Posted onDecember 15, 2017|Comments Off on Five Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas: The Fourth
Coming into the fourth Nightmare Weekend Before Christmas at the gallery (and, as before, the gallery is open to one and all on December 16, from noon until 6:00), a little explanation about the lack of traditional holiday viewing on the monitor in the gallery. Listening to friends fight over whether or not Die Hard qualifies as a Christmas movie (which is like arguing that Near Dark is a Fourth of July film because it features summer sun and explosions), I just remind people of a forgotten holiday classic. Oh, it may not be listed as such, but anyone who has ever had to work retail in a shopping mall during the holidays knows the film, even if they’ve never seen it. As a last tribute to the old gallery space at Valley View Center, which STILL hasn’t been demolished, I’d like to encourage everyone to take some time this holiday season to watch the best documentary about Dallas in the 1980s ever made:
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Posted onNovember 17, 2017|Comments Off on Five Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas -Introduction
A week from today, it begins. Even those who cut the cord years ago have email boxes full of notices about Black Friday specials. UPS trucks outnumber everything else on the road by three to one. If people aren’t driving like maniacs to get to the mall, they’re driving like maniacs to get home before the football game starts. For those who love and adore the holiday season, it’s absolute heaven. For the poor retail employees stuck in front of a display playing “Santa Baby” in blatant violation of the Geneva Convention, they’re considering a career change or at least a pencil up the nose to kill those chunks of brain that hurt so much. And then there’s the Texas Triffid Ranch’s Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas.
The Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas run on a particular premise. For those of us who don’t know every line in the film The Nightmare Before Christmas by heart, the film ended with Jack Skellington conceding that his version of Christmas wasn’t working, and Santa works overtime to replace the horrific toys left by Jack around the world. When that film premiered in 1993, nobody at Disney understood the draw of those horrific toys, nor ever even considered a scene with a little goth kid crying and desperately begging Santa to leave Jack’s toys and decorations right where they were. Considering some of my friends’ responses, it wouldn’t be hard to picture Santa dragging himself back to Christmastown, a still-burning sleigh to go with his two black eyes and broken nose, asking one of the shop elves to grab a pair of pliers to pull the innumerable sharp teeth broken off in his butt. And when those kids had kids themselves, the cookies and milk were contingent upon the understanding that not only were the vampire bat tree toppers and Dawn of the Dead action playsets welcome, but they’d best not be replaced.
The Nightmare Weekends concept continues this. It’s not anti-Christmas or even anti-holiday. Instead, it runs on the reasonable premise that it’s possible to overdose on holiday cheer, and that some people may need to catch their breath before once more into the breach, once more. It’s for the people who love peppermint but who can’t handle the taste of it by December 20. It’s for those stuck in a workplace where the boss insists upon turning on the intercom and pumping in the local Christmas radio station all day, or the ones that charge employees for the mandatory-attendance holiday party. It’s for those who appreciate the history of those live Norfolk Island pines in the grocery store predates that of the dinosaurs, the parasitic nature of mistletoe, or the use of cinnamon as a fungicide. It’s for those who didn’t complain when Christmas lights and decorations started crowding out the Halloween stuff mid-September, but who want a little bit of Halloween to hang around during the longest nights of the year.
So here’s the plan. The Triffid Ranch has extended hours every Saturday between now and Christmas, with extra time on November 24 as well. No overplayed Christmas carols played far too loudly to hear anybody talk. No overcrowded mall parking lots. For those who missed the previous gallery openings, it’s an opportunity to visit. For those attending in the past at the old Valley View Center location, it’s a chance to see the new space. And for those already familiar with the gallery, it’s a nice nondenominational respite from the outside. With carnivorous plants.
As for questions:
What are the dates and hours for the Nightmare Weekends?
All times for Nightmare Weekend openings are from noon to 6:00 p.m., but these may be adjusted on request. The dates include:
Friday, November 24, 2017 (Friday)
Saturday, November 25, 2017 (Saturday)
December 2, 2017 (Saturday)
December 9, 2017 (Saturday)
December 16, 2017 (Saturday)
December 23, 2017 (Saturday)
Are you open at other times?
The Triffid Ranch is always open by appointment, but the Nightmare Weekends are for when everyone is free. During the week, the Day Job prevents being able to keep the gallery open all day, but consultation appointments are always available in the evenings and on Sundays. Also, the hours on the Nightmare Weekends aren’t absolute: if work schedule or other logistics prevent you from getting to the gallery by the normal hours, give us a call and we’ll accommodate you.
Do you have accommodations for children?
Parents attended by their children are always welcome, but any unattended parents will be given six shots of espresso and an American Express Card application. (Unfortunately, because of the sudden nature of the gallery’s move to its new location earlier this year, the Triffid Ranch entrance is not ADA-compliant. However, we’re looking at rectifying that in the future, as new locales in our neighborhood open up closer to the end of our lease.)
Are you working with other galleries and stores in the area?
That’s a very good question, because one of the disadvantages of having a separate gallery is not having the community that those who attended the late, lamented ARTwalk events at Valley View Center may remember. At the bare minimum, Tawanda! Jewelry will be set up in the front of the gallery, but that’s the advantage to being married to the proprietor. Other venues wanting to participate in the Nightmare Weekends are encouraged to get in touch, and additions will be shared before the actual date.
Will you have Venus flytraps?
Sadly, no. Like the vast majority of carnivorous plants from temperate climes, Venus flytraps have to undergo a dormancy over the winter, and all of the flytraps here are in a cold frame awaiting spring. They’ll bring themselves out of dormancy around the middle of March, but until then they HAVE to stay dormant, because forcing them out of dormancy early could kill them. This also applies to North American pitcher plants (Sarracenia) as well: not only do they require the same sort of cooling off period as flytraps, but that dormancy is necessary for the huge display of blooms around St. Patrick’s Day. The gallery has a lot of tropical plants on display, though, and those don’t require a dormancy, so those are the stars this time of the year.
Suppose I’m looking for something other than the enclosures already available. What are my options?
That depends upon what you’re seeking. Are you looking for a whole new unique enclosure? Are you wanting to convert an existing reptile enclosure or aquarium into a carnivorous plant display? Do you want specific elements, such as a rock sample with sentimental attachments or a specific lighting arrangement? Come in during a Nightmare Weekend for a consultation. Depending upon its elements and construction, as well as the date in which it’s commissioned, the final enclosure may not be ready by the end of the holidays, but there’s always the surprise of getting a gift during the post-holiday doldrums.
Can I come by to watch the plants eat something?
Well, that’s problematic. With the plants that aren’t dormant for the winter, most either capture prey too small to see without a microscope, or they have passive traps that don’t move. However, that said, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, getting a bug’s-eye view of the inside of an Asian pitcher plant is now both possible and easy, so expect a viewing schedule soon.
Will Shirt Prices still apply?
That’s just silly. Of COURSE they do. The gallery has a limited number of Triffid Ranch shirts for sale, but if you want to order one online, come out to the gallery while wearing it and take advantage of the lower prices.
And that’s about it. Keep an eye out for specific attractions on specific days, as well as notices about new enclosures constructed in between weekends. To quote one of Dallas’s greatest culture writers, you’ll boogie ‘til you puke.
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Many thanks to dear friend Ernest Hogan, whom I’ve now proudly called “friend” for 25 years, for finding this last entry in the holiday Triffid Ranch video festival. To absent friends and much-missed family.
And because it’s the season, there aren’t enough midnight movies running these days. Should I mention that, thirty years ago this month, I was very seriously considering becoming a Roman Catholic priest?
Most horror film enthusiasts have a special place in their hearts for the works of Vincent Price. Some of us, though, got an extra benefit when NBC ran a special on carnivorous plants and other deathtraps in the spring of 1977, hosted by Mr. Price. For me, this was my first exposure to any carnivores other than Venus flytraps, and I still owe this film for introducing me to Sarracenia pitcher plants. Today, the 20th anniversary of his death, it seems particularly appropriate to share this again. At atve vale.
And now we flash forward to winter 1985, in northeast Wisconsin, with “Ned the Dead” on Chiller Theater. Go ahead: get all of the “man, they had some really messed-up drugs up there back then, didn’t they?” jokes out of your system. You weren’t thinking anything I wasn’t asking when I lived there.
Meanwhile, back in reality (for something to spice up your sense of wonder):
Since it’s time to remember the reason for the season, here’s a little frisson of horror that might be familiar to anyone living in New York City circa 1976.
(I never lived in New York proper, but back in the Seventies, about the only places that had cable were areas where standard television reception was impossible, such as the valley in which Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa were sequestered. It’s hard to believe in this enlightened age of unlimited cable choices, but cable at that time consisted of three standard network channels, one PBS station, three independent stations from New York, one independent station from Boston, and one pay channel, HBO, if you wanted to pay extra. Back then, HBO started up at around 5:30 p.m. and cut off around midnight on weekdays, and all of the independent channels could be cut off at any time, on the order of the FCC, in order to encourage viewers to watch the news. For some reason, this always meant that any reruns of Star Trek or The Prisoner cut off no matter whatever the time of day, but you could be guaranteed that a rerun of The Dick Van Dyke Show or Hogan’s Heroes was playing somewhere. The best part of that arrangement was a LOT of horror films on both WPIX and WOR, and monster movies on Thanksgiving Day, so I watched a truly disturbing number of movies when I had the chance.)