Saturday, November 26, 2011

Goths and Meet Ups

As I might have posted on this blog before, I am quite the lonely Goth. My high school (a damn art school, even) is bereft of other spooky types and I lack a car to be able to go into the city to find any. I'm also seventeen, under the club legal age, so that's a no-go. So, what can I do about finding spooky types? The most I can do is go onto the internet and try to interact with some there, but this method of communication lacks the intimacy of face-to-face communication. What's a poor Gothy girl to do? I looked to other alternative groups for inspiration, and I again stumbled upon the Lolitas with their idea of meetups.

Source: Goths In Hot Weather

A Lolita meet up, generally scheduled through the local Live Journal groups (there's one for every US state, several countries, even specific cities), is an event where several Lolitas go to enjoy themselves while dressed up in their frilly finery. They take pictures, see shows, go laser tagging, ride a carousel, eat lunch, have a tea party, or anything else that you might do with friends.

The closest thing that Goths have to meet ups is going to the local Goth club or concert. Unfortunately, for those who dislike alcohol or dancing, for Goths under the age limit, for those who don't want to have to shout to have a conversation, or for those that just don't want to go to these places, you're pretty much out of luck. Even big Goth events, like Bat's Day in the Fun Park and Wave Gotik Treffen, are few and far between, very regional, and, more often than not, quite expensive.

Source: The Bebo

Lolitas, who I will use as an example because I am unfamilar with any other Alternative group that really does regular meet ups, have meet ups because they need an occasion to wear their clothes. Unless you are a Lolita "life-styler", Lolita clothes generally are not worn every day. Us Goths, on the other hand, tend to wear some sort of spooky ensemble (though the intensity of the spookiness and the level of fancy varies) daily, unless your school or work requires a uniform. It would seem odd, to most Goths, to only wear our clothes for special occasions. Have you all heard of the "weekender" Goths? They are rarely spoken of politely in this scene, are they?

I've heard the complaint before that Goths are too dramatic to have meet ups and that it's easier to avoid drama online. I challenge these people to read Loli-Secret or the message boards on to find some online drama that is basically unavoidable. There is nothing inherently drama-free about the online world because it is used by real life dramatic people and you will find them wherever you go. The real world can be worth the risk of drama, too. I've never known a Goth to be violent, and surrounded by other sensitive types, there's not much danger you can be put in outside of your computer.

Should Goths have meet ups? Obviously, I think so. While Lolitas might complain about the lack of any actual basis for friendship during the meet ups because the only thing that connects them is a love of frilly clothes, I think that Goths have a lot more to build friendships off of. I make a lot of friends in general based on common tastes in music, movies, literature, and aesthetic sensibilities, so why not us? There could be so many friends to make if we allowed ourselves the chance to find out that we have things in common.

What could Goths do for meet ups? Anything, really. Tea parties, going to midnight screenings of horror movies, museum trips, graveyard tours, abandoned building exploration (get yerselves a permit, obviously), go to play laser tag, join a rally, the list goes on and on. Anything to bond over can be done by Goths if we Goths get our heads together and plan something fun. If people are complaining about the Goth scene being dead, then fuck them. If the scene needs a little bit of CPR, it's only us who can do something about it. I'd rather not let the scene die on my watch whether I was around to see Bauhaus perform live or not. Do you want it to?

Source: Soda Head

However, all is not lost for you East Coast USA goths. The lovely LambentBeauty over on Tumblr has started a new blog, East Coast Alt Meetup to keep the community abreast of any planned events for us spooky types. Hopefully this will inspire other areas to create their own meet up blog and Goths can partake in social interactions with other Goths without the need to go to a club every night.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: The New Death and Others

A few weeks ago, I was approached by a Mr. James Hutchings to review his e-book "The New Death and Others" on this blog. Despite the fact that I was crazy with other obligations outside of the blogosphere, I was extremely excited to do this review. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I was unable to read the e-book to my satisfaction (in other words, repeatedly. With annotations.) Luckily, in the pre-Thanksgiving laziness, I was able to get some reading done. Short version: Eee! New Book! Yay! Fiction and poetry!

"The New Death and Others" is a 94 page anthology comprised of 63 pieces of short fiction, sudden fiction, and poetry. The general content is dark, a little cynical at times, punchy, and gripping. Content wise, he reminds me a little bit of Joyce Carol Oates darkness mixed with a bit of George Carlin bite. Make sense? It sure didn't to me when the comparison first came to my mind, but in rereading the anthology I found that I've changed my mind quite a bit.

James hooked me with his first sudden fiction story called "The God of the Poor" which begs the question of who claims responsibility for those who seem to be routinely ignored by God(s.) At less than half a page, I feel like this short story really hooks the reader and sets a good tone for the end of the collection. The same is true of the last piece, "Charon", which ends on a similar note but with the sense of finality that the first one didn't (and should not have) had. However muddled the themes and messages might become in the middle of the story (and, at times, the conflicting messages do appear very blatant to me), these book ends are truly excellent pieces.

One of Hutching's consistent stylistic qualities is that much of the action happens off of the page. This sparse attention to story telling bucks the formula that many would associate with darker fiction and poetry (known for being ornate in style), which makes for a very refreshing read. Even I, worried as I was about reading 94 pages, could handle it because of the sparse language and careful attention to detail that he applies. Even the more modernist pieces that don't deal with such fantastical worlds as others benefit from this structure, in particular an untitled poem comes to mind, two couplets that give me a clear image of two different reactions to war within the human race. Very gripping.

Not many writers can accomplish poetry and fiction with equal attention and pleasure, but this anthology presents some very strong examples of both. Some of Hutching's poetry rhymes, but the truly great thing about it? I couldn't tell. The word flow and placement of the rhyme seems effortless. I'm a little bit jealous myself, writer that I am.

One of the stories, "Everlasting Fire," stuck out to me because it had six author's notes explaining what he was talking about in the story, clarifying that the font the character used was Helvetica and so on. I was full on prepared to raise my eyebrows and dislike the story for this reason until I realized that the notes added a stylistic trait, not just clarification. They were witty in context and I was glad to have read them at all. I have never had a story use that successfully before, and I commend Hutching's for that from the bottom of my heart.

If you're interested in James Hutching's work, you can purchase it here at Amazon for .99USD or here at Smashwords for the same price. I really recommend it if you want a quick read, something new and interesting between copies of Paradise Lost and Othello. Oi.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Goth Garden Guide

Gardening runs in my family, unfortunately, I have a thumb to match my wardrobe. Either I don't have the patience or I'm not careful enough with my flowers, but everything I plant seems to come to a bitter end. Still, that doesn't stop me from longing after a garden of my own. Not that this garden is full of pink peonies and yellow daffodils, as you could probably guess. No, my idea for a perfect garden is a bit...darker.

Our inspiration as goth gardeners will be multi-faceted. I'm thinking black flowers, cathedral-like details, wrought iron, interesting garden fixtures, dashes of white, red, and purple in the flower beds, big trees for shade. Basically, it's where you wouldn't mind risking a bit of a tan on a summer's day. Of course, I couldn't guarantee that this garden could exist, due to plant's tolerance for temperature, light, etc. being so varied, but it's fun to plan anyway.

We'll start with trees. Imagine them as the backdrop, a place to group your other plants around. A place to fit a stone bench under so that you can sit in the shade and admire your handiwork. A place to hang lights at Halloween time and to take cuttings from for centerpieces inside your home. For a Goth Garden, these trees might be:

Purple Plum Tree

Weeping Willow Tree

Maple Tree (During the Autumn)

Dawyck Purple Fagus Sylvatica

Next, vines, grasses, bushes, and shrubs. These are the second layer to your garden, providing texture and depth. They draw attention away from the plain grass they grow on and toward your carefully sculpted bed of flowers. These would be :

Britt Marie Crawford

Black Leaf Sweet Potato Vine

Black Mondo Grass

Black Magic Elephant Ear

White Rose Bush

Fruits, Vegetables, and Berries are up next. Have you, lately, been wanting to try out new recipes and do some Gothy cooking? It would be awfully nice if your garden could help you out there, wouldn't it? Take a look at these:

Black Prince Chili Pepper

Bing Cherries

Red Romaine Lettuce

Black Cherry-heirloom Tomatoes

Blackberry Bush

Dark Opal Basil

Flowers, of course, are the main event. They add the most color, the most excitement to your garden, so stock up on some of these essentials:

Black Bachelor's Button

Black Forest Calla Lily

Black Bat Flower

Zorro Pansy

Black Iris

Black Hollyhock

Black Dahlia

Decorations, as if the garden itself wasn't enough:

Roman Corinthian Capital Architectural Table from Design Toscano - 700USD
Vampire Blood Cross Statue from Skymall - 60USD

Crescent Moon Vampire Bats Metal Weathervane from Amazon - 75USD

Argos Gargoyle Sentinel Sculpture from Design Tuscano - 129USD

Greenman Wall Plaque from eCrater - 16USD

Tombstone Fog Machine from Costume Shopper

Zombie Garden Statue from Myth and Legend Collectible - 115USD