Archive for the Krampus Category

Goodbye 2017

Posted in 2017, Black Hymeneal, Krampus, Nativity in Black, Uncategorized, Year End Review with tags , , , , , on December 18, 2017 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Well,  December is almost over and 2017 has already got one foot out of the door. Unfortunately, it will just be yet another in a sequence of shitty years for me. For starters nothing has changed since my last year end update. Black Hymeneal is still in limbo, waiting to be published. I have revamped the original manuscript, made some changes in the selection of poems, and rewritten the introductions then sent the manuscript to my friend Denisse Montoya who is supposed to help me with the cover art and layout, but I do not have an ETA on that at present.

My buddy Dick Kelly got sidetracked and wasn’t able to complete the Krampus illustrations for our proposed chapbook, but we recently talked and he said he was getting back on it. Again, I am hopeful, but there is no ETA at present.

I have been writing more these days and actually was able to write a prose piece I had conceived of last year then shelved. It is called Nativity in Black and I debuted it at the Space 55 7 Minutes Under the Mistletoe on 12/15/17. I have recently requested a video of my performance which I may post on here once I receive it, if I can figure out how to do that. Perhaps Denisse can help me with that as well. I also have been working fairly regularly on two stories from my Helldorado series, however, what has kept me from completing them in a timely manner is that my tablet shit the bed back in April and I cannot afford to replace it so I have had to do my work at the library where my access is limited and there are multiple distractions and no privacy.

I am still at the caption job and still have yet to make a single friend. I hate some of the calls I have to dictate, most actually, but it pays the bill for now. I still long for the day when I can make my living off of my art.

Speaking of living, I may have to live somewhere else by the end of 2018. My landlords are raising the rent so I have renewed my lease for the last time then my roomie and I are parting ways. So now my future living situation is uncertain.

Without getting into the boring details, my personal life hasn’t changed either. I had hoped sometime in my 50th year things would look up for me in that department, but no such luck so far. Perhaps it’s just as well. If I should decide to leave Arizona at the end of 2018 I will only have to worry about myself and no one else.

If I had to live in AZ for the rest of my life, I had hoped to make a name for myself writing Southwestern Gothic Horror, with a Latin bent, but I would gladly give that up if I can leave the Southwest all together.  I am so unhappy here. I would love to return to my beloved New England, but I don’t think I can afford that. I also don’t relish being so far away from my family if anything happens. Perhaps the Northwest would work. I will have to weigh my options very soon.




Goodbye 2016, and Good Riddance!

Posted in 2016, Black Hymeneal, Dick Kelly, Gothilocks, Krampus, Michele Bledsoe, Year End Review, year in review with tags , , , , , , , on December 25, 2016 by Manuel Paul Arenas
Goodbye 2016, and Good Riddance! It may be a bit early yet to be assessing the past 12 months, but I don’t foresee much of any consequence happening between then and now. 2016 was to be a year of promise, a year for turning things around. Instead, I spent most of the year coasting and waiting for change to happen. I had planned to complete and publish my book, “Black Hymeneal”, but made very little progress at all, despite the help of a few good friends, while several of my colleagues from the local poetry scene put out their 2nd or 3rd books. I was going to go back and finish up some of the many unfinished works I have floundering in limbo, but I only managed to finish one, and added several more works to the unfinished pile. In fact, I wrote very little this year. Aside from my journal, which I write in almost every day, and some odd lines of doggerel, I did very little writing despite having some genuinely good ideas. I fear that I cannot rightly call myself a writer anymore because I do not write.
As I have mentioned before, I suffer from anxiety and depression, which holds me back from doing the things I love. I do see a counselor, which helps, but I am loathe to take medication because of the adverse side effects. I also fear it might block the creative juices. I may have to rethink that though, because I don’t know how much time I have and I have too much unfinished business to attend to before I go and I can’t let my anxiety hold me back.
This year, despite my anxiety, I took a leap of faith and on a tip from a friend left my bookstore job to work at a local mortuary. I was a “removal technician” for 3 weeks. My job was to pick up “decedents” from wherever they might be (hospitals, hospices, and even private residences) and transport them to a care facility for processing before they go on to their final destination. It is not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination, and I respect the folks who can do it without the repercussions I faced. The physical demands alone were intense, even with tricks and tools of the trade, and I was often in serious pain after one of my 4 weekly 10 hour shifts.
What got me, however, was the human factor. I thought that with my interest in funerary ritual and with the right attitude, I could make a career out of this job. What I didn’t count on was my empathy. I couldn’t deal with the grieving families or even the people who died alone with no one around to send them off into the great abyss. I would look at the pathetic husks of human remains and think, “Is this all we are?”
I would obsess all day over this before my graveyard shift of 7 pm to 5 am. Many times I would worry about losing my loved ones, like the time I picked up someone at a hospital morgue with the same exact name as someone from my extended family. I knew it wasn’t them, but it made me think about when I would have to pick up someone I knew. I thought a lot about my own mortality, and would have panic attacks.
Worst of all, I dreaded picking up dead children and messy cadavers, which they called “nasties”. As part of my training I was taken to the “decomp” cooler where they kept corpses in advance states of decay, or messy bodies, like gnarly accident or murder victims, so that I could accustom myself to the sights and smells. It wasn’t too bad, something like looking at a gruesome picture of a crime scene or a horror film, but I didn’t have to touch them, like I would on a run. And then there was the smell…
The smell of death, a distinct pungent smell unlike anything else, began to follow me everywhere I went, even to places it could not possibly be, and whenever I talked about my new job with friends, I would break down in tears. In desperation to save my situation from getting worse, I lit a votive candle with the image of the Santa Muerte and implored Her to help me to find the courage and strength to take on this sacred task of helping the dead in their last voyage, but to no avail.
An Internet stock photo of the vela I used. I got mine from a local Frys supermarket of all places.

An Internet stock photo of the vela I used. I got mine from a local Frys supermarket of all places.

After 3 weeks of this, I quit. I had informed them of the possibility of me leaving a week prior, but when I did it was overnight. I had other reasons for wanting to go so suddenly, like how I didn’t fit in with my colleagues, and felt like they weren’t helping me get trained properly before they tried sending me off on my own, but really, the main reason was Thanatophobia a/k/a “Death Anxiety”. Anyone whom has read my poetry, especially such pieces as “Moribond” or even my beloved “Black Hymeneal”, knows my obsession with, and fear of, death. I thought I could use this job to help get past it, but it only intensified it.
The next few weeks were spent applying for jobs and trying not to spend too much money. I finally got a job working at a company that does closed captioning phone service for the hard of hearing. I haven’t started yet, but I am hopeful it will work out.
Twice in recent months I have had family members warn me of becoming bitter. I admit, I am not as hopeful as I have been in the past, and I have developed some negatively fatalistic attitudes about my life, in particular where my love life is concerned, but I don’t think I am quite there just yet.
Speaking of my love life, there is nothing going on there, which has surprised the heck out of me. I thought that within 6 months or so, I would be over my last amorous fiasco and finding solace with someone who would be less judgmental of me and more willing to settle down. Boy, was I wrong. I haven’t met anyone else in over a year with whom I would feel even a little compatible. That’s not to say that I haven’t met people I’ve liked, they just were not available to me or would have been unwise choices to get involved with. With my 50th birthday coming next summer, I fear that I may have to accept the fact that whatever time I have left in this life will be spent alone.
Perhaps this is for the better. I have heard a few times lately that attachments make one vulnerable and distracted. I need to stay focused if I hope to finish all the work I have planned for next year.
I also have family around me, who love me, and a handful of good friends, and that is what gets me through the day. I have come to realize that in this all too brief life of uncertainty and misery that is the only thing that matters.
Etching by artist Dick Kelly for an upcoming illustrated edition of my Krampus poem.

Etching by artist Dick Kelly for an upcoming illustrated edition of my Krampus poem.

On a final note, I am working on putting together a chapbook of my poem “Gruss vom Krampus” with the help of my good friend, artist Dick Kelly. The illustrations he has done already are amazing, and I cannot wait to see how it all fits together. If it goes well, and if we can recover some of the costs in printing it through sales, I am hoping to make more like it; perhaps a story this time, like “Gothilocks”. We’ll see.
Photo os me with my new hair cut, holding the card I made with the help of a very talented friend, for my parent's th anniversary.

Photo of me with my new hair cut, holding the card I made with the help of a very talented friend, for my parent’s 50th anniversary.

PS: I cut my hair, which I hadn’t done for 7 years, and I like the way it looks. Surprisingly, I look a bit younger, and although I’m still spending my nights alone, it has garnered me a bit more attention from the ladies than previously. Looking towards the future, let’s hope it’s brighter and better than 2016.
P.P.S.: I still intend to publish an e-book version of “Black Hymeneal” with alternate cover art and no illustrations just to get it out there into the world. Eventually, however, I hope to put out the version I originally planned featuring the amazing artwork of my good friend artist Michele Bledsoe.

Michael Dougherty’s Krampus (2015)

Posted in Christmas Horror, Krampus, Krampus (2015), Michael Dougherty with tags , , , on December 19, 2015 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Michael Dougherty is hardly a household name, although there may be a few fanboys (and girls) who might recognize his name from the writing credits of the superhero films X2, and Superman Returns. To fans of contemporary Horror he is known as the creator of Sam, the little mischievous, and oft times deadly Halloween goblin from the 2007 film Trick ‘r Treat. I loved Trick ‘r Treat and have been anxiously awaiting the sequel, which was recently announced as being in the works. I then heard that he had another holiday Horror story to tell, and I was intrigued.

I became aware of the Krampus legend some years ago, and as some of you may know, I even wrote a poem about him, which may be found on this blog under Gruss vom Krampus, or just enter the name Krampus into my search engine and it will pop up; but I digress…

Poster for "Krampus" (2015).

Poster for “Krampus” (2015).

When I heard Michael Dougherty was doing a Krampus film, I was actually excited about it. Normally, I would have been a bit skeptical, but I trusted that he would do it right and with a sense of humor. Having seen it twice already, I think that I have a good enough grasp of it to say that, in many ways, he did just that. What he created is, like Trick ‘r Treat for Halloween, a fun holiday film with enough scares to keep your interest, but not so bloody that the kiddies might be able to enjoy it as well.

The story is typical holiday story fare; Max, a good boy of around 9 or 10 years, who reminded me a lot of my cousin Jason at that age, is trying to keep the holiday spirit alive despite the growing cynicism of the world around him. He is into the traditions, which he gets from his Old World German grandmother, Omi, and tries to get the rest of his family involved as well, but they are so caught up in their own respective lives they don’t seem interested in doing anything as a “family” anymore.

To make things worse, his Mom’s sister arrives with her crazy family and wingnut husband (think of a Tea Party version of Randy Quaid’s character, Eddie Johnson from the National Lampoon Vacation franchise, and you’ll get the picture) and they turn his already troubled world into total chaos. In frustration, he tears up his letter to Santa and throws it out of his window onto the wintry winds which carry it away into the night.

The following day, the whole neighborhood is deserted and Max’s family is snowed in. The family are simply annoyed by the inconvenience but Omi fears the worst. After people start disappearing, she tells her tale of woe from when, as a little girl,  she was visited by the Krampus. Her tale is depicted in an animated sequence which is an interesting switch up, sort of like O-Ren Ishii’s story in the Kill Bill Part 1.

I won’t say anything else so as not to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but suffice to say that it does get a little hairy in spots, although never really gory, and always with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Over all, I really enjoyed it, and my only complaint was that Dougherty’s Krampus really didn’t look nor behave anything like the traditional Krampus of the Alpine tradition. also, as my friend Sylvia (who saw the film with me on my second round) pointed out: Krampus had way too many helpers. After a while it became tiresome when yet another threat would arrive at the family’s door; I would have been happy with the gingerbread men and maybe the creepy clown thing.

Even so, it was a good time and when it becomes available for home video (in whatever format that will take shape in by then) I will pick it up for my holiday viewing alongside A Christmas Carol, The Hogfather, and the numerous animated specials from my youth.

Gruß vom Krampus

Posted in black humor, Gothic Poetry, Krampus, Lawn Gnome Publishing, performance art, poetry recital with tags , , , , on December 20, 2014 by Manuel Paul Arenas
On Thursday, December 18th, 2014 I attended the PEP (Phoenix Educational Programming) Rally at the Lawn Gnome Publishing building in downtown Phoenix. It was hosted by Aaron Hopkins-Johnson and Matt Storrs (sporting a very festive suit) and had a holiday themed program.
Our hosts, Matt Storrs & Aaron Hopkins-Johnson

Our hosts, Matt Storrs & Aaron Hopkins-Johnson

Featured artists were: Andy Warpigs, Ernesto Moncada, Dan Hull, One of Santa’s elves, Gordon Glitterbeast, High School Vocal Ensemble and myself, billed as giving a talk on “Understanding Krampus”. Basically, I was asked to come and read my poem “Krampus”, but stayed for the whole show (I was the final act, so I didn’t have much choice).
Gordon Glitterbeast explained the protocol of writing letters to Santa.

Gordon Glitterbeast explained the protocol of writing letters to Santa.

The basic set up was a featured guest would come up and tell a Christmas related story, then the hosts would follow up with a few comments on their set and introduce the next act. Every once in a while a little holiday themed contest would be held, the prizes being vegan cookies (baked by Matt Storrs, and delicious) and artificial flowers made out of book pages, one of which which I won for identifying the characters from “A Christmas Story”.
The show was a lot of fun and the stories were alternately ribald, funny, sad and sentimental. I honestly enjoyed every guest’s set and I think I made a good impression with my old chestnut, “Krampus”.
Krampus puts naughty children into his basket.

Krampus puts naughty children into his basket.

At this joyful time of year, full of festive reveling
There is one whom you should fear if you’re prone to deviling
On the heels of blithe St Nick, comes a fellow dark and wild
Horned and beastly, like Old Nick, searching for a naughty child
Cloven hoof and lolling tongue, with a basket on his back
Filled with wicked Alpine young, wailing at his switch’s crack
Lapping at their bleeding welts, their cries foment his dire thirst
Heedless of their rueful guilt, doomed in demon’s clasp they’re curst
After which they’re borne to Hell, shackled in a clanking chain
On a sled of ne’er-do-wells, never to be seen again