinarily masked by the one above. These deeper recesses were places I dared not explore; after all, I had enough to contend with.

There were times when I was compelled to traverse that loathsome place while knowing full well what awaited me. On these nights, there was only the dim light emanating from the bulb by the stairs. I would see no bull’s head, for the darkness would increase with every step—STEPS TOWARD THE DARK ROOM—careful steps taken so as to not alert my presence to that which lurked just beyond its door.

Alas, my efforts of nonchalance were never of any avail, for each time I attempted to pass by that frightening space its door would fly open without warning—unleashing a blood-curdling scream so hideous as to strike debilitating fear into the very demons of hell; this while THE STIFF BODY OF MY DECEASED GREAT GRANDMOTHER—HANDS BY HER SIDE, WOULD FALL IN MY DIRECTION!

At those moments—those nanoseconds of sheer terror, I would suddenly escape from that nightmarish landscape and safely land in the everyday world—a world however, in which the cellar, which caused in me so much discomposure, lay only a few feet below my bed!

Every time I disclosed the re-occurrence of this horrific dream to my father, he would simply chuckle and repeat his observation that my great grandma would never hurt me. Although I really didn’t remember her, in my conscious mind at least, I had no reason to disbelieve his claim. Still, at those times when her stiff body fell out of the dark-room door; this, accompanied by that god-awful blood curdling scream…at those moments it was difficult to recall his words.

As I grew into my teenage years the cellar remained a constant; yet, its effect upon me lessened as I spent less time at home and instead, assumed the independence that was my birthright—that is every young person’s birthright. Still, upon the figurative eve of my departure from the old homestead the cellar offered me one last glimpse at the phantoms that resided within it—one last glimpse into the horror that it could inflict upon a vulnerable soul.
I married early. In order to help us get a better start, my parents came up with an idea. My father would fix up the large unused room in the basement that my mom once used for her hairdressing business. It was the room close to the stairs and washing machines. I thought about the possible horrors that I might face residing down there; oh yes, I thought about them! Still, somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I felt that the subterranean chambers’ influence on me had diminished. I agreed to take the risk, and my partner, having never felt the horrors that the cellar could inflict, went along with the scheme.

One summer night, she and I retired to the room and climbed into bed. We were engaged in conversation when suddenly we both heard it. It was a sound that, to the best of my knowledge, had never been heard within the confines of the family residence. It was the ticking of a clock—A GRANDFATHER CLOCK! 

TIC…TOC…TIC…TOC. Slowly, steadily and methodically it sounded. TICK…TOC…TIC…TOC…She grabbed on to me as if holding on for dear life on some roller coaster; a roller coaster of horrors perhaps! The drone of the clock’s ticking came from just the other side of our door.  

MY GOD! IT’S JUST ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR!

As quickly as that grandfather clock from hell began the ticking it stopped—momentarily at least, but only for a moment of reprieve; then, it renewed its assault upon us. Thoughts of the ticking clock that foretold my great grandfather’s death ran through my terrified mind. Did this mean that someone else would soon pass from this world? Was my great grandfather, who passed away before my birth trying to communicate with me?

Finally, the hideous sound ceased. For a few moments, I remained in the room—not wanting to face that which may lie just beyond the door. Feeling the need to put on an act of bravery I finally opened the door and looked around. All is as it should be, I thought to myself, just as I suspected there is no clock here.

There never was a grandfather clock—at least not in the physical realm--not during my time on this Earth. Such relics from the past were neither in the cellar nor anywhere else in the house; yet, I heard its terrifying voice as did my young bride. My parents believed neither my sisters nor myself about the ghosts that existed in our basement, but now there was another person who experienced—who now believed.
That was the last horror inflicted upon me by the cellar. Soon we moved out and I started upon life’s adventure with all of its twists and turns—with all of its sorrow, pain and yes, happiness—all of its victories and defeats.
………………………………………………………………………………………..
Of course, there were the occasional visits to the old house; after all, my parents still lived there. At times, my mother asked me to get something for her from the basement. Jokingly, I would remind her of the presence I believed still haunted that place. Never was there a time during which I didn’t feel it upon descending those stairs and casting my eyes into the darkness.

Eventually, my parents sold the house and moved to the southern end of the state. Still, I wonder. I wonder what experiences the new owners may have had with that dreadful cellar and its phantoms. Could our family ghosts be the reason why the first buyers eventually re-sold the house, or were the nightmares and crashes in the night only for us—a part of our shared history—something not intended for anyone else? There are those who believe that certain spiritual entities follow families, tribes and cultures from one place to another; particularly, when the people who believe in their existence. Perhaps it is the belief of their existence that inspires them to continue on.

As for the cellar, all I am left with are memories and speculation—memories of pure horror and speculation as to how that subterranean place of horrors got its power. While I may never know the answers to my questions, I do know what I believe, and I am convinced that by telling me those family secrets—those tales of the so-called supernatural, my father unwittingly set a series of events in motion. A portal between the worlds opened on that dreary afternoon, and it was through that doorway that the phantoms of the past traveled in order to take residence in the cellar.  

Copyright © 2010 Al Vick: All rights reserved  

 The above photo entitled Kellerloch is the property of Johannes A. Frostfeuer and is published here with permission. Visit his gallery at:
http://frostfeuer.deviantart.com/gallery/

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Walk Through the Evergreen Cemetery

There is another totally awesome burial ground in my town that I haven't mentioned yet. The Evergreen Cemetery, which is much larger than the ones I'm associated with, is located very close to both the University of Arkansas and our downtown entertainment district. Although Evergreen is close to the action, so to speak, it is a very quiet and peaceful place-- an historic oasis of tranquility graced with many shade trees, birds, red squirrels and many other delightful aspects of Nature. 

My original idea was to wait until fall before posting photos from this special place; but then, it occurred to me that the camera I've been using is borrowed and that the person loaning it to me might want it back before late October. So I decided to take a walk around this wondrous graveyard late this morning in order to showcase it as this week's regular blog entry and photo journey.





It was hard to decide which grave markers I wanted to use for this exhibit because truth be told, I could have stayed there all day finding unique and beautiful grave markers. This was the first one to catch my eye.










Some of you may remember the brick vaults that are undergoing restoration in the Walker Cemetery on East Mountain. This one is different in two ways: First, this type of crypt was common during the nineteenth century. The one pictured here however, dates to around 1945. Also, there is no cement slab covering the top; instead, the deceased is entirely bricked in. somehow, this particular crypt seems stronger than the ones I'm familiar with.







Pictured here is the largest marker in a family plot. While I don't know much about the McIlroy family, I do know that until just several years ago, there was a local bank named after them.










The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture calls Judge Lafayette Gregg "One of the most enigmatic, if relatively unknown, figures in Arkansas history." Born in 1825, he is best known as an important figure in the location of the Arkansas Industrial University to Fayetteville. That institution later became the University of Arkabnsas.







Archibald Yell (August 9, 1797 to February 22, 1847) was both a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the second governor of Arkansas. His remains have been exhumed and relocated three times. Hopefully, Evergreen will be his final resting place.







 

Shown here is the grave marker of Sophia Sawyer, who was actually born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts in 1792. Sophia arrived in the area around July 1, 1839 and almost immediately set about the task of founding the Fayetteville Female Seminary, which served as an educational facility for not just women of European stock, but Cherokee heritage as well.




 
 




This is just a small section of the cemetery facing south.














Finally, here's an interesting mix of monuments and smaller grave markers.








It had been a long time since I'd visited the Evergreen Cemetery. I think I should go there more often. I'll definitely go back there when autumn comes.
..

Friday, September 7, 2012

The First Breath of Autumn

Today was another hot and sticky day. A stray thundershower skirted by us, but it only served to make the day more humid--more uncomfortable. We sweltered when the sunshine returned. 

Then, late in the afternoon the clouds reappeared and rapidly thickened. The sky darkened  as lightning began to flash in the northwest and the sound of thunder reverberated across the Ozark landscape. Suddenly, strong and refreshingly cool wind gusts blew in from out of the north, causing great trees to sway back and forth; signs fell to the ground and lighter objects, picked up by the gale, rose into the air above the treetops. 

The landscape darkened to the point of twilight and behind the tempest's darkest clouds was a sky of green--threatening and foreboding. All of a sudden and with another flash of lightning, the rain began falling in torrents, riding on the back of the powerful gale. Within moments wind-driven sheets of water assaulted the dry Earth. 

After ten or fifteen minutes had transpired, the storm passed and the rain slowed, leaving behind only a light sprinkle and the occasional roaring of thunder as it receded into the distance. The air however, was cooler--much cooler. A change had taken place.. 

Oh yes, this first cool spell will pass and within a couple of days, summer will return. But late this afternoon the first cool breath of Autumn abruptly made its way into Northwest Arkansas. The season of cooling winds, swirling leaves, death, decay and Jack o' Lanterns will soon be upon us.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

What Makes Music Sound Gothic?

Before I present this topic I'd like to make a certain distinction. If you look at the title of this entry you'll notice that I used the word Gothic as opposed to Goth. Blogs and forums written by and for Goths are ripe with discussion about music and very adequately cover the topic of what's Goth and what's not; this, even though there's not necessarily much agreement on the subject.. That's not where I want to go with this entry however. Instead, I want to discuss some of the actual mechanics--the styles of musicianship and musical tricks that lend to the dark, melancholy and despairing sound that we love so much. Keep in mind that the same principles apply regardless of whether the music type is classical or neo-classical, dark ambient, Goth rock, dark wave, electronic or metal  Sure, each genre mentioned here has qualities that make it unique and recognizable, but there are certain things composers/musicians can do to lend a darker ambiance to their creations.

Lyrics 

Of course, a song's lyrics speak for themselves; both literally and figuratively. There is little doubt that the words in a musical piece lend to its overall mood. Take, for example, an album created by the Alan Parsons Project in 1976 called Tales of Mystery and Imagination. The collection was a musical retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's horror stories and poetry. Although I cannot speak to most of the songs in that particular collection, I am familiar with the track entitled The Raven; but while that song quotes Poe to a certain extent and even incorporates a segment of choral-like vocals, I wouldn't call that particular song Gothic. So, what in my mind, prevents that well done song from sounding truly Gothic? It contains too many major chords and not enough minors.

Minor Chords 

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a chord as "three or more musical notes sounded simultaneously." While various types of chords exist it's the majors and minors that are the most common. For reasons I'll never be able to explain or completely understand, major chords sound upbeat while minors offer a much more melancholy flavor. It goes to reason then that a composer of Gothic music would use lots of minor chords. These will work with or without the accompaniment of compatible lyrics.

The Tri-tone 

Believe it or not, in Europe during the eighteenth century the use of certain musical intervals (the distance between notes) were prohibited from classical music. The tri-tone, which is nothing more than two notes spaced three whole tones apart, was considered as belonging to the Devil when expressed musically during that time period. Tri-tones are dissonant in nature and must be resolved by more harmonious chords and melodies. Although it might seem silly to ban certain musical notes, tri-tones really do sound somewhat evil and are well suited for Gothic music when used skillfully. The tri-tone has been used successfully by classical composers such as Giuseppe Tartine, Nicolo Paginini and Richard Wagner as well as a host of metal bands including Black Sabbath. 

Choirs 

The skillful use of choirs and Gregorian harmonies lends a wonderfully Gothic feel to any piece of music. One of the things that first impressed me about The Sisters of Mercy was the incorporation of choral sounds into songs such as This Corrosion. Any of you who either attended, watched or listened to Within Temptation's Black Symphony which was performed at the Ahoy in Rotterdam, know how much Gothic atmosphere was created by the talents of both the Pa'dam Choir and the Dutch Metropole Orchestra with its use of the tri-tone; especially during the overture.  

Keyboards 

If you're in a band and don't have access to a choir you can always create somewhat similar harmonies with your keyboards. While there is noting like a Grande Piano in the performance of classical music, the keyboards are an amazingly versatile instrument capable of creating a wide variety of musical sounds. With their ability to sustain notes and chords indefinitely, the keys can add an amazingly atmospheric and eerie background to any musical piece. 

As always, I'm using this blog entry to express my opinion as to what makes music sound Gothic. If a group mixes the above-mentioned ingredients skillfully, it's music ought to sound pretty damn good--and dark. Below I'm including a couple of videos that are representative of what I've been discussing here. 

This first song, Mephistorium, is performed by a Gothic-doom band from Serbia called Tales of Dark. This hauntingly beautiful piece is loaded with tri-tones, minor chords, vocal and keyboard harmonies as well as a well done beauty and the beast effect. How will I identify the tri-tones, you might ask? Trust me, you'll know them when you hear them. 



Next we see the Vampire Lestat (played by Stuart Townsend) performing the song Slept So Long with his band in Death Valley in a scene from the film, Queen of the Damned. Listen closely to the dark-sounding tones as the band performs. Incidentally, that particular soundtrack was created by Jonathon Davis, formerly of the nu metal group Korn. The vocals were performed by Jay Gordan.    

 


Top photo source: Gothic Pictures Gallery.
Artist unknown
     

   

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dark Shadows

Last weekend I was in the public library looking through the movie section when I found a DVD that I hadn't seen there before. It contained nine episodes of the original Dark Shadows serial, which showed most weekday afternoons from June 1966 until April 1971. As I looked over the cover, I saw that these original broadcasts were not listed in exact chronological order but rather, were carefully selected because of their uniqueness and significance to the overall story line. What a treat! I thought to myself, and I quickly checked out my exciting find and headed out the door with it. 

That evening I turned off the lights (something I like to do anyway) and jumped into the first episode, during which the vampire Barnabas Collins, recently released from the mausoleum by accident, shows up at Collinwood in order to introduce himself to the Collins family as a relative from England. From that point on, each subsequent episode provided me with some amazing insight into the nature of the program. I say amazing insight because although I've seen my share of the original broadcasts, I never fully grasped the beauty and complexity of the program's overall narrative. Maybe that's because I was younger at the time and didn't look into things as deeply as I do now. Also, I never did get to see most of the program's offerings. 

As I spread out my viewing of the nine episodes over the course of three or four nights, I came to realize just how totally Gothic the program truly was, and how many concepts were introduced throughout the serial's lifespan. Of course, Barnabas was likely the first vampire to stir the viewer's sympathy; a first in and of itself. Equally important however, is the fact the Dark Shadows also touched on such things as ghosts, possession, werewolves, time travel and even alternative realities. The Collins family, even when depicted in the so-called present, had a certain Victorian feel to it. Then again, when Barnabas and Doctor Hoffman, the one person who knows of his vampiric nature, travel back through time to the 1890's, the story actually transports the viewer to that time period. 

Not surprisingly, by the time that I had finished with the DVD I realized that I wanted to see more of this classic TV series; and I wanted to watch it in the right sequence. So, I've added several of the discs to my Netflix queue. I plan on starting with episode one and taking it from there. Since well over 1,000 episodes were produced, I can't say just how far I'm going to go with this, but it's going to be a lot of fun anyway.  

       

   

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dressing Safely

Discussion on the aesthetics of dress and style are everywhere in the Gothic blogosphere. Hardly a day goes by during which I don't find at least one such conversation at the places I visit. Among the articles I find interesting are those discussing the compromises in style darkly inclined folks must make; this, in order to satisfy the requirements of society or blend into the workplace. Fitting into a work setting while still maintaining a bit of Gothic flavor can be challenging indeed. It's also an opportunity to use a bit of that creativity that we all talk about.

Many darkly inclined folks are isolated in their communities and without the internet, would have no contact with other like-minded people. Here in the American South many people are religiously conservative and in communities where these views are prevalent and people falsely believe that Goths are agents of the Devil, the daily life of a such a person, one who dresses the lifestyle can become somewhat perilous. I personally feel fortunate in that I live in an open-minded community that is for the most part, accepting of alternative people. Still, there are places not very far from here where I would be much more cautious with my clothing choices. Trust me, wearing vampire-themed T-shirts would likely, not go over very well in small town Arkansas; neither would a guy wearing black nail polish or in general, any public display of the dark aesthetic we appreciate. For the isolated individual, potential dangers are not only posed by fearful or hateful residents, as was the tragic situation with Sophie Lancaster, but they may even come at the hands of law enforcement and the legal system.

One case in point regards three 1994 murder convictions that were obtained against Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., otherwise known as the West Memphis Three, who lived on the other side of my state. The three were convicted for what were called "Satanist cult killings" of three eight-year-old boys on less than reliable evidence and were only released from prison in August of last year; this, due to DNA evidence that exonerated them. Why the accusations of Satanist cult killings, you might ask. Damien Echols, who had received the death penalty use to claim that he was Wiccan, dressed in dark clothing and listened to heavy metal music--most heinous activities here in the Bible Belt. You can read their story by going here.


Clearly, there are places where being visibly Goth or alternative can be a dangerous proposition. If any of you readers live in such places, I'd be curious to know how you sidestep the potential dangers. And if you don't, I'd like to know how you'd handle your clothing choices if you were in such a place.       

       

     
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