Tag Archives: Blood Over Texas

Upcoming Events, June 2018 Edition

A month after Texas Frightmare Weekend, and things in the gallery are finally under control. New and reworked enclosures are going strong, the propagation area is full of new and exciting species, and the deep freeze in the back is full of frozen blueberries. (Take this from a longtime resident: about the only thing that makes summer in Texas livable is the explosion of East Texas blueberries in farmers’ markets and grocery stores, and the only thing that makes July and August tolerable is knowing that June was spent filling every refrigerated space in the vicinity with June’s and April’s and Melissa’s blueberries. By the time the blueberries run out, the local craft stores are full of Halloween stuff, which is usually enough to get through the last few weeks of baking heat before things start cooling off. This routine works until the day it’s possible to live like an African lungfish and aestivate in mucus and mud cocoons until the rains return.) This is the time of the year where everyone knows firsthand what a grasshopper on a griddle feels like (there’s a very good reason why sheepskin car seat covers were popular in Dallas in the days of vinyl car seats, especially for those fond of shorts), so the idea is to offer events and activities either indoors or after dark, and preferably both.

One of the advantages of emulating a Gila monster in the summer heat (living underground, emerging only to suck eggs and swallow baby bunnies whole, and dealing with interlopers with a venomous bite) is having plenty of time to organize for the days when the sun’s default setting drops below “supernova”. 2018 has been interesting in that regard: this year’s Deep Ellum Arts Fest was an anomalous combination of torrential rains and near-freezing temperatures, so registering for the 2019 Fest wasn’t even a question. This is also the year to see about admission to the famed Cottonwood Art Festival down the road from the gallery in October, as well as a lot of smaller shows and events through the area. The first showing at the Deep Ellum Art Company was a hit, and that may be a regular showing venue as well.

As far as the traditional Triffid Ranch shows are concerned, things are lively. Texas Frightmare Weekend’s open call for vendors starts soon, with notice on acceptance usually arriving in August. That’s also about the time for applications for the Blood Over Texas Horror for the Holidays show in Austin in November, and two weeks after Horror for the Holidays is the two-day revived Dallas Fantasy Fair at the Irving Convention Center. That last one is going to be the most interesting, especially since I was a regular guest during my writing days through the first half of the 1990s until the original convention imploded in 1996. On one side, even the kids who were at the last few Fantasy Fairs are in their thirties and forties now, and nostalgia from the older fans might not be enough. On the other, Dallas still has precious little to do on Thanksgiving weekend that doesn’t involve movies or malls, and the Thanksgiving Fantasy Fair weekends in the Eighties and Nineties made that weekend a lot more tolerable for those of us without family plans (or those with families they had to escape for a while). Either way, let’s see what happens.

(As an aside, while it’s great to get invitations to attend other shows as a vendor, please understand that being able to attend is a combination of logistics and scheduling, and those can collide with interstate regulations, weather patterns, or the laughable concept of “personal life.” Please also understand two things, the first being that my having to reject a vendor request almost always isn’t personal, but that every show requires about a week before the show to prepare and a week after to recuperate and reorganize. Therefore, every two-day or three-day show effectively cuts out three weeks per month that could be used to create new enclosures or perform essential maintenance at the gallery, which is why we schedule the regular gallery shows for the months where we aren’t running an outside event. The second thing is that whining, guilt trips, or pushiness, especially of the “don’t you owe it to yourself to come to our show?” type, WILL guarantee a blacklist on even the remotest possibility of coming out to future events. This is a roundabout way to recommend not following the lead of Fear Con in Salt Lake City and taking a lot of care with vendor contact information. Unsolicited entry into a mailing list is bad enough, but texting when the mailing list wasn’t getting an immediate response? Oh, that’s a blocking.)

And for the regular gallery showings? Scheduling conflicts kicked in for the end of June, so the next Triffid Ranch gallery opening has been moved to Saturday, July 7. It’s a touch late for Canada Day, but as a chance to see Michel Sarrazin‘s namesakes in the pulp, it’ll still be worth the trip. Expect details in the very near future, as well as a few surprises, and some might even include blueberries.

Upcoming Events: The Second Annual Manchester United Flower Show and Other Vagaries

One classic comment about life in Texas states “If you don’t like the weather, hang on five minutes. This ties directly to a less commonly stated but equally apt phrase, “Don’t count on Texas weather.” Getting the reminder that some 12 tornadoes passed over my house six years ago this week, while Day Job co-workers and I huddled in a building seemingly made of nothing BUT windows, and the admonition “keep watching the skies” isn’t just for bicycle commuters. As of right now, the National Weather Service is predicting near-freezing temperatures for Friday and Saturday nights, along with a wind advisory and thunderstorm watches for all evening Friday. Considering that this is the time where traditionally all of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex outdoor festivals and events start, I truly feel for everyone who has to be outside to run those outdoor festivals. A shoutout to the folks running the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, in particular: last year’s event was so absolutely perfect that it’s heartbreaking to realize that the weather will only be decent on Sunday afternoon. (incidentally, don’t let that stop any of you from going out there: just make sure to bring a coat and a plastic sheet for any art you bring home.)

This, of course, doesn’t affect the gallery: the Second Annual Manchester United Flower Show still runs tonight and Saturday, even if our wild fluctuations in temperature over the last month mean that some of the carnivores are being tetchy about blooming. The Venus flytraps, which normally have full and lively flower scapes by this time of the year, are only now starting to bloom, and don’t even get me started about the hopes for Australian pitcher plant blooms. On the brighter side, this is a good year for Heliamphora pitcher plant blooms, for the first time since the Triffid Ranch started, and the Sarracenia pitcher plants are currently going berserk. Okay, so the flytraps and sundews are delayed, but seeing why Queen Victoria so loved the flower emblem of Newfoundland and Labrador makes up for it. There’s no point in hyping up the bladderwort and Mexican butterwort blooms, because this is definitely their year.

After the flower show, expect a bit of radio silence, mostly because it’s time to get caught up on seriously delinquent support work, especially as far as plant care guides are concerned. That’s because as of today, we’re only a month away from Texas Frightmare Weekend, one of the largest horror conventions on the planet, and it’s time to amp up the Frightmare booth to a whole new level. Expect to see plants that have never appeared at a previous Frightmare, along with ones that most Americans have never seen, as well as other surprises. (Now’s the time to mention that not only do Shirt Price discounts apply at Texas Frightmare Weekend, but I have plans for special surprises for attendees wearing Triffid Ranch shirts that are just a perk.)

And after that? It’s time for a road trip. The original plan was to visit Chicago during the Independent Garden Center show in August, but the 300-pound Samoan attorney is still in the shop and rentals are prohibitively expensive. That’s when a much more lively event opened up. This year’s International Carnivorous Plant Society conference is being hosted by the Bay Area Carnivorous Plant Society on August 3 through 5, which means (a) being in the vicinity of California Carnivores with an expense fund, (b) a demonstration of imposter syndrome-inspired meltdown in the presence of some of the greatest experts on carnivorous plants in this arm of the galaxy, and (c) an extra day in San Francisco for my beloved’s birthday. Working vacations are the best, and the plan is to come back to Dallas with an even larger collection of plants in time for the Triffid Ranch third anniversary party on August 25. August may be a slow month for art galleries, but not here.

And after THAT? well, that depends upon the weather, as always. Details will follow, but expect some surprises for September and October in addition to the annual November drive to Austin for the Blood Over Texas Horror for the Holidays show. We have such sights to show you…

Blood Over Texas Horror For the Holidays 4: The Aftermath – 3

Plans for next year’s Blood Over Texas Horror For the Holidays show: more comfortable van seats. Finding a more regular source for Lava Lamp bottles. Explaining to the cats that we won’t be gone forever and ever and ever. Other than that, don’t change a thing.

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Blood Over Texas Horror For the Holidays 4: The Aftermath – 2

Because the only thing better than a Blood Over Texas Horror For the Holidays show is a festive screening of the Alien Holiday Special

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Blood Over Texas Horror For the Holidays 4: The Aftermath -1

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It’s a one-day show. At top speed, the commute between Dallas and Austin is still over three hours. Highway I-35, the only artery offering a direct route between two cities, has been under perpetual expansion and repair since I first moved to Texas 38 years ago. Oh, and Austinites apparently consider allowing fellow drivers to merge into traffic to be a mortal sin. With all that, not only is the Blood Over Texas Horror For the Holidays show an essential event, but I have only one complaint about it: it’s ONLY a one-day show. Two or three days with the sort of people attracted to a horror-themed gift market? Where do I sign up, and where was this 30 years ago?

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Have a Great Weekend

Out at the Blood Over Texas Horror For the Holidays show in Austin this weekend: welcome to the theme song for the road trip.

State of the Gallery: November


Another month, another expansion. The official opening of the gallery on October 13 went without any serious hitches, and subsequent group appointments went even better, including one group that came out from Memphis just to view the new enclosures. The school lecture schedule started last month, and my experiences just confirm that no matter what teachers are paid, it’s never enough. (The art teacher at one lecture in Fort Worth was responsible for the Nepenthes hemsleyana portrait at the top of this post: this is going up in a place of honor on the gallery’s art wall.) Other than that, it’s the usual October rush: getting the gallery ready for the holiday season, doing everything that needs to be done outside before it’s too cold to do so, and prepping the Sarracenia and other temperate carnivores for their winter dormancy. Even Halloween was a surprise, with considerably more trick-or-treaters out, with regular threats of rain, than at any other time in the last decade. I won’t even start with the plans for next spring, because the last two years imparted that lesson over and over.

And what does that mean for November? Well, it means that the first two weekends of the month are going to be ridiculously busy, because it’s time to focus on the now-annual road trip to Austin. This year, the Blood Over Texas Horror for the Holidays show runs on November 19, so it’s a matter of loading the van on Saturday, driving down, recuperating for a few hours, setting up on Sunday morning, breaking down on Sunday evening, and driving back on Monday. The advantage of the new date isn’t just a lack of conflict with events at the University of Texas, but an opportunity to say hello to people starting an early holiday vacation that weekend. This is important because…

…the rest of November and December are going to be just as busy. As with last year, the Triffid Ranch will be open both for the Friday after Thanksgiving and for Small Business Saturday from noon until 6 p.m. CST: the difference between this year and last is, of course, having a much more central location. After that, the gallery will be open every Saturday from noon until 6 CST until Christmas (which works out to December 2, 9, 16, and 23), with earlier or later hours by appointment. As always, the Triffid Ranch is open by appointment during the week, but the holiday hours facilitate drop-by visits, especially from people desperately wanting to get away from the malls. For those seeking custom enclosures by Christmas, get your specifications in early, and we can even facilitate special deliveries and premieres at the gallery if you’re planning a special surprise.

After that? As a particularly influential television show noted nearly two decades ago, it’s a matter of going back to the end of the beginning. December 2002 was an especially rough time, and a 15th wedding anniversary party should celebrate how far you’ve come from those early days, right? Details will follow, because it’s been a very long strange trip over the intervening decade-and-a-half. Until then, see you in the future.

The Hour That Stretches

Whew. October 13. Nearly four months since the soft opening of the gallery, and now it’s showtime. I could go on about experiments with new materials not working out the way they were expected, or whole enclosures being held up based on how one component finished, or the simple fact that paint takes at least six times much time to dry as expected, but you know what? The work speaks for itself, and it all goes live this weekend. Relics: A Carnivorous Plant Enclosure Exhibition starts at 6:00 CST on Friday, October 13 until midnight, and reopens on Saturday, October 14 from 5:00 CST until midnight. After that, a day or two to recuperate, and then back to the sphagnum moss and silicone molds until the end of November. 

As an additional note, many regular Triffid Ranch customers are familiar with the concept of Shirt Price on the larger enclosures: attend an event wearing a Triffid Ranch shirt, and so long as you’re wearing the shirt, the listed discount “Shirt Price” applies. Since October 13 is a Friday, and it’s a little over six months until the 2018 Texas Frightmare Weekend starts, Shirt Price discounts at the Relics show apply to anybody in a Frightmare T-shirt as well. The individual Frightmare year doesn’t matter: if it’s a Frightmare shirt, it qualifies. This isn’t authorized by or endorsed by anyone involved with Texas Frightmare Weekend: this is just a return for all of the kindnesses and considerations I’ve received from Frightmare staff, guests, and attendees over the last decade. You lot have earned it. (He said, frantically collecting caches of glassware in anticipation of next year’s Frightmare. The 2009 Frightmare was small enough that just about everything I had fit into a PT Cruiser: next year, I might have to move to a 15-foot truck to haul enough plants to the show to keep everyone happy.)

For those who can’t make it this weekend, this definitely isn’t the last gallery event of the year. It’s a little too late to get involved directly in the Ricochet 17 art event through the Arts Incubator of Richardson on October 21, but next year’s Ricochet is on the agenda. Instead, after the Blood Over Texas Horror For The Holidays show in Austin on November 19, we’ll be open all day for casual wander-arounds (and wooing dates) for Small Business Saturday on November 25. As always, the Triffid Ranch is open by appointment, and now’s the time to discuss custom enclosures in time for the holidays.

And after that? Let’s just say that everything for the first half of next year pivots on getting a special confirmation in November, but I’m not going to say anything until said confirmation comes through. When it does, though, the Triffid Ranch moves to a whole new life stage and a whole new location. Until then, you’ll just have to wait.

State of the Gallery: September

Six months after the emergency move, and everything is coming together. New plants are adapting quite nicely to the new gallery conditions (including the honestly impressive bladderwort Utricularia calycifida “Asenath Waite”, which threatens to take over the place), and every enclosure that leaves gives an opportunity to try a new species or genus. Combine this with a flood of new shows and events, and it’s hard to believe how far everything has come from that little Deep Ellum booth ten years ago. 


On that note, the first serious gallery exhibition of the year, “Relics,” is still running on October 13 and 14, with the gallery opening on subsequent weekends by appointment. This includes a series of never-seen enclosures created specifically for this exhibition, ranging the gamut of carnivorous plant genera. For those who haven’t been to the gallery yet, this will probably be the perfect opportunity, so make plans now.

Before going into upcoming shows, a little note about Houston. It’s absolutely impossible to avoid discussion of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and it’s particularly heartbreaking because of the number of longtime customers and good friends (and the Venn diagram of the two is pretty much one circle) from Houston who are having to pick up the pieces. Instead of publicly pledging a certain amount of Triffid Ranch sales going to Houston relief, which usually falls apart with a bad show or two, I’m instead going to do what the rest of us do: making contributions from sales and from Day Job wages as often as possible, to the folks who can do the most good. I’m also not stating how much, because that isn’t the point, and instead I’ll just let you know that the good folks at Operation BBQ Relief are probably some of the best morale boosters this side of the Cajun Navy, and for the same reasons. The people of Houston have shown me incredible support and love over the last ten years (one of my first sales was to a Houston native who was in Dallas for the weekend, and I honestly want to run numbers on how many Texas Frightmare Weekend regulars are Houstonians), and I for one won’t stop until the whole city is back on its feet. I owe all of them that much.

With that in mind, the show schedule over the next few months became considerably more complex, due to events throughout southeast Texas. September 9, of course, is Small-Con, a one-day event in Addison dedicated to furthering interest in STEM careers, and there’s always more room in the next couple of generations for botanists. The very next week, gears switch slightly and the Triffid Ranch sets up in the two-day Dallas Comic Show in Richardson, literally two exits on Central Expressway north of the gallery. After that, things go quiet on the show front until after the gallery exhibition, and we’re still awaiting word on a show in Oak Cliff on the last weekend of October. And then…

November will be a very busy month at the gallery, and not just from getting ready for holiday sales and events. November is when several big shows in 2018 approve or decline a vendor space, and it’s also the month in which the Blood Over Texas Horror For the Holidays show runs in Austin. Even with it running right after Halloween, last year’s show was an absolute joy, and the BOT crew was happy to take my booth fee, er, I mean, welcome back a returning vendor. The love is reciprocated: a great central location in a very funky venue, and while I can’t drink, the Bloody Mary bar was very appreciated by everyone else attending. With its improved date on November 19, the weekend before Thanksgiving, it serves that part of the population that would otherwise spend that Sunday alternating between Halloween withdrawal and dread of the subsequent shopping weekend. Either way, this year, I’m getting set up extra-early so I can visit the other vendors, because I saw a lot of interesting items that I couldn’t view because of the crowds. (And yes, there are crowds. Great crowds.)

After that, it’s back to Dallas, with the gallery open on Thanksgiving weekend and subsequent weekends until the end of the year. (New Year’s Eve Weekend is especially important, because it marks 15 years of marriage to a very special someone, and you can never have too many people at a crystal anniversary. Now I just need to find good copies of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins Crystal Palace dinosaurs for the anniversary cake.) With scheduled shows in the first half of 2018, I just have to quote the comics artist Matt Howarth: it may stop, but it never ends.

State of the Gallery

Well. We made it. We had to get through the first half of the year to get there, but the Texas Triffid Ranch is set and situated in its new home. The gallery’s soft opening (the art world’s equivalent of a dress rehearsal) occurred on June 30, with the only problem being everyone coming early. Not that this was a problem: the early attendees included Nicholas Bostick of the Dallas Observer, and his assessment of the soft opening gives a lot of ideas for future plans. Combine that with commentary and suggestions from other attendees, and it’s off to the races for the next big exhibition, Relics, starting on October 13.

In the interim, in addition to the Small-Con and Blood Over Texas shows in September and November, the Triffid Ranch goes on the road. Of course, it’s just down the road to the Half Price Books Mesquite store, with a lecture and presentation starting at 12:00. Admission is free, and this may be the start of many at Half Price stores through the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Emphasis on “may”: everything depends upon the attendance at this one, so feel free to come out and gaze upon South American and Australian pitcher plants and other surprises. (Later this month, I hope to share news about upcoming shows for the next year, but a lot of that involves confirmation of acceptance. For instance, next year would mark ten years of the Triffid Ranch at Texas Frightmare Weekend, this is dependent upon making it past the juried acceptance process, and neither I nor any other vendor at TFW will make that kind of assumption. We have too much respect for the TFW crew to even think about it.) 

And future plans for the gallery? As mentioned previously, a new exhibition, Relics, opens on October 13, full of new enclosures and displays, and expect hints and in-progress shots on a regular basis. Until then, keep checking back, because reality stretches, and things currently invisible may emerge if reality stretches enough.

State of the Gallery

The big buy-stuff-and-get-drunk holidays are done. At the day jobs, everyone’s starting their first full week of work, and already planning vacations to get away from co-workers without the promise of violence. The kids are back in school, which in Texas means dodging the dolts who are terrified of thunder birds swooping down and stealing their children away, so they have to park in the middle of the street at rush hour and walk their kids directly to the front door. This being Texas, the weather keeps fluctuating between “black ice on the bridges” and “you’d think it was spring if you didn’t know better.” Yes, January is here, and preferably with as little pain as necessary.

With the new year comes the regular evaluation of where the Triffid Ranch is going, because we’re not sure ourselves. To answer the incessant questions: yes, we’re still at the old Valley View Center in North Dallas. Yes, we know the mall is going to be demolished. No, we don’t know when it’s coming down, or when we’ll have to vacate the space.With the incessant TV news segments involving someone who hasn’t been to the mall in 30 years, with closeups of the shock on their faces to discover that Wicks ‘n Sticks and Kay-Bee Toy and Hobby are shut down, you’d never know we had a thriving gallery community out here. Tell some people where we’re located, and they react as if they’ll be hit with demolition charges and buried in loose bricks the moment they step inside.  (I had to explain that to a niece who had to comment that “the mall is coming down” as if we’ll be caught in the destruction the next day, explaining that just because the mall will eventually be brought down, but it won’t be brought down today.)  This isn’t being helped by coverage in the Dallas Morning News by the self-styled “James Lipton of Fandom,” where you have to wonder exactly how many times he had his head flushed in mall toilets during his high school days that he’d dedicate so much time and effort gloating about the mall’s demise. (As someone who also once had a career at a weekly newspaper involving writing about nothing but science fiction movies and comic books, yes, it sucks that nobody can afford to pay for that coverage any more. Get over it.)

So here’s the situation as we know it so far. Yes, Valley View Center is facing demolition. Everyone knew that going in, and we specifically knew that when we opened the gallery nearly two years ago. No, we don’t know when demolition will start: that information hasn’t been shared with us or any other gallery owner. Yes, some galleries have cleared out, but most of that was because of the hype about the demolition last summer, where patrons worried about flying bricks stopped visiting. Right now, what we know is that the AMC Valley View 16 cinema, which I’ll add is the best first-run movie theater in the Dallas area for the price, signed a new lease for at least the next six months, and demolition can’t be completed so long as the theater remains. The old Foley’s building at the southwest corner of the mall is beginning demolition, but as that space had been empty for years, this doesn’t affect anything with the main mall and won’t for a while. For the duration, until we specifically hear word otherwise, the Triffid Ranch will remain at its current location, and we’ll be continuing with events at that location until we get that final word.

On that subject, the next Midtown ARTwalk is scheduled for Saturday, January 21 from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., with this month’s theme being “January Green“. This one will be a bit different: besides premiering a new commission for famed voice actress and dear friend Clarine Harp, this show features guest horticulturalist Christian. A local high schooler, Christian first came out to the gallery last year to see Nepenthes pitcher plants in situ with his large and very enthusiastic family, and then invited me to see his collection of rescued plants. Folks, seeing Christian’s work with cuttings and plants previously rejected as being “too rough for sale” made me remember what I was like when I was 17…and makes me want to invent cheap and effective time travel to go back and kick my previous self’s lazy butt up around his shoulder blades. January Green is an exhibition and sale of Christian’s best houseplants, and all sales will be matched by the Triffid Ranch with a donation to the charity of Christian’s choice. Yes, he’s THAT good.

As for the rest of the year, the show season is going to be a bit sporadic, and only partly because of the mall situation. For those unfamiliar with the glorious fiasco that was the Marvelous Nerd Year’s Eve event last month, we didn’t dodge a bullet by not attending. We dodged Slim Pickens riding the bomb. We missed this, but after last summer’s InfiniCon, combined with more and more local conventions and shows having issues with attracting attendees, it’s a matter of cutting back on outside shows and concentrating on the gallery. That said, All-Con on March 16 through 19 and Texas Frightmare Weekend on May 5 through 7 are still essential. As for the next Blood Over Texas Horror For the Holidays show at the end of the year…if they want to put up with me, I’ll be honored to show off plants. Until then, ARTwalk is always open, and expect a special surprise involving the Dallas Arboretum in March. Details WILL follow.

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