Category Archives: Shows

The Aftermath: Blood Over Texas Horror For The Holidays – 5

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Well, that does it for the overview of Horror For the Holidays, and now it’s a matter of getting word about next year’s show. If it remains a one-day event, I’ll make the trip, and make sure that the hotel doesn’t “accidentally” lose the reservation this time. If it ever becomes a two-day show, the problem will be getting me to leave. I’d avoided Austin for years because of horrible experiences in the past with certain elements of Austin’s fan community, but I obviously never met any of the horror fans. They’re good people, and comparing them favorably with Dallas’s horror fan community is the highest compliment I can pay. Selah.

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The Aftermath: Blood Over Texas Horror For the Holidays – 4

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For folks in the Austin area, this is Bunny, the vendor liaison for the Horror For The Holidays event. Please buy her drinks, or whatever she wants, and put them on my tab. Whatever it costs, it’s not enough to compensate for her kindness and professionalism. Thanks to her, Horror For The Holidays was as much fun for the vendors as the attendees, which is saying something.

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I’d also like to give a shoutout for Dan and Courtney above: Dan used to be my editor for a while at the long-dead comics activism Webzine Savant (it wasn’t the venue that created the term “Cat Piss Man” to describe the worst members of comics and science fiction fandom, but, to steal from Bette Midler, it certainly brought it to its high level of popularity), and I owe him for not killing me when he had the chance. Courtney deserves the same credit, because of the fact that she was never an editor of my work. They both deserve both deserve free drinks, too, for his taking the bullet she dodged.horrorholidays_11132016_15horrorholidays_11132016_16

The Aftermath: Blood Over Texas Horror For The Holidays – 3

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One of the reasons I love showing plants at horror shows are because of the kids. Having had 40 years to look back and see the end results, horror movie fan kids usually become the most well-adjusted kids you’ve ever seen, and they become well-adjusted adults. I don’t recommend going for the heavy stuff first (there’s no reason to start out with Dawn of the Dead when The Creature From The Black Lagoon is a great introduction), but speaking as a kid who bawled his eyes out at the end of Alien when the most interesting and well-developed character besides the cat was blown out the airlock, it honestly depends upon the kid. Twenty-three years ago, when The Nightmare Before Christmas first premiered, a few of us watching it had one big issue with the movie’s resolution: if we’d received any of Jack Skellington’s gifts, we’d have shivved Santa if he’d tried to take them back. Nearly a quarter-century later, we’re now parents and grandparents, and our descendants are Just Like Us.

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The Aftermath: Blood Over Texas Horror For The Holidays – 2

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A not-so-subtle peeve about many shows and events is the presence of an on-site DJ. We’re not talking about professional DJs: we’re talking about the friend of the  organizer who is willing to do the job for free in exchange for the exposure. This also isn’t a problem, unless the DJ is one of Those. “Those” entail the trilby-wearing twerps with a Macbook under one arm with playlists composed either of high school top-40 hits played “ironically,” or the worst sort of Portland whiner rock. (You can only listen to so many covers of “Waaaaah! Mommy Won’t Let Me Buy Heroin With Her Credit Card!” Before death by tree mulcher loses its sting.)  Either way, since the venue isn’t a bar, people are there to converse instead of dance or drink, so they talk over the music, and the DJ gets so peeved at the neglect of his art that he cranks up the music to cover over the background noise. The cycle repeats until the only communication possible is with text, semaphore, or random sharp objects thrown at the DJ, and it only ends when either the venue organizer pulls the plug or random commenters scream a rejoinder enough to offend the DJ’s paper-thin ego. Based on several experiences on this line, any show that advertises “Live DJ” is an automatic rejection, because people can’t and won’t buy plants unless they can ask questions, and they can’t get their questions answered if their screams can’t be heard over the DJ’s theme song, Beck’s “Loser”.

The exception? Horror for the Holidays. A little music to get people into the mood is always welcome at a holiday show, and the DJ here had an excellent list of appropriate music for a dark holiday event, including some choices that actually stopped people to exclaim “I’ve never heard that before!” I honestly wish that I’d been able to break free to tip this DJ (something I have NEVER done at a previous show), because anybody who could play Concrete Blonde’s “Bloodletting” and Richard Cheese’s cover of “Get Down With The Sickness” is someone who deserves someone buying him or her drinks.

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To be continued…

The Aftermath: Blood Over Texas Horror For The Holidays – 1

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The updates on the site may have stopped for a while, but that’s because life continued to surprise us all. A lot of this involved further projects over at the gallery (and no, we don’t know when the mall is supposed to be demolished, but we haven’t heard anything to the contrary), but some involved the first non-DFW Metroplex Triffid Ranch show, down in Austin. The Blood Over Texas crew already had a great reputation with horror-related events in the Austin area, I’d heard plenty of recommendations about them from Texas Frightmare Weekend patrons, and Austin is just far enough to be a good test of travel options and logistics. One straight blast down Highway I-35, and pull into Austin three hours later. Easy, right?

Well, as demonstrated by the last Texas Frightmare Weekend (the lightning hitting my truck while I was in it isthe reason why my nickname among the Frightmare staff is “Sparky”), generally the better the show, the worse the trip getting there. This one involved getting to Austin, finding that the hotel claimed they had no reservation and no way to contact the chain’s reservation support crew (amazingly on a weekend with a big University of Texas alumni function), and having to find a new hotel at 2 in the morning. The biggest worry about shows outside of the immediate area is that of forgetting something important and not being able to go back to get it, and this time it was the tables. Thankfully, both the Blood Over Texas staff and the staff at Grizzly Hall, the venue hosting Horror For The Holidays, had a spare table to borrow. The only final regret? That the show wasn’t two days or longer, because it was worth the aggravation getting there.

Oh, and the customers? Between them and a few chats with organizers at shows in San Antonio and Houston, 2017 may be a very good reason to take the Triffid Ranch on the road. I just have to remember the tables.

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To be continued…

“We have such sights to show you…”

The days are much shorter. The air no longer smells like burning flint. Sundays are the perfect days to run errands, because most people are at home watching football. It’s that most wonderful time of the year, and by being in Texas, it gets to keep going until the end of the year. Sure, it’s not cold enough to justify dragging out jackets, but that also means that moongazing isn’t painful, and it’s perfect T-shirt weather. The wonderful weather also gives less of a reason to skip out on going out, and most of us have been waiting underground like Gila monsters until the summer heat breaks. Well, it’s broken, and we’re hungry.

Because of that and the general vibe of the season, things have been exceedingly busy around the Triffid Ranch. Besides a consultation meeting with the Dallas Arboretum (expect a surprise when the Children’s Adventure Garden reopens in March after the winter hiatus), it’s been work, work, work in getting ready for both upcoming shows and the impending holiday season. Combine that with still not knowing for sure about the status of the mall and its announced demolition…if someone could develop a cure for sleep, I’d really appreciate it.

Well. To begin, October 15 is the date for the next Midtown ARTwalk, and the new organizer wants everyone to know that all attendees are encouraged to show up in costume. Not a problem here: we generally treat Halloween the way Hunter S. Thompson treated New Year’s Eve. We aren’t just encouraging attendees to come out as their true selves, but we’re rewarding it. While supplies last, those showing up in appropriate attire will receive a prize, and kids are encouraged to attend as well. ARTwalk starts at 6:00 p.m., and keeps running until it’s done.

Four weeks later, the Triffid Ranch makes its first big leap: showing plants outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. I’ve heard all sorts of fascinating stories about the Blood Over Texas crew in Austin, enough to make the four-hour drive to Austin to investigate, and this year is the one to make the trip for the Horror for the Holidays bazaar and festival. It’ll be right at the end of Sarracenia and flytrap season, so this gives those wanting to work with temperate carnivores the opportunity to see what their plants will look like when they re-emerge from winter dormancy in March and April. If this works well, not only expect Triffid Ranch involvement with other Blood Over Texas events through the rest of the year, but an active push to encourage similar events and activities in the Dallas area. We have enough lovers of the macabre in this town, and it’s time to show some solidarity.

And speaking of Dallas solidarity, the word came out recently that Convergence, the first Internet-ready goth convention, runs in Dallas in 2017. As details present themselves, they’ll be mirrored here. In a way, it’s a convergence in more ways than one: the Triffid Ranch first launched the weekend of the Ybor City Convergence in 2008, so as ninth-anniversary parties are concerned, we couldn’t have picked a better one.

And further plans? Things are tentative this year, but it’s time to expand viewing hours at the main space for the holiday season. If you’re in need of gifts for friends and family that stretches the definition of “appropriate,” give a yell.

Upcoming events and random fun

Yes, so it’s been a bit quiet around here, but that’s because life at the Triffid Ranch continues to amaze. The Sarracenia are now all coming out of summer-induced dormancy, and our unusually humid August means that they’re both larger and more colorful than usual. At the gallery, the process of making new enclosures continues, with new ones planned for Heliamphora and Roridula displays to go along with the Nepenthes. With all that going on, apologies for the lack of immediate updates, and things aren’t going to get any less intense for the next few months.

For instance, last Friday, my plans for September 23 were reasonably easy. Do the laundry, vacuum the house, shave the cat, and otherwise recuperate from a very intense week. That was before Amie Spengler of ConDFW let me know that the Alamo Drafthouse Richardson (one of my favorite movie theaters, mostly because of its policy of kicking out any patron using a phone or tablet during a screening, with no reprieve) was hosting a full movie party around a screening of Little Shop of Horrors. At this point, laundry can wait, and anyone in the mood for repertory cinema this Friday evening is welcome to come out both to view plants and to meet the giant Sarracenia leucophylla that will be the host for the evening. It’s bad enough that the plant and I will be a horticultural Penn & Teller, but the hilarity for people who know me went to “prolapse-inducing” when they discovered that I get to be the Teller.

Surprisingly, that’s not all. It’s also time to note that after years of shows in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, it’s time to expand outward. This time, it’s a trip to Austin for the Blood Over Texas Horror For the Holidays bazaar on November 13. It’s a one-day show, but after hearing for the last two years about how Blood Over Texas was the next best thing to Texas Frightmare Weekend, as well as one of the ways that Austinites dealt with the impending holiday season, it was time to jump in. Details will follow, but until then, know that after years of Houston, Austin, and San Antonio customers wishing that the Triffid Ranch could get closer, you’ve got your wish. And to quote one of the great philosophers of the Twentiety Century