Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

OK, so I originally wanted October to be a big blow-out for this blog, and I've barely posted anything at all. I'll be was busy, I had a nasty cold for a while, and when I wasn't blowing my nose and coughing out my lungs, I was out taking in all sorts of Halloween fun.

I've done things like go pick pumpkins at farm in the country, and gone with friends to the full production of Goatman Hollow. I had two parties last weekend, and attended Gaylaxicon in Bethesda a few weeks ago.

All in all, it's been a pretty good Halloween season, compared to a few I've had in the past, including one disastrous Halloween night where my boyfriend of the moment dumped me in the middle of Dupont Circle.

So, tonight I'm off to a party at a friend's; I had hoped to go to a big Halloween show at the Palace of Wonders, but I procrastinated getting tickets and, guess what, they were sold out. Well, poo. I'll just make the best of it.

And then tomorrow night I'll be participating in the first-ever Silver Spring Zombie Walk, which starts a local bar & grill and ends at the AFI Silver, for a late screening of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Should be fun....

So I hope all my readers out there are having a safe, spooky, and fabulous Halloween. And if you're just going to stay home and read, that's fine, just enjoy it!

HYPERBOREA, by Clark Ashton Smith

Some more fun from Klarkash-Ton, as he was known in Lovecraft circles. This time, instead of the far future, we've got the far-flung past, the lost continent of Hyperborea, slowly being taken over by glaciers.

While there are lots of similarities to the Zothique stories, there are some major differences. While the stories often have a sense of impending doom, it's not quite as relentless as Zothique. Hyperborea's doom is only one of a series of dooms; doom in Zothique is final. There's also a lack of Zothique's near-relentless decadence and frequent hints of necrophilia and carnal depravity.

The stories are, of course, great high fantasy. "The Seven Geases" is a classic of pulp fantasy, with a cursed man wandering the underworld, finding that every being that he's sent to isn't interested in him. "The Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan" is a nice bit of supernatural revenge. "The White Sibyl" is more subtle, a tale of fairy-tale romance with a sharply mundane ending that calls up some of the truths of human nature. "The Testament of Athammaus" is one of the better ones for sheer grotesquerie, in which a criminal of strange ancestry takes a horrible vengeance on a city, seemingly for no real reason except for the sheer joy of evil. "The Coming of the White Worm" is fairly standard pulp fantasy with tinges of horror. "Ubbo-Sathla" is unusual for being a story that involves the contemporary world, in which a man finds an antiquity that allows him to travel into the distant past of Hyperborea. "The Door to Saturn" is a perversely humorous tale of two enemies from Hypberborea finding themselves transported to an alien world and having to cope. "The Ice-Demon" is a fun bit of heroic fantasy, with a team of thieves seeking a treasure in a glacier. And the last two, "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros" and "The Theft of Thirty-nine Girdles," are fun picaresque adventures of a master thief and his exploits.

The edition I have (Ballantine Books' Adult Fantasy line) also has Smith's "World's Rim" stories, which really are one actual short story, "The Abominations of Yondo," with a trio of brief vignettes. Nicely atmospheric but hard to put down in any sort of organized mythology or context. They just simply are.

This wasn't as tough going for me as the Zothique tales were...perhaps I'm getting used to Smith's style?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Greatest Show Unearthed

So, not long ago my new friend Bella Donna told me about an interesting-sounding show, a Halloween belly-dancing performance. I thought, yow. That's definitely something I should check out.

And it turns out it's the third annual show. How the bloody hell did I miss out on the first two?

At the Saturday night show, I had a terrific time. This was great spooky eerie fun, the perfect way to kick off the Halloween holiday season. And the lovely touches of decadence only make it better. Well, jeez, a belly-dancing show can't help but be decadent by its very nature.

(By the way, the title for this post was cribbed from one of the segments. Sorry, it was so good I couldn't resist.)

Performances ranged from a reflection on murder to a swivel-hipped Frankenstein to naughty trick-or-treaters to other stuff. Bella Donna did a terrific Little Red Riding Hood number with local drag king Ken Vegas. Two groups, Troupe 'Hip'notic and Mortifera, did effective sideshow/freakshow pieces. And the routine by Miss Joule and Surprise! was a fun B-movie inspired hypnosis piece (at one point ordering the audience to vote Obama, which roused the loudest cheers of the evening). Baltimore-based Shems did a very thought-provoking number, which switched between traditional belly dance music and combat sounds. But everyone was outstanding in their own way. I had a great time, not only with the show, but also hanging out with my growing circle of friends in the DC burlesque/performance community.

Alas, there were only two performances, and Saturday's was the last. So keep your eyes peeled for next year's show. I'll see you there!

(I can't believe this, but I forgot a link to the show's main site. Here it is: BellyHorror.)

Other notes...

My glaucoma turns out to have been caused by one of the nasal sprays I've been on, Nasacort. If anyone reading this is on a steroid nasal spray, I'd suggest you talk to your doctor as soon as possible. But the really good news is that it's responding to treatment amazingly well. My ophthalmologist said my reaction has been "ideal" which is heartening.

I'm currently reading THE GHOST IN LOVE by Jonathan Carroll which I'm reviewing for Amazon (!) and won't be reviewing for this blog, alas. And I've been approached to be an "artistic consultant" and do some writing for Houston's Opera Vista, albeit it'll be all by email. Being an urban bohemian on a limited budget, I can't afford to jet down to Houston for the performances. Sigh. But it is seriously cool that these things are happening!