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:

You can purchase a copy of the book at:

or buy directly at:

Hellblinki Sextet Rock My Lame Ass

Oh, Nashville. We can’t have goth night without winding up with a room full of giant chain pants, but if a show is on a Thursday and tornadoes are in the forecast, attendance sucks. Fine, the show was on short notice and, if I had a more Lohanian social calendar, I wouldn’t have made it either. Then again, half the people on my social calendar would have wanted to go to the show and the other half would have been totally cool with me flaking on plans with no more reason than “dude, top hats.”

“Amy, haven’t you been bitching about work hours being cut? Why were YOU going to a SHOW anyway?”

Consult the memento mori ribbon on my wrist. Life is short. Sometimes, you have to eat ramen for a week so you can not sit at home watching So You Think You Can Dance. Besides, the cover was only five bucks. If a bunch of people can drag their asses to Nashville for a last-minute show in a tornado, by God, I can take a shower and slap some makeup on my pasty flesh.

What did most of you you miss? A typically energetic set from everybody’s favorite band of accordion-toting, cymbal-with fist-playing, sideburn-having miscreants. I just like saying miscreants; Hellblinki are actually good kids, but don’t go telling anybody. Reputations, you know.

Since I felt kind of bad for the poor turnout and my own lack of ability to buy merch, I wanted to make up for it by offering up my place as a crash venue. It’s kind of like when you’re the oldest kid in your class Sophomore year; it’s your job to pick up your friends so they don’t have to ride the bus with the freshmen. So it is with crashing space. Now that Company doesn’t have to sleep in my kitchen, I’m able to say to friends, “hey, if you come to town, I have space…just don’t let the cat out.” Besides, people my own age are much more low maintenance than certain older, “gave birth to me” people I could name. When mom comes to my house, she just stares at my array of coffee mugs and points out that there are no glasses to drink from. Being bourgeois is a continuum; compared to mom, I’m punk rock. Compared to my friends, I’m Mariah Carey. How do you expect me to put on my shoes standing up? I need a settee!! Also, people who drive around in a van are usually too tired or polite to ask why the fuck you keep canned goods in your fridge (old habits), why there’s a tripod set up in your bedroom (shooting blogs, not porn) or why there’s a dismantled wire hanger on your bathroom floor (see “Widowmaker: The Horror”).

Rambling must stop.

Hellblinki will be at Dragon Con; say hi and buy some merch, for God’s sake.

(Sidebar: did you know there’s a “Juggalo Convention” every year? Somebody pay for me to go so I can write about it. Nothing says “comedic potential” quite like a hotel lobby filled with Insane Clown Posse enthusiasts.)

(Sidebar 2: After getting badgered about it, Andrew Hellblinki apparently set up a Twitter account, but it never really took off because, as he says “I do not text.” I cannot wrap my head around such a concept. It’s like when a friend in high school told me that he’d never eaten fish. “What do you do? TALK to people? WTF?!”)

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.

Consumer Reports: 10 Fave Beauty Products

1. Tongue scraper (any brand)
It’s not a very sexy way to start a list but, as not all of you use one, I’m taking the opportunity to continue to badger you about this. I’m a huge fan of my tongue scraper, and it helps me avoid (as much) breath paranoia and scrapes the coffee-related funk off my tongue after a work day.

2. black eyeliner (Mehron, Hot Topic)
Performance Costumes in Nashville sells a black eyeliner made by Mehron that’s about two bucks and actually really good. Surprisingly, the Hot Topic line of makeup is also good stuff, though the “glitter eyeliner” doesn’t really contain that much glitter.

3. soft lite powder (Performance)
Goth chicks and drag queens, take note: Performance’s brand of loose setting powder will keep your makeup on through dancing. Drugstore foundations and powders are all too dark for most of my sun-avoiding goth peeps, but Performance’s foundations go all the way to white. Note: that doesn’t make it OK to wear white foundation.

4. Rave #4 (Kroger, Wal-Mart)
I come from the days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and 13 year-old girls had crazy mall bangs, thus I can say with some authority that Rave #4 is the Cadillac of hairsprays for bulletproof hair. It even beats Aqua Net Extra Hold, no matter what Motley Crue will tell you.

5. Dish Brush with Replaceable Brushy Head (Target)
A dish brush? Yep. Run a piece of ball chain through the handle, and you’ve got a bath brush that will slough off dead skin, hang neatly in the shower, and have a long enough handle for you to wash your whole back. If you’re feeling really hard core, you can fill the handle with body wash. When the head starts to get funky, just toss it in the laundry or dishwasher.

6. Bonnie Bell lip gloss (anywhere)
It comes in tons of flavors, keeps your lips from getting chapped, and reminds you of when you got your first tube at age 5 and ATE the thing. Wait, was that just me?

7. Mehron Clown White Lite (Performance)
It comes in a body butter-like container and is good to use as a highlighter. Note: I don’t condone using it as foundation, unless it’s Halloween. Friends don’t let friends dress like The Crow.

8. Body Scrub / Buff Puf (Kroger)
In order to have a smooth surface for whatever makeup you’re wearing, you have to exfoliate. Exfoliating is also helpful if you have bad skin, as good exfoliating helps avoid clogged pores. I use scrubbers that are designed for bodies and feet on my face, but that’s not for everybody. In one moment of non-brillance, I even used a light-grade sandpaper once. It felt great until 10 minutes after when my face burned like fire. Duh.

9. Orly “Liquid Vinyl” (Sally Beauty Supply)
Liquid Vinyl is the name for Orly’s black nail polish. As someone who has been in the black nail polish game for roughly 13 years, I’d say that this has been my favorite. It will give you a good, solid black in one coat and stays on for a decent length of time.

10. Alcohol-free mouthwash (Kroger, Target, Wal-Mart)
Since we started with oral hygiene, I’m guessing that we should also end with it, just for balance. The alcohol-free mouthwashes cost more, but I think they’re worth it. Why? If the mouthwash isn’t burning your face off, you’re more likely to swish it around as long as you’re supposed to. Also, mouthwashes with alcohol in them untimately dry out your mouth, making it more open to stank breath than it was in the first place. Floss, brush, scrape, rinse. It’s kind of an elaborate ritual, but it’s worth doing, especially if you’re about to go to a bar and yell in people’s faces. Does that make you paranoid about your breath? I’m always paranoid about it, especially since the ENT man says I shouldn’t be chewing gum.

I Am Your Flag

Last night, I had the sides of my hair cornrowed up into a mohawk. I know it’s a little non-committal, but my hair isn’t thick enough to survive having half of itself shorn. I need every hair I can get. As I told my mom, “it will either be kick-ass or really unattractive.” The results are in, but still sort of inconclusive. Since I’m not doing it up into a proper mohawk, it sort of hangs, looking like normal hair with a side order of WTF Train Wreck. (WTF Train Wreck is fun, though somewhat unexpected.)

For the hour that I was in hair-doing lady’s chair, she asked me various questions, using me as a sort of goth/punk ambassador. We covered the difference between a mohawk and a deathhawk, punk and deathrock, and then came the eternal question:

“So, what IS goth?”

Oh Jesus. You guys know what a third rail this is, as the definition pretty much depends on who’s answering the question. I tried to keep it simple:

“Well, it’s grown into a lot of subsets. I’m a weird mix of old-school goth, Deathrock, and Perky Goth. That is to say that I enjoy corsets, cemeteries, Poe, and horror movies, but I’m not opposed to tutus and glitter. Don’t ask me what those people in the big chain pants are thinking, because I have no idea.”

I know, it’s so much more than that, but I didn’t think it would be a good time to go into the idea of being a living memento mori. Or the love of Victorian sentimentality. Or how the old-school deathrock bands really had a wicked sense of humor. Or how the acceptance and embrace of death better equip us to fully live life. All of those things are the things that make me love us gothfolk, the things that wrap around my spine. The love of those is the disease, and the fashion and music are just the symptoms..the fabulous syptoms. It’s very tempting to say “oh, it’s all just about music and clothes,” but that’s a serious over-simplification for me. It’s an ideology that amounts to actually being very “carpe diem,” which may explain why us gloomsters were originally referred to as “positive punk.” Us?! Positive?! Yep.

As for the dudes (not that I base my hair on what guys think, but I’m a curious little monkey), the results thus far have been positive but sketchy. I was hit on when I went to visit Jen at the mall last night. Why sketchy? Because I suspect that those dudes would hit on anybody who walked by. Oh, and guys…it’s really not proper social etiquette to ask a small female if she lives alone. It’s creepy. Just a tip.