Author Archives: issafaye

Grief and Dean Winchester the Beagle

Last year my father got prostate cancer  (I found out through a message on Facebook from one of his neighbors in Kentucky) and within a few weeks he was gone.  I was glad he was not suffering anymore but I was left numb and confused and missing a piece of me.  Two months after I lost my dad, my beloved dog Gabriel (a true angel rescued off the streets of Mexico by Karma Rescue) passed away from nerve cancer.  I was heartbroken, my 13 year old beagle girl Natacha was sad.  I knew in my heart I wasn’t ready to love another dog, but I knew Natacha needed a friend before she went into a depression over losing Gabriel, her best friend of 9 years.  I had to go back to Kentucky to help take care of my dad’s belongings and to bring my dad’s ashes back home to LA (in a box stuffed under my airplane seat).  I landed Monday night and drove an hour Tuesday night right after work to meet a potential new dog, a 12 year old beagle rescued from a high kill shelter by Karma Rescue.

And that is when Dean Winchester the beagle entered my life.  In true beagle fashion, he was so fascinated by all the smells in the greeting room at the BFLA no kill facility and by not being in a cage, it took him a good 10 minutes to realize I was in the room.  Even then he gave me only a glance like hey what are you in here for and then jumped up on a bench in the room and proceeded to see if he could climb out a window over the bench. He was very independent, even for a beagle, and I wonder when and if he had been a real part of a family.

Despite his lackluster reception and his epic fail with the cats (I have 4) at the facility (they hissed and he sang them the song of his beagle ancestors) something made me decide to take him home (like the fictional Dean Winchester, Dean the beagle is rather handsome and I”ve always been good at identifying my “tribe” whether they are human or animals).  As a long time Supernatural fan and card carrying “Dean Girl”  I decided to change his name from “Danny” to “Dean”.  While I filled out the adoption paperwork, Eye of the Tiger came on the radio at the facility confirming that he was indeed my “Dean”.  True Supernatural fans will recognize this as Dean Winchester’s theme song – and that was the Universe’s way of saying you got yourself a beagle lady – don’t fight it.

 

The resemblance is uncanny

11 months later,  I can see the true blessing Dean is.  He makes me laugh when he stands on my dining room table and howls when he wants to go outside, when he skips when he walks, when he is curious about everything and everyone.  He is friendly, kind and happy.  He is such a momma’s boy I can barely remember the dog who paid me no attention the day we met.  He taught me to laugh again, when I was sure I would never make my way through the grief and the numbness of losing my father.

This past weekend when my first feeling Father’s Day happened (last year I was so numb from my dad’s death in May I didn’t notice Father’s Day in June or my dad’s birthday in August) it was Dean who snuggled on the couch with me as I binged watched Supernatural until I had made it through it. Dean knew what I needed most, I needed to be comforted and snuggled without condition or judgement, to be loved unconditionally in all my open vulnerable messiness.

The 1st anniversary of my dad’s death and now Father’s Day behind me, I feel like I am more myself again.  The me before my world changed.  Before a facebook message made me scared of text messages and phone calls and of falling asleep least I’d wake up to more loss I couldn’t control.  I’m more the girl who loves to write and dance and listen to music and watch hours of horror movies (good or bad).

Thank you my beagle boy who showed me how to be myself again just by being you.   Carry on my wayward son – wherever you go, I’ll be there right beside you. #Deangirl for life.

Driver picks the music shotgun shuts his cakehole

 

The “real” Dean Winchester and Eye of the Tiger:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=eye+of+the+tiger+supernatural&view=detail&mid=78A6D9095FE1089EAF3178A6D9095FE1089EAF31&FORM=VIRE

And if you’re looking for a “Dean” of your own – checkout Karma Rescue at:

karmarescue.org

 

 

Monsterpalooza 2016

My new day job (last year I ended up moving from the house the ogre built back to the house the monsters built), my training to become a yoga teacher and my blossoming belly dance career have taken the majority of my time, energy and soul the past 6 months. Unfortunately, this left little time for sleep, friends and monsters (unless work related).  Enter my monster fairy godmother.  My friend happened to have an extra wristband she wasn’t using,  so I was able to go to Monsterpalooza this past Sunday.  Dressed in my finest horror convention gear – i.e., my favorite Frankenstein shirt and dirty tennis shoes, I headed to the ball – I mean the Pasadena Civic Center.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the day:

elissaclivebarker

At Clive Barker’s both, posing with a model of Shuna Sassi from the movie Nightbreed (I’m told that this is part of Clive’s personal collection). Nightbreed is based on one of my favorite Clive Barker books, Cabal.

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Not sure why – but it looks like Pinhead just fed me a line I don’t know how to respond to.  Probably something about showing me his box.

elissaboyfriend

He looks scary but really this demon was a big kitty who actually purred in my ear.

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But my favorite moment by far – I didn’t know Sara Karloff, Boris’ daughter was at the show.  She is such a lovely and kind woman that when I got all teared up (rookie Fan Girl moment) talking to her about Boris, she held my hand.  I had to walk the convention room before I could calmly come back and take these pictures.  The second picture was after she told me she didn’t bite and I told her she could if she wanted to.  “No, that is the other character”, she joked shaking her head.

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“To Elissa Don’t be nervous!” – Sara Karloff

Special thanks to my friend Nadja who was my partner in crime at the convention and who took all the photos of me.

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More Murdered Tweets

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While I make my pale gothic butt sit down and finally write a long overdue new blog, here are a few tweets I wrote for MurdertheTweets.  Hopefully, they will keep you horrifed, amused and satisfied until the blog is up. And if writing horror stories with only 144 characters sounds like fun, go follow Murderthetweets on Twitter.

She smiled to herself knowing the snow would keep her ex’s remains fresh until she woke up in the spring hungry again.

As her cheating husband slowly choked to death on his dinner, she thanked god for the late night commercial selling hexes.

As a piece of her rotting nose plopped into her soup, she knew he wouldn’t ask for a second date

Working late & alone, the tech was easily captured by the mutated lab chimps who wanted to perform their own experiments.

Too addicted to late night reruns on tv to go hunt, the vampire started ordering takeout & snacking on the delivery boys.

Afraid of catching the flu, she scrubbed her body until all her imagined infected flesh fell off and washed down the drain.

The old children’s asylum was converted into apartments. the tenants got luxury & the angry ghosts got humans to play with.

Surrounded by piss, needles & trash, no one blinked when she became a wolf & ate the lady next to her on the downtown bus.

The rumor spread her bedroom was a Bermuda triangle. The men she took home were never seen again; but they did die smiling.

Fangs, Fangs and More Fangs

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“WHEN OTHER LITTLE GIRLS WANTED TO BE BALLET DANCERS I KIND OF WANTED TO BE A VAMPIRE” – ANGELINA JOLIE

At 14, my two favorite worlds – Goth and Horror – collided for the first time when I saw The Hunger.  In a visually disturbing yet gorgeous piece of cinema, the opening sequence of the movie switches frantically between Bauhaus lead singer Peter Murphy singing Bela Lugosi’s dead while hanging onto a metal fence, and vampires Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie slashing open the necks of their unsuspecting victims with sharp edged ankhs they wear around their necks. When at 19 I found myself at the infamous Sunset Tattoo shop in Hollywood on a whim getting my first tattoo – I knew exactly what to get – the ankh from The Hunger.  My love for horror and especially vampires was immortalized forever that day.

My love of vampires has only grown more ravenous with time – so for the next few weeks, we’ll be spending time with the vampires of The Hunger by Whitley Strieber, Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, Sunshine by Robin McKinley, 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles and Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist.  Finally, we will learn how to defend ourselves against bloodsuckers with Liisa Ladouceur’s crash course, How to Kill A Vampire.

We’ll kick off this vampire party with Salem’s Lot.  I recently fell in love with Stephen King again as an adult when a friend suggested I read his book, On Writing (I suggest you read it too).  Obsessed, I quickly jumped to Salem’s Lot.  As I read, I remembered why I loved his writing to begin with – it is authentic, unapologetic, intelligent, terrifying, gross and spiced with wicked humor.  King’s ability to build tension slowly from scene to scene until it erupts into breathtaking horror (which he expertly does in this novel) is exciting to experience both as a writer and a reader.

Salem’s Lot, first published in 1975, is a book about fighting demons – personal demons and also unfortunately for the town of Salem’s Lot, Maine, a very real demon that must be defeated.  The novel revolves around main characters – Ben Mears (a writer still reeling from the accidental death of his  fiancée), Father Callahan (a priest whose hands shake from booze and whose faith shakes from doubt),  Matthew Burke (a smalltown teacher wondering if his usefulness has past) and Mark Petrie (a young boy who must grow up fast when he discovers the imagined monsters of childhood really do exist).

The other characters of the book are also wrapped up in fighting personal demons which makes Salem’s Lot the perfect feeding ground.  The residents are too distracted to notice the mounting deaths in their town, chalking them up to illness, coincedence and bad luck and completely oblivious to the evil that has them cornered.

The novel’s vampire, Kurt Barlow is no teenage girl’s crush.  He is monsterously pale with red eyes and sharp fangs.  Barlow is a cunning predator – offering deals of power and answered desires to the townsfolk of Salem if they join him and happy to resort to using loved ones as barter and bait when deals can’t be made.  Will all of the town fall prey to Barlow’s powers? Will the four would be heroes survive? Gotta read to find out.

Want to spend even more time in Salem’s Lot, you’re in luck.  In the short story collection Night Shift, King once again visits Salem’s Lot, in the prequel Jerusalem’s Lot and the sequel One for the Road.  There were two mini-series based on the book (one starring David Soul in 1979 and one starring Rob Lowe in 2004).

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Happy New Year

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Happy New Year!

I’m slowly overcoming the Holiday inertia and a new real blog post will be up real soon (scouts honor). While I work on my next post, here are some more fun Murder Tweets I’ve written since Thanksgiving:

Topic:  Cats – Once sacred gifts to the great feline deity, the bones of the mummified kittens were sold as cheap souvenirs to tourists.

Topic:  Sleeping & Holidays – The sugarplum fairies were nestled safe in their beds, visions of eating kids from the naughty list danced in their heads.

Topic:  Werewolves – He knew he needed a Lycan support group when he woke up naked on the neighbors’ lawn with their cat’s head in his mouth.

Topic:  Robot – When the Robot glitched, one could see for a moment the face of the girl trapped inside pleading for forgiveness & release

Topic:  Zombies – The zombie turkey filled with stuffing & hate, carved the Jones for thanksgiving & served their brains on mom’s nice plates

Scary Fun with Twitter

One of the things I look forward to each week on Twitter is getting a horror writing prompt from my friend Murder the Tweets @murderthetweets.  Here are some of the mini-horror stories I’ve had fun making up using 140 characters or less.

Theme of the week: Soda – The porcelain creatures fixed the fountain so that instead of soda it now dispenses the fresh warm blood of the townspeople

Theme of the week:  Mythical creature – the bullheaded monster, murderous offspring of man & white beast, fed on the bodies of the pure sacrificed for peace.

Theme of the week:  Tongue Twisters – Frightened Frankie fitfully flung the freaked out female into the falls, forgetting father said friends don’t fling friends

Theme of the week:  Painting – The painting of mom was a nifty reminder to move the old bag’s body before the contractors found it under the porch.

Theme of the week:  Letter W- The witches plagued the Puritans in visions & dreams, casting spells & chanting curses on those who burned their sisters

Theme of the week: Letter U- The undulating belly dancer with her 7 veils the king so wanted to mate; he gave her the head of the Baptist on a plate

Theme of the week:  Letter P- The Puritans, crazed by need and drunk on verse, burned the witches, until their yearning loins and minds were at peace.

Theme of the week: Letter N- Needles, shiny, sharp and cold, sewed the found pieces of highway flesh into friends for lonely dead hands to hold

M-The monsters, newlywed, flipped the bird as they drove out of the burning village, dragging the doctor from their bumper

L -The lovers sent care packages filled with their freshly sliced off tattoos, sharing the illustrated bits of their souls

Natacha’s Fiend Features – The Wolf Man

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Be careful of the curse that falls on young lovers
Starts so soft and sweet and turns them to hunters
A man who’s pure of heart and says his prayers by night
May still become a wolf when the autumn moon is bright — “Howl” by Florence & The Machine

*Each month I will have a guest post from the Gothic Beaglet, Natacha.  Natacha loves creature movies and will be giving her unique take on what makes them her favorites.

For the record Mom is the reader, afterall she can actually read and has thumbs which makes turning the pages much easier.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy books – I find them most tasty.

beaglebook

I prefer stretching out on the couch watching  movies, especially ones with handsome males in them.  While mom prefers lanky, pale hairless mostly human males with sharp teeth, I like big, hulking, furry manish beasts preferably with tails.  Larry Talbot (a.k.a. the Wolfman) is my kind of man/animal hybrid.  Woof! As  a human, Larry is tall and broad chested; and as the Wolfman he has a dog snout similar to mine and big hairy feet (and you know what they say about big hairy feet – they leave big hairy paw prints).   Jury is out on whether the Wolfman has a tail though.  I’m not sure why he wears pants and a dress shirt – personally whenever mom tries to put clothes on me I make sad faces until she takes them off.

Oops, sorry being a dog I’m easily distracted.  Released in 1941, The Wolfman remains a classic like Frankenstein and Dracula due in no smart part (like in those films) to the performance of its leading actor.  Lon Chaney Jr. was so convincing as the Wolfman that he went on to portray him in all of the 40’s movies featuring Larry Talbot/the Wolfman — Frankenstein Meets the  Wolf Man (1943), The House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).  The legendary Jack Pierce did the makeup for the film, giving the Wolfman a look as frightening and  iconic as his other famous monster creations.

Part of the appeal of The Wolfman to the viewer is that he is a sympathetic creature.  Larry Talbot is a victim of circumstance – someone who while trying to perform a good deed is instead cursed.  He is confused and tortured when he discovers he is a murderous beast and tries to warn and protect those he loves.  But despite his conscience and his best intentions, his emotions are no match to his strong primal impulses once he changes.

Unlike his fellow monsters Dracula and Frankenstein, the Wolf Man was not a literary creation before he graced the movie screen.  And although the poem that is recited several times in the movie sounds like a wise old woman’s warning to misbehaving children passed through time, it was an invention of screenwriter Curt Siodmak.

Larry Talbot and his hairy alter ego have since gone on to inspire writers.  In Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors short  story collection,  Larry, still a werewolf but now also a detective,  is featured in two stories — one a humorous imagining of what would happen if Larry met H.P. Lovecraft’s Innsmouth inhabitants and the other a sly nod to creature movies and Baywatch (you’ll be surprised how peanut butter and jelly this combination is, swear).   The poem, with a slight alteration, is included in Florence & The Machine’s song Howl, which brilliantly captures the um, primal urges of  new lovers.

Grab your favorite human, some snacks and curl up on the couch for an evening with The Wolfman.  But beware the full moon, say your prayers when the wolfbane blooms, and keep some silver bullets nearby just in case you get unexpected guests.

Short Haunting Tales for Halloween

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“We find delight in the most loathsome things” –   Charles Baudelaire

‘Tis the season for all things that howl, bite and go bump in the night. Here are a few fun, dark and tasty treats to help you get in the mood for the real most wonderful time of the year.

1. Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne probably already evokes terror in you – just not in the right way. You probably break into a sweat remembering being trapped dissecting The Scarlet Letter in your high school English lit class.  However this story, which also includes Hawthorne’s obsession with revealing the hypocrisy of his Puritan ancestors’ beliefs , has a truly darkly delicious and humorous side.  Young Goodman Brown, a pious and holy man from a long line of pious and holy men, takes a walk at dusk with the Devil into the woods. During this walk, everything he believes about himself, his family and his neighbors will be called into question.

2. Black Mill Cove by Lisa Morton (in the Dark Delicacies short story collection). A lone abalone hunter sets off on a pre-dawn hunting trip miles away from his campsite in a solitary ravine.  But if he was truly alone, we wouldn’t have a story now would we.  Lisa Morton is a gifted storyteller who keeps you guessing.  This story has a crisp pace that kept me pushing through to the end despite it being 3 a.m.  I was not going to sleep until I knew what happened and I had troubled sleep after I did.

3. All My Bloody Things by Steve Niles (also in the Dark Delicacies short story collection). Cal MacDonald makes my girl parts happy in a way no junkie ever should. Okay this addict may have a mouth like a sailor and the manners of a 5 year old in the ball pit at Chucky E. Cheese, but he has mostly a heart of gold (mixed with a cocktail of well whatever he can get his hands on that day) and a gift for dealing with the supernatural and weird.  This time Cal has ended up on the wrong end of a dinner menu. Can our boy work around his blues, painkillers and whiskey haze in time to escape becoming a cannibal’s dessert.  I sure hope so or my girl parts will be very sad.

4. The Midnight Meat Train by Clive Barker. This short story is about Kaufman, a man whose love for his beloved New York City has been tarnished by her daily tragedies; and Mahogany, a man who has been chosen to fulfill a sacred duty.  They cross paths one night on the Midnight Meat Train of the title. Clive is not for the faint of heart and this story is not short on blood, body parts or gore. However, he is worth the read even if squeamish because he is one of the most elegant and gifted writers (regardless of what genre the other writers are writing in) writing today.  Part of the brilliance of Clive’s writing is that he engages all the senses in his writing – the reader feels, sees, touches and even smells the horror in this story. He is also fearless and without wavering will take his material as far as it needs to go – pushing all boundaries and breaking all taboos necessary to stay true to the story.  My personal recommendation is make sure to chase this story with a shot of Looney Tunes Cartoons to keep the nightmares away.

5. The Monarch of the Glen by Neil Gaiman (in the Fragile Things collection). There are characters that stay with you forever.  You are sad when a book ends because they have become like best friends or family and you don’t want your time with them to end.   Shadow from American Gods was that sort of character for me which is why my poor cat was named after him.  Being named after literary characters (Mom’s elfin name for instance) is sort of a tradition in my family – so deal kitty boy deal. This short story picks up several years after Shadow’s adventures with Wednesday. While travelling the world, trying to both find himself and forget where he comes from, he finds himself in Scotland. His is offered a job as a bouncer at a private party by a small man who refers to both Shadow and himself as a monster. Despite, his gut telling him everything about the offer is suspect, Shadow takes the gig. He, may or may not be a Norse God and/or a monster, but he will have to fight monsters if he is going to make it out of Scotland alive.

Shadow - I'm a God, I demand food sacrifices.

 
Shadow – I’m a God, I demand food sacrifices.