Friday, August 29, 2014

The Living Tarot Photo Shoot - The Empress Card

Friday night and I am at home, enjoying a concoction of ice tea, blueberry juice and lime juice while working on the next Living Tarot photo card! 

Before I begin, I want to give a major Horde shout out to all my friends at Dragon Con - 


Okay, that was fun!

Anyway, my friend Emily portrayed The Empress Card during the photo shoot and she did a fantastic job of doing so. According to the Tarot, The Empress Card means fertility; femininity; beauty; nature; abundance. 

May I present to you The Living Tarot - The Empress Card!

 Emily Fulghum as The Empress

 She is of the Earth and loves it so . . . . 

Thank you, Emily!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Hands of Art Photo Shoot - Tanya Vandesteeg

Ever since I began the science fiction and fantasy convention circuit seven years ago, I have encountered and befriended many people from all walks of life. Although the average con-goer sees perhaps only one side of a celebrity's persona, many of those celebrities are multitalented in very strange ways (like my mushroom fascination!).

Take my friend Tanya Vandesteeg, for example. When I first met her, I only knew her as part of Expedition Unknown, a paranormal investigation group located in Memphis. However, I quickly learned that she had many other layers to her life - singer, performer, actress and other things I can't remember at this moment. Sorry Tanya!

Tanya is one of the nicest, sweetest, funniest people you will ever meet and I am so glad to call her friend. I am also so glad that I introduced her to absinthe at Contraflow!

So, without further ado, I present to you The Hands of Art - Tanya Vandesteeg!

 One of the many ways that Expedition Unknown tracks paranormal activity, although I have NO idea what this thing is called.

 Pretty eerie lights!

 Who ya gonna call? Expedition Unknown!

Thank you, Tanya! And yes, Expedition Unknown sells these ghost drinkers at their booth at cons!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Book Review - Lying on the Couch by Irvin D. Yalom

Whenever I get a really good book, I tend to fly through it and feel cheated at the end because I read the book way too fast. However, when I began the book Lying on the Couch by Irvin D. Yalom, I found that, as much as I wanted to devour the book, I instead took my time and thoroughly enjoyed it. This book took me about a month to read yet it felt shorter than that. This is a book that everyone should read, even if psychology is not your thing.

Meet Ernest and Marshall, the two therapists that are central to the novel. Ernest is a widower who still has a sexual appetite that remains unfulfilled and Marshall is a no nonsense man and husband who is steadfast when it comes to the science of psychology. Yet, as the reader finds out very early on, they are both human and their choices, both made and not made and the consequences that they must endure is insightful, surprising and at times, funny.

Justin, a client of Ernest, comes into his office one day to inform him that he has left his wife for another woman and never has he felt happier. However, the woman Justin has left behind, an ice queen and very bitter woman named Carol, has plans of her own in trying to exact a sort of revenge. As part of her scheme, she becomes a patient of Ernest, thinking that he was the one who encouraged her husband to leave her. Marshall's wife, Shirley, becomes more and more interested in ikebana and Zen meditation as her husband  kindles a friendship with a former patient who is literally too good to be true. The degrees of separation are not six; the reader watches the drama unfold itself as each character plays their part into the hands of someone else over and over again - all in the name of psychology.

Yalom, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, has written quite the psychological drama laced with black humour, hints of the erotic and even lessons in and of the mind. This book is for the person who needs to have several free hours a day to read with no disruptions or for someone who just enjoys a well written and well laid out story that will keep you guessing to the end. And, for the record, he does not bring the story to a closure; you'll have to create your own ending that will be right no matter what.

This book is highly recommended with all ten fingers up!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Being With The Dead - Elmwood Cemetery Photo Shoot

I have always enjoyed walking through cemeteries; there is a peaceful solitude that actually feels comforting for a weary soul. Elmwood Cemetery, one of if not the oldest cemetery in Memphis, opened its doors after hours for photographers today and allowed us to take as many photos as possible.

Of course, the Goth Librarian could not resist such an event.

Here is a small sample of my excursion through Elmwood; when I completed my time there, I did say a small "Thank you" as I returned to my car.

I had to show respect.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Living Tarot Photo Shoot - The Magician Card . . Now With Steampunk!

I just finished off a bowl of cherries while listening to music - time for another Living Tarot card! 

This time, I thought it would be appropriate if we made a visit to The Magician, as portrayed by my friend, Stephen. According to the Tarot, The Magician represents - power; skill; concentration; action; resourcefulness. 

Without further ado, may I present to you The Living Tarot ~ The Magician!

 Stephen Guenther as The Magician

 As Above, So Below

 To Your Health!

 The Steampunk Magician is a Gentleman

Thank you, Stephen!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Smoke and A Girl Photo Project

While at my corporate job the other day, my Muse decided to kick my head with soccer cleats. Although it hurt like Hell, I came out of it with a really cool idea. I called up my friend, Jean Marie, and told her what I wanted to do. She seemed thrilled about it and, well, the rest is history.

Stemming from my love of foreign and classic films, I decided to do a photo shoot of a woman and her cigarette. Although you don't see my friend's complete body, you still get the idea of something feminine, mysterious and classy from my photographs.

This was a fun photo shoot in the name of ART.

So, without further ado, may I present to you ~ A Smoke and A Girl.

You wonder if she's done this before . . . . 

Smoke gets in your eyes . . . .

 Retro a la Mad Men.

 Dark and Gritty. Noir. 
What secrets does she have to hide?

My "homage" to David Lynch. 

Sultry. Mysterious. 

Thank you, Jean Marie, for your assistance on this project!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Meeting at the Crossroads - Clarksdale, Mississippi

After reaching a stopping point in my edits of Tales From a Goth Librarian II (coming soon from Dark Oak Press!), I decided to return to yesterday's adventure. For those of you who do not follow me on Facebook or Twitter, I decided to attend the Sunflower River Gospel and Blues Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

I will freely admit that while I do love all kinds of music, I am first a foremost a Jazz fan, thanks to my grandfather and watching Peanuts shows on TV. However, my love of the Blues is, although recent, a profound part of my life. I live in Memphis, Tennessee - the Blues is everywhere here! However, if one wishes to listen to Delta Blues, all that is required is a trip on Highway 61 and soon, you'll find yourself in the Delta. When I left Memphis Saturday morning, rain greeted me on my trip, making me wonder if perhaps I made the right decision in driving down. However, the rain gave way to blue skies and flat green fields as far as the eye can see, giving me a boost to my hour and fifty three minute drive. I was ready to hear the Blues.

Soon, I arrived in Clarksdale and drove through the Crossroads with no sign of the Devil holding a contract. I made my way Downtown, parked the car and soon set out to hear good music. As I stated in an earlier post, Clarksdale, to the newbie, will seem like a sleepy Mississippi town with old storefronts. However, that is far from true, for there is a vibrant sense of pride and culture in the town and it is easy to become infected with it. Delta Blues is more than just music - it's a way of life, a culture all to itself and dark history. As I walked, I began to hear music and followed it to the festival area, complete with a full tent for the acoustic musicians and a stage for the afternoon and evening entertainment. I had arrived.

My first stop was the Delta Blues Museum, of which I highly recommend to anyone who visits the town. Although they do not allow photography or video taking of any kind, it is still worth visiting. Where else can you find clothing and instruments used by some of the greats in Delta Blues, as well as video clips of performances, photographs of the musicians and even the actual frame of Muddy Waters' home? Some of the entertainers represented in the museum were BB King, John Lee Hooker, Charlie Musselwhite, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and many, many others. Even if you are not a fan of the Blues, the museum is still too cool to miss out; not only is the Delta Blues represented but also the history of the Delta itself. 

Once I completed my tour of the museum. I decided to finally make my way towards the acoustic tent and I'm glad that I did, for I got a chance to hear both Pat Thomas and Lucious Spiller - both really, really, really awesome Blues musicians. The many mega air fans kept the temperature nice and cool while I perched on my bag that sat on the table and relaxed into the music. There was nothing like it and I had to text several friends who were also Blues lovers about the fabulous time I was having and how I wished they could have been there with me.  

After a while, I left the tent and resumed walking around. I wanted to take in as much as possible. It seems as though every time I visit Clarksdale, my time is sadly limited. So, I walked, took photographs and even stopped by Hambone to hear another band perform before making my way to one of the coolest places in the town - Cat Head

I have noticed that whenever I visit Clarksdale, I always end up visiting the same places that never get old or boring to me. Visiting Clarksdale is seeing an old friend, one that never changes.

I walked into Cat Head and soaked in the many pieces of art, books, music and Cat Head souvenirs, only to grin when I noticed the guy who stood behind the counter. I always forget to ask his name, yet I had one of the best experiences while listening to him talk about the history of the Delta the last time I visited. That man was a wealth of information and I could have listened to him all day. The last time I was there, he asked me if I was going to stay and go to one of the bars to hear more music, to which I told him that I had to get back to Memphis. Of course, when I saw him again, he asked me the same question and I gave him the same answer. 

Clarksdale, just like Memphis and other cities in the Delta, are great places to get a taste of the Delta Blues or any kind of Blues for that matter. Many of the musicians from Mississippi did move to Memphis; if you live in Memphis, you can't help but have some sort of an appreciation for the Blues. In fact, I am planning for my next festival - King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas!

Bidding Clarksdale a fond farewell, I made my way back to Memphis but not before taking in the Delta and repeatedly stopping on the side of the highway to take photos of the land:

The Delta is flat, yes, yet also very beautiful. Once does not simply visit the Delta and say, "How boring." or, "What's up with this Blues crap?" And yes, someone actually did tell me that. I urge people to visit the Delta and really take the time to understand just what they're experiencing. It's more than just flat land and sometimes overbearing heat. 

Welcome to the Delta . . . and watch out for a grinning man holding a contract and a guitar.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Living Tarot Photo Shoot - The Hermit Card

While getting ready for the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi, I figured I would also complete another Living Tarot "card" as well - The Hermit. 

According to the Tarot, The Hermit card signifies soul searching; introspection; being alone; inner guidance.

A big thanks to my friend Thomas for portraying this card!

The Halloween Tarot 

May I present to you The Living Tarot - The Hermit Card ~

Thomas Jenkins as The Hermit Card.

 The Hermit is a solitary creature, forever seeking knowledge.

Eternal Meditation . . . 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Living Tarot Photo Shoot - The Judgement Card

Currently working on my latest round of final edits for my new book, Tales From a Goth Librarian II (coming soon from Dark Oak Press!), while working on yet another Living Tarot "card"! This time, I wish to show you Judgement and I have to say that both my friends Jada and James portrayed the card very, very well. In fact, as they posed for the photos, I actually felt a shiver down my back and I wondered if I too was being judged.

According to the Tarot, Judgement signifies judgement (of course!); rebirth; inner calling; absolution. When Jada informed me what she wanted to do with the card, I knew it was going to be a hit. And it was.

A BIG thank you to both Jada and James!

So, without further ado - JUDGEMENT:

Judgement - The Gothic Tarot

May I present to you The Living Tarot - The Judgement Card ~

 Jada Brisentine as Judgement. 
She is holding the Judgement Card from the Deviant Moon Tarot Deck. 

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged . . . 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Living Tarot Photo Shoot - The Death Card (Female)

7:20 pm - Memphis, Tennessee. My apartment ~

So, here I am at my computer listening to Blue Stahli and working on the next Tarot "card". This time, I figured I would show the female Death card, as portrayed by my friend Jennifer.

When people think of the Death card, they immediately get the idea that it is a horrible and finite card to have show up in a reading. However, that is quite untrue. According to the Tarot, the Death card signifies change; metamorphosis; end of ways. Simply stated, it means that all things will come to an end, only to be reborn as something else. A change is coming!

So, without further ado, The Death Card of a female persuasion!

 The Death Card - Deviant Moon Tarot. Since this was the only female version of the card in my decks, I figured I would save the others for the male Death.

May I present to you - The Living Tarot: The Death card (female)

Jennifer Absher as Death (female)

 Shrouded in skull lace, Death calms us as we prepare for the change.

 Death is beautiful to behold.

Thank you, Jennifer, for your lovely portrayal of Death!