Arguing with Myself and a Long Answer to a Simple Question

Last week, I ran into someone I don’t see much. This came at goth night, so it was pretty much the usual when he said to me, “so, how are you?”

Unfortunately, his timing kind of sucked. I was standing by the door at goth night, so a truthful answer would have been “I’m standing here waiting for 10 different awkward situations to walk through the door.” An even more truthful answer would have been “…and one of those awkward situations is happening right now.”

The last couple of months at goth night has been like some kind of twisted game show where you see whether the predicted awkward situations outnumber the brand new awkward situations. We’ve all been there: we’re dancing, mingling and more or less having a good time, but we’re also watching the door. If an awkward situation walks through the door, I at least don’t want to let it get the drop on me at the bar. You know how that is: you go to get some water, someone taps your shoulder from behind, you turn around and the little voice in your head goes “BUH!!!”

This would explain why, when this person asked how I’m doing, I opened my eyes kind of wide, said “good…” and made the same face that my sister made that time someone hit on her at goth night. No wonder my inquisitor questioned my sincerity. Half of my brain was watching the door. The other half of my brain was in a sensory overload “wtf” test pattern.

Awkward things have been afoot the last few months, mostly brought on by dating. Turns out when you lose 20 pounds and recover your self-esteem, people notice. I appreciate the attention, but that doesn’t mean I have any clue as to how to handle it. Thus, awkward situations happen, either by dating or avoiding dating. Leaving the house becomes an endless game of “oh hell, what’s going to happen NOW?”

So, what’s a girl to do?
Think about it later.
Dissect it.
Have a moment of clarity.

Like many moments of clarity, this one came days later in the shower:

“Why are you watching the door? Why are you letting other people dictate how you spend your night?”

“But…I don’t want to be overtly bitchy to people I’m probably going to keep seeing…”

“Excuse me, but didn’t they already do something bitchy, or at least awkward, to you?”

“well, yeah, but that’s no reason to stoop to…”

“Please. You told those people, as nicely as you could, as clearly as you could, how you felt. If your answers weren’t to their liking, that’s too bad. It’s not your job to keep feeling weird and crappy just because you don’t want to date those people.”

“But they’re going to show up here eventually and do I talk? Do I not talk? Nod from across the room…?”

“They are not the boss of us. WE are the boss of us. We dictate how our night goes. No one else. Do you WANT to say hi?”

“I most certainly don’t want to say hi.”

“So don’t.”

Getting back to the original question, “how are you?” the truthful response goes like this:

“I’m doing better right now than I have since…well, possibly since ever. I get to work from home, my boss doesn’t micromanage me, my cat is awesome, my car is almost paid off, my family relationships are improving slowly, I’ve met a whole gang of new friends, gotten closer with people I’d been meaning to see more, I have a 4.0 in my programming classes, I’m off my drugs, my girly parts are functioning in the way that they were apparently supposed to be functioning the whole time, I’m dangerously close to weighing what I weighed in college, and I can dance for a solid hour without passing out.”

Alas, that’s a long response, a run-on sentence and it sounds braggy. Not to mention that I’d have to do even MORE cardio to be able to get it out in one breath. Besides, it’s loud at goth night and, when people ask how you’re doing, they don’t really want your freaking life story. So I’m just like, “I’m fine…you?”

The Great Goth Fantasy

It is said that guys become goth because they just want to date goth chicks. Who, after all, can resist porcelain mounds of boobflesh peeking out from a strict corset? The bizarre, Victorian notion of unlacing such a thing like unwrapping a vacuum-packed Christmas present?

Or maybe that’s just the fantasy of goth chicks, imagining guys picturing them as coveted Christmas gifts. I can’t speak for the dating habits of goth dudes, as I have never been one, no matter what my frequent use of the expression “why don’t you eat my freakin dick” may imply. Hell, I can barely speak for the dating habits of goth women. Those habits vary from the very emo notion of Soulmates to the more modern idea of Maneating. Is she slutty, or just liberated? It’s exhausting. I can, however, bet that a lot of goth folk, male and female, have faced what I have begun to refer to as The Great Goth Fantasy.

If you date someone you meet at goth night, there are pretty good odds that you’ll eventually break up with that person rather than marry them. When that breakup happens, you will continue to see that person whenever you go to goth night. Eventually, you will end up seeing your ex kissing his or her new mate. I don’t care how adult you think you are, there’s no way that isn’t going to sting. I have friends who have gotten out of long relationships, only to spend years having to see their exes every Sunday. It’s awful to watch a friend go through it, and must be worse to be that friend. Without fail, the exes get back together or one of them just leaves town.

Why, then, would anyone ever, EVER open themselves up to this? Why not just meet some nice boy from a friend’s party, another bar, or work? (Yes, work. Even a job is less permanent than one’s subculture.) Why not try to date a guy who roams in a completely different circle?

Because, even in the most horribly cynical times, some little part of every single goth still believes in The Great Goth Fantasy. You know the one. Since I come from the old school, my fantasy goes like this:

Meeting a guy with a taste for top hats, pocket watches, sideburns and suits. A guy who cares about how we decorate our house, but agrees that the decorating should rely heavily on trolling antique stores. A guy who also fantasizes about one day having an armoire with figural carving. A guy who writes a good paragraph, doesn’t think “lots of good sunlight” is desirable in a room, and who doesn’t think incense smells like old hippies. A guy who understands the wonders of a bath by candlelight and who would have nag champa bubble bath custom mixed instead of using floral junk from Wal-Mart. A guy who bears in mind the difference between metal and plastic boning when picking out Christmas presents. A love for lavish costume dramas would be good, but let’s not get crazy. He does still have to be straight, after all.

Well, that got really specific really quickly. Let’s step back. Big picture time.

To sum up, the great fantasy is to meet a guy who “gets” you. Random guys from random places try, but they don’t automatically understand because their whole sense of aesthetics is out of whack. They’d break up with you for taking a picture of the sink after you have a particularly sweet nosebleed. They think that celebrating the first day chilly enough to wear boots by going to the cemetery is weird. They would want you to go outside when the sun is still up, and maybe even expect you to watch football (or worse, baseball). It would be INSANITY.

Yep, dating someone from goth night can have serious, incredibly awkward repercussions. Unfortunately, the only way to find the fantasy is to keep looking for it. The only way to get to Juno The Caseworker is to try the knob in the door you just drew, even if it seems crazy.

You might walk into the wall 100 times but, sooner or later, that door’s going to open.

Whitby Shore

If you live under a rock or think you’re too high-brow to watch any show sponsored by Flirty Girl Fitness, you may not have heard of Jersey Shore. The concept: a group of ridiculous Italian-American stereotypes (self-proclaimed Guidos and Guidettes) go to the Jersey Shore for the summer. Drunken fights, drunken sex, drunken application of fake hair, drunken cooking, and drunken sun tanning ensue. Also, there is some drinking.

As you can imagine, this is a stroke of genius on par with Rock of Love, except that Rock of Love never had a character who referred to his six-pack abs as “The Situation.” The question on my mind is whether the success of this show is going to lead to a series of caricature-based shows. More specifically, does this mean that MTV is going to offer up a show featuring ridiculous goth characters? People who answer only to Raven, Nightshade, and Lestat? Will the house be decorated in velvet and drippy black candles? Will episodes consist of the characters going on blind dates with other goths, discussing why New Order is (or isn’t) goth? Will Erzebet and Cullen hook up in Cullen’s coffin?

Well, probably not. Why?

1. It’s not 1988.
Back in the eighties, someone might have made a reality show about us. Now, we’ve been around so long that we’re seen as kind of a non-entity. Goth has gotten mushed together with emo and general rock. You and I know the difference, but the average person doesn’t. In fact, that average person probably thinks that goth ended twenty years ago and that anyone who is goth now is just some rebellious teenager or some person who’s stuck in the eighties. Nobody cares about us anymore . Thank God.

2. We’re too self-aware.
The fun of Jersey Shore is that none of the caricatures on the show seem to be aware of how ridiculous they are. The rest of us get to sit around and laugh at them, and they run around thinking that the amount of product in their hair is perfectly normal. Goth people would, most likely, spend half the show making fun of themselves (“Yeah, my name is actually Christy. WTF?!”) and spend the other half of the show making fun of each other (“Seriously, Cullen? A Coffin?”). It’s no fun to make fun of the fat kid when the fat kid beats you to the joke.

3. We’re not good tv.
OK, so we dance funny. We wear too much makeup. We don’t own sensible shoes. We carry parasols. But we would never be caught dead doing cartwheels in a bar, wearing just a thong (this actually happened on JS…and it was awesome). We would never get in a physical fight because someone accused us of being on steroids (roid rage!). And we would never, ever, wear a shirt made by Affliction.

4. We don’t get THAT drunk.
Goths are catty. A goth bar is so totally not the place to get sloppy drunk and make an ass of yourself, because you have to see those same people at that same bar forever. As a result, this helps us keep ourselves in check…or at least at helps our friends keep up in check.

It’s possible that producers could use their Santanic powers to find eight completely ridiculous people if they scoured the globe enough. They would do the usual prodcery things: pelt the cast with 24/7 bright lights, provide endless free booze, provide a script if things got too boring…but I think we’re safe. Remember, no matter what happens, there’s always someone more ridiculous than us. As long as Furries still exist.

Goths on TV: Castle

Ah, Halloween time, the time when shows that your mom would watch do Halloween-themed episodes. In years past, I was blissfully unaware of these things since I don’t watch said shows. Now, such things are snagged by my well-meaning Tivo and its “vampire” and “goth” playlists. In short, every episode with either of those two words gets recorded, for better or worse.

On a recent episode of “Castle,” which appears to be some sort of even-more-questionable version of CSI, Mr. Castle finds a body. In a cemetery. With a stake through its heart. Quick, everybody! To the Mockmobile!

The episode starts with Castle talking to some girl who apparently lives with him. She’s sitting on the couch reading a thick book prominently displaying the title “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Was “Twilight” to obvious, or not public domain enough? At any rate, that sucker has to be the longest version of Pit and the Pendulum to ever be published.

In order to track down the vampire stake killer, Castle and his partner go to a goth store to speak with the man who “made Brad Pitt’s veneers for Interview with the Vampire.” The informant gives them the name of the staking victim. Anyone care to hazard a guess at the victim’s “vampire name”? Give you three guesses. Vlad? Nope. Raven? Nope. Crow? Jackpot!

Crow’s name turns out to be Matthew, which Castle and his partner find out when the speak to his ladylady, who’s showing them around his apartment. Three guesses on decor. If you guessed “velvet, crosses and candles,” you win. Apparently, Crow learned everything he knew about vampirism from some InstaGoth web site…which may help explain his name.

The landlady says Crow’s girlfriend had “long, black hair to her tush.” Castle’s partner responds as though this is the most unpredictable description of a goth chick she’s ever heard. “Long black hair??” I’m envisioning a scene where Castle and partner arrive to the goth club, only to realize that description fits 80% of the girls in the room.

Surprise! The girlfriend (her name is Vixen) has a website called the Den of Iniquity. While checking out the web site, a policeman states that he used to date a vampire girl. They broke up because she wanted to have sex in a coffin.

Naturally, the guy gets the goth club info from this old girlfriend. Within the first 5 seconds of being in the club Castle and partner are hissed at (you heard me) by a guy in full Crow makeup. I’m not saying Crow makeup doesn’t happen…I’m just saying that it wouldn’t happen at a club exclusive enough to have a secret location.

Rule 1: Friends don’t let friends dress like The Crow.

Rule 2: Boots before corset.

As Castle and partner walk through the club, Castle is groped by several females. He’s a good-looking dude, but I’m betting those chicks are trashed. Goth chicks do not grope normal-looking strangers. Goth chicks stand in the corner and wonder why the frat boy is in their club, whether he’s going to pull out a camera and whether they’ll have to kick his ass.

Castle and partner go into the VIP room and meet Vixen, who is busily sucking on some girl’s wrist. The presence of that guy who looks like The Crow gets explained when we find that even VIP Vixen has shit drawn on her face.

Rule 3: Don’t draw shit on your face.

Castle and partner ask “do you know somebody named Crow?” As realistic response: “uh…which one?” or maybe “oh, that douche?” Vixen’s response: “sure.”

Castle, partner, and “Used to Date a Vampire Chick” Guy go to the home of a suspect. Do they find him sleeping in a coffin? But of course. Does he start smoking when sunlight hits him? Yep. Wait, what?

Forensic Lady ends up telling us that Suspect Guy (who bears a striking resemblance to Rob Zombie) has an allergy to sunlight…which apparently causes him to SMOKE when sun hits him? Don’t nitpick, internets.

We have a second victim! A werewolf! Looks light Allergic to Sunlight guy is innocent, since werewolf and Crow were killed by the same person during the day.

Turns out that Crow witnessed his mother’s murder and werewolf guy knew about it or his family knew or…oh, what the fuck.

Turns out it was Crow’s dad’s second wife who killed the first wife. Then, she killed Crow and werewolf guy because they were going to find out.

Castle (who may or may not be attempting a British accent) ends up going to a Halloween party as Edgar Allan Poe. Maybe people from Baltimore sounded British in the 19th century?

Guest Post: Nick Valentino, author of Thomas Riley

It’s not just some crazy guy with a helium tank strapped on his back.

The purpose of a blog tour is for me, AKA new author trying to get in front of new people, to have little celebrity hosted, AKA (evil)amy, stops on blogs. My job is to tell you something witty or interesting about whatever it is I’m promoting or selling then give you a selling point at the end. No, I didn’t learn this in a marketing class.

So I’m going to get it over with right now and you can decide later if any of this interests you. I have a new book, just released on Echelon Press. It happens to be a Steampunk novel chocked full of alchemy, sky pirates, and goggles a plenty. It sounds contrived when I put it like that, but the truth is I wrote this a year ago when I was free to let my mind wander and create something well, new to me. While that doesn’t make me a grizzled veteran of the culture by any means, I do have to say the increased popularity of the culture in the last two years is striking. (And beware; you will be inundated with it in the near future.) All the big publishing houses are just now signing up Steampunk writers… So you have a year or two before you’re hit over the head with it. Then the monstrous abominations, yet probably very pretty looking movies will come.

Aside from the possibility of this (like anything) becoming mainstream and watered down, I’m sure you’re aware of the fun part of the culture as well. I guess it’s different for everyone, but for me, it’s the spirit of DIY that I most enjoy about Steampunk. There are varying degrees of creativity that go along with it. Some people go for “just a touch” by bringing their painted Nerf guns to cons, but some people go all out for the “demi-cog” status. These people are the ones that have literally hand crafted entire backpacks, jetpacks, and light up weaponry out of just about any mechanical gee-jaw they can find. And let me tell you some of this stuff is uber impressive. In San Diego and Atlanta the upper echelon of steampunkery could be seen with full on liquid tanked backpacks complete with working steam ejection hoses. It’s not just some crazy guy with a helium tank strapped on his back. This guy spent months on his wardrobe and I have to tell you it’s pretty amazing.

Interested? If so, keep reading.

My book, Thomas Riley, is out and here’s the blurb.

For more than twenty years West Canvia and Lemuria have been at war. From the safety of his laboratory, weapons designer Thomas Riley has cleverly and proudly empowered the West Canvian forces. But when a risky alchemy experiment goes horribly wrong, Thomas and his wily assistant Cynthia Bassett are thrust onto the front lines of battle and forced into shaky alliances with murderous sky pirates in a deadly race to kidnap the only man who can undo the damage: the mad genius behind Lemuria’s cunning armaments.

If you’re still reading then these links should interest you:

If you would like to find out more about the book, go to:
www.sirthomasriley.com

You can purchase a copy of the book at:
www.echelonpress.com

or buy directly at:
thomasriley.bigcartel.com

(e)tv: Summer Brings a Lack of Wookies

I’m a bad goth chick, as I have never had the time/money/will to commit to going down to Atlanta for 4 days for Dragon Con. I don’t travel well, and I work a lot. In truth, had the recession not hit me this year, I probably would have made it because my sis lives in Atlanta now, which would at least allow me to save on hotel money. Instead of actually going to Dragon Con, I went down to hang out, do whatever, and do a little people-watching.

Despite Atlanta being only 4 hours away, I hadn’t driven there in my 13 years of living in Nashville. I didn’t realize it was so close, and my fear of driving over Mont Eagle was based mainly on childhood memories. In reality, the drama and slope of Mont Eagle only lasts four miles and isn’t really that bad, unless it’s raining or snowing.

I got to Atlanta late Saturday afternoon, and my sister, her friend, Elizabeth, and I took a cab over to the Marriott Marquis (chosen for it’s easy lobby-viewing) to scope out the array of storm troopers, anime characters, and Princess Leias. There was a strong Wolverine representation, which is fine by me on account of the “sideburns” factor. While I stood around saying, “is that a guy? if that’s a guy, he’s hot….if not, never mind,” my sister developed a crush on a gaggle of dudes dressed as Halo characters. Maybe it was Gears of War. I suck at first-person shooters.

This would be a good time to mention that, in addition to Dragon Con, Atlanta was also hosting a Black Gay Pride gathering, an Alabama/Virginia Tech game, and a NASCAR function of some sort. Where else can you witness dudes in burgundy visors (backward, of course) posing for pictures with Predator or a four-foot-ten Gene Simmons?

After the Marriott, we went to a sushi/Thai place, hit a random book store, a bar called The Graveyard (hearse out front? check.), and my sister’s regular bar. I had a couple random blue drinks, which is my fallback whenever a bartender doesn’t know how to make a Blue Valium.

The next day, we had brunch and then went over to little five points. I know, I know. It’s touristy and cheesy, but I had never been and I needed to witness Junkman’s Daughter at least once. We also went to a couple of “thrift stores,” which were mere like vintage stores. For those of you saying, “what’s the difference?” I say, “about 40 bucks.”

After confirming that I was, in fact, mentally prepared to witness Ikea on a Sunday, we went over to witness the seething humanity at the local Ikea. It was fabulous, but in a sort of “I don’t need to do this for at least another year” sort of way, as Ikea is a lot like Disney world, but with crazy Swedish names instead of rides.

Everybody was pretty worn out at that point, so I headed on back to Nashville to put together some video:

Click here if you can’t see the embed.

Friday LOL: Mr. B.A.N.G.

I wasn’t sure quite how to start this post. After all, how does one describe the entity that IS Mr. Bang? I think this would be one of those times when plain English is best.

There’s a guy in Texas who has made a career out of dressing up like Marilyn Manson.

I’m not saying that he’s a celebrity impersonator who’s sitting around counting piles of money and saying “I can’t believe I’m getting away with this, but it beats having a real job, so WTF.” I’m saying that there’s a guy who’s trying to fashion himself into a celebrity solely by dressing up as some other celebrity. And selling pasties with his own Mansonesque logo on them. And asking people to donate money. I wonder if the “donate” button on his MySpace page accepts checks. Reality checks.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll leave you to your own devices to peruse the photos and “fan art” (aka “stuff my 6 year old nephew drew”) on his MySpace page. I’ll let you be your own tour guide for the interview with Combichrist. Instead, I’ll give you some highlights from The “Sitting in a Bathtub Behind a Warehouse” Video.

1. The girl sitting behind him has the saddest groupie gig ever.

2. “I ended up in Texas for the industry that I’m in now.” Which is, apparently, living with his mom and doing “photo shoots” with people from Model Mayhem.

3. Taking big sips of “booze,” aka “water.”

4. When the interviewer gets distracted and starts talking to Groupie Girl, Mr. Bang gets all pissy and starts yelling about macaroni and cheese.

5. He talks about bringing back striped tights, ripped fishnets shirts, and lunchboxes. You know, cause nobody does that anymore. I haven’t seen a fishnet shirt at goth night in AGES.

6. The camera pans away, then back and Mr. Bang’s head is in Groupie Girl’s crotch. “I’d say I feel lucky, but I’m not really the average Joe either.” He’s got a point. I’m pretty sure he’s got a Pulitzer in that bathtub.

7. Mr. Bang tells a story about how his parents never approved of anything that he did, then goes on to mention that he used to hang tampons from the ceiling and cover them with ketchup.

Happy viewing, kids. Happy viewing.