Dead Man’s Party

This is my blog’s first Halloween! dead mans party 2

I mostly grew up in 1980s suburban America, which means a)loads of trick-or-treating and b)weird candy scares. Seriously, when I was a kid the local police would offer to x-ray our candy every Halloween, looking for razor blades and needles that never appeared. My parents never actually bothered to x-ray our candy (they would gladly risk our lives to avoid waiting in line on Halloween), but they did feel up every piece of candy we trick-or-treated. Not one razor blade or needle, and obviously no poison–I have four siblings and every one of us is still alive. As an adult, I suspect they were really just looking to steal a few of their favorite flavors from us. I do the same thing, but I’m honest/mean enough to just grab my “mom tax” without making excuses.

Just kidding. My kids are really nice, so they’re usually more than willing to kick me a piece or two from their haul.

dead mans party 1

As a grown-ass adult, I live in the Rocky mountains, in a basically suburban neighborhood, so every year we get a hundred to a hundred fifty trick-or-treaters. I’m a witch every year, as an excuse to sit on my porch in full goth regalia, munching candy. We get a lot of tiny kids, so I try not to make it too scary.

We have a dozen or so skeletons we put out every year–a human skeleton, some crocodile heads, and various other skeletal creatures–and every year I aim for a theme of some sort. I’m not super artistic, but I try. Last year was bayou themed, and this year I’m hosting a “Dead Man’s Party.” The kids helped. I’m very pleased.

 

I’m not sure how popular Oingo Boingo* was worldwide (they’re mostly famous for the “Weird Science” song), but I grew up with “Dead Man’s Party” in my head every Halloween. This year, we’re making it a reality. We bought party hats and kazoos for our skeletons, and come Halloween we’ll blow up balloons and spray some sparkles onto our spiderwebs. By then I’ll have a couple spotlights set up and ready to turn on. Those and our strings of purple lights will keep the party going all night long. The local toddlers will be terrified and excited.

*You may not know Oingo Boingo, but you probably know Danny Elfman from the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack, among others.

What the Hell Did I Just Read

whatthehellI have a few friends who like their comedy, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, whatever in nice little boxes so they know exactly what they’re getting before they start reading. I get why they like that, and that’s fine for them, but I love my genres to mix. Just throw them all in the same box, shake them around a bit, and see what Frankenstein hybrid stories you can tell. I like not knowing what I’m in for.

That’s what attracted me to David Wong in the first place–with all the comedy, horror, sci-fi, and serious drama mashed together I never knew what was coming next. But sadly, I’m starting to figure it out. What the Hell Did I Just Read is the third book in the Dave and John series and I loved it, but I wasn’t quite as enthralled. It was still funny and sometimes horrific, but not quite as mind-bending the third time around.

What I did love, though, was that Dave and John are based on real people. Literally, on the author and his best friend growing up. This makes the goofy heroes of the story also incredibly normal and sympathetic, with realistic insecurities and ambitions and drinking problems. That real human drama is still compelling and sometimes very sad and frustrating, especially as the books follow their characters into the long and complicated years of full adulthood.

David Wong is still one of my favorite authors, right up there with my more acceptably “litarary” faves.* I wonder, though, if Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits ruined me for John and Dave. Less utterly confusing, but more tense and mysterious. Who knows? Only time and several sequels will tell. violence

*For context, I was a literature major. This year’s Nobel Prize for literature went to Kazuo Ishiguro, and though I’ve read at least three of his novels, I was secretly hoping Murakami would finally get picked. I know all this because I’m a bona fide lit nerd. But I try not to be a lit snob. 😉

Trying Too Hard

nuclear redAll you goth and alternative lovers out there, have you ever been told you’re “trying too hard”? I’ve been asked that a few times over the years, and it recently came up again. On Facebook, that bastion of meaningful conversation. :-/ To be fair, the conversation wasn’t totally useless. But there were the comments I’ve heard time and time again: “those people think fashion is a substitute for personality,” “they’re trying too hard to be different,” “they talk about individuality but they all look the same as each other.”

Back in my babybat days I took this stuff seriously. I worried that I was just trading in one conformity for another, I worried that I was trying too hard to be unique, I worried I wasn’t deep enough or cool enough to pull off alternative fashion. Like you have to earn the right to have purple hair or black jeans. The older I get, though, the less I worry about any of that and the more confident I get that I like what I like and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I made peace with the fact that we all strike our own balance between fitting in and standing out. I accepted the fact that by mainstream standards goths aren’t that cool anyway, so not being “cool enough to be a real goth” is the stupidest thing I could possibly worry about. I realized I was never trying at all to be unique, I just was a little different from most people I knew. Even when I tried to look like everyone else and act like everyone else in this super conservative Trump state, people could sense there was something different. And not one of my friends or neighbors was surprised when I went back to black.* The only one my “normal” act was fooling was me.

Funny thing is, the older I get the more I realize how much effort it takes to look exactly like everyone else. Constant diets and hair and manicures and makeup and shopping and microblading and cosmetic surgery all too look exactly like everyone else. I’ve always had “normal” friends who spent an hour or more curling their hair and putting on their “no makeup” makeup, who agonized over which color of boring sweater and skinny jeans to buy. (Or, now that I’m a suburban housewife, which expensive yoga pants to pretend you work out in.)

I spend a lot less time and money on my nuclear red hair and color coordinated (black and red) outfits. I spend a lot less effort just being myself than they spend being “normal,” and I seem a lot happier doing it. I’m amazed that I ever believed for one second that I was the one trying too hard.

If “normal” is who you are then do it. Love it and be happy. I have an evil twin (not literally, but we share our first name and a whole lot else) who looks like a stereotypical suburban mom. Why? Because she’s too busy being an awesome jazz musician to worry about what she’s wearing. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s who you are. But putting yourself through the wringer just to fit in with a bunch of other superficial, insecure barbie dolls? If you’re doing that, please don’t tell me I’m trying too hard. I’m just trying to be happy with who I am, and you can never try too hard at that. **

*Not one was surprised, but a whole lot of them vaguely disapproved and/or pray for my soul to this day. So it goes, so it goes.

**This rant has been mostly fueled by my kids’ fall school break and a tad too much vodka and coke. I promise, though, that I think the same things when I’m stone cold sober. In fact, I think the same things better and more clearly when I’m sober, I’m just usually too busy to write them down. 🙂

Lego Monsters

Mr. Robot remembered to get out the Lego monsters. A few years ago when Lego put out its Monster Fighers line I went a little crazy buying most of them. Now I’m glad I did–my collection was nearly complete when they stopped selling them. Back then they even had a Monster Fighters game on the Lego website. Which I never finished. Because I suck at video games.

What about you? Have you ever felt silly snatching up a deal and been so glad you did?

 

Ancestors in October

Ages and ages ago I wrote about painting my bathroom, and way back then I said I was planning to put up old photos of my ancestors. Then life happened and pictures didn’t. I finally got them all printed and framed, but they’re still just propped up in a corner of the living room waiting for Mr. Robot to put them up. He’s very patient and precise with that stuff, so once he does it they’ll look great and be very secure, but he’s been busy and sick by turns and hasn’t gotten to it. IMG_3932

Aw, well. I never claimed to be great at DIY.

October is a great time for hanging a shrine to my ancestors anyway, what with Samhain and Day of the Dead coming up, and I’m sure they’ll be up by then. (If they are, they fit perfectly with Bane’s craft-along “black and white” theme, so I could participate without thinking up something new. Here’s hoping.)

My ancestors are a mix of Deep South farmers (small farmers, not fancy plantation owners) and actual pioneers (the kind with oxen and covered wagons). Mr. Robot’s mom’s side were also small farmers, but we don’t have any old pictures of them. The pictures we have are from his dad’s side, who came over from Norway around 100 years ago. From their pictures, they were pretty fancy. Lots of well-dressed Victorians with fancy hairstyles. His ancestors look like this:

Mine look like this:

Yeah. I’m proud of my ancestors. I come from religious fanatics and explorers and feuding Southern rednecks, and I think that’s pretty cool. But seriously, look at those classy, attractive Norwegians. When I started this project, I never thought the hardest part would be making those two families look like they belong together.

Instead of picking my family’s most formal photos, I picked his family’s most casual because really, I had to put up Aunt Dess and her pet goat. I never even met Aunt Dess, but she and her goat are my heroes. So cute!

OOTD: Woodsy Witch

IMG_3914I haven’t done an outfit post in ages. That makes me a terrible goth and I must redeem myself. Luckily, my new witch skirt just arrived all the way from England. It’s quite heavy, so it should be nice and warm through the winter. It’s handmade from Corvus Corone and the colors represent the element of earth. There are also lovely skirts representing air, fire, and water and I would have them all if my budget allowed.

You’ll also notice the bright pink hair, a mixture of Special Effects Cupcake Pink and a bit of left over Cherry Bomb. It’s a vibrant hot pink and the color is lasting really well, but about two days after I did it I realized it’s just not me. Next time I bleach my roots I think I’ll go back to Nuclear Red.

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Blouse: Target

Skirt: Corvus Corone Fashion, through Etsy

Boots: Torrid

Goth (Stereo)Types and Why I Love Them All

A few posts ago I wrote about tarot, and I said I loved how each artist brings something new to the same set of symbols. That and some dreaming over dark mori girls (fall always puts me in a witchy, fairy tale mood) got me thinking about the Goth Stereotypes meme.

It’s been going around a long time, but on the off chance you’re not familiar here it is: visit the site for fun description of all the types.

goth types.jpg

People sometimes act like these are hard and fast categories, like you have to pick one and be great at it. If that were the case I would clearly pick Geek Goth because it matches my blog title. But I would also be sad (and not in a fun way) to be limited like that. I am mighty and cannot be contained by one stereotype!

But seriously, I think there are two levels (at least) to stuff like this. On the one hand, it’s just fashion. I see nothing wrong with dressing like a rivethead while sipping fine wine and listening to Bach, or reading Wuthering Heights in your gothabilly pinup dress. On the other hand, I kind of do assume that a rivethead or a gothabilly will have a certain attitude and music taste, and I’d probably use that as a conversation starter.

In that sense, I pick Geek Goth because fantasy novels, cult classic movies, and music of all sorts really gets me going, and fashion comes farther down on the list for me. As a geek, it seems normal to love Sisters of Mercy and Tool and Vermillion Lies and Atrium Carceri and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. We’re pretty eclectic like that. Fashionwise, I’m the same way. I’ve worn and loved stompy Doc Martens, a Bettie Page pinup dress, swirly witch skirts and slick corpgoth slacks. I like it all. Or most of it, anyway.

Goth, like tarot, is a dark theme, and each goth brings something different to it. The types are just a loose map of common variations on the basic gothic theme. They can be useful for navigating this dark and beautiful world, but once you know your way around you don’t need the map so much.  I love to look at this “goth map” every once in a while and just reminisce about where I’ve been and where I’m headed. I think that’s the best use for it.

 

Craft Along with GIY: Black Butterfly Shawl

giy
Follow the Link to Craft Along

I think Bane’s psychic, because I ordered yarn for this butterfly shawl one day before she announced September’s “Things With Wings” theme. The pattern is from Crochet Between Worlds. I found the link browsing through Ravelry. I treated myself to a hank of Madeline Tosh wool. For big projects I can’t afford it, but for smaller stuff it’s just so nice. One hank was plenty for this shawl–I even had enough to add a couple extra rows of butterflies.

Looking at my pictures, I realize how terribly pinned this is. And maybe I shouldn’t have worn it with a black shirt but who are we kidding? Almost all my shirts are black. Even the best picture can’t do justice to how soft and foamy it feels anyway. It’s lovely.

There’s one comment I should make on the pattern, in case you decide to try it. You’ll notice the written part goes straight from foundation chain to a row of double crochet, but the chart clearly shows a row of single crochet right below the official “Row 1” in the written part. I went ahead and followed the chart and it made a nice border below my first row of butterflies.

The pin is an octopus my son spotted for me in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia this summer. Octopus! Shiny! I love it!

Life in the Slow Lane

I’ve been taking time to relax, put my feet up, and work on my shawl. It’s working up really quickly and fits Bane’s “things with wings” theme, so I’m hoping to get it finished in time to post for the craft-along. The original pattern is sparkly butterflies, but in black they look more like moths. I’ll do my best to finish it up and get some nice pictures by month’s end.

To keep me company as I crochet, I’ve been watching Slow TV on Netflix. I worked my way through their “sheep to sweater” world record attempt and it was very pleasant to watch and crochet to, plus I learned a bit about Norway and its knitting history. I especially liked the bit about feminist “hen knitting,” which seems like such a grandmother to pussy hats and saucy cross stitching that are so big right now.

My kids have gotten into the Slow TV, too. They get way too into TV and YouTube sometimes, and this time instead of just taking their devices away I had them watch nature documentaries. That went really well, actually. The kids got really into them.

When I put on Slow TV, though, they got really annoyed. What was this boring crap?

By the end they’d all grabbed yarn from my stash and were crocheting chains like champs. Yes, they tried to knit but couldn’t get it, so they switched to crochet. I’m not prejudiced, I like them both. 😉 I’m just thrilled they want to do something quiet and useful for a change. Enough boring TV and they might even learn to turn those chains around and start a second row.

Evil Dead: the Cross Stitch

I finished my Dead By Dawn cross stitch. I still have to iron and frame it and hang it up, but it’s done. I love stitching–crochet, knitting, cross stitch–because it puts me into a focused, mindful state. Cross stitch is new to me, so this project was right at the limit of my skill and really made me focus. That was a lot of fun, but I also had some sweary moments of picking out (and once or twice cutting out) wrong stitches. I’m hoping practice makes me better at counting squares.

Still, I’m planning to dip back into crochet next. I found a nice shawl pattern I want to make and I ordered a hank of fancy wool to make it out of. I can’t wait for it to arrive.

onyx wool

I managed to finish the whole thing without actually rewatching the Evil Dead trilogy. I watched Little Evil and The Babadook and several documentaries instead. The Babadook was great, but the “babadook=unresolved grief” metaphor was a bit obvious. Little Evil is a horror comedy from Netflix and it’s a bit tame but fun and kind of heartwarming. A good cross stitching movie.