Wednesday, July 29, 2015

...spooky school supplies...

Yesterday The Curious Professor Z posted 15 Things that I Love about This Time of Year and her very first item was “Back to School” which of course includes school supplies! Gwee! Who doesn’t love a new pen and notebook?!? 

Last year when I posted my Skulls and Bats ^o^ School Supply Post, I has super gothy-luck because in stores I found a Day of the Dead pencil case (which I still use), a skull flash-drive (which I still use), a skull lunch bag (which I still use), and a bat notebook (you think you know what I’m going to write between these parenthesis don’t ya?!? But ha! Okay, you do… which I still use). I’m fortunate to have so many supplies from last year because during a shopping trip to Target last week, I didn’t find anything that was to my liking. I’m not disheartened because there is always Etsy where I found this awesome little pouch/ pencil case from The Curious Needle (this is one of my favorite fabrics and I even have a custom book purse which incorporates it on the way!), and there is DIY! In the picture, I simply took some Halloween duct tape and covered a notebook with a cover that was unattractive. It isn’t the neatest DIY but it did the trick and now everyone knows the notebook is mine.
I’m still using my Harvey’s Nightmare Before Christmas Jack Lola bag. This is the most expensive bag that I have ever purchased and I actually hesitated and called my mom (the ultimate enabler) and my fella (also the ultimate enabler), and sent texts to two friends. It was January 2013 and was standing in Downtown Disney with my now ex-sister-in-law.  I ended up buying the bag and now that it’s July 2015, it has actually saved me money. For years I would have to buy a new work bag annually because as a commuter, I’m pretty hard on bags. I even destroy leather! But this seatbelt bag has been loved and still looks pretty much the way it did on the day I bought it. I can’t imagine using anything else.

Along with my notebooks, I have a new planner with black roses. I love the inside pages (it also has a two-page spread for the month) for the planner and the spider notebook.

Other “school supplies” include hand-sanitizer. I still use my original Bath & Body Works Halloween bat from the first season. The main difference between this one and the ones they sold last year, which I bought a few as backups, is that the eyes have two different settings on the original.  Last year’s bats blink for a set period of time and then stop. During the dark commuting months (e.g. when I’m walking in the dark), the blinking eyes are a nice way to remind drivers that hey, someone is walking over here!
I also keep a scarf in my bag year round because the AC on the train is usually freezing. I also have a cute skull ID pouch where I keep my commuter train tickets and a bat keychain fob for my work keys. The green Dracula text is actually a Kindle cover. As an English professor, I annotate so I can’t imagine having only e-books. While most academics prefer paper books (I love them! I really do!), as a commuter I have to consider what I’m lugging back and forth. I almost always have a few copies of the texts that I use with my courses—one copy at school in my office, one copy at home in my home office, and an e-copy.

And finally, every year there seems to be one unattainable dream item. This year it’s the ACME Limited Edition Dracula Convertible Rollerball / Fountain Pen.

Monday, July 27, 2015

...a busy weekend with pumpkins, vampire-actors, and a musical with lots of blood...

a little spider

This morning, I am exhausted… partly because I’m physically at work today instead of working from home so I was up by 4:30am to make the trek to work. I also had an extremely full weekend… and a sick fella.

new yard art mask
We were supposed to have a friend over for a little cookout on Friday but my fella caught one of those awful summer colds and slept all Friday. On Friday night, I headed to Williamsburg, VA for Scares that Care Weekend, “a horror convention that unites horror fans to help those in need!” One of my favorite things about conventions like this is the vendors who basically come from near and far. I bought a piece from the talented Abigail Larson and I also bought a vampire hunter kit (with three stakes, a giant wooden gross, Holy water viles all in a black leather pouch), an original art piece called Mr. Bub which is a little devil head, a Day of the Dead wind chime, and two Halloweeny brooches!!! The next day I bought some cool upcycled yard art.  

The only thing that could possibly top all the loot is that I got to meet Robert Maillet who plays The Master from The Strain… and by meet, I mean that I actually paid to take this dorky picture with him. This will be a complicated discussion and I think that after I write it out I may even delete it. I may lose some of you but I’m still processing what it all means.

To start, for the most part I’m pretty anti-celebrity actors. In some ways I’m the perfect audience member because I rarely recognize actors from film to film, and I’m certainly not star struck. I’ve also never been to any type of convention like this. My fella, a Science Fiction nerd, tells me that this was perfectly normal. Celebrities/ actors come and sell pictures of themselves and if you want a picture with them you pay. I had no idea! I noticed the tiny sign after the fact and that’s no big deal… $15 for the guy who plays a vampire on a newish television series that I enjoy. But because I’m an academic, I can’t leave it at that… and because I’m a pretty sensitive person, I started thinking about what I was actually paying for.

When I was in high school in a small rural location, a traveling circus came to town. With it, in the late 1980s, included a “freak show”. Who doesn’t love a good freak show, my friends and I thought so we went through. We paid money to see *the smallest woman in the world*. What we saw was a Little Person sitting in a chair knitting. Beside her there was a sign which read, “$1 to stand in teacup”. The teacup was the side of a small kitchen table but that was their advertising gimmick. I was embarrassed that I had paid for an admission ticket to a place that was exploiting

this woman… but then, didn’t she have a choice. That’s more complicated. Working with the Deaf and those with disabilities, I have learned that I have many able-bodied privileges that my peers have not/ do not have. I have never forgotten that circus and how I felt.

Now this weekend is a bit more complicated because here is an actor who is quite tall, 7 feet to be exact. While I believe that our society privileges those of a certain height, when does it become me paying the extra $1 for the man to stand up? Was I gawking at his size? Maybe a little bit. He probably wouldn’t have gotten the role without his height considering that the storyline includes a back-story of the Master’s body coming from a man named Jusef Sardu who “suffered” from gigantism.

So while I super love all things “vampires”, it bothers me when people are typecast (e.g. Bela Lugosi being a bit stuck playing Dracula roles) based on some sort of physical difference. So my excitement in this picture quickly changed to concern.

I was supposed to be at the conference for the entire weekend but I clearly piled too much into my plans and with my fella being sick our schedule changed a bit. Saturday I left mid-day to head home so that my fella and I could go to see Carrie the Musical. Basically, it was like Glee with blood... and I’m just getting some of the songs out of my head. I sang to my husband all Sunday, “That’s not my name”. He’s never going to go to another musical with me again for sure!

Imagine if my yard were any bigger! A new skeleton on a bike spinner and zombie whirligig!

A sling from old hose!

Yikes Pumpkin Patch!
Sunday was a gettin’-it-done kind of day. It started with me working in my garden (and adding a little sling to support the vertical pumpkin patch! That’s right, we have pumpkins coming!) After that, I was DIY-helper girl at my fella’s house. Hopefully by next week it will be on the market. Yesterday, I sanded and painted old patio furniture in order to spruce up his yard. And today, well, I need a weekend from my weekend!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

... mad and MAD!!! & other Unhappy Hour Poe-woes...

“Men have called me mad;
but the question is not yet settled,
whether madness is or is not
the loftiest intelligence…”
~E. A. Poe

Yep, that is where MY spin landed.

I’m just getting home from The Poe Museum’s July Unhappy Hour. I’ve written about these events before including June’s “the truth behind the Unhappy hour” and May’s “an unhappy hour leads to a Death purse—literally”. They’re always a little different. 

Tonight’s theme was connected with mental illness to coincide with the new exhibit: Madness & Insanity in the work of Edgar Allan Poe. The piece that was the advertised focus was “The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether”; for each Unhappy Hour, I do my homework. This afternoon I read the piece in preparation for any theatrical events or exhibits. I haven’t read this piece in years and had forgotten how creepy some parts are, especially the part about the character thinking that he is a piece of cheese and walking around asking others *with a knife in hand* if they would care for a slice.

Tonight’s crowd was completely different from the May and June events and I think this has a bit to do with the featured bands. 

Tonight’s music was by Fool’s Errand. On their site, they describe themselves as “a Folk group from Richmond Va that blends elements of Gypsy, Americana and World Music.” I thought they sounded a bit like The Afghan Whigs but what do I know. Richmond has become a hipster town and the band drew a hipster crowd. No hate toward the hipsters though because they, too, help tip the balance in keeping Richmond further from the old South and closer to the progressive one. And the band did draw in a good amount of folks which is kind of where this post is leading so stick with me.

Unhappy Hour was almost feeling like a bust as I sat sipping my wine and contemplating heading out to get some dinner. But first, I wanted to see the exhibit. I headed in and was greeted by Kelly who simply announced that she was “the historian”. She was completely alone in the exhibit room and seemingly had been for a while so I struck up a conversation. After the two of us practically nerded out on what we love about Poe during a conversation which morphed into Poe’s sister Rosalie and graveyards in general, I was so grateful that I had had the chance to chat with her. She just felt like one of those kindred spirits and if I hadn’t felt so creepy I would have asked for her Facebook username or something. So even when the overall crowd seems different, you still can find your people. Kelly even comes up from North Carolina! How's that for extreme commuting for something you love. 

There's a cat in the garden!
Overall, it really was a successful event and the museum’s executive director, Jaime Fawcett has transformed the place into a modern, “happening” destination.

After the exhibit, I strolled down the street to eat and continue reading J. W. Ocker’s Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe (October 6, 2014). I’m currently reading chapter five which is focused on Maryland and how the Poe House in Baltimore, Maryland faced being closed back in 2010 and then finally closed its doors in 2013. I remember this being in the news and how upset everyone was. Unlike the Richmond Poe Museum, Poe actually lived in the Poe House in Baltimore. Thankfully the Poe House reopened for weekends last year and seems to remain open on weekends now. 

While I was reading Ocker’s book I was becoming steadily irritated that folks seemingly only miss things when they’re gone or close to being gone. I think of Field of Dreams’ line, “If you build it, he will come.” I guess I kind of feel that way about weird events. I try to frequent every possible Unhappy Hour (and every possible spooky exhibit in the region for that matter) even if I’m looking at the same artifacts in the museum (which this season, I am not thanks to their new exhibits!) I understand there are numerous factors for why the Richmond museum works and the Baltimore one struggles—different location, different surroundings, different people, etc. etc. But if we want places like this to stay open, shouldn’t we frequent them? Shouldn’t we support local? That being said, I appreciate the efforts of keeping the Richmond Poe Museum’s Unhappy Hours diverse. It takes all kinds of people, not just us spooky girls, to keep these museums going. I look forward to showing up to a future Unhappy Hour and discovering a Poe- Griswold Rap Battle! If it happens, remember you read it here first! ;D

Steps down off of her Poe soapbox. 

The cats are Edgar and Pluto by the way. They live at the museum.