Naughty or Nice, or, All in All, I Can Use Candy More than Harassment
No, this isn’t a complaint. It’s a reference to Krampus and, last night, my joining in the town’e first Krampus Parade. Krampus is the dark Santa Claus depicted as a slew of hairy, horned monsters who make sure the naughty children get switches instead of candy.
So each of us has to make a decision when handed two stickers: to wear the “Naughty” one or the one that says “Nice.” Be chased by the monsters or be given candy by the women wearing white — the Bishop/Saint Nicholas’s assistants — even if, when I asked one if she believed the label I’d stuck on my coat, she answered “No” (but gave me candy anyway). My favorite part was the Krampus cart, pulled along the parade route and holding, in front, a kettle of some red-glowing substance and, in the back, a wooden cage containing one or two small children, apparently already caught by the monsters to be taken home for further torture.
But I had been nice. Thursday night, late (well . . . really more like early Friday morning), having received the materials I needed earlier that day, I sent in the completed revised introduction for Damnation Books’s TELLING TALES OF TERROR: ESSAYS ON WRITING HORROR AND DARK FICTION (see December 3, including link; October 19). Then earlier Saturday I was at the Bloomington Writers Guild’s (cf. October 26, et al.) annual combined December business meeting/officer election and party. Of the party part, I ate Danish, chocolate, and several kinds of cookies and read three poems at the reading portion, “Émile’s Ghosts” from VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) plus two new ones, one about a zombie which I’d first read at the November Upstart Poets, and the other a “glosa” — a 40-line, line by line explication of the “Little Willie” poem that goes “Willie saw some dynamite,/ he didn’t understand it quite,/ curiosity never pays/ it rained Willie seven days.” The particular Little Willie poem, incidentally, was one I also cited at Upstart Poets to explain the spirit of the zombie poem, “Pas de Dead,” that in which a terrible thing happens but is greeted by either the poet’s indifference or, worse, a rehashing of some Victorian-era moral lesson that’s tragically inadequate to the situation (“curiosity never pays,” indeed, or as the glosa expands it: “. . . yet with caution, sidewise gaze/ upon the kitten lest its claws/ might harm the nose that’s stuck too close./ When overzealousness betrays,/ curiosity never pays.”).
Business was done at the party too, and I’m now signed up for two public readings in 2013, the first to be in February as part of a new monthly “First Sundays” prose reading series, and the second in October for the more established thrice-yearly “Fountain Square Poetry” series. Of the latter, the first opening, in June, seemed too close to World Horror Con weekend, but also, as I’ll most likely be reading vampire poems, the later date’s being nearer to Halloween seemed appropriate to the coordinator. Fountain Square, I might add, is an upscale downtown mall and these readings usually coincide with an evening opening at one or more local art galleries there (which, not entirely to be ignored, usually means a stroll down the hall during breaks will lead to a table of high-class snacks — hey, we’re writers and a cardinal rule is never to pass up a chance to eat free).
Then rounding out the two weeks (more or less) before Christmas weekend, today I saw NUTCRACKER: THE MOTION PICTURE on TV, from a 1980s performance in Seattle by the Pacific Northwest Ballet, including production and costume design by the late Maurice Sendak (i.e., author of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, et al.). This version hews a little bit closer in spirit to the original E.T.A. Hoffmann story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” and was noted as being darker than the more usual ones seen at Christmas time. Also, there is a voiceover by a now grown-up Clara at the beginning, to the effect that “The Christmas parties of long ago blur and mix as one. The real and the unreal merge together.” And thus, the production also seems to emphasize the blend, the never quite knowing where the dream ends, which to me as a writer of fiction — especially dark fiction — adds a particular fascination.
In all, a delicious Christmas candy!