Thursday, February 26, 2015

Howard Carothers of Elmwood

Today, I went to Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee (my home city) on my lunch break for two things: one was that I needed to be there to take photos and the second was to say goodbye to a beloved friend - Howard Carothers. Now, if you've ever visited Elmwood, chances were good that you met Howard or you saw him strolling on the lawn by the guest house/office, or perhaps even saw him jump on a desk and possibly look at you in a silent request to be petted.

Yes, Howard was a cat. A very sweet cat at that.

When I first saw Howard at Elmwood, I felt my heart melt. He had a laid back disposition and all the free time in the world to simply be a pretty and sweet cat. Although I never got to pet him, I did have one conversation with him and his meow was quite nice.

However, when I received the recent notice that Howard had died, I felt something inside of me die as well. Although he was a cat, he was still a beautiful life on this planet and I knew he would be sorely missed. I decided to attend the funeral both as Elmwood's photographer and also a short term friend of Howard. When I drove up to the bridge, I began to take photos in preparation for my goodbye. Several people were already there and Kim McCollum, Executive Director, welcomed me and introduced me to everyone else. Soon, we took our seats and began the ceremony. I listened to how Howard touched the lives of many people not only in Memphis but all over the world; he even had his own business card as well as a Facebook page and people always asked about him. This, as I happily admitted to myself, was no ordinary cat. Finally, we ended the service with the song "All Things Bright and Beautiful". I followed several people to Howard's burial site, of which is behind the house/office. I smiled as I looked down at the spot then said goodbye and made my way around a part of the cemetery to take photos then left to return to work.

I hope Howard has become a frolicking kitten and has as much cream as he can drink.

Goodbye, Howard Carothers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

So It Goes: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

So it goes.

Those three words mean everything and nothing at the same time. Those three words remind us that the world goes on with or without us, or that there is a specific time, place, date, whatever when something does happen.

Or, I could just be talking about absolutely nothing.

After many years of procrastination, I finally broke down and read my first Kurt Vonnegut, of which just happened to be one of his most famous books: Slaughterhouse-Five. I sat down to read it and two hours later, finished it angrily because I had read it just that quickly. Yet, this book stayed in my mind for quite some time because the book was JUST that wicked awesome.

The story is thus: Billy Pilgrim, soldier during World War II, can travel back and forth through time and even other planes of existence. At one point, he is before, after and in the middle of the bombing of the town of Dresden, only to shift to being a father and husband after the war to later lose his wife in a most unfortunate accident. He then becomes the "victim" of an alien abduction and travels to the aliens' home planet to be part of a living experiment, only to return to Dresden as an inhabitant of Slaughterhouse-Five and then move to meeting with his friend, the science fiction writer Kilgore Trout (LOVE that name!) and then later seeing his friends' books in a display window of an "adult" store. His body and mind are never in the same place for too long, for his life is a series of pictures that move on their own. Far removed from the rest of the world while still being a part of it, Billy never questions, never wonders just why and how he does what he does, or even if it is truly happening.

Of course, this is all the clever invention of an unnamed author who wishes to write a story that begins with, "Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time", and ends with Poo-tee-weet? 

So it goes.

Since this was my initiation into the world of Vonnegut, I knew it was either sink or swim. However, Vonnegut welcomed me with existential dusted arms and told me to take it all in stride and then remember it all, for it would make sense in the bleakest of days. And it did. Being a fan of the black comedy in all forms, I found myself grinning in spite of myself while reading Slaughterhouse-Five.

Oh yes, Mr. Pilgrim. It does go.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

whims of mercurius - poem

I suppose, then, that to forgive
You is expected. Not for
A lack of trying.
This has gone beyond far, beyond enough,
And the words cannot come
Smoother or faster. I know no magick.
To take me at my words, flow straight
Down the pages to something barely
Understood is a miracle.
There is no other liquid to describe it.
I can no longer hold it inside of me,
Just pray, pray and perhaps
The gods shall return.
I am no longer here to listen
But rather to instruct the natures
Of the sybaritic philosophers.
Forward, onward to another truth,
Another tale, another something
That is foreign to your eyes.
My language, here, beside you
Grows stronger, no help from the
Fungus growing on your back
As a result of your tales.
My eyes burn yet not as your silver soul.
Come forward and let me kiss you.
Lips made of impure metal.

Never was I ever closer to you.  

(I have traveled for many miles . . . photo by Kimberly B. Richardson)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My Muse has STRUCK again!


This is the second day of being in my apartment due to the winter storm we had recently and, rather than sit on the couch and watch movies, I dove into my new manuscript of which has no title. While writing a conversation between the main female character, Frances Lavender, with her mother Eleanor, My Muse began to dance around the apartment dressed in a Victorian mourning dress while playing the violin and out came this piece from my brain. I have no idea what to do with it, so I figured I would post it and see what you guys thought.

Oh yeah, this is also my 500th blog post!! Yowza!

Anyway, enjoy ~

(Eternal Depths - ViridianGirl Photos - copyright 2014)

Gracefully upon the word sea, the figure dances.
Darling sailor, come closer and see, see,
what the sea of ink that came from squid
shall tell me today.
Shall it be a song of loss, or perhaps a story of revenge?
Give me your ears, darling sailor, and listen to the winds
that carry such sweet smells that are old and forgotten by those
who refuse to see with eyes covered with metal.
Darling sailor, read to me, read to me
what the word sea says.
I place my hand into the ink that flows
so slowly and pull out a single word -
Love. Grace. Delight. Pain. Anguish. History. Salt.
Darling sailor, take care upon the ink of squid
that festers and boils when not used by silver tongues.
Slip downward into the murk and free, free me,
here in the prison that no one can see.
Do you not hear my pleas, darling sailor?
Upon the word sea is death, a sucking sound of taking within
that which is never used, that which is overlooked.
Gracefully, gracefully, upon the word sea

tell me a story, darling sailor, and let it be free.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bohemian Queen - Amanda Palmer and The Art of Asking


I just finished reading The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. For those of you who don't know who she is, Amanda is a world famous musician, blogger, songwriter, director, activist and everything else that falls under just frakkin' cool. She was one half of the dark cabaret group The Dresden Dolls and is married to Neil Gaiman, creator of the Sandman series and author of many, many delightful books (Neverwhere is my all time favourite from him!) In being a fan of Amanda Palmer, I have placed her on my list of Women That Effin' Rule and after reading her book, I feel that way even more so.

The Art of Asking is simply . . . asking. When we need help with problems that have invaded our lives, do we ask for help or do we suffer in silence? When we need the funds to do another project, write another book, feed ourselves as we paint our masterpiece, or simply to wake up to face another day, do we ask for help? Are we supposed to? Amanda tackles that problem and many more as she reflects on her artistic and very much out there lifestyle all the while maintaining that close and personal relationship with her fans, friends, loved ones and even her enemies. The Art of Asking is about one woman's story to become an artist - from a living statue in Boston who handed out flowers to getting signed on to a major metal record label (and eventually getting dropped) to finally being herself amid the slinging of mud, insults, death threats and the slurs of her "getting a REAL job". The Art of Asking is not only a moment of relief for those who are artists but also for those who live out their lives day by day. It's about looking at someone, a stranger, in the eye and saying YES, I DO UNDERSTAND without saying a word. It's about living your life to the fullest, no matter what the world, inner or outer, says to you. It's about the connections we make as humans and the values we place on them. The Art of Asking is about overcoming your fears to take that next step and not worrying about what may come next.

But mostly, The Art of Asking is about Life. What will you do for your life? How will you make your life YOUR life? Will you reach out to others and simply say Hello?

The trailer above is from one of my favourite movies - Waking Life. If you've never seen this film, I highly recommend it - it is a perfect example of what Amanda speaks of so well in her book. I have a copy of the film - anyone is more than welcome to borrow it from me.

Reading The Art of Asking was a combat boot kick to my butt in my realms of writing and photography; even I get feelings of doubt regarding my work. Yet, time and time again, I'll get an email from a fan or friend, letting me know that they loved my book or seeing one of my photographs made them smile. I value the connections and I hunger for more. I want to be real and I want the world to see me as I am - writer, photographer, bohemian, strange, geeky, Gothic, artsy, whatever. I am simply me. As is Amanda Palmer.

Thank you, Amanda. You rock my and everyone else's world.

Oh yeah, here is the official video for my all time favourite Dresden Dolls song - Girl Anachronism!


Saturday, February 14, 2015

One Hell of a Demon Hunter

You know when you are reading a hit story when you read a scene of a demonic being who has possessed and impregnated a young girl faces a snarky ass demon hunter who is also the son of Mina and Jonathan Harker (like in Dracula Harker) . . . and you're laughing so hard that you almost fall out of your chair.

And yes, I almost did that.

Welcome, my friends, to Raising Hell: A Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Novella by author John Hartness, who is also the mastermind behind the Bubba the Monster Hunter series, The Black Knight Chronicles and Literate Liquors!

John Hartness is one of those authors in which you can't help but like: he's funny as hell, great fun at parties and one of the best writers out there who can easily suck you into their worlds. You strap yourself in for the ride and hold on tight! Such is the case with Raising Hell. This novella will have you turning the pages all the while asking, "what ELSE could possibly happen?" while laughing. Immortal Quincy Harker is a badass who wears Doc Martens and he hates demons. As he says in the book, "I am Quincy motherf . . . Harker!" and you know he ain't playing around! Hartness' no mess, no fuss writing skills will linger in your mind for a very long time after ending the book.  You need to grab a copy today and then go buy all of Hartness' other works; you will not be disappointed.

I took this from John's promo letter but you get the idea - buy your copy today!

He’s the immortal wizard son of Jonathan Harker and Mina Murray, and he’s what the monster under your bed has nightmares about. With a smart mouth, size 11 Doc Martens and a century’s worth of magical knowledge, Quincy Harker is here, and let the bad things tremble in fear.

Quincy Harker hates demons. He hates overprivileged frat boys who let demons play around with underage girls even more. When he’s hired to perform an exorcism on a fifteen-year-old girl, things go wrong from the start. Harker has to call in favors from his uncle Luke, better known as Count Vlad Dracula, his guardian angel Glory and the Department of Homeland Security’s Spook Squad to take out a centuries-old wizard and send all the demons back to Hell where they belong.  


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cyberpunk Mastery - IDORU by William Gibson

After wrapping up my new book, Tales From a Goth Librarian II, celebrating my 41st birthday!, and beginning the edits for the upcoming Dreams of Steam V through Dark Oak Press, I figured it was time to return to my blog!

After years and years of putting it off, I recently made the jump to cyberpunk literature. Cyberpunk, for those few who don't know, is a subgenre of sci-fi in which the focus is on "high tech and low life" - thanks, Wikipedia! Artificial intelligence, cyborg implants, secret societies, and bleakness - I LOVE it! Granted, I am a big fan of cyberpunk movies such as Brazil, Blade Runner, The Matrix trilogy, Strange Days (love Ralph Fiennes in it!), Johnny Mnemonic, as well as the animated series Aeon Flux, yet I never attempted to read any of the subgenre's literature. However, thanks to a friend who owns a used bookstore, I was able to find paperback copies of William Gibson's works, known to many as one of the "fathers" of cyberpunk.

After delving into the awesome book In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides (read my earlier blog post review!), I decided to set my sights to the future and so delved into IDORU by William Gibson. The result was an awesome feeling of being Alice in a dark cyberpunk world. The story takes place in 21st century Tokyo (our time now) after the millennial earthquake as singer and celebrity Rez from the band Lo/Rez declares that he will marry Rei Toei, also known as the IDORU - a virtual media star that exists only in cyberpace. Add to it a young girl named Chia McKenzie from Seattle who is on a mission to track down her fan club's star, a fisher of information patterns named Laney who is hired to seek out certain "nuggets" of information, love hotels, Slitscan, endless bowls of ramen noodles and Russian mobsters and you've got just a stroll in the park . . . sort of. I will admit that it took me quite a while to get used to Gibson's writing style of short, direct and almost staccato speech, yet once I was able to settle in and enjoy the ride, the ride was quite a trip. In fact, after realizing that IDORU is second in the Bridge Trilogy, I immediately went to the library to pick up a copy of the first book, Virtual Light.  

As I stated on my Facebook page, Gibson has hooked me and I go willingly into the dark light. . . . . 

So glad to have made your acquaintance, Mr. Gibson.