Sunday, December 13, 2015

Nicolo Paganini: Classical Era Goth?

It is widely believed within the goth community that the subculture had its beginnings when the British post-punk band, Bauhaus, released its first single, Bela Lugosi's Dead, in August of 1979. All things considered, it's pretty hard to disagree with this widely held conception. Still, it is also known that so-called "dark souls" have been around much longer than that. Of course, there was the portrayal of Morticia Addams during the 60's, but she was fictitious. Some consider Nico, who sang with the Velvet Underground during that same decade to be the first goth chick. Others go back much further in time and nominate the European artist Marchesa Luisa Casati (1881-1957) for that position. Then, there are literary giants such as Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly and Horace Walpole to consider. The fact of the matter is that history reminds us of the many so-called dark souls who thrived in earlier times. More likely than not, these would have fit in to our subculture quite nicely were it in existence during their lifetimes.

Dark souls have also inhabited a corner in the world of classical music as well. One such person who may very well qualify is virtuoso violinist, violist, guitarist and composer Nicolo Paganini.

Paganini was born on October 27, 1782 in the Republic of Genoa, now a part of modern-day Italy. By the age of five the young Paganini began learning to play the mandolin under the tutorage of his father. Within two years however, the boy's interest had moved to the violin. His impressive skill with the instrument quickly became apparent and before long, young Paganini had earned various scholarships for studies in violin.  As the boy grew, his skill at playing the violin rapidly superseded the abilities of his teachers. At the age of 18, the young man was appointed as first violin of the Republic of Lucca. Still, it was freelancing that he enjoyed the most.  Eventually, he went on tour across much of Europe and his reputation as a violinist grew exponentially.

Although many other musicians and the public marveled at his musical abilities, Paganini also developed a reputation for being quite unconventional. Over time, he became well known as a gambler and womanizer. Additionally, there were other aspects to his personality that served to reinforce the conception of his unconventional nature.

Just for starters, the violinist employed the use of trills in his musical performances. A trill is defined as a very rapid moving between two adjacent notes. Usually, these notes are only a half or one full tone apart, sometimes resulting in dissonance, notes and intervals that result in a desire for resolution in a more agreeable fashion . Sometimes dissonance can make a musical composition sound evil. In Nicolo Paganini's day, many people considered dissonance the work of the devil. Musical style aside, the violin virtuoso's physical characteristics did little to settle the nerves of his audience.

According to Guitarra Magazine, Paganini "was tall and thin, had a rather long nose, a pale and long-drawn face with hollow cheeks, thin lips that seemed to curl into a sardonic smile, and piercing eyes like flaming coals...

"...Paganini dressed in black, played weaving and flailing, with skinny fingers cavorting over the strings, and contorted shoulders giving him the appearance of a giant flapping bat. Paganini's every movement and every tone emanating from his violin seemed to support the 300-year-old myth that the violin was the "Devil's consort" and that the violinist himself was the Devil."

Indeed, the audience was absolutely spellbound by Nicolo Paganini's every performance. Yet, it was not unusual to observe some making the sign of the cross when at his performances or otherwise in his presence.

Over time, some came to believe that Paganini was in actuality, the Devil himself; or at a minimum, the Devil possessed him during performances. Others believed that a satanic being, a doppelganger of sorts, always sat in the audience during his concerts. This being was identifiable by his long black hair, somber black clothing and eyes that burned like coal. Others claimed that Paganini killed a young woman, imprisoned her soul in his violin and used her intestines as strings for his instrument. Yet, they continued coming to his performances.

In real life, Nicolo Paganini was also a composer. He is best known for his 24 Caprices for Solo Violin. Interestingly enough, Caprice No. 13 is often referred to as The Devil's Laughter. 

During the course of his musical career, Nicolo Paganini both held the public spellbound by his musical genius and yet, unnerved it with his dark fashion sense, playing style and musical taste. If Paganini were alive today, would he qualify as a goth? Would he fit comfortably in the subculture? While no one can say for sure, he clearly must have understood the effect he was having upon audiences as he toured Europe. Surely, he must have been aware of the many rumors circulating about him. Yet, he continued on unapologetically.

One thing is certain however, when Nicolo Paganini left this world on May 27, 1840, he had earned the title as one of the greatest violin virtuosos ever to grace an audience with his presence. It is a title that he holds to this very day--and he always dressed in black! 

Portrait by Daniel Maclise - 1831   



Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween 2015: 50 Shades of Al

I first caught wind of the conspiracy about a year ago. Halloween had just ended and one of the regulars at Tiny Tim's Pizza/West Mountain Brewing Company suggested that next Halloween, everyone should dress up like me. To say that Dave's suggestion caught my attention would be an understatement. Dress like me? I asked myself. The very idea of it was amusing and yet, horrifying. I told myself that it was just another weird alcohol-induced idea that would soon be forgotten; and for the following eleven months, I heard nothing else of it. 

Then, about a month ago someone accidentally spilled the beans to me. An Al-oween celebration was scheduled to take place during happy hour on the night before Halloween. My worst fears were realized when I was forced to confront the fact that other people were going to attempt looking like me, the person who really doesn't like photos of himself. The next few weeks sped by quickly as we descended deeper into autumn and toward the inevitability that I knew I'd have to face.

As the event drew near, I wondered how I should dress for the occasion. Let's face it, I have no problem with being different and since everyone was planning to mimic me, I thought that perhaps I should dispense with my usual dark attire and instead, wear some old worn-out blue jeans, throw on a flannel shirt, leave my hat at home and assume a bit more of a grunge look. 

"What? Are you going to let them out goth you?" Thomas asked. "You've got to show them that you're the goth king. Wear your cloak and show them how to do it right!"

My friend's words inspired me and I quickly decided that I would indeed, wear the Van Helsing cloak that my Canadian friend, The Insomniac,
had made for me.  

The day of reckoning started off cloudy; and as the afternoon progressed toward evening, the dreariness continued to intensify. A light rain was falling as I stepped into the gloom and made my way toward the pub and the celebration in my name. I made it a point to arrive early so that I could sit in my favorite and customary spot at the bar.  

The first thing I noticed upon entering was this banner, which hung above the doors in the front. The entire piece was created by Kerrie, a very talented artist who is on staff there. In true artistic style, she signed her name on the back. Over the course of the evening many other notes and signatures appeared on the front.

I took my place at the bar and ordered a brown ale. No sooner had I taken a sip or two when this character came in. Some folks in attendance believed that his hat made him look a bit like a pimp. I however, thought that he looked like Slash, and quite a few others agreed. So, this fellow quickly gained the identity of Pimp/Slash Al.  

 The above character's arrival was followed by Disco Al, who came on the scene complete with an Afro (something I haven't seen in ages), a shiny belt and his dancing shoes. I never thought of myself as a disco-liking person, but how could I argue with this hard evidence to the contrary? 

Now the lady on the left deserves special attention. She is Female Bartender Al. In actuality, she manages the place and was behind this whole affair from the git go. I believe it may have been she who originally gave me the name, Dark Al; this, in order to distinguish me from the other three or four Als who hang out at the place. I like to tease her about putting some metal on the sound system or otherwise coming over to the dark side, but she never does. Recently however, she took a trip to New Orleans and came back with the shirt you see here. A house of voodoo indeed!

Standing on my left is Authentic-Looking Al. He did an incredible job of copying my style and some folks actually confused him for me. He was also behind many of the photos I've posted here.  

The Als kept multiplying faster than mushrooms after a storm!

From left to right are Male Bartender Al, Female Bartender Al, Girl Al, myself, Pimp/Slash Al, Disco Al and Professor Al. 

And then Reformed Alcoholic Rabbi Al made his appearance!

Now this particular Al wore a very, very cool hat. As a matter of fact, his hat has renewed my interest in acquiring a witch-hunter hat of my own. 

This is Owl Al. He tried very hard to convince me that he wasn't wearing a wig but I didn't buy it, not for a minute.

Here we have Madison Al. She's another one of the delightful people who work at this special place.

The Als kept showing up until there were an estimated 25 or so of me in the establishment. While I can't remember the exact names all of the unique Als who showed up, I can recall a few more, such as Off The Bad Golf Course Al, sexy Al and Pirate Al (well, at least that's what I called him). 
In closing, I have to say that Al-oween was a heck of a lot of fun, even for a somewhat introverted and reclusive type like myself. Most importantly, I feel fortunate to hang out at a place where everyone is so awesome. Hell, they actually seem to like me! And because of me, a whole lot of people went goth for a night. How cool is that?

Photos appear courtesy of Don Shreve
and Melissa Boyte.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Few Words on Vintage Halloween Art

Halloween is fast approaching. You can feel it in the air and see it in every falling leaf. Even on days such as this, when the weather is warm and summer-like, there's no denying its approach. Halloween is the time of year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest. It's a time of magick--a time when ghosts, goblins and ghoulish creatures from the land of darkness break through the veil to haunt our nights and inspire our worst nightmares. 

For me, nothing better represents this special time of year better than vintage Halloween art--the works of artists from days of old. By old, I'm not referring to the ancient days in which Halloween finds its origins. Rather, I refer to works emanating from the late nineteenth to the mid twentieth centuries, more or less. There's just something about the material from those years that speaks of simpler times--times when Halloween was about the harvest, black cats, ghosts, witches and devils. It was an era when the flickering faces of Jack O' Lanterns stared at passersby from front porches. To walk by such a spectacle on All Hallows Eve was to sense or intuit an atmosphere--an ambiance that suggested Jack may indeed still be searching in the darkness for the way back to this world; his way lighted by a burning coal from Hell itself. We were not so technical then; it was easy to feel such things. 

Let's take a look at some of this vintage Halloween art and see just what it offers. 

On the right is a young child. He or she looks a bit befuddled while staring at the spectacle unfolding around the Jack O' Lanterns. A black cat (the family's perhaps?) has taken shelter with the crows' arrival. Indeed, all the signs of Halloween are about!

This piece suggests a marvelous setting. Apparently, a boy and a girl have taken a bit of time off from trick or treating in order to have their fortunes read by this old woman. Is she a witch perhaps? The artist doesn't provide the answer but judging from the expression on the face of the boy in the devil costume, it appears that something frightening is afoot. As if the cloth covering the old woman's table isn't creepy enough, take a look at the bats, jack o' lanterns, black cats and grave markers worked into the fabric of this piece as a whole. 

This old poster says, "On Halloween strange sights are seen." Who can argue with this? Here we have a being with a jack o' lantern head dressed elegantly in a piece of clothing that might remind one of a kimono, or a dress a woman might wear to an extravagant ball. Notice how the rope enters and exits both eye sockets. And can anybody see the bat on the bottom left? 

Speaking of going to a ball, this lady is heading for the witch's dance. The text goes on to say, "...and all the spooks from far and near will gather and make merry." Even as the lady in question makes her way toward the event, the spooks are watching her from behind the jack o' lantern, which looks quite scary in and of itself. Judging from the lady's attire, I would place this piece as early twentieth century. What do you think? 

Halloween has changed over the years. With the advent of advanced technology and special effects we have new monsters, threats and devices to consider. Oh yes, there are now imperial storm troopers with their laser weapons lurking in every city even as super heroes are grouping to battle against them. Who knows? The tardis may suddenly materialize and the good doctor himself may inadvertently save the day. Could it be that although fun, the above-mentioned changes are bringing us further and further away from Halloween's true roots? After all, it used to be about the harvest, the diminishing hours of daylight and the thinning separation between our physical world and that of the dark underworld. Halloween was special because it celebrated the supernatural in conjunction with the commencement of the bleakest weeks and months of the year. Fear of the dark, of things we cannot see is one of our most primal experiences.  The artists of old exploited that fear.

Of course, no one expects Halloween and its trappings to remain the same; that will never happen. Still, its vintage art from earlier times anchors us to a more traditional time--a time when All Hallows Eve was felt and understood. It was a time when artists' imagination created an atmosphere of spookiness along with a tinge of real fear.

  A Happy Halloween to all my readers!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Something About Horror Addicts

I am a horror addict; or at the very least, I spend a lot of time thinking about, writing, watching and reading horror. Much of the music I listen to could easily provide a wonderful soundtrack to many horror films; and as some of you already know, I am attempting to make my way through the original Dark Shadows series. For me, watching a twenty-three-minute episode of the old Gothic TV series before going to sleep is the perfect ending to my day. I am currently on Episode 329.

A few years ago I learned about an organization/website known as Horror Addicts Dot Net. I call it an organization because in addition to its founder, there is a dedicated  staff of persons who volunteer their time and efforts to keep things running smoothly. There are also many more participants who contribute regularly to the project.

Horror Addicts Dot Net got its start back in 2008 after the group's founder, Emerian Rich, had produced a podcast of her vampire novel, Night's Knights. At the conclusion of her production Rich realized that her listeners wanted more. She obliged their desires (and her own I suspect), by assembling a group of authors and podcasters interested in offering their material for her listener's pleasure. In the beginning Emerian handled most of  the workload pretty much on her own. Still, her production was such a success that by the end of the podcast's first season, listeners, writers and others interested in her project contacted her, wanting to know how they could help. Today, she has a staff of approximately ten persons as well as a veritable host of contributors and participants. What was once a small podcast quickly grew into a top-notch organization--and today, Horror Addicts Dot Net is so much more than just a podcast.

When you visit the horror addict's website you'll find a variety of things to pique your interest. There are film and book reviews, interviews, movie trailers, music and lots more horror-related material. Currently, there are at least 118 podcasts to chose from with more on the way. During any given podcast season, new material appears roughly every two weeks. This year's itinerary will continue to unfold until just before Halloween. And let's not forget the Wicked Women Writers and Master of Macabre contests. If you like to write horror, you might want to enter a contest such as this. Then, you too could become a finalist, in which case your material will appear in a podcast just like this year's offering. Although the voting is over for this year's finalists, you can still listen to these incredible stories. 

Earlier this year, Horror Addicts Dot Net published a book entitled the Horror Addicts Guide to Life, which appears opposite this text. The publication is a compilation of horror-related material written by both staff and other contributors. Although I have not yet reached the middle of the book in my reading, I'll just say at this point that I really enjoyed reading about other people's youthful horror experiences as well as the many film suggestions that I otherwise, would never have known about. Even at this early stage in my reading I can honestly say that I never knew that, when it comes to horror, there could be so much to talk about. 

If you're interested in purchasing this book, it's available here,
as well as at Amazon Dot Com and other similar venues. It is also available in E-book form at Kindle.

All things considered, I would like to recommend that you scroll through the horror addict's website. There's something there for just about everybody. Have fun!

Here's a link to the Horror Addict's Dot Net website.

Follow this link to the Horror Addicts Dot Net blog.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Origin of the Vampires: The Scriptures of Delphi

Vampires are thought to be fictitious beings, products of our collective imaginations and something borne of our need to be frightened or mystified. Yet, there are those walking among us that proudly claim to be members of this group. They tend to be secretive, form covens among themselves and present evidence that appears to validate their point of view and existence. While there is no smoking gun that positively proves that these people are anything other than human beings with active imaginations, it is equally impossible to find evidence that refutes their claims. It must be mentioned here that interacting with one or more of them, even if only in the cyber world, can be a compelling experience indeed.

What follows is a story about their origins. There are other such myths, but this tale is taken from the Scriptures of Delphi, a document produced only two and three generations ago, by a woman and her son, both now deceased, whose family claims a prophetic lineage dating back to ancient Greece. Although the Scriptures of Delphi comprise a relatively modern document, they supposedly represent stories passed down through oral tradition spanning thousands of years. Are they mythological? Absolutely. Yet, who can deny that there are at least some grains of truth in all myth?

The above-mentioned writings, or scriptures, are broken down into several chapters such as the Taurus Myth and The Mythology of Cancer. Of much interest however, is the chapter entitled The Vampire Bible. It is here that the reader can learn at least one version of early vampire history. Also found within this chapter is the story of the vampire origins. It is important to keep all of these details in mind if you the reader, decide to continue with this article. This is mythology and is not to be taken literally, and yet...

As a young man with an adventurous spirit, Ambrogio wanted to leave his native land, known now as Italy, in order to travel to Greece and in particular, the religious city of Delphi, where he hoped to have his fortune told by the Pythia, or oracles, at Apollo's Temple. 

Ambrogio set sail for the western shore of Greece nearly as soon as he came of age. Upon his arrival there, he headed east until finally reaching the great city. 

The young man entered the temple and found the Pythia sitting quietly within one of the temple's chambers. As was customary with the oracles, they foretold his future by uttering only a handful of words. "The curse. The moon. The blood will run." 

The oracle's words so mystified him, that Ambrogio sat outside the temple for the entire night pondering their meaning. On his way back to town in the morning, he spotted a beautiful young woman dressed in white. She was walking in the direction of the temple. The young man found her irresistible and strode in her direction to introduce himself. Her name was Selene. She served as a maiden of the temple as her sister was one of the oracles. 

For the next several mornings Ambrogio made it a point to meet with Selene before she'd begin her temple duties. Before long the two had fallen in love. On his last full day in the city the lovestruck man asked Selene to marry him and return with him to his country. She accepted his proposal. The young man, filled with both joy and anticipation, informed her that he would make all the necessary preparations and would meet her at dawn the following morning. 

Apollo, the sun god, had also taken a liking to Selene and was outraged that Ambrogio had the audacity to actually come to his temple and then attempt to influence one of his maidens in such a way. That night he appeared to the young man and placed a curse upon him, causing any sunlight to fall upon the man's skin to burn him intensely. 

The following morning Ambrogio awoke in a mood of intense frustration. as he knew that he could not meet with his love because of the curse. What would she think when he didn't show up? With nowhere else to go, he entered a cave that led to Hades, the god of the underworld. After listening to the distraught young man's story, Hades offered him a deal. He would offer Ambrogio and Selene protection in the underworld provided that he could steal the silver bow of  the goddess Artemis, the Mistress of Animals and the Hunt. Hades stated that he would give his his visitor a magical wooden bow and eleven arrows to hunt with. Then, by bringing his trophies to Artemis, the man would be able to garner her favor, thereby gaining access to her silver bow. 

If Ambrogio refused Hades' offer he would have to spend the rest of his life living in the dark underworld. He would never see Selene again. There was another catch however. The lovestruck young man would have to leave his soul in Hades as collateral. Seeing very little choice in the matter, Ambrogio accepted the deal.   

Still distraught over not being able to meet with Selene, he devised a way in which to communicate with her. By slaying a swan with the bow and arrow, he would use one of its feathers as a pen by dipping it in the dead bird's blood. 

He wrote Selene a note, explaining that he would find a way to see her again and left it at their meeting place before the rising sun could burn him. Then, he brought the same swan to Artemis as a tribute. He followed the same routine for 44 days; each morning leaving Selene his poetry of love before sunrise, then offering the slain swan as tribute to Artemis. Selene, not wanting to further anger Apollo, continued her duties at the temple during that time. 

Ambrogio had only one arrow left by the 45th night, but when he fired at another swan his missed it entirely. He fell upon the ground and wept upon the realization that he no longer had a way to either communicate with Selene or a way to offer tribute to Artemis. As he continued weeping, Artemis felt badly for him because of his many efforts on her behalf and came down to him. The distraught young man pleaded with her to allow him to use her silver bow and an arrow in order that he could both kill another swan for her as well as communicate with Selene one last time. 

The goddess took pity on him and agreed to his request. Once he had the bow and arrow in hand however, Ambrogio ran back to Hades' cave. Quickly realizing that she'd been tricked, Artemis reacted by placing her own curse upon him, one that caused all silver to burn his skin. The fleeing trickster immediately dropped her implements due to the scorching pain they caused him. 

Ambrogio apologized profusely once Artemis caught up with him. After he explained the deal he'd been forced to enter into with Hades, the goddess' sympathy grew once more. She offered him a deal he couldn't refuse. She would give him immortality and make him a great hunter. Further, she would give him fangs with which to drain the blood of the creatures he killed in order to write his poetry. In exchange for his immortality, he and Selene would have to safely get away from Apollo's temple and worship Artemis exclusively. Since the goddess had remained a virgin however, the two lovers would have to follow suit by never being able to touch one another in any manner. Just the thought of rejoining Selene and being close to her again made the agreement worth the price. That night, Ambrogio killed another swan; and with its blood, left Selene another note, directing her to meet him on a certain ship at port. She fled the temple before Apollo could notice and headed for the docks. 

Selene immediately went down into the hull of the ship upon her arrival. Looking around the ship's interior, she found a wooden coffin and a note, instructing her to direct the ship's captain to set sail at once and not to open the coffin until dark. When night fell over the waters, she removed the coffin's lid to find Ambrogio inside; alive and well. 

The ship brought the couple to Ephesus, where they spent many years together. During the day, they remained in a cave. At night they worshiped Artemis together in her grand temple. 

With the passage of time Selene grew older and older until finally, she was near death. Ambrogio, still youthful in appearance, knew that he would soon lose her. One night he killed a white swan and offered it to Artemis, pleading with her to make Selene immortal so that he wouldn't have to live without her. The goddess answered his call and appeared to him. The goddess was filled with gratitude for all of his years of worship and dedication to her, so she offered him one more deal. 

"You may touch Selene just one time," she told him, "to drink of her blood. If you do this, it will kill
her mortal body, but from then on any who drink of your blood will become immortal." 

At first, Ambrogio couldn't bring himself to commit such an act; especially upon Selene, the love of his life. When he informed his love as to what Artemis had told him, the dying woman pleaded with him to do it. Eventually, his resistance to the idea softened. Touching Selene for the first time in many years, he bit into her neck and drank of her blood. Selene died in his arms as her sweet sanguine essence ran down his cheeks. 

As he set Selene's lifeless body down it began to glow. He could only stare in disbelief as her spirit rose up toward the sky to meet Artemis at the moon. Suddenly, the moon took on a brilliant luminescence. The very spirit of Selene had transformed into that of a goddess, the Goddess of Moonlight. Every night from that time on, she would reach down with her light and touch her beloved Ambrogio.

So sayeth the Scriptures of Delphi. 
There are those who believe that Ambrogio eventually returned to Italy--Florence to be exact. That's where he allegedly started the first vampire clan or coven. There are also those who say that the first coven eventually erupted into conflict, that some members left to start other clans. It is generally considered that members of the first coven likely consented to giving up their souls in exchange for immortality. And there are even those who say that Ambrogio still walks the streets of Florence to this very day. 

As mentioned earlier, there are other stories of vampire origins. These may appear at a later time.

For more information on vampires and mythology follow this link.
Photo source: Gothic Pictures Gallery

Author unknown


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tales of Dark Romance and Horror - The Book

Ordinarily, I don't like using this blog for commercial purposes and I plan on continuing with that policy. I am however, going to make an exception because after months of working on one particular project, I can now say that I would like to announce the publication of my book, Tales of Dark Romance and Horror. 

 This is a collection of short stories and novelettes that share in common some very human themes; romantic love, forbidden desire, seduction and the struggle against one's personal demons. Then  again, there are demons contained within the book's pages of a different sort. These often inhabit realms that exist outside the human experience, beyond that which is seen by the naked eye. Indeed, they inhabit the dwelling places of the dead and manifest as alluring spirits as well as loathsome, destructive entities.

There are also monsters and dark beings that exist among us in the modern world we inhabit. These are the stuff of folklore and legend. They can be darkly seductive and yet, oh so deadly. We speak here of beings that lurk by the forest in the murkiest swamp lands, and we talk of the undead, blood-thirsty vampires that walk among us in the dark hours of the night.

Tales of Dark Romance and Horror is now available through the Lulu Dot Com book store, which you can find right here.

In the coming weeks it will make its appearance at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other venues as well.

Thank you for reading y'all!


Saturday, May 23, 2015

About Commenting Here

This is just a short announcement but one that I unfortunately must make. It seems that I'm once again, receiving a flurry of spam that's getting through as comments to my various posts here. For that reason, I have been forced to put all comments on moderation for the time being.

I don't know what it is that causes people to think that they can simply spread their garbage on people's blogs and websites without their consent and without the content having anything to do with the subject at hand. Their actions however, are both an inconvenience to the blogger and to his or her readers and commenters.

Please be assured that for the time being, I'll be keeping watch here and will attempt to get all legitimate comments up as quickly as I can. Hopefully, my having to approve comments will only be a temporary measure. In the meantime, I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you, the reader.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

World Goth Day 2015

Time sure has a way of flying by doesn't it? It seems like it was only yesterday that I was celebrating World Goth Day with a group of people at a nearby museum. Yet, here we are again. The day has almost arrived and it's time to start thinking about how each of us will celebrate our subculture; and may I say, our gothiness?

There are events scheduled to take place in various parts of the the United States as well as the rest of the world. The World Goth Day website has a listing for some of this years events, which you can access by Clicking here.

If no events are taking place in your area you can still be creative by perhaps organizing a gathering with gothy friends, dressing up, or simply by watching a horror movie and/or reading a good book.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you all have a great World Goth Day 2015!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Voltaire's Forgotten Cities Tour Comes to Fayetteville

As I sit typing this blog post I am listening, for the third time, to Ego Likeness' latest CD entitled When the Wolves Return. The album is so new that it hasn't been officially released yet. So how did I get my hands on it so early in the game? The answer is that last night marked Aurelio Voltaire's anticipated return to Fayetteville as a part of his Forgotten Cities Tour, which he is doing with the creators of the new album, one that I'm very much enjoying. 

For those not familiar with with them, Ego Likeness is a darkwave/industrial band from Baltimore. It was founded back in 1999 by artist/guitarist Steven Archer and writer/vocalist Donna Lynch. While I had heard them before last night's show, I was totally unprepared for just how good they would sound live. Accompanied only by a drummer whose name escapes me, Ego Likeness opened the night's festivities with a stellar performance. I am very impressed with Donna's vocals as well as Steven's ability to create a full industrial sound to accompany his live guitar work. As the group performed, an old black and white horror film played on a screen behind them. Nice touch guys! 

As for Voltaire's performance...well, what can I say? The man is thoroughly entertaining. His comedic mix of singing, guitar playing, story telling and just plain having fun is infectious. His style is consistent; yet, he manages to bring new material to the fore with each new visit. If I found a somber moment in last night's program it was when he spoke about his reasoning behind the Forgotten Cities Tour. It seems that there are cities Mr. Voltaire used to visit regularly that have more or less been left behind due to practical financial considerations. As he put it, cities that used to have weekly goth nights first scaled down to monthly, then down to twice per year, etc. until the goth night scene simply ceased to exist. Performers such as Voltaire and Ego Likeness need to at least be able to make ends meet while on tour; and in many localities, that's no longer happening. So, he's hoping that by hitting these neglected cities, he might be able to create sort of a goth-event revival. Good for him and I wish him every success with that. As for Fayetteville, he informed us that we're still a viable market and that we bring in larger crowds than some larger cities. Good for us! That means he'll keep coming.

I'm not great at doing reviews, so I'll just say that last night was a great time and I enjoyed Cannibal and Craft as a new venue. It was good getting together with old friends and acquaintances while enjoying some great entertainment. My personal thanks go Bobby Scarbrough for organizing this wonderful event and making it happen. To Voltaire and Ego Likeness I simply want to say, thanks for coming and giving us such a good time. 


As always, Voltaire concluded his performance by bringing up the Fayetteville Chapter of the Beelzebub Philharmonic Choir to assist him with the last song for the night. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Catching Up

It has been a little over a month since I last posted here; I suppose this is not a good thing considering that I used to make it a point to post once a week. Still, not much of any significance has been happening in my life until last weekend when my vehicle gave up the ghost. There have been no goth events to talk about, no ghost sightings here at the cemeteries and no unexpected romantic encounters with darkly clad women. So for the most part, I've been inactive. Over the past week or so, things have changed a bit and so I thought I'd share these things with my readers.

The Bat Fit 2015 Project

Some months ago, the Insomniac, whom many of you already know, and I somehow got into a discussion about how much I liked the cloak that Hugh Jackman wore in the Van Helsing film that he starred in. After all was said and done, she graciously offered to make me something similar. During the months that transpired she and her husband spent a considerable amount of time and effort moving out of, and saying their goodbyes to the famed Gothic Mansion, the abode in which they had spent so many years of their lives.

After securing a piece of land suitable for the construction of a new home somewhere in the wilds of Alberta, the Insomniac and her spouse spent many months languishing in a hotel/motel room while their new abode underwent construction. Finally, with work on the new place nearly completed, they began moving into their beloved Gothic Cottage, which incidentally, is located in the Spooky Forest. During all of this time, the Insomniac would occasionally keep hope alive that the cloak would one day be completed. So, imagine if you can, how excited I became upon learning a few days ago that the bat fit, as she likes to call it, is on its way to me.

I wish to offer my sincere thanks to the Insomniac for her generosity and hard work with this project. I can't wait until there's an event I'll be able to wear it to. If you'd like to see pictures of her masterpiece and my new treasure, follow this link.

Scoring Goth Points 

Getting harassed is never a good thing and it sure doesn't feel good, but from time to time it happens to people like us and I had another turn at it a couple of days ago. As I mentioned, I'm temporarily without a vehicle and therefore, headed to the south side of town where a recommended used car lot is situated. After going all the way down there and finding the lot closed on Tuesdays, I stopped at my favorite Mexican restaurant where I had a margarita and a tasty meal. Upon resuming my trek back toward the center of town, where a 4:00 pm happy hour beckoned to me, I suddenly heard  a man's voice coming from what I first thought was a loud car radio. As offending vehicle drew closer I looked to see the driver of a pickup truck hanging out his window screaming something at me. At the moment, I'd been so deep in my thoughts that I didn't pick up on what he was screaming at me. I felt his animosity toward me; and for that matter, probably toward goths in general. But what else could I expect? I had been, after all, walking on the south side of town, which with every block you walk away from the center of the city grows more closed minded and intolerant. I hadn't been harassed by anyone in nearly a year and a half, so I simply call it scoring goth points.

The Return of Voltaire

I also learned last week, that Voltaire will once again be returning to Fayetteville on May 13. As with the last two times he appeared here, Voltaire will be performing at George's Majestic Lounge, which I consider a very suitable venue. Also joining him for the show will be the goth/industrral group, Ego Likeness.  

It looks like this will be an enjoyable night; and as a person who can use a bit of cheering up these days, I'm really looking forward to it. I doubt that I'll be able to wear the new bat fit to this affair though, as the weather here is heating up quite quickly this season. It's already getting quite summer-like and it's only early April.

The New Nightwish Album

Several weeks ago I pre-ordered Nightwish's new CD entitled Endless Forms Most Beautiful and it arrived on Saturday. I've got to say, it's a wonderful piece of work and in my opinion, is the most classical sounding album the band has put out yet. Endless Forms Most Beautiful has only served to convince me even more that composer and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, though a metal musician, is one of the great classical composers of our day.

This is also their first album in which the talented Floor Jansen performs the lead vocals. She's an excellent match for the group and if you listen to her vocals singing around the choir in the last song entitled, The Greatest Show on Earth, you'll get a good idea of what she's capable of.

I always get a bit annoyed when people lament the disappearance of good, creative music. Because I know that there's Nightwish.

Well, that's it from here in East Mountain for now. I'm sure that I'll find something else to write about before too long.    


Friday, March 6, 2015

American Horror Story

A few weeks ago I got a call from a couple of friends who live way out in the next county east of here. I don't get to see them very often, so I was excited to learn that they were coming to town the next day. 

"Have you seen American Horror Story yet?" One of them asked me. 

I told him that I'd heard of it but hadn't seen any episodes as of yet. 

"We'll bring a full season in for you when we come in tomorrow. It's called Asylum and you're gonna love it!" 

After making plans to have lunch together at a local Mexican restaurant, I put my phone down with a sense of anticipation. After all, not only was I going to get together with a couple I really enjoy and don't see very often, but a much talked about horror series would be in my hands by the following afternoon. 

By the time I got half-way through Asylum's opening episode I had already come to the realization that the program was one twisted piece of horror fiction. Still, I was hooked. 

The story takes place in 1964 at the Briarcliff Mental Institution, a Massachusetts facility designed to house the criminally insane. The facility is run by the very strict Sister Jude, played by Jessica Lange and her assistant, Sister Mary Eunice, portrayed by the talented Lily Rabe.  Monsignor Timothy Howard, the founder of the facility is played by Joseph Fiennes. It seems that Monsignor Howard is quite an ambitious whose aspirations lead to Rome.

Then there is Doctor  Dr. Oliver Thredson, portrayed by Zachery Quinto, who I might mention, plays Mr. Spock in the 2009 version of Star Trek and its sequel, Star Trek: Into Darkness. I might add here that any of you who decide to venture into this series might want to keep an eye on Dr. Thredson. While we're speaking of darkness, Briarcliff apparently has a resident mad scientist in a certain Dr Arthur Arden (James Cromwell). Of course, everybody knows that mad scientists perform certain types of experiments and our Dr. Arden is no exception. And what better place for such a man to perform his work than at an institution for the criminally insane! Does Dr. Arden harbor secrets of his own? Hmm...I guess you'll just have to watch the series to find out.

Of course, some of the inmates/patients claim to be perfectly sane. Take for example a journalist named Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) who suddenly finds herself a prisoner in the institution who needs to be purged of her lesbianism.

I could go on and on about the many twists and turns that American Horror Story: Asylum takes. Instead, I'll just say that the story (Season 2) has it all, including psychopaths, demonic possession, supernatural occurrences, etc. And could there be aliens afoot?

The interesting thing about this program is that each season involves an entirely different storyline; this, even though some of the same actors are featured in each. So far, American Horror Story consists of a first season entitled Murder House, followed by Asylum, a third season called Coven (yes, it's about a coven of witches) and finally, a fourth entitled Freak Show. My understanding is that a fifth season is in the works and Lady Ga Ga is slated to play a leading role.

Needless to say, after watching one full season I highly recommend this program. Warning: This program is not for the faint of heart and can quite intense in places. So, proceed carefully.

As for me, I've already added Coven to my Netflix Queue. I can hardly wait to delve into it. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Vampire's Day Soiree 2015

Once again, its time for the Vampire's Day Soiree, an alternative celebration hosted by Hollyhorrorshow, whose blog resides at a place called Holly's Horrorland.

The Vampire's Day Soiree takes place on February 14, Valentine's Day. The celebration is in its fourth  year and I'm very happy to be a part of it once again.

Here's how it works: Participants first sign up by listing their blog at the appropriate place on Holly's page. This allows her readers to see just who is taking part. Then, when the big day arrives, all involved simply post something about vampires on their own blogs. The list on Holly's page allows her readers to navigate easily through all of the vampire material. Generally, there's a good deal of interaction in her comments section as well. All in all, it's a great celebration and a good place to meet other like-minded people.

This year, I am including an excerpt from one of my more recent short stories called A Fall from Grace: Metamorphoses. In the following passages, the vampire Lady Andrea seeks revenge for the kidnapping and demise of her human lover and blood donor.  

       Reverend Roy returned to the seat behind his desk, the abrupt noise having done nothing to assuage his anxiety. Next, the sound of tapping upon glass broke the silence. He glanced toward the window and seeing nothing, credited the patter to an overactive imagination. The tapping began anew, and this time he ran back to the window to investigate. What he saw made him gasp. On the other side of the glass hovered a large bat. It had a wing span of approximately a foot wide and as the creature remained in place. it seemed to be staring directly into his eyes. The anxious man jumped away from the window and pulled the curtains shut around it.
What’s a bat doing out there at this time of year? He wondered. It must have rabies or that other disease they get. That would explain everything. I’ll notify the proper authorities in the…
His thoughts were disturbed once again; this time, by a slow knocking at the door. With a profound sense of relief Roy extended the invitation.
Come on in. The door’s unlocked.”
He gasped when he saw a woman stepping into the office. She was tall and sported a full mane of black and blue-dyed hair that cascaded well beyond her shoulders. She was adorned almost entirely in black with a velvet three-quarter length cape lined in violet. Her cloak only partially concealed her leather spike-heeled boots, and as she walked toward him, he caught glimpses of fishnet stockings, which contrasted sharply with the whiteness of her bare upper thighs and short red skirt. It occurred to him that the woman’s complexion seemed to be unnaturally pale. Yet there was no denying her captivating beauty.
She paused in front of him and removed her cloak, revealing more flesh, covered only by a leather corset. The woman stared directly at him with radiant green eyes. For a moment, he felt an urge to touch her, to run his hands along her smooth, flawless skin, to place gentle kisses along the exposed part of her cleavage. Yet, he dispelled the desire as quickly as it had come upon him.
Lead me not into temptation, he thought, averting his eyes away from her. Then, he spoke the words aloud.
Lead me not into temptation.”
The woman smiled as she handed him her cloak.
Would you see to a lady’s covering?” She asked.
Roy draped the cape across an easy chair situated by the far wall and then returned to her.
What can I do for you, young lady?” He asked while attempting to hide his discomfort.
Well now,” she responded, her eyes boring into his very soul. “You are Reverend Roy, aren’t you?”
Why…why yes, I am,” he responded, showing his discomfort. “It’s a bit unusual for anyone to meet with me at this time of night. Besides, I’m expecting company and they should be here any minute now. If you’d like to make an appointment…”
They won’t be showing up here any time soon,” she interjected. “
His mind began to race. What’s she talking about? She acts like she knows something. How could she?
Who are you?” He asked. “What do you want?”
My name is Lady Andrea, Reverend, and we have business, you and I. Why don’t you take a seat in your comfortable desk chair, and we’ll talk.”
Although disconcerted by this strange woman seemingly taking control of the situation, he moved behind his desk and took a seat. A growing unease took hold of him, a discomfort not only due to the carnal desire she invoked in him, but also from a growing fear that she might know something.
She smiled at Roy seductively as he sat down, amused at his discomfort.
You seem awfully nervous,” she informed him. “You’re not used to being alone with a woman like me, are you?”
I’m a man of God,” he responded. “And if I may say so, Miss, I’m beginning to believe that your intentions are less than honorable.”
Ah, I see that you have a sound system here,” she said after looking around the room. “Good, let’s create a better atmosphere, one in which we can better discuss things, shall we?”
She walked over to the stereo and turned it on. The sound of Southern Gospel music immediately permeated the room.
Ugh,” she recoiled. “That’ll never do for what I have in mind.”
Lady Andrea studied the system for a moment, and then began changing stations.
Oh good, you’ve got satellite,” she exclaimed. “Who said you evangelicals don’t believe in science? Hmm…I should be able to find what I want here. Ah! There we go.”
Suddenly, the sound of heavy metal music filled the room. It was slow and mournful, but also powerful with the vocal sound of despairing death growls interspersed between heavy, distorted and dissonant guitar chords and symphonic orchestration. She turned off the light switch, thereby leaving on only the dim lamp on the top of the man’s desk. Dr. Roy reacted sharply.
Now see here, young lady!” He began. “That evil music is not allowed on this Christian campus. I think you’d better leave.”
Andrea turned the music down a bit and smiling, sauntered over to the chair that faced his from the opposite side of the desk. She positioned it at just the right distance to give the man a full view of her. After sitting down, she slowly crossed her legs and gave him a seductive smile.
That’s better,” she began. Now we can get down to business.”
Why are you here?” Roy demanded.
You see, Reverend. I had the most romantic evening you can imagine planned for tonight, just between my Jessie and me.”
A sickening and paralyzing fear gripped the minister when he heard Jessie’s name. His blood ran cold. Lady Andrea, sensing his sudden horror, grew more excited as she continued speaking.
I’d never experienced such sweetness before I met him. Truth be told, I was planning to drain him dry when I caught him snooping around my house. He was such a pervert, staring at me from his window night after night while having nasty thoughts. But he was not only willing to surrender to my type of eroticism, but he reveled in it. That turns me on. And when I got the first taste of his blood…well, I almost lost myself in it.”
She stared hungrily at the man sitting before her. Andrea’s enthusiasm continued to grow with his rising level of disgust and fear. In the background, the music served to promote a sense of terror and even doom within him.
But I didn’t,” she continued. “Somehow, I managed to stop myself. When Jessie recovered, he agreed to my terms. He was mine and we had such a sweet, sweet love. But now, all that’s changed because you killed him.”
I didn’t, truly I didn’t,” Roy responded, breaking into a sob. “It wasn’t me. I only wanted to save his soul.”
By forcing him into the frigid waters against his will? By having your friends sink him to the bottom of the river?”
I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” he said with hands covering his face.
Andrea knew that she had broken him. Now, it was time to close in for the kill. She stood up and moved to the other side of the desk where she removed his hands from his face and began stroking it with her own, seductively.
What’re you going to do now?” He asked. “Call the police?”
Of course not,” she said while continuing to stroke him. “There wouldn’t be any pleasure for me if I did that. Besides, I did have a special evening planned and I still intend to see it through”
At first, he felt a sense of relief upon hearing those words; but as he pondered their meaning, a sense of dread began to overtake him. Meanwhile, the unusual woman’s demeanor took on a more sinister tone. She got out of her seat and began pacing around him.
To tell you the truth, Reverend, I can’t remember the last time I drank a preacher’s blood.”
You’re crazy, woman!” He shouted, attempting to re-take control of the situation. “What manner of evil have you brought to these holy grounds with your talk of blood?”
She swooped back down in front of him without hesitation, pinning his shoulders against the chair while hissing with open mouth only inches away from his eyes. He saw her razor sharp, elongated canines and cringed in fear. Andrea took in his terror and then returned to a more gentle and seductive behavior. She sat upon his lap and began placing gentle kisses on his cheek while speaking to him in a soft, sensuous voice.   

There you have my contribution to the Vampire's Day Soiree. This and a collection of other shorts should soon be available in paperback. They'll be more on that when it finally happens. Meanwhile, enjoy the Vampire's Day celebration and be sure to check out the other contributions by going to the heart of the celebration at Holly's Horrorland.

Photo source Gothic Pictures Gallery
Author unknown

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Tale of the Hammersmith Ghost

Toward the end of the year 1803 residents of Hammersmith, a West London neighborhood situated just north of the Thames River, had become jittery as reports of ghost sightings in the vicinity of the local church yard and cemetery filtered through the community. Most of the locals believed the ghost in question to likely be the spirit of a former resident who committed suicide by cutting his own throat. It was widely believed at the time that the souls of suicide victims buried on consecrated grounds, such as a church cemetery, would not be at rest. This assumption, coupled with reports of sightings and even attacks, did little to assuage the neighborhood's growing sense of trepidation. 

One night a young lady on a late return home from work decided to take a shorter route to her house by cutting through the churchyard and burial ground. According to her own description, she suddenly saw something rising up from the grave markers. The lady attempted to flee but the ghost, being too fast for her, quickly caught up and pressed her into its arms. Some neighbors found her lying unconscious several hours later and brought her home. As the tale goes, the frightened young woman retired to her bed on that night and never arose. She apparently, had died of shock. After this turn of events a sense of terror engulfed the entire community. 

Francis Smith, a local excise officer, didn't believe in ghosts and took it upon himself to look into the entire matter. On the night of January 3, 1804 Smith set out for the churchyard with blunderbuss in hand. Upon reaching Black Lion Lane, he was startled by what appeared to be a white figure heading in his direction. Smith opened fire and the ghostly figure fell to the ground. It was only when the gunman ran to the fallen figure that he realized his fatal mistake; for that which lay before him was no ghost but instead, was the body of a local bricklayer named Thomas Milward. The dead bricklayer had not been impersonating a ghost but instead, had been wearing the clothing of his trade. 

Thomas Milward's body was taken to a nearby pub and inn known as The Black Lion. Francis Smith was found guilty of willful murder and sentenced to death. Due to the unusual circumstances surrounding the case however, Smith's sentence was commuted to one year at hard labor. Still, the ramifications of Smith's actions, the mistaken killing of an innocent man, plagued the British legal system until it was finally settled by another court case in 1984. 

Eventually the truth about the Hammersmith Ghost came into the light. All the fear and confusion had been caused by another local man, who had been disguising himself as a ghost in order to scare another individual; this, in revenge for frightening his children with ghost stories. 

Although there had been no real ghost in the Hammersmith community during those opening years of the nineteenth century it is said that several ghosts now haunt The Black Lion. Not surprisingly, the spirit of Thomas Milward, whose dead body had been brought there so many years ago, is believed to be one of them.

For further reading: 
Wikipedia: Hammersmith Ghost Murder Case

Proceedings of the Old Baily: London's Criminal Court 1674-1913: Francis Smith Killing

The above photo is in the public domain. Author unknown.