Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Block Party to DIE For! San Lorenzo Pioneer Cemetery Fundraiser

Today was the fundraiser for the San Lorenzo Pioneer Cemetery, put on by the cemetery's Friends.  It was my first opportunity to volunteer with this group, and I grabbed it.  

I decided to go all out, and dressed in a black lace skirt, black patterned leggings, my Anarchy boots, and a fairly new black top with Danse Macabre skeletal figures all around the front of the yoke and their 'victims' on the back.  I topped it off with my 'Death in the mirror' necklace that I use as an icon for this blog.  It turned out to be the perfect outfit, because my assignment was to sit at a table right outside the cemetery gates and sign people up for the cemetery tours!  

The fundraiser itself was very small, but pretty well attended.  There were some carnival games, face painting, a tarot reader, food and candy vendors, the cemetery tours, a raffle of some really good prizes, and some really excellent blues musicians that kept us swaying and almost dancing in our seats.  Normally blues is not my thing, but these guys were GOOD.  And even though we were almost next to them and had to shout at people signing up for the tours, the volume was reasonable.  I didn't get a headache until after I was home, and it wasn't from the music.

The cemetery is very small, but quite nice.  It had a nice, peaceful feeling to it as well.  I'm hoping that, after the graves are strengthened so they won't cave in when digging is done around them, some landscaping can be added.  I think it will be really lovely if we can do that.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

More Goth on a Budget: GothFash & GothMart

One of the places that I've scored some of my best goth fashion finds is on LiveJournal.  In addition to the journals themselves, there are communities one can join, and two of these are GothFash and GothMart.  Basically, these communities allow members to post pics and prices of things they are selling, promoting  private sales between LJ members.  You don't have to be a member of either community to purchase things, but I believe you do have to have an account with LiveJournal in order to post comments and questions.  Fortunately, the basic account is free, so not a problem.  :-)

I've gotten some truly fantastic bargains on these sites, especially GothFash.  You do have to watch where members live, as some are in other countries, so the items might be cheap but the shipping deadly!  In addition to traditional goth fashion items, some members also offer items for those interested in lolita, visual kei, cosplay, etc.  You can also find makeup, magazines, CDs, DVDs, purses, collectibles, and other fascinating goodies.

Take advantage of this opportunity and check it out today.  Just don't buy any of the things I want, okay?  Thanks!  ;-)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Goth on a Budget

One of the activities we talked about doing in my goth meetup group was going on a tour of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA.  I remember last going there years ago, probably when my son was around six or seven; adults paid about $13 each, children were less, and we could roam around the house on our own.  They had guided tours as well, but it was more fun just to wander randomly through, and there were signs in most of the rooms that gave information about various aspects of the house and related incidents that occurred while Mrs. Winchester was living there.  However, when I checked their website last week, the only tours they offer now are guided, wandering is no longer allowed, and the basic mansion tour is $33 per person.  Like so many other forms of entertainment offered these days, this is NOT affordable for many in our group, including yours truly.  :-(

After snarling about this for awhile, I decided our group needed to come up with some fun yet inexpensive events.  Using events already scheduled and then picking my own brain, here is a list I've come up with of some goth-type activities that are accessible to most budgets:

1. Have a cemetery picnic.  Admission is free, you don't have to make reservations, and most cemeteries are open from dawn to dusk, so this can be a fairly spontaneous activity with minimal planning required.  As long as you're respectful of both the graves and other visitors, you shouldn't have any problems.  We've got one scheduled in September at a cemetery that actually has picnic tables.

2. Movie nights are fun, especially when the movies are handpicked for the audience!  Gather at someone's house for a double feature of horror and/or campy fun, like Bruce Campbell's "Bubba Ho-tep" and "Alien Apocalypse", or "Bram Stoker's Dracula" followed by "The Crow".  Serve M&Ms, popcorn and sodas, or if you're in a more down-home, baking mood, how about some bat-shaped chocolate cookies served with red-dyed milk?  ;-)

3. Go clubbing as a group.  Most goth clubs (at least in my area) are actually pretty inexpensive, with covers anywhere from $3-$9 per person, depending on the place.  Get there early for the cheaper cover charge if they offer one, stay away from the expensive drinks, and you can have a really good time for very little cash.  Carpool if you can, and split any bridge tolls between the passengers; this will save even more.  (And if you go to Death Guild in San Francisco, bringing a dead, stuffed squirrel will get you in for free!)

4. Do you have any Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivals in October or November in your area?  If so, they are perfect for goths!  An entire festival of music, dancing, special foods and goodies for sale that center around death and remembering one's ancestors is just our cup of tea!  Most of them have no admission fee, as they are usually outdoor street festivals.  Of course, the food, drink and goodies aren't given away, but if you can't or don't want to spend, you can always bring your own.

5. Have a Goth Glamour Party. I got talked into hosting a Mary Kay glamour party, and decided to invite my goth friends and gear it to our own special needs and interests.  We'll be dressing (of course!) in black, and I'll decorate with a gothic theme and figure out appropriate refreshments (like those chocolate bat cookies).  I'll also talk to my MK rep about using darker, cool colors for everyone rather than warm or neutral colors.  And afterwards, if everyone's schedule allows, maybe we'll go somewhere to show ourselves off!

6. Is there stuff you'd like to create or customize but aren't sure how?  Organize a DIY craft day (or night)!  You can either choose something that everyone wants to do/make, or have each person bring something they're working on or would like to do.  People can share ideas, give advice, and/or teach others how to do something.  Put on some great music, have each person bring a snack and their own drink, and you're set.

Okay, now I'd love to hear YOUR suggestions! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Pyramid Collection: Grimlies!!

I love getting catalogs from The Pyramid Collection.  I usually can't afford anything in them, but I still love looking through them.  Well, this time I found something that I just have to have.  That's all there is to it!

I've never heard of the Grimlies before, but when I saw these shoes, I fell in love with them!

Grimly Skull Mary Janes

The Grimlies Skull Mary Janes have 4" heels and a hidden 1" platform.  The skulls and crossbones are leatherette appliques, and the soles are vinyl.  It doesn't say in the catalog, but based on the closeup of the pic, I think the black outer part is material rather than leather. With shipping, they come to $92.00, so I will be saving my pennies! 

What kind of things do YOU just have to have, no matter what the price?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Beautiful Bones

I love bones.  One of the reasons I became an anthropologist is because I love bones so much.

Bones are awesome and fascinating things.  They hold us together, protect our inner organs and other workings, and allow us to keep our shape while doing all the things that we do, most of which we couldn't do without bones.  Yes, muscles and tendons are also necessary, but bones are the foundation on which they are laid.  Without them, we'd be just like octopi, squid, or even jellyfish. 

Most people don't like to look at bones because, of course, they see in them the death of something.  But when I look at bones, I see what (or who) was once a living, breathing being.  I see the beauty of the inner pieces of us that (hopefully) no one usually sees while we are alive, unless we have x-rays or CT scans taken, although that's not quite the same thing.

I have some wonderful bones at home, aside from my lovely snake vertebrae earrings.  My favorite is a tiny mouse skull that I found in my community garden plot several years ago.  It is the most awesome and delicate thing I have ever seen.  I also have a bobcat skull, which I found at a unique store in Berkeley called The Bone Room.  The size differential between the two is incredible.  And I have a partial bone from a lion that died on the African savannah.  Even when this bone was whole it was fairly small (probably a phalange from a paw), but I'm sure the lion wasn't! 

And then there is the mystery bone that I found in -- of all places -- the vee in the trunk of the tree in my garden!  I have NO idea what type of bone it is; again, it is a partial.  I'm thinking it was probably grabbed from a trash can by either a cat or a large bird.  But it also could have been from a kill at the regional park near us, and brought by either a cat or a bird.  We have both hawks and seagulls flying over and around our apartment complex.  While the seagulls usually just pass over us quite high up, some hawks nest close by and sometimes actually roost briefly in my plum tree.  How the bone ended up in the tree where it did I will leave to your imagination.

Human bones are even more fascinating!  I was lucky enough to be able to take an independent study Human Osteology Lab class while getting my BA, which meant that I got to go to the "Bone Room" of the Anthropology Department every day and work on putting a human skeleton together.  Because it was an independent study class, I could choose my own times to go (no formal class time, and it was just me), and was able to put it together by myself.  I could have done it fairly quickly, much quicker than I did, but instead I allowed myself to go slowly and savor the opportunity.  Each time I went, I read about that day's bone in my textbook, then searched the drawers and boxes until I found the correct number of them, studied them carefully, and finally put them in place on the table.  If I couldn't find a bone I was looking for that day (there were a few that had gone AWOL), I wrote its name on a post-it and stuck it in the right spot.  Just to be different from what I figured most people did, I started with the feet and worked my way up to the skull. Of the 206 bones in the human body, the only one I was not able to find to include on my skeleton was the hyoid.  Here is a picture of the final result:

He may not be the cutest skeleton in the world, but he's MINE!   :-)

I'm hoping that the archaeologist in the Cemetery Friends group I've joined will be someone willing to help me with my quest for more opportunities to work with bones and skeletons.  Keeping phalanges crossed!!

Music: Ghoultown

Ghoultown is described as a horrorpunk/gothabilly band from Texas, specializing in a mixture of garage punk and psychobilly music with a spaghetti western twist.  And LOTS of tomato sauce, errr, blood and guts...

I came across this band on YouTube today while listening to other things.  This is a very WEIRD sound, to say the least, and the lyrics... well, lets just say they're VERY dark and creepy!  The first song I listened to was the one that originally captured my attention.  The name of it is "Drink with the Living Dead", and it's about an undead who was hanged for killing a man for his beer, and is cursed by God to go to saloons and challenge living men to drink with him until one can match him drink for drink, before he can really die.  It reminds me a LOT of the 1979 song by the Charlie Daniels Band, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia".  Quite good, actually, and it had me ignoring work and listening to find out what happened!

I've been listening to them on and off all day.  Not my cup of tea, I've decided, but unique, and not cheesy at all.  The musicians and the lead singer are very good, even though I don't care for the style of music.

I'll leave you with the link for the song I like the best, "Drink with the Living Dead", so you can check them out.  (The lyrics can be found down below the video so you can read along.)  Enjoy!

Friday, July 12, 2013

I'm a Cemetery Friend!

Last night after work, I headed over to my first meeting of the San Lorenzo Pioneer Cemetery Friends Group, otherwise known as SLZPCFG.  (Try saying THAT five times fast.)  This is a very informal group formed in 2010, with no dues, no formal membership paperwork, and no required number of donated hours.  Their goal to restore the extremely dilapidated Pioneer Cemetery that was opened around 1864, and which is badly in need of restoration and preservation. Eventually they hope to open it to the public for tours, and are working on making it a state historic site.

By the time the meeting was over, I was almost drooling with anticipation.  They have a licensed archaeologist in the group, and they are also in touch with various conservation professionals.  Sometime in the near future (probably next year), they will be having workshops on how to clean, restore and preserve old headstones and other statuary found in the cemetery so that we can actually do it ourselves.  Sweet!!  This is the kind of thing I was hoping to encounter with this group, and it sounds like I won't be disappointed.

In the meantime, there's a cleanup day next weekend, and a fundraiser the following weekend.  I've already volunteered for the fundraiser, and although next Saturday's schedule is crowded, I'm going to see if I can get over there for at least an hour to check it out and maybe help a bit.  Since the cemetery is closed to the public right now (it's in such bad shape that it's actually dangerous in areas, and we are not allowed to use shovels or trowels, as we might accidentally cause a grave to collapse), I can't just go in and look around; I have to go when the gates are open and someone is there to supervise. So it will be worth taking the time to do that before the fundraiser.  It will be open then as well, but I don't know if I'll have much chance of looking around.

Here are a few pictures of the cemetery.  You can see why it needs friends!

Even the tombstones are leaning, right along with the weeds.  And broken headstones are always sad, especially when they've been vandalized...


I don't think this tree was QUITE this big when it was planted.  Maybe it wasn't even planted, maybe a bird brought the seed.  Either way, it's a problem now.

Apparently the cemetery was in MUCH worse condition when they started in 2010, but between their efforts and the county stepping in to help periodically, it has been greatly improved.  I'm looking forward to making my own impression here!  :-)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Color It Black!

As I've said before, I believe I've always been a goth, although I had no idea that such a thing even existed when I was growing up -- probably because it didn't, not officially, anyway.  All I knew was that black was my favorite color, that I loved to listen to very sad songs, that I preferred foggy or rainy days to sunny ones, and that mummies, skeletons and cemeteries were neat.  I was coloring flowers black with red centers in kindergarten, and I have the picture to prove it; how goth is THAT???

Remember those boxes of 64 Crayola crayons everyone had as a kid?  I always managed to run out of black long before any of the other colors.  I'd have this tiny stub of black in the center of the box, and fairly small navy blue, dark brown and gray crayons stored beside it (they were as close as I could get to black once it was gone).  My mom used to complain because they didn't sell individual crayon "refills" for those boxes.

As a child, I loved to play dress-up.  One of my all-time favorite items was an adult-sized long black nightgown that someone had given me.  It made a wonderful costume for a princess, a fairy, a witch, an evil queen, you name it, and I made it even better by adding crimson red ribbons to it and wearing it with a black lace scarf and a short black lacy robe (more castoffs in my dress-up collection).  But I wasn't allowed to wear black in public until I was around twelve, when one of my aunts gave me a very plain, short-sleeved black velvet dress that my cousin had outgrown.  My mom thought the color was "too old for little girls" (TWELVE is little???) and wasn't going to let me wear it, but I managed to convince her to at least let me wear it to church (I think my aunt helped with that).  Whenever I wore it, I always felt grown up, elegant and mysterious, even though the dress itself wasn't fancy at all.

Then there was that period I discussed in a previous post, when I wore what the fashion magazines told me I should wear, and rarely ever wore black...  I try to forget that period as much as possible; it's too pathetic and painful.

Since then, black has become a mainstay in my wardrobe, although there are occasional days when I don't wear it at all (quel horreur!). 

I know this is probably a rather silly post, but today I just FELT like talking about black, so why not?  In closing, here's a picture of NoNameHotep, my favorite mummy at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum; since the mummification process blackens the skin (he's actually totally black, the flash lightened him up), I get a mummy, bones AND the color black, all in one lovely package!  :-)

So tell me, how important is black in YOUR life?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Remembering Independence Day


It's funny how we almost always call this upcoming holiday just "the fourth of July"; rarely, if ever, do we refer to it as Independence Day.  I'm not sure if that's because we are more interested in fireworks, picnics, and getting the day off work, or if we just don't remember what this day is actually celebrating.  But we should remember; we NEED to remember.  Because those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

So today I'd like to remind all of us of what the Revolutionary Wars, also called the Wars for Independence, won for us, and what we should be celebrating on this and every Independence Day...

1.  Our freedom of religion.  This includes freedom from religion as well.  No one, including the government or any religious group, has the right to persecute or discriminate against anyone for their religious beliefs OR because they do not believe in any god.

2.  Our freedom of speech.  This includes being able to criticize government and religious leaders, both verbally and in writing, as long as we don't threaten them with bodily harm.  I was shocked recently to find out from one of my friends across the pond in Great Britain that they still don't have nearly as much freedom of speech as we have. 

"I may not believe in what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."  ~Voltaire

3.  Our freedom to assemble.  In some countries, people aren't allowed to gather in large groups unless it's government sanctioned.  It's amazing to think that one could actually be arrested and jailed for gathering in front of a building or in a park to protest or have a meeting, but there are places where it's against the law.

4.  Our right to vote, and our right to have differing political parties we can publically affiliate ourselves with.  The people in so many countries have no choice in leadership; instead they have a dictator, who appoints all the other leaders.  Or they may have elections, but there is only one "approved" candidate for each position.  And if there are actually multiple political parties, it is sometimes very dangerous to be affiliated with any other than the major one.

In way too many countries, riots break out and the military takes over when the leader dies or is removed from office.  Egypt is still in turmoil over two years after they ousted their previous president; they just ousted a second one, and once again the military has taken over the country.  When President Kennedy was assasinated in 1963, my mom says that "the whole world was watching" to see how the people of the United States would react.  However, the U.S. astonished the world by NOT falling apart or going out of control.  Instead, our elected political hierarchy worked the way it was supposed to; the Vice President took over, everyone moved to fill the appropriate empty places, there was little or no rioting in most places, and our country continued to function fairly normally.  The same thing happened when President Nixon resigned under threat of impeachment in 1974.

5.  Our right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, our right to legal representation, and our right to a fair and speedy trial.  If you think these are rights in most countries, think again.  Even in some first world countries, you can be imprisoned without being charged, and without recourse to legal representation, for however long the authorities choose.

6.  Freedom of music and dress.  With the exception of public nudity and explicit sexual acts, most forms of music and dress are legal in the U.S., both in public and in private.  As members of an alternative subculture, this is definitely one for us to be grateful for.

There are a lot more freedoms that we have, of course, but these are the ones I think about the most, especially when so many other countries are experiencing national chaos.  I hope you will think about them, too, and remember those who fought, those who died, and those who gave up their loved ones and their peaceful lives so that we could have them.

Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 1, 2013

July: "I'm SO Goth..."

Okay, this is a new one for me, hehehe...

"I'm so goth I wear sunglasses to open the refigerator."

Gotta remember to try this sometime...  ;-)