Thursday, June 18, 2009

Horrible Saturday, for the love of pathos

This coming weekend we’re hosting “Horrible Saturday”. It is to be a day-long celebration of the horror genre, and it will include author appearances and book signings (makes sense for a book shop), movie screenings, presentations and, of course, the Screaming Contest.

It really isn’t a convention, at least in the contemporary sense of the term. I don’t think we will have too many people in costume (although, having said that, I do know of at least one guy who is coming as the Grim Reaper) and we won’t be printing up special T-shirts of anything like that. It is simply a gathering of like-minded folks to enjoy each other’s company and, if we’re lucky, to scare the bejezus out of each other.

I am always struck, when I start putting one of these things together, by the range and depth of individual activities that we can schedule.

We have two local (Central PA) authors coming, for example. One of them, J.F. Gonzalez, is a true “up and comer” in the genre. Last year he made the decision to quit his day job and devote himself full-time to his craft. He’s already published a number of books and he’s got another coming in July (bad timing, that…we won’t have copies in time for this weekend). The other, John Maclay, is considered a true expert in the field. He’s an author himself, but he’s also been a publisher, an editor and a critic. This is fairly big-time stuff.

We’ve also got a film historian-turned-author in Fred Wiebel. Fred is the guy who tracked down a copy of a “lost” film produced by The Edison Studios. In 1910, they produced the first film based on Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Shot in glorious B&W, Fred has restored the film and put it on DVD. He’ll be telling the tale and showing the film.

Then there’s the Paranormal Activity Research Association. Ghost hunters. From York, no less. They’ve just completed a series of investigations into reported activities taking place in some of the historic sites in York County. And they’ve got photos and audio recordings.

And Kent Courtney, who is almost becoming a regular here, will become Edgar Allen Poe for the day, with readings and a discussion of the writer’s life.

Now, none of these folks will be making any money off this. Yeah, they may sell a book or two, but that would hardly be enough to fairly compensate them for their time. They’re really coming to make their presentations for the sheer joy of it. They love this stuff. They like talking about it. They like sharing it.

They’re planning to have a good time.

And so it is with every “genre” day we do here. We’ve already had our annual “Butternut and Blue” (Civil War) day. Later this summer, we’ve got “Sci-Fi Saturday” (August 15). And in the fall, our “Celtic Autumnal”.

Every day features a line-up of 6, 8 or 20 guests. Nobody makes any real money. But everyone has a good time.

We listen to presentations. We play games. We watch movies and eat popcorn. This weekend, we shall even scream a bit (a contest, with braggin’ rights to the title of “Best Screamer in York County” caps the day).

And the neat part is that I really don’t have to go seek folks to come and make presentations. It is all very Zen-like: I am merely open to them, and they come to me.

From where I sit, “Horrible Saturday” doesn’t look all that horrible to me.


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