Taking inspiration from ghosts.

5/18/18, Around six p.m.
Maps (a bar in the Old Port section of Portland, ME)

I don’t believe in ghosts, at least not in the sense that we leave our bodies when we die or that there’s another side where spirits dwell waiting to communicate with us (would this make me a bad Satanist?) But I do believe in ghosts in a more allegorical sense of the term, where the ambience of a setting facilitates the conditions necessary to make one feel as if one is a visitor in what should belong to the past.

Earlier today I stopped by Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. I parked at the first available lot upon entering the park. Next to the lot is a small hill on top of which, surrounded by trees, is a hollowed-out, roofless stone building. I intentionally didn’t look at the historical plaque on the path leading up to the building so I wouldn’t know its history. (After I wrote this blog post I discovered that the building is known as Goddard Mansion.) For once I wanted to form my own impression of the place based on my feelings at the moment. Despite the sunny spring day the mood was haunting. I felt like I could see military officers going about their business on what had to have been the two stories in the building. Wire fencing keeps out the visitors for safety reasons (but sadly, not the graffiti “artists”). I could still see right through, however, seeing all of the vegetarian overgrowing the interior. A dirt path led around to the back of the building and further down the hill, where I took a few pictures:

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This would make a good Shadows of Immurement album cover, don’t you think?

Perhaps my mood was shaped by having just finished listening to “The Witching Hour” by Anne Rice this morning. Or maybe the year’s worth of hearing stories of ghosts and other ghastly tales from New England (it’s not uncommon for people here—myself included—to claim victims of the Salem witch trials as ancestors). Or it could just be that I need to look for inspiration externally rather than internally for my artistic projects, such as the aforementioned Shadows of Immurement. There’s a thought—maybe the next concept album I make revolves around such local history? There’s plenty of resource material out there. I just need to be less lazy when it comes to research.

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Recording underway; four songs started.

The goal to reach for the RPM Challenge is either ten songs or thirty-five minutes, whichever comes first. I have four songs that I started recording, meaning I have at least a drum machine, bass and guitar track recorded for each one. I started writing a fifth song last night. I get the feeling I might reach the thirty-five minute goal first this time.

I would rather get the songs written early. That way I can play around with the recordings as needed. In some cases that means adding an atmospheric keyboard part or an extra guitar track. In other cases that means I have to repair a missed note on the bass or perhaps removing a guitar riff that didn’t quite work. And then there are songs that I’ll probably end up recording over entirely. I already know that there are some drum tracks that I want to replace. But that’s okay. Right now everything is a placeholder. My only real concern is remembering how to play the parts. I’m bad with rehearsing my own material once I’ve recorded it once. It probably won’t be a problem, though. I just have to think this stuff through.

I started recording.

I just recorded the first drum track. I’m not sure if it’s what I ultimately want for the song I intended it for, but it at least works as a placeholder so I can record the other instruments in time. I haven’t accomplished too much since Wednesday. I did settle a structure on aforementioned song. I also wrote quite a bit of the guitar part for another song, although I’m not really sure how complete it is.

I’m taking a more stripped-down approach this time for a Shadows of Immurement song. I want to focus less on trying to be too inventive and progressive, and more on repetition and atmosphere. I want to capture that sense of desolation and creepiness that the better Shadows of Immurement songs have. I also want to let more of my influences seep into my own music this time. Repetition is very common in post-punk, cold wave and Gothic rock. It’s not strictly adhered to, but there usually seems to be more of an emphasis on mood than musicality. Of course, I still have more to learn.

I’m not too happy with how much I’ve slacked off over the last few days. I haven’t been sleeping very well so I wouldn’t expect to get much done anyway (I’m planning on going to bed right after publishing this post). But I could have worked more on the album than distracting myself. But I intend on making up for my laziness over the weekend. Everybody I know already knows I’m going to be a hermit this month.

Flash Fiction: “A Vampire’s Story, Part Seven.”

“Let’s start by testing your sensitivity to light,” Ian said.

I was willing to comply but it seemed a rather odd test to conduct—in order to measure the nature of my existence we were about to test one of the ways in which I could die. Granted, it is an easy test to perform—increase the light level to the point which I could no longer bear it, then take down those measurements. Then it would be conceivable that we could take a tissue sample from me, or perhaps a hair or blood sample in order to cross that threshold. Still, I wish we could start with my strengths which marked me different from a normal, mortal human. why not test my metabolism, as my diet is what people consider my defining feature, at least that which they fear? I expressed my concerns to Ian. He said that the reason it came to mind was because of his experience with nearly frying me to death with his headlights.

“Why did that almost kill you,” he said, “while you can walk freely in my apartment with the overhead lights on?”

I had to think about this for a moment. “I suppose,” I said, “that I do feel something with these lights on. It’s rather like when you take a hot shower. You want the water just hot enough that you can feel it, but you know that if you raise the heat enough you would burn your skin.”

He considered this, then nodded. “I would still like to measure this. I have the equipment all set up. Are you willing?”

What could I say? if it was anybody else I might have declined as I really did not want to do it. But for him, I would take myself to the brink of demise. If my near-destruction aided him, I had to follow through with it.

“Very well,” I said. “What do you wish me to do?”

“Just sit in this chair here.” He motioned to a chair in a neighboring room. There was nothing else in the room but a lamp aiming towards the chair. had he prepared this apparatus while I slept, I wondered, or had he kept it in waiting should this opportunity presented itself before he even met me?

He closed the doors as I sat down. then he turned off the lights. We were in total darkness; he had even managed to block the light from the next room from coming from under the door. He turned on the lamp. I felt a difference, but not from earlier.

“This is about the same level as the room we just came from. I’m going to gradually increase the strength to see how you can bear it. If you want me to stop, or just need a break, just let me know. If I see any injury to you, I will also turn it back unless you say otherwise. Ready?”

I nodded.

Toothache keeping me from being productive again… but this time it’s good pain.

I had taken the whole day off from work because I had to see an endodontist for root canal therapy. I didn’t know how long it was going to take but I knew that it wouldn’t take all day. I planned to run some errands on my way home then take the time to work on some writing, possibly working on the idea I mentioned previously of turning some novel drafts into screenplay outlines. Then I was going to use that as the impetus to writing a well thought-out blog post as a sequel to the last Writing Progress Wednesday post touching on a similar subject. Then after a couple of hours the Novocaine wore off.

The pain was about as bad as when the abscess started hurting a couple of weeks ago, before I took amoxicillin for it. This was especially irritating as I was in the middle of shopping at a book store, trying to use up a gift card my father gave me for my birthday. What should have been a quick and fun excursion became a long and stressful endeavor as I couldn’t focus on what I was doing. I eventually picked out some books and I’m sure I’ll enjoy them, but I wish I wasn’t so distracted.

The distraction continued when I came home. To keep myself from focusing on the toothache I jumped immediately into bed with my laptop and surfed the web for a bit.I ended up falling asleep right before dinner time. Then I took the pain medicine the endodontist recommended, which is over-the counter stuff but in much higher doses than what the packaging says to take. (As it is, I reduced the dose as I realized I forgot to ask about what strength ibuprofen I was supposed to get.) I’m quite tired now, and I can only guess that the medicine has something to do with it. But whatever the reason, I’m wiped out, and I’m still in pain—certainly not in as much pain as earlier today, but it’s constant and I have a hard time concentrating on what I’m doing.

I’m being a whiny nuisance here but for accuracy’s sake let me just clarify what I’m being a whiny nuisance about. I’m not complaining about the pain itself. The pain I’ve been in today is a good pain. It’s because I went to somebody to fix the problem in my tooth. Besides, I know that it’s going to go away in less time than the toothache directly caused by the infection. What bothers me is the fact that I become unproductive as a result of it. I should just not worry about not getting anything done and try to enjoy myself. I could treat it like a sick day home from school and watch a movie. Or I just started The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens last night before light’s out. I’ll probably start on it earlier tonight than I had expected to. Whatever I decide to do, it’s probably better that I try to alleviate the stress caused by the pain than add to it by kicking myself over getting nothing done.

What Goth items to buy with my birthday money?

As I’ve been writing about over the last few months I’m really trying to put together a more Gothic look. For my birthday my sister and brother-in-law gave me money to put towards buying something from a series of websites that I sent them links to with Goth clothing. I know, a good deal of what I should be doing is D.I.Y. and at thrift-shops. But there’s nothing wrong with getting something nice now and then as a gift. Besides, I need a quick start on at least part of the wardrobe. I don’t know the first thing about sewing, and the only attempt I’ve made at D.I.Y. clothing is painting a brown faux leather jacket black, which I’m putting off until the spring.

Anyway, I’m facing a conundrum here. Of course when somebody gives me a gift card or money to put towards something I have a hard time trying to decide on what I want to get. It’s harder than if I just have some extra money and want to buy it for myself; knowing that it’s the result of a gift makes it somehow special. I’ve narrowed it down to to things: a men’s Gothic blouse by Devil Fashion from darkincloset.com or a set of t-shirts from the-black-angel.com.

Everything seems to have a gazillion sub-genres right now, and I’m thinking that if I have to subscribe to one in the Goth subculture (and yes, I’m fully aware that I don’t have to) is Romantic Goth. The blouse would not only suit that look adequately, I think it would work on me. Of course, I don’t know that yet until I actually try it on, but I really like the look of it, anyway.

The t-shirts don’t suit a Romantic Goth look. For that matter, one could argue that they aren’t really Goth at all. But my job in retail, even when I’m working in the office for most of the day, requires a lot of movement sometimes. That’s not to mention all of the dust, debris and cardboard that I would regularly run into when working on the sales floor and back room. So the t-shirts would be one way that I could bring one bit of darkness to work via my wardrobe.

So, do I go for the one item that I would wear occasionally and have to take extra care for, or a series of items that I could wear all of the time at work and possibly beat up if I have to? I could buy the Gothic blouse and then try to find cheaper t-shirts elsewhere, especially from thrift shops. But that’s risky. It’s probably going to be what I do, as like I said, I want to make my birthday-related purchase special. It doesn’t hurt, though, to think these things through.

New look to the site.

…Unless I change it again, in which case the title would make no sense.

As you can see, I’ve changed the look of my blog. I didn’t make any real functional changes. I only picked a new theme. I do have one source of frustration in this whole process. I seem to remember that when I first set up this blog there was an option for publishing blog posts in which only an excerpt of an individual post would appear on the main page, prompting the reader to click on the title of the post, thereby opening a separate page. I was hoping to do that this time but I can’t find that option anywhere. Am I imagining it? Was I looking at an option for my blog reader instead?

It’s not a big deal, but I’m one of those people that when I’m told I can’t do something I want to do, I want to do it more so. Still, if anybody has any idea how to enable this option please let me know.

Could you do me a favor? If you read this blog, could you click on “like” below? And if you could put a note in the comments box of how you read it with just a quick blurb (“blog, main page,” “blog, post page,” “e-mail” or “WordPress Reader”) I would appreciate it. I’m not getting any benefits for the sake of potential advertisers or boosting my ego. I just want to run a quick experiment. I want to compare the responses to my site’s stats and see how accurate they are.

I wanted to post more pictures on this blog from now on. I don’t have anything relevant for this particular post. So here’s a picture of the boots my sister and brother-in-law gave me for Christmas.

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I’m sorry that the picture quality is so shitty, but my new computer doesn’t want to play nice with my digital camera yet so I had to use my phone. But as I was just putting a picture there this time just for shits and giggles, I’m not going to worry about it.