Wednesday, December 21, 2016

An Historic/Ghost Tour With the Wastelanders

I've always been a fan of history; and, truth be told, I've learned quite a bit about the history of the community that I live in. I have also acquainted myself with the local ghost stories. This being the case, I have long considered putting my combined interests to work by conducting historic/ghost tours for various groups.

The idea stayed with me for quite a while until I realized that the need to purchase a commercial vehicle to transport people and rigid regulations would make such an endeavor close to impossible for me to pull off given my limited resources. Sure, I could contact the local taxi/limo company or some other similar resource, but hiring a driver would seriously cut into my own profits. So eventually, I gave up on the idea.

I did mention this interest to a friend, and from time to time when I'd see her, she would urge me to pursue the idea. So, I wasn't surprised when, back in the fall, she suggested that I lead her group, The Ozark Wastelander Society, on such a tour.

So just what is The Ozark Wastelander Society? It is a group that from time to time, creates a fantastic post-apocalyptic world in which they live in for a certain amount of time. Every September, they travel out to the Mojave Desert and join with others of a like mind, spending three or four days in a Mad Max world of their own creation. They enjoy altering their vehicles in such a way as to mimic their perception of what such a world would be like. Some members reportedly face off in futuristic battle-dome scenarios and various contests and/or competitions, oten to the beat of heavy metal bands up on the stage. My friend considers wastelander culture as the new steam punk, and I have no reason not to believe her. These folks design their own clothing for events and believe me, they have a unique style. Some of the participants are goth and some are not, but they're certainly an interesting group.

My inspiring friend, who I'll simply call S, convinced me that I should conduct a ghost tour with her group and assured me, that she could bring them out in numbers. So, I agreed; and on Sunday December 4, I conducted my first historic/ghost tour with a very enthusiastic audience.

Since we would be visiting three different cemeteries, which included the two I'm associated with, the tour had to be conducted during the day. Not only is it against state law to be in cemeteries after dark, but the local organizations maintaining them don't appreciate nightly visitors as too much vandalism takes place during the nighttime hours. Such restrictions made the tour a bit less ghostly, but since it was a cloudy, gloomy day, we still enjoyed a suitable atmosphere fir discussing the supernatural.

Quite frankly, I was amazed at the number of folks who came out and stayed until the end. Also, the introvert in me was a bit apprehensive about meeting so many new people and having to speak in front of them for a couple of hours. Still, they proved to be a great bunch of people and I enjoyed their company.

First, we assembled at the Confederate Cemetery where introductions were made and we jumped into the history of that cemetery with a bit of background as to the people buried there. Then, I launched into my personal ghost/shadow person experience. After that we walked across the road to the Walker Cemetery where we discussed more history before discussing the area's best-known ghost story, The Legend of Ghost Hallow, a scenario that took place a bit  to the east of the two cemeteries. Unfortunately, Ghost Hallow is quite inaccessible due to an ice storm we had back in January 09. So, we could not actually go there to listen for any ghostly screams.

Next, everyone followed me over to an historic site known as the Headquarters House, which was the scene of a Civil War battle back in 1863, when Confederate forces attempted to unseat the Union occupation of the community. I had lots of history plus another ghost story for the group there, and then we moved on to two more historic houses, each with their own stories to tell before finishing the tour at the Evergreen Historic Cemetery where some of the important players I'd discussed, are buried.

All I can say is, I enjoyed the opportunity to take such a neat group of people on the tour and in a sense, I got to live my dream, if only for a couple of hours. My one regret was that there was a lot more history to discuss than ghosts, but the group didn't seem to mind; and after all was said and done, we ended up at a venue that is legendary in it's own right,  a long-standing beer joint known as Roger's Rec, where we settled in for a hearty-drinking session.

All in all, it was a great time. Since the weather was so damp and cold, a few folks dropped off along the way. Still, you can see all the tough wastelanders and one youngster, who stuck it out until the very end. Hooray for them!

Happy Holidays to all my readers! 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Nightmares From the Vampire's Lair

Several months ago I received a Facebook friend request from someone named Judy Shire. As is customary, I followed the link to her timeline before accepting the request. I arrived on her page only to have my level of intrigue immediately elevated by a timeline photo very similar to the one on the left. As a guy, I considered Judy alluring. As a goth, I found myself intrigued by the entire setting. After all, here was a beautiful woman dressed in black while sitting provocatively on a scarlet-colored sofa, which in turn, was surrounded by skeletons, skulls, candelabra, and other ghastly creatures of the night.. Further, I quickly learned that she calls herself Judy Vamp-Shire. What was there not to like? I accepted her friend request.

Judy Vamp-Shire is an entertainer from the U.K. During the weeks and months that followed, I learned that she was working on hosting an internet TV series called Nightmares From the Vampires Lair.

From time to time, she would post teaser trailers designed to keep her followers anxiously awaiting the arrival of her TV series. My favorite features Judy sitting in her lair when she decides to order a pizza. The delivery boy soon arrives and she attacks him (lucky guy), pins him down, and drinks his blood. After seeing that, I hoped her program would be available here in the States. Now, that may sound silly, but there are various internet productions from the BBC and other sources that are simply not available here--even on the net. So, I was quite pleased when Judy announced that her first program would be available here as of Halloween. Ah yes! What a great night for horror! That's what Halloween is all about.

What Judy actually does is host a weekly horror movie-- I'm talking about classic horror films. Think Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing. Although I don't believe any of the offerings so far have involved the old Hammer Films, some, such as House on Haunted Hill hearken back to the same era, or darn close to it.

So far, Nightmares From the Vampire's Lair has featured the films Horror Express, House On Haunted Hill, and The Little Shop of Horrors. Tonight's offering is Grave of the Vampire, which I plan on watching after I finish this post and fix myself something to eat. It's getting dark, so the time for horror has almost arrived.

In closing, I'd just like to say that I recommend giving Nightmares From the Vampire's Lair a try. It's
definitely something you should watch if you like traditional horror. I would describe Judy Vamp-Shire's hosting style as classic with a modern edge. You can find the program here
or on YouTube.

Oh, by the way! Judy is also a vocalist who has her own rock band. While I wouldn't quite call her music goth rock in the traditional sense, Judy calls it "vamp rock," and that's a very good description of what she does. Not only does she have an awesome singing voice, but her guitar player is pretty damn talented as well. Interestingly enough, Nightmares From the Vampire's Lair always ends with one of her music videos. So, I think it will be appropriate for me to close out this post with one of my favorites. It's called Welcome to Hell. Enjoy!


Friday, October 28, 2016

Vintage Halloween Photos

It's becoming sort of a tradition here at the Gothic Embrace for me to post photos of vintage Halloween art in celebration of All Hallows Eve. This time around I plan on continuing to do so, but I want to stretch the meaning of the word vintage just a little bit. 

As I've mentioned previously, I tend to be quite traditional about Halloween and gravitate toward the images and nuances it invoked in me as a child. In other words, as the special night draws near, my thoughts turn to skeletons, black cats, witches on broom sticks, vampires, ghosts, goblins, Jack O' lanterns and other ghoulish creatures of the night. Still, Halloween also invokes in me visions of hay bales, scarecrows, and ears of hard corn lying atop a hay bale or hanging from someone's front door. So, I had a most delightful time when I went a nearby place called the Pumpkin Patch a few days ago in order to find the lucky pumpkin that I will transform into the Jack O' lantern that will grace my front steps. As I walked among the many contenders there, I realized that the whole scene at the Pumpkin Patch is....well, vintage. Perhaps you the reader will agree after looking at the following photos. 

Now, I'm not a photographer and I only used my small phone to capture the essence of the Pumpkin Patch, but I think the photos came out quite well, considering my lack of skill using the phone's camera. 

As you can see, there were quite a few attractive pumpkins to choose from--and this photo alone does not capture their full 

I really like the scarecrow here as he leans against the hay bales with one foot on the wagon, which in and of itself, strikes me as somewhat vintage. Notice what looks like a butter churn to his right and of course, the pumpkins in the background. This picture captures the essence of fall, of you ask me.   

I really like how they did the main sign. Every year the Sequoyah United Methodist Church sponsors the Pumpkin Patch for we lovers of Halloween.

Is it just me or are these corn stalks towering over the pumpkin-laden hay bales simply awesome? 


This is the scene that most impressed me at the Pumpkin Patch. Again, we have another scarecrow, but this fellow has the head and features of a crow. Hmm....just what's going on here? The wagon in the foreground simply has to be an antique. The lady in attendance offered me the use of the wagon as I gathered my pumpkins. Since I only intended to buy one, I declined her offer and much more enjoyed seeing the wagon by the scarecrow. Notice the chopping block to the left of the bench and again, the corn stalks.  

While I only spent a short amount of time at the pumpkin patch I consider it a great experience, and feel confidant that a yearly visit will become a part of my personal Halloween tradition. 

Finally, here's one truly vintage piece by an author unknown. 

I wish all of you, my readers a Spooky Halloween! 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Halloween Post Inspired

There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly lit porch. - Robert Brault

Recently, my blogging friend, the Insomniac, did a blog post entitled Creatures of the Night Soiree, or an Evening With the Insomniac.
The article details her plan to host a Halloween event at a hotel local to her. Apparently, the Insomniac laments the fact that hardly any trick-or-treaters come to her doorstep now that she has moved to the Spooky Forest.

I find her post inspiring because our situations are quite similar. First of all, no one ever comes trick or treating at my cabin either. This is probably due to the facts that I live almost surrounded by cemeteries and that some local people apparently view me as somewhat of a dark figure. Just as a case in point: several weeks back, I walked into my favorite pub/restaurant and took a seat at the bar. The bartender informed me that a little girl, who comes in with her family for pizza, asked where the "witch man" was. Apparently, she likes witches and learned about them from The Wizard of Oz. Still, I suspect that the witch man perspective may keep trick-or-treaters from my place. Unlike the Insomniac however, I don't mind eating the leftover chocolate myself. I just don't do it all at once.

I must also add that the local powers that be strive to have all the trick-or treaters come to our town square after school. I understand the reasoning behind this as they want to keep the kids safe. In my mind however, there's something terribly wrong with trick-or-treating while the sun's still shinning. It's called All Hallows Eve for a reason!

Proof of our society's decline is that Halloween has become a broad daylight event for many. - Robert Kirby

Admittedly, I'm somewhat of an introvert, and I suspect that this is a personality trait that my blogging friend shares with me as well. So, I was inspired by her determination to make this Halloween meaningful and thought I'd share what makes it meaningful for me.

The other day I was asked what my plans are for All Hallows Eve. Truth be told, I have none. In the past I used to love going down to our entertainment district to watch the goings on. A decade or two ago it used to be a real freak show down there to say the least. Over the years the local university has gone on a campaign to bring thousands more students under its wing. So these days, the entertainment district is overloaded with young people and noise. The sound of live bands playing inside almost every open door now bleeds into an ungodly cacophony that spills onto the sidewalks and street. These kids don't handle their alcohol very well and bad attitudes are often present. That said, I generally avoid the area and no longer go there to observe the festivities. So, when I was asked the other day what my plans are, I replied with a simple "nothing much."

You see, I'm very traditional about Halloween. I don't feel very enthusiastic about seeing imperial storm troopers running around and with so many people dressed in super-hero costumes, all I can say is, no thank you. Give me witches, vampires, ghosts, ghouls, skeletons, black cats, and Jack O' Lanterns. Now that's Halloween. The pagan in me recognizes that Halloween is about being the time of year when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest. It's about digging up childhood memories and even more importantly, the feelings I experienced way back then.

So this time around I'll probably do what I almost always do. I'll paint my nails black, and in general, will get my goth on a bit more than usual. If the weather is cool enough I'll wear the vampire hunter cloak that the Insomniac made for me. If it's warm, I'll still be wearing a shirt that I plan on ordering next week from Black Rose
out of London. It's a spooky one though, and I know that I'm going to enjoy it. Then, I'll likely go to the pub and enjoy a couple of stouts along with some costume gazing.

There is one other thing: Every year, I put a candle inside of a Jack O' Lantern. I used to use a plastic one, but last year I actually carved a pumpkin for the first time--and I was happy with the results I'll be doing it again this year. What I absolutely love is when I get home and see old Jack with his eyes aglow and flickering on the stairs. I always pause, stand in the darkness and look at that glowing face--a pumpkin containing the fires of Hell as it stares back at me while illuminating the darkness. For me, that's the essence of Halloween and for just a few moments, I am transported back to the Halloweens of my childhood. I don't have to do anything special on that night because I've got that. It's all I need. Then, I'll unlock the door and take in an episode of Dark Shadows before turning in for the night.

Thanks for the inspiration, Insomniac!

When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam
May luck be yours on Halloween. -author unknown

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Summer 2016

It's been a hot summer here on East Mountain and the surrounding areas, with temperatures often hovering from the low to mid 90s. For those of you of the Celsius persuasion that translates to temperatures well above 32 degrees. It's been a rainy summer though; and although that can be a good thing, it has kept the air quite humid, which only adds to the discomfort. It could be worse though; I've seen temperatures much hotter than this. Still, it's enough to turn any goth's fancy to Halloween. It's coming folks. It really is!

The season has not only provided warm temperatures, but has ushered some major changes into my life. As I mentioned in my previous post, my elderly parents arrived here in late April and my father passed from this Earth just a little over two weeks later. My sister, who lives out in the country, has taken on our mom's primary care. I generally get out there once or twice per week in order to either give Sis and my brother-in- law a much needed break, or to watch Mom while they go out and try to function. Leaving her alone is not an option even though she is recovering from her hip injury and is becoming more mobile.

I can only imagine what it's like being in my mother's position. She grew up and spent her entire life living in New England and is now living here in the American South; this, after being jettisoned from a rehabilitation center and being flown here within days. Although she doesn't quite come out and say it, I know that she has some discomforts adjusting to the local culture and life in the country. Still, she has a lot to look forward to as she recently bought a mobile home, which will soon be moved and attached to the house she's currently living in. 

It's really an attractive dwelling that comes complete with an electric fire place, kitchen, master bedroom, living room and a second-floor loft, which I'll be able to stay in from time to time in order to keep her company and give my sister a break. Mom is looking forward to this new arrangement as it will give her more privacy and a sense of being at home without compromising any of the care and surveillance she requires. 

It goes without saying that my mother's presence has changed the overall flow of my life. Yes, it partially accounts for my absence from the blogging world, but my lack of post ideas has a lot to do with it too. Oh yes, I was out one day and was suddenly struck with several ideas for blog posts, but by the time I arrived home I had forgotten what they were. Don't you just hate t when that happens? 

Some of you may recall that I left you hanging with a partial story contribution during this year's Vampire's Day Soiree, sponsored by Holly B. Strange over at Holly's Horrorland.
If you're new to this blog and would like to know more of what I'm talking about, you can find that post here.

At the time, I commented to some of my readers that the full story will be available when I publish my next book. Well, I'm getting closer to that goal as I just finished a piece called A Fall From Grace: The First Hunt, which is the third in my Fall From Grace series. The first two pieces in the series appear in my book, Tales of Dark Romance and Horror. As you can probably guess, the third entry once again features the beautifully seductive but deadly vampire, Lady Andrea, as well as a new cohort. Other stories slated for the new book include Horror in the Tunnel, from which February's cliff hanger was derived, a ghost story involving a cemetery caretaker (imagine that!), a Krampus piece and the tale of an old man trying to evade the Grim Reaper. 

I have two more stories to write and then I'll get back into the publishing phase; after which, my promise to those I left hanging will be fulfilled. I readily admit that I'm not the fastest writer in the world. I simply don't have the discipline to assign myself specific hours to sit down and write. I write when feeling inspired, and that doesn't happen every day of the week. Still, I'm looking forward to this second publication and hope to accomplish it before the passage of too much more time. For those interested, you can learn more about my book, Tales of Dark Romance and Horror by following this link.

I'm still following through on my goal of watching all the episodes of the original Dark Shadows. Last night I watched episode 447. Now I'm aware that there are literally hundreds of episodes remaining and that I may never finish them at the rate I'm going. But for me, the point isn't finishing the series as much as it is simply having it to enjoy as a nighttime treat.--and at this point, all I can say is wow! Barnabas Collins sure does have an evil streak!

The book I'm currently reading is Anne Rice's Prince Lestat. The novel is her much celebrated return to the Vampire Chronicles. Although I've always been a fan of her material, I'm a bit disappointed because this piece is moving too slow for me. I'm well over 200 pages into the novel and it seems that she's still setting up the story by introducing the characters and/or refreshing the reader on the roles they played in previous publications. Lestat himself has only made a brief appearance so far. Considering the good reviews I've read, things should pick up soon. In the meanwhile, I will persevere. 

As for other news, there isn't much. Summer nights here on East Mountain are beautiful. It is a wonderful thing to gaze into the cemetery under the full moon. The grave markers and monuments cast an eerie shadow in the moonlight while the fireflies dance above the deceased, all to the chorus of thousands or even millions of katydids. Things are peaceful here--as they should be. There is beauty in darkness.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Relicks From the Past

On Friday, April 29 my parents arrived in Northwest Arkansas--for good! On Sunday, May 15, just sixteen days after their arrival, my father passed away.

Some three years ago my sister and I made the suggestion that perhaps, our folks should consider moving here. Faced with deteriorating health. They could find a place here, we told them, could live less expensively and would have plenty of family available to come by and look in on them when needed.

Family was always important to my father, and from time to time he would reminisce about the good old days, when so many members of the extended family would come by on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yes, my dad thrived in that atmosphere. Yet, when the suggestion was made that he and my mother pull up stakes and move here, the idea was kindly rebuffed. I can only imagine that the notion of moving hundreds of miles away from friends and the location that they were bonded to was just as unthinkable for them as it would be for me today, were I faced with that choice. We respected their decision and let the matter drop.

Over the course of the next few years my mother suffered a series of falls, each seemingly worse than the one before it. Last fall she took a spill that seriously injured her elbow and shoulder, landing her in a rehabilitation center for a few weeks. I don't remember exactly when she was released from professional care, but sometime in February of this year she fell again. This time she had broken or fractured her hip, landing her first in the hospital, then back to the rehabilitation center. My sister flew up to Rhode Island to help Dad out and I arrived about a week later, having driven the distance over the course of four days. During the two weeks or so that I was up there, my parents decided that they would come down here, taking residence at my sister's place.

My dad and I didn't see eye to eye very often and it was not at all unusual for us to clash. As far as I can tell, I was a big disappointment to him for a variety of reasons that are mainly related to not following in his footsteps. Be that as it may, I'm glad that I had the opportunity to stay by him and tended to his needs as best I could during his last night here on Earth. I'm not even sure that he was aware of my presence during those last hours, but I suspect that he was, even though he slipped in and out of consciousness. Today, I take solace in knowing that, in spite of all our disagreements over the years, I did right by him in the end. He was buried with military honors Thursday in our National Cemetery.

On Tuesday or Wednesday of this week a cousin whom I hadn't seen since childhood tagged my sisters and me on Facebook with the above photo. He wanted us to guess who the people in the photo were. Scanning the picture, I was able to recognize a couple of the kids in the image. But that man on the left, I wondered, could he be my great grandfather? I had never seen a photo of my great grandfather before, and I soon learned that the man on the left is indeed him and the woman on the right is my great grandmother. In the front row next to him is my father. Also pictured is an aunt and my father's first cousins. All in all, I found the above photo absolutely amazing; and with the passing of my father so fresh in my mind, the photo filled me with a deep sense of melancholy as well as a profound feeling that I had somehow been propelled into the distant past. It brought alive those who have long passed from this world. It helped me become acquainted with ancestors I had never known; I felt connected.

My cousin, who lives about 45 miles away, brought along other photos that I found equally amazing. Also included among his relics from the past were letters and cards my mother had sent to his so many years ago. She looked through them with amazement. I was glad to see her hearkening back to the past. I understand that the world of the 21st century is quite alien to the simpler times she grew up with.

During the dark hours following the funeral it occurred to me that everything my father had wanted and desired for so long occurred on the day of his funeral and burial. Through his passing, the family and its relics from a past that he so cherished had come together in his name--and I find that quite magical!

Rest in Peace, Dad!  

World Goth Day

Sunday, May 22 is World Goth Day.
However you choose to celebrate this yearly event, which is a celebration of our subculture, the Gothic Embrace wishes all its readers a wonderful day followed by a night filled with dark dreams. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Halloween Land

The night before last I had a most memorable dream. Since then, I've done my best to keep it at the forefront of my mind. Dreams have a way of vanishing from memory if care isn't taken to hold on to them. Then, they lay dormant in our memories unless some event triggers a recollection of them. Well, I'm trying to hold on to this one for as long as I can because it was magnificent.

Nothing of significance occurred on Sunday night's excursion into the dreamscape. Rather, it was the dreamscape itself that I remember as magnificent. That's because I suddenly found myself in Halloween. That's the only way I can describe it.

As the nighttime fantasy began to unfold I found myself in the kitchen of an unfamiliar house. There were Halloween decorations scattered about on the wall, and I seem to remember a decorative dish towel hanging from the oven handle on the stove--and what a stove it was! The appliance was large, heavy and ancient. It hearkened back to something from the nineteenth century, with its cast-iron burner plates and imposing appearance. The house itself seemed something out of an earlier time.

I remember gazing out the two windows from my position across the well lit room and I saw darkness. Night had fallen; it was time to go.

Suddenly, I was on Dickson Street. In real life that's where my city's entertainment district is centered. But the Dickson Street I encountered in my dream was an even more festive place. As a matter of fact, there was a carnival atmosphere all along the strip. It was nighttime; yet, the whole area was bathed in an orange hue. There were Jack o' lanterns and images of witches everywhere as Clowns stood around in front of the various booths performing tricks.

I noticed that there were spinning wheels behind the counters at some of the booths. While there's nothing unusual about that in a carnival setting, I realized that these were all Halloween wheels, very much like the one appearing at the top of this page. I find it interesting that I found a photo that so closely matches the objects that I saw while watching the festivities.

Dreams such as this never last long enough, and I would have lingered in that Halloween landscape for a much longer time had there been a choice in the matter. The thing is, the place I found myself in seemed very real. Most importantly, I could actually feel Halloween. I find it hard to explain this, but it was almost as though Halloween were a living thing. I was inside of it, a part of it, and could feel it to my core.

Do you remember how magical Halloween, Christmas or other event seemed as a child? Hard as you might try, you can't re-create the magical feelings you had back then, can you? My dream experience was like that only stronger, and I struggle to find words adequate enough to convey what it was like being in that Halloween dreamscape.

With Monday night's experience still somewhat fresh in my memory, I can't help but wonder if perhaps there's a Halloween Land that lies somewhere beyond our physical reality. If it does exist, I want to pay it another visit some night, when I can spend more time.  


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What's Going On At the Gothic Embrace?

Well, not much obviously, and that's why I thought it high time that I at least make some type of appearance after more than a couple of months. Yes, I'm still alive and I can't believe that it's been over two months since my last post here.

So what's been going on? Well for starters, I had to drive out to the Northeast back in late February in order to take care of some family business. Without going too deeply into that situation, all I can say is that my overall visit turned into a nightmare of sorts; and not the type of nightmare we goth types tend to imagine. I've had a bit of trouble resolving some of the issues that have presented themselves while I was there and quite honestly, these issues have seriously occupied my thoughts. I don't always deal well with drama; especially, that of a family nature.

Before I was called away however, I'd been working on a short story that I was quite excited about. It's called The Caretaker. The piece is a ghost story that involves a cemetery caretaker's brush with the supernatural. A week or so after my return home, my head cleared out enough that I was able to continue work on the story. I'm happy to say that it is now finished and has been added to my collection, which when large enough, will provide the substance of my next book. Although there are some ideas floating around in my mind for a next story, I haven't yet been able to bring these ideas to fruition. They're just swirling around and going nowhere. Ah  yes, you've got to love the creative process.

I've also been at a total loss as to subject material for this blog. A fellow blogger made a very constructive suggestion, which I might use at a later date; but just like the short story ideas, I haven't been able to figure out just how I'd present the subject material. Quite frankly,  I've been so totally out of ideas that I've thought of simply saying goodbye to my readers and closing the blog. That might happen; I'm just not sure yet.

As for the local Goth scene, there really hasn't been anything going on. Yes, I did get invited to a drinking night at someone's house, but due to both my introverted nature and the fact that the event was set to take place in a neighboring city, I declined the offer. I'm just not comfortable with the idea of driving home late at night in an intoxicated state. I'll pass on the DUI. Thank you very much! Otherwise, there hasn't been anything happening here. World Goth Day will descend upon us next month, but nothing is planned for that day either. Surely someone will ask me why don't I organize anything, and I will respond by stating that I'm simply not an organizer.

So there you have it; my answer to the above title. There really hasn't been much going on here at all. Still, at least I've come up with a blog post!


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Vampire's Day Soiree: 2016

For the past four years, Holly B. Strange, who authors an unique and interesting blog called Holly's Horrorland,
has hosted an event that I very much look forward to. It's called the Vampire's Day Soiree and it always takes place on Valentine's Day as an alternative for those of us with a darker outlook on things. Besides, what could possibly be more romantic than an encounter with the right vampire? No doubt, vampires are dangerous, blood-thirsty creatures, but they are also sensual and romantic.  This year marks the fifth annual celebration of this special event.

All a person has to do to participate is to sign up and place a link to his/her own blog on the Ms. Holly's website,
add the photo on the left to your blog, link back to her site and post something about vampires. It's that simple--and it's fun!
Since vampires often make appearances in my fiction, I enjoy taking a special scene from one of my stories and putting it up here for everyone to enjoy. I know, it's a bit of shameless promotion on my part, but an aspiring author needs to find exposure somewhere. This time, I am taking a scene from a story I finished back in the fall. It's a somewhat Lovecraftian piece and it takes place in and under an abandoned railroad tunnel on the East Side of Providence, Rhode Island; H.P. Lovecraft's old stomping grounds. The name of the story is Horror in the Tunnel. As yet, it remains unpublished, but that's because I haven't decided just what I want to do with it. That said, I hope you'll enjoy my offering for this year's event:

My thoughts are interrupted by s spine-curdling scream. It's a woman's voice; possibly the source of the screams I heard earlier. I stand almost spellbound as I watch two of the ghoulish creatures leading a hysterical, naked woman to the central slab. Without hesitation, they force the struggling woman onto the central stone face up and set about chaining her limbs tightly to the stone's extremities.
I stare in amazement, wondering if I have stumbled upon some secret BDSM ritual. Yet, how could that be, as these repulsive creatures before me appear as real as anything I've ever seen. And the victim is clearly frightened, struggling.
Suddenly, the stately woman arises from her throne and for a moment, the drumming stops and an eerie silence falls over the cavern—a silence that is only broken by the captive's pleadings. “Please let me go. Please!”
As the woman in black takes her first steps toward the terrified female, the beating of the drums begins anew. This time, the rhythm is agonizingly slow as hands and sticks strike the instruments in unison once every three seconds or so. The sound echos throughout the chamber like some sort of death march as the obvious leader of the assembly walks toward the terrified person lying before her.
The drumming ceases when she reaches the panic-stricken prisoner. The woman looks down at the young lady affectionately as she gently brushes back her hair and strokes her face. The girl is whimpering amid hysterical cries. “Please, please!”
I realize that something sinister is happening here as I contemplate the possibilities. Clearly, this is no consensual ritual; at least, not as far as the woman on the rock is concerned. Yet, I feel a certain excitement when the lady in black bends over and whispers something in the girl's ear. I watch in amazement as she begins moving her lips slowly and sensually along the captive's neck. Before long, she ceases her movement and lets her lips linger, kissing her victim passionately. The affectionate attentions of the woman in black seem to calm the young woman down as she begins moaning ecstatically, offering her neck to her captor's passionate caresses. I find the scene before me both unnerving and yet, exciting, as my mind fills with conflicting feelings of guilt and arousal.
The sinister woman's ministrations continue for several minutes until finally she backs away from the now still form lying below her. A crimson liquid covers part of her face and runs in streams from her mouth until she wipes it away with a hand, which she in turn, licks hungrily.
Oh my God! She bit her. She tore open the flesh of that poor girl and drank her blood! What the hell's going on here?
Without warning, the slow drumbeat commences once again as the first of the ghoulish creatures, which had led the young victim to the stone, steps before her limp body. The second hands him a colorful but folded and elongated piece of cloth. He at first, holds it above his head for all to see. Then, he carefully places the fabric on the stone next to the young woman's body, where he begins unfolding it. Within moments the content of the package is revealed as he lifts a fearsome looking dagger above his head. The assembly roars in approval, but the sounds emanating forth form a chorus of ghastly, ungodly moans--sounds capable of making the bravest man's blood run cold.
The chamber becomes quiet once again as the creature lowers the knife toward the young woman's body. Although my body is almost stiff with fear, I cannot stand by watching this spectacle any longer, and I react without thinking of the consequences.
“No, no! Get away from her you bastards!”
My hand reaches into my coat pocket and within a matter of nanoseconds, my weapon is out and I aim it at the creature with the dagger. Two shots ring out in rapid succession. The ghoulish thing drops the dagger and reaches for what must have been a wound in its left arm while the rest of the assembly seems caught off guard. All heads turn in my direction as I struggle to take control of the situation by shouting at the gruesome beings once again.
“Get away from her!”

 There you have it! That's my offering for today's event. Don't forget that there are links to other vampire material at Ms. Holly's site. And who knows just what she will have up her sleeve? Have a good time! Oh, and many thanks go to Holly for hosting this event.

Once again, here's a link to Holly's Horrorland.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Personal Tribute to David Bowie

This past Monday morning I arose from bed just in time to put on the morning news. I had barely stepped away from the radio before I heard a shocking report stating that David Bowie had passed away.  What? They've got to be mistaken! I thought to myself. When I got on Facebook and saw the many tributes to the man pouring in from grieving fans however, I was forced to face the truth; David Bowie had indeed departed this world.

It's hard to describe what I felt. At first I scanned my memory wondering if I had ever actually bought any of his music, thereby helping him in some way. I had always loved his material and sometimes listened to it online, but had I ever actually bought any? Fame perhaps! I thought that I may have purchased that single. Still, I wasn't sure. I thought about the first time I heard his music. This, I remember clearly; Rebel Rebel was the first song I ever heard by him--and the lyrics, they talked about perversion but somehow he was making it okay.

My mind quickly went from the man's music to his legacy--how he had so often reinvented himself and had been so many things to so many people. Still, as I waded through the many tributes gracing the pages of Facebook and elsewhere, I realized that although his music was central to his success and his persona, perhaps his greatest contribution to the world was that he made whoever and whatever we are acceptable. David Bowie came on the scene and suddenly, is was okay to be a freak, okay to be gay, bisexual, feminine, punk, goth or whatever else a person happened to be.

Someone said that David Bowie probably saved a lot of people from committing suicide. I believe it, because in those old days people who were born different were ostracized and excluded from society in so many ways. How many people over the years, especially young people, after being told that they were aberrations and filled with self-loathing, decided to end it all? But when Mr. Bowie became popular and put his uniqueness on display for all to see, the isolated and self-loathing had someone they could rally around; they suddenly had community--and pride!  

Film director, producer, screen writer and novelist Guillermo del Toro put it best when he recently said, "Bowie existed so all of us misfits learned that an oddity was a precious thing. He changed the world forever."

I can honestly say that I have never been filled with such a sense of loss when hearing about the demise of a celebrity as I have with the passing of this wonderful human being. In his song entitled Heroes, David Bowie sang, "We can be heroes just for one day."

Well David, you've done better than that. You'll be a hero forever!  R.I.P.