I’m hosting this. See you in the dark.
Ah, exhale. The end of another year. It feels that way tonight, surrounded by snow and twinkling lights and bits of shiny paper on the floor, with only a few squares remaining on the 2013 calendar. Time to plot the future. But first, a look back at the music, books, films that inspired me, excited me, provoked me, made me think, laugh, dance, rock out, dream, scream.
As I’ve mentioned here before, I find conflicts between my passion for all things tagged “goth” and “horror” and the reality of what I enjoyed and thought was good quality. I have never been a super fan of blind faith in terms of genre. Tell me a good story. If there be monsters, all the better. Sing me a song. If it’s sad and romantic and melodramatic, I shall sigh and swoon all the more. But I still get excited by many, many other genres of music, from folk to disco and beyond, as well as poetry and documentaries and all kinds of things. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. Like what you like.
In 2013, I put out my own book, which impacted how much other stuff I could seek out, and really absorb, to recommend. But for the sake of posterity, and in the interest of spreading the word about what I find worthy and wonderful…. a few of my favourite things…
Live shows were more exciting to me than records this year. Probably because I saw Nick Cave perform two nights, back to back, and it was a much more satisfying experience than listening to his latest release Push the Sky Away on its own. First in Montreal, at the always amazing Metropolis club, than at the even more amazing Massey Hall, where I managed to push myself up to the front of the stage. There were strings and children’s choirs making the new songs sound great, and St. Nick doing “Stagger Lee” and “The Mercy Seat” with as much vigor as ever and my friend and I giving he and Warren flowers like lovesick teenagers and all I really remember is thinking how if I could see only one act in concert ever again for the rest of my life, it would be him. Hands down. Have I purchased tickets for his summer 2014 tour already? Hell, yes.
There were other live shows for the books, many of them verging on nostalgia trips — Rocket from the Crypt rocking my Riotfest, two intimate sets of triumphant, glorious Patti Smith at the AGO, Nine Inch Nails proving they can add funk and back-up singers and still blast out the industrial hits. But also some new favourites: The XX beautiful in the rain at Echo Beach, Iceland’s Legend at a basement bar, Majical Cloudz making my NXNE with his intense solo performance.
As for the records, I made a Top 10 Canadian Albums list for Huffington Post Music with my critic hat on; those that I personally adored were Basia Bulat’s Tall, Tall Shadow (heartbreaking folk), Majical Cloudz’ Impersonator (very minimal, very dark), Young Galaxy’s Ultramarine (fresh, feel-good synthpop), and Daniel Romano’s Come Cry with Me (hurtin’ traditional country).
Beyond our borders, I got and will give love to Neko Case’s The Worse Things Get the Harder I Fight, was all over the Siouxsie-like post-punk of Savages’ Silence Yourself, realized I actually do like Alkaline Trio with My Shame is True, and finally discovered Agnes Obel thanks to Avetine — she’s my Goth Who Isn’t Goth alert for 2013.
Like everyone with a pulse, I also gleefully danced to “Get Lucky” way too many times.
Only Lovers Left Alive! Jim Jarmusch’s arthouse vampire movie, starring Tilda Swinton, is exquisite, and was a highlight of my TIFF 2013. Sadly, no actual release date in sight. Ditto Horns, the most excellent adaptation of the Joe Hill novel, transformed into a superior dark comedy/horror/fantasy. Watch out for those next year. I join the chorus celebrating American Mary the indie Canadian horror flick about body modification, for being smart, sexy, nasty and driven by kinky, crazy, outrageous female characters. Thanks Soska Sisters for bringing back Katherine “Ginger Snaps” Isabelle to the big screen. And I really dug the sweetness of Warm Bodies. A zombie who plays vinyl records for a girl is my kind of zombie. As for documentaries, I had much to ponder about violence and appropriation of voice after watching The Exhibition, about an artist painting women killed by Robert Pickton; and I couldn’t be happier to see BlackFish changing perceptions and policies about whales and dolphins in captivity.
Or, this is what I was doing alone in the dark when not obsessing over Klaus in The Vampire Diaries and The Originals.
It was a great year for me to see some of my favourite writers in the flesh, and hear them read aloud. After many years of adoring Anne Carson from afar, she came to town for the International Festival of Authors. My favourite living poet, she claimed in her humble introduction to lack charisma. Hardly. Her words make other worlds possible, and when she brings them to life in her own voice, even the most obtuse things became completely clear. (This particular event provided me the opportunity to experience a woman shhhhhushing a man for taking notes because she found the sound of his pencil on paper too loud. Seriously. ) Carson is a strange woman. The very best kind. I cannot recommend her books more highly. Also, did I wait several hours to talk to Neil Gaiman at the Toronto stop for his Last Tour Ever for Ocean at the End of the Lane? Indeed I did. His reading was marvellous, the Q&A hilarious, the long queue well worth it to chat with him after about my own new book. He continues to say very kind things to me about Gothica and it's such a blessing to have these interactions with someone so beloved, and so generous.
(For a list of the books I enjoyed reading this year, visit my Good Reads page.)
Neil signed my copy of Ocean that night with "Dream dangerous." And so I shall. In fact, it's my resolution for 2014. See you then/there.
Toronto book lovers….I’m so pleased to be giving my first talk for the Toronto Public library!
Wed Nov 27, 2013
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
All-ages, and free
I’ll be lecturing on What is Goth music and how it has changed over the years, using my own Goth Music Family Tree from Encyclopedia Gothica as a guide. The Bloor/Gladstone branch is a particularly wonderful location and I’m really looking forward to it. Bring your babybats, bring your questions…come!
I love to read aloud. So I’m delighted to announce my first public performances/readings of 2013! It would be lovely to see you. It’s been too long.
Thursday, May 9
LOST AT SEA: An Evening of Magical Things
(152 Augusta Ave in Kensington Market, Toronto)
7:30 pm FREE
My beloved friends at the House of Pomegranates have put together an evening of literary merriment and magic, a haunted world of art, music, and film, luscious chocolate, exotic cocktails and clever words. There will be readings by David Keyes, launching his new book I Do So Worry for All Those Lost at Sea. Vampire novelist Nancy Baker. Poet Lynn Crosbie. And me. Presentations by Belinda Chun of Gallery House and Prof. Richard Greene, talking of the Sitwells. A mystery String Quartet will play Ravel. And a short film about Carmilla, fashions from Gloomth, and fancy cocktails. Did I mention I will be reading brand new poems from a manuscript in progress called Requiem Birds? And that I’ll be accompanied by a surprise? Come, be surprised.
Saturday, June 22
A LITERARY PICNIC AT LUMINATO
Trinity Bellwoods Park, Toronto
noon to 4pm FREE
Sixty authors in the park, reading aloud to you. I’m stoked to be part of this year’s Luminato Arts festival. And even more excited to be part of an event truly designed for book lovers. Come and hear me read on the theme of “Beginnings.” You can even sign up to stay and spend time with me one-on-one on a picnic blanket and Ask Me Anything. Pack a parasol. Come.
Friends, a humble seasonal message of commerce….. I’ll be selling, signing, and wax stamping copies of Encyclopedia Gothica at this wonderful independent arts and crafts market for the darkly inclined:
A bazaar of the bizarre
Saturday, December 15
11am to 8pm
918 Bathurst Street (just north of Bloor, across from the subway)
New location, same group of gothy, arty and other creative types with such sights to show you. The full list of vendors is up at the official Facebook page. Some of my favourites are Bitchcraft (they have the best boy short style underpants), Paige Reynolds (she draws pretty and scary things), Pamela Williams (the grand dame of cemetery photography), Victoria Wilson Corsets (who rules at Steampunk wear) and Chizine (publisher of stories that will keep you up at night).
I like to live my life supporting local businesses and artists and think Christmas shopping is a perfect time to put down the plastic crap from China that nobody really wants and buy/give something handmade with love. Hope to see you there.
Friends….the autumnal air has arrived, and Halloween is almost upon us. This time of dead leaves, pumpkin spice and darkening days is the High Season for Goth. And so I am pleased to announce a special one-off out-of-town appearance to promote Encyclopedia Gothica, on the one-year anniversary of its publication:
Saturday, October 13
(Stone Road Mall, 435 Stone Road)
I’ll be part of a special “pre-Halloween bash” event, alongside authors Maureen McGowan, Evan Munday and Mary Mansour. This is actually my first time doing a mall signing. Just like a teen boy band! So come and buy my book, get it signed and wax stamped and answer Goth trivia to win some spooky prize packages, or just stop by to say hello. I won’t bite. (Well, I might.) Join ye olde Facebook event page for updates.
How do I know summer is over? No, not when the CNE opens, or when my local dollar store puts out its first Halloween toys. (Although that did happen today.) It’s the arrival of Festival of Fear, the annual horror convention that Rue Morgue Magazine presents as part of FanExpo, Canada’s geek central. This weekend, August 23 to 26, will signal the end of beach parties (um, OK, I only did that once) and the countdown to dead leaves and autumnal treats. As always, besides the FOF’s horror junkies, the Fan Expo will sure to be jammed with anime loving cosplayers, stormtroopers and streampunks. But for me this year, it’s all about the vampires!
I’ll be appearing at the Festival of Fear all day Saturday doing panels and a book signing. I must have been a very good goth this year because I’ve been asked to moderate Q&As with stars of True Blood and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And of course, it’s a great pleasure to be promoting Encyclopedia Gothica with Gary and ECW Press. Please come say hello. I won’t bite. (Well, maybe a little.)
Liisa’s bloodsuckingly awesome Saturday FOF schedule:
12 noon What is Goth? panel with Voltaire and Nancy Kilpatrick, moderated by Tomb Dragomir (Room 703)
1pm True Blood celebrity Q&A with Nelsan Ellis, moderated by me! (Room 701)
3pm Buffy’s Spike and Dru Q&A, James Marsters and Juliet Landau, moderated by me! (Room 701)
4pm Encyclopedia Gothica book signing, with Gary Pullin (ECW Press, Booth 556)
5pm Life After Twilight panel on vampire fiction, with Nancy Kilpatrick, Crissy Calhoun, moderated by Monica S. Kuebler (Room 703)
Download the complete Festival of Fear horror schedule here.
And while you’re shopping, keep your eyes out for some of my favourite artist friends selling beautiful things on the convention floor: Ghoulish Gary Pullin, Bird Behind the Mask, My Pet Skeleton and Phantom City Creative.
The first time I went in front of the TV camera, I was 14. It was for my own community access show, in which I interviewed any bands that came through my small town, documented local teen activities, etc. It was super fun, and also my ticket into the Ryerson Radio and Television Arts program, where I learned how to make TV for real. For various reasons after graduation I ended up in print journalism instead, but I never lost my desire to use the mass medium of television to tell stories, and to shoot my mouth off. And while I didn’t exactly land that dream job of hosting The New Music (RIP), I’ve had the pleasure of appearing on various shows, usually to comment on music stories of the day. Highlights include a good run on MuchMoreMusic’s Listed, being the voice of dissent about SARSstock on CBC Newsworld and getting up ridiculously early to talk about the Spice Girls split on Canada AM. Ah, living the dream!
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of on-camera appearances to promote the Encyclopedia Gothica. The most fun of all was making a kind of promotional “trailer” for the book. More authors/publishers seem to be doing this lately (I like Tony Burgess’s People Still Live in Cashtown Corners clip quite a lot). And so armed with my fog machine, some fake ravens and my poem “What is Goth?” I hooked up with my friend and former Rue Morgue Radio producer/overlord Tomb Dragomir. He put together a bang-up mash-up of my favourite Gothy things, and I hope it makes you laugh out loud, whether you are goth or not.
When you’re finished watching that — and sharing it with everyone you know, thanks! — you may enjoy peeking at some of my other recent clips:
I was pretty thrilled to celebrate the third annual World Goth Day by going on national television, to present Some Things You Might Not Know About Goths on the George Stroumbolopoulos Tonight show, one of Canada’s most influential news programs, and a long-time favourite of mine. (And not only because George wears a lot of skulls.)
My book launch was featured on the episode “Goth Not Emo” of Tomb TV. I seem to be scowling at Tomb’s Goth dancing in there, but I’m actually very amused.
There was also my interview for Bookends, a literary video series, shot at the Playdead Cult shop in Kensington Market.
Finally, I’ll post here one of my favourite TV cameos from a rather long time ago. In this video clip for Toronto industrial/metal band Malhavoc’s song “Naked”, I appear as a goth keyboard player. Blink and you’ll miss me, but there are a lot of other interesting Toronto arts and music folk hidden in here too.
As always, thank you for reading, and for watching.
Back from my road trip to Ottawa where I signed and wax stamped the Encyclopedia for enthusiastic goths in the nation’s capital. Oh, how I would like to get on a magic carpet or climb into a custom hearse and tour the land meeting everyone in person. Alas, that’s the last promotional road trip in the schedule for a while. But I have now set up mail order for the book so that anyone (in North America) interested in an autographed copy can buy directly from me and have it arrive in their mail box. I’ve even put together packages so you can get a book and Gary’s art prints at once, or my Goth as Fuck package with as many treats as I can cram into the envelope. If you act now, there are no extra knives but I do promise it will gothify your life at least %10.
Please see the handy Buy My Book section above. It also lists on-line shoppes and e-book sellers worldwide who are stocking it.
As always, much thanks for your continued interest in my book.
I love few things more than reading aloud to you. So delighted that this year kicks off with two such occasions. Brave the cold. Come out, come out.
The Garrison, 1197 Dundas St W
Doors at 8pm. $10 cover. 19+
Poetry and heavy metal meet. I’ll be performing spoken word alongside Liz Worth and Natalie Zina Walschots, and between the not-very-soothing sounds of Corpusse, Battlesoul and Into Exile! For the occasion, I will be wearing a cloak, burning candles and introducing each piece in my best black metal voice. I will not, however, be wearing a codpiece.
Kent Street Legion, 330 Kent Street, 2nd Floor
9pm. $10 advance/ $15 at the door 19+
The Gothica roadshow rolls on to the nation’s capital for this masked ball, presented by the Ottawa Goth Syndicate. I’ll be reading poems and talking Goth alongside DJs Th’Elf, Reverie and [L]otus. You must wear a mask and there’s a $100 prize for best costume. The following day is the Aftermath, an all-ages vendors’ market where I’ll be signing books. So whether you’re a daywalker or a creature of night, I hope to see you there. Details and updates at: http://www.ottawagoth.ca/reddeathmasquerade/