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!