Category: Pop Culture
A. Quinton — Jan. 11th 2017
Update 2017-01-19: multiple reliable sources are indicating that the host hotel, Ramada Portland, is cancelling the convention’s reservation due to lack of communication with the organizer. I’m calling it: HOWL CON is off. I’m not going to edit the optimism out of this post, but if you booked flights or made other travel arrangements that you can’t cancel, maybe start looking at other things you want to do in the Portland area.
I’ve been an enthusiastic proponent of Portland-area werewolf convention HOWL CON. I was a presenter in 2015 and had the time of my life. I wanted to go again in 2016, but through a combination of bad luck and disorganization, the event was cancelled three weeks before the big weekend.
Now HOWL CON 2017 is less than a month away, and once again the event has no announced guests, no programming schedule, and no buzz or recent organizer activity of any kind. It hasn’t been marketed anywhere other than two fan sites – my site, and PDXwerewolf.com. Its web site disappeared in May 2016. Contributors to its Indiegogo crowdfunding effort have not received any communications since the campaign ended in September.
It’s reasonable to assume that HOWL CON is still happening. In November, organizers were reassuring worried would-be attendees that the show would go on. Apparently the space has been paid for, or at least a deposit placed. If you dig through their Facebook page you can still find links to buy passes and submit applications to be a dealer or a presenter. You can even book a cheap hotel room. And if you do show up at the Ramada Portland Airport Hotel on February 4th or 5th, there might be other werewolf fans there.
I won’t be among them. Given the complete mystery surrounding “what the actual convention is, or will be, or will have for us to do”, I can’t justify the time off work, or the travel, food and lodging expenses. If you go, may my $150 “Attending Patron” pledge to the Indiegogo campaign help fund your enjoyment – especially if you’re going because you learned about the event from me. If we had plans to meet, please accept my apologies. Maybe we can catch up at West Coast Haunters.
I don’t know what’s happened with HOWL CON. The organizers have been running a steampunk convention with ostensible success for seven years now, so they’re not incompetent and they’re not crooks. Are they too busy to run two conventions per year? Are there extenuating circumstances? It doesn’t matter. It’s not okay to run an event this way, and I won’t give HOWL CON the benefit of the doubt any more.
A. Quinton — Jan. 5th 2017
Sold me on the clip, that is. I still don’t want to see Blood Wars.
A. Quinton — Dec. 6th 2016
My all-time favourite podcast is a long-running weekly goof-fest that the AV Club just awarded “most likely to lift your spirits” in their Favorite Podcasts of 2016 list. On My Brother, My Brother and Me, brothers Griffin, Justin, and Travis McElroy take listener questions (and questions culled from the sewers of Yahoo Answers) and “turn them alchemy-like into wisdom” – wisdom that every episode’s opening disclaimer explicitly warns you not to follow. I could spend another five paragraphs extolling the virtues of MBMBaM, its hosts and its fandom, but there’s a werewolf-related point I want to get to, so I’ll just say that the show has provided me with hundreds of hours of delight, including some of the funniest riffs I’ve ever heard, and that it’s worth your time.
To the werewolf point: I’m a completionist, so I’m working my way through the show’s back catalog. A Yahoo Answers segment from 2013’s episode 166 caught my attention this morning, just as I was finishing a run, and I’d like to share it with you.
The question, posted by Yahoo Answers user Ryker:
Werewolf question.WEREWOLVES ONLY?
my friend says that i might have been born a werewolf. iv’e always thought of myself to have an inner wolf. im just starting to physically shift. but i have no memory of when i shift and how to control it.someone please help.WEREWOLVES ONLY
The Brothers McElroy give this person’s quandary the thoughtful consideration it deserves, touching on Griffin’s minuscule werewolf heritage, the dangers of owning a pet when you think you might be going through a change, and the speciesist nature of the question itself.
I get questions like this emailed to me regularly. I generally answer with a polite reminder that werewolves are 1) cool and 2) not real. It’s nice to hear three non-werewolf-nerds wrestle with it. Justin’s comment about Siri is especially apropos – when I first heard the question I took a screenshot of my phone to capture the segment’s timestamp for this post, and look at the fucking reminder that had just appeared.
A. Quinton — Sep. 12th 2016
I’m honoured to have been interviewed by author Stacey Leah Mewse as part of her ongoing “Interview with a Werewolf” series. The interview was conducted question-by-question over email and it took me the better part of the summer to complete, because I had (maybe too much) fun expounding on what I like, love and hate about werewolves.
It’s a long read, and definitely worth perusing if you’ve ever wondered what informs the Werewolf News / AQ “house style” of werewolf fandom. This bit about self-image and identity touches on something I’ve been fascinated by since I was a kid:
Are you still you if your hands are a different shape? If the scar you got at 14 by sliding into third base wrong is obscured by fur, or erased entirely by new skin? What if the temperament that informs your personality was merely a function of hormones that are now completely out of whack because the brain controlling their production decides that “eat ten pounds of living flesh ASAP” is more important than “re-write this buggy code so I can get a promotion”?
For more like this, plus a bunch of text-based hollering on the order of “I like werewolves because they’re fuckin’ nasty-ass monsters“, check out the interview. Thanks very much to Stacey for the opportunity, and for her patience over the summer!
A. Quinton — Sep. 5th 2016
Nodnash, AKA The Ugly Werewolf, invited me to help kick off the second season of his self-titled werewolf-centric podcast in an episode called “Interview With the News”. My suggested title of “An egg allergy, a $6 haircut, and lycanthropy: Scott Problems” was not accepted because I never actually suggested it, but I think we can make it the unofficial secondary title.
On this episode, Nodnash and I cover all kinds of werewolf topics, including tails, Howl Con 2017, and a conceptually dubious Bad Dragon product [link NSFW, discussion only slightly tasteless]. We also do a deep dive on the 1985 Michael J. Fox masterpiece Teen Wolf, for which I took over two typed pages of notes. Did we like it? You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out.
I love listening to podcasts, and it’s always a trippy honour when I get invited to be on one – especially one this fun. My thanks to Nodnash for having me on!
A. Quinton — Aug. 26th 2016
The third issue of the digital “werewolves battle everything” magazine I edit, Werewolves Versus, is now available for pre-order! WEREWOLVES VERSUS MUSIC comes out on Tuesday, August 30th. It features over 150 pages of brand-new, never-before-seen werewolf stories, comics, art and essays, and a killer cover by Lew “Viergacht” Delport.
Like every WV issue before and after it, it’ll be pay-what-you-want, including $0, but right now I’m trying something new: if you pre-order it now for a minimum price of $1, you get an instant advance download of “As the Sun Sets”, the song my friend Colin Janz wrote as a contribution. Here’s how Colin describes the song:
This song is based on a character who built himself while I was writing. Every full moon, he transforms; however, he never remembers anything about his transformation, only that it happens. On full moon nights he travels to a grassy hill above his forested town, far away from people, to watch the light fade. But instead of succumbing to a torturous, violent experience, everything becomes hazy, peaceful and quiet, as if he was falling asleep to the sound of wind and morning songbirds.
A. Quinton — Jul. 28th 2016
Craig has written up the entire The Howling cinematic oeuvre as part of The AV Club’s Run The Series feature, “which examines film franchises, studying how they change and evolve with each new installment”. His piece, “The Howling series got howlingly bad pretty quickly”, is 3,000 words long and concludes with a definitive (and henceforth canonical) ranking of the series’ seven films. If you’re wondering which one took top slot, here’s a hint: it’s the only one Joe Dante was involved in.
Craig’s movie reviews are consistently excellent, even if the films he reviews aren’t always. I’m lucky to have him writing about werewolf movies here on Werewolf News, and I look forward to seeing more of his work on The AV Club in the future.
A. Quinton — Jul. 23rd 2016
Two guys from the “making neat stuff and blowing it up” zone of YouTube are here in this video to exercise one of science’s primary directives: doing a thing not because you need to, but because you can, and it’ll be fun.
I liked watching this process because while both guys are clearly skilled, they didn’t edit out the technical problems, and they didn’t try to hide the fact that the results, while quite functional, weren’t Adam Savage-level perfect. Perfection isn’t required when you’re experimenting or making something cool!
My thanks to friend and colleague William K, who was worried that sharing this video with me might lead to reprisals from “the werewolf community.” Nah, William, it’s fine! I’m sure the werewolves out there are glad to know that anyone wanting to make their own silver bullets runs the risk of pouring molten silver all over their hands.
A. Quinton — Jul. 6th 2016
My wife and I were guests/vendors/attendees at HOWL CON 2015, a werewolf convention just across the river from Portland, Oregon, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. After a year off, the organizers have regrouped with an Indiegogo campaign to bring HOWL CON back to Portland over the weekend of February 4th, 2017.
If it’s successful, this campaign will help HOWL CON turn into something even better than the future I imagined in my effusive 2015 post. May I suggest that you pledge at the $40 level to get your two-day pass, then mark your calendar?
From the campaign:
The global community of werewolf lovers has their very own convention . . . sometimes. Hi, I’m Stephen, and I produced two HOWL CON events in 2012 and 2015. Hundreds of lunatics just like you got our socks charmed off by GRIMM’s Silas Weir Mitchell, line-moshed in costume to GrimWolf‘s blood-boiling werewolf metal, laughed ourselves silly at the instant cult classic film Wolf Cop, and raised money & awareness for Wolf Haven International.
Those were great cons, but behind the scenes they were pretty threadbare, achieved on charm, cussedness, and borrowed capabilities. If we’re going to howl together again, especially in the wake of 2016’s failure to launch, let’s do it without begging pardons or cutting corners.
If they can reach their $15,000 USD goal in the next two months, they’ll be able to mount the convention at an ideal scale and with guests they really want to bring to werewolf fans. As Stephen says, though, even if they only make the halfway mark, they’ll have “the wherewithal to secure a hotel and book featured guests, and a regular pre-registration campaign will have August-January to finish the job.”
Frankly, $15k is a tiny amount of money considering the amazing time it would fund, and I would like to see them hit at least 200% of their goal. Even if you can’t make it, you can support the convention as an Absent Packmate or Absent VIP, which is a cool concept.
I want to go to HOWL CON 2017, but more importantly, I want you to go. Check out the campaign, share it with your friends, and start planning your trip. See you there!
An adventure in South African horror conventions, industrial music and werewolf transformation videos
A. Quinton — Mar. 24th 2016
One of my favourite things about “online” is discovering new things through a series of unexpected causal connections. I recently went through one of these “one thing leads to the next” adventures. One tweet from a friend turned into multiple hours of enjoyment involving South Africa, werewolves, music and many things with ALL-CAPS names. Join me, won’t you?
My journey started when @Somnilux tweeted at me a promo trailer for South African HORRORFEST 2015. The trailer depicts a woman watching a mysterious VHS tape, sort of like “The Ring”, but with more immediate (and better) consequences: she turns into a werewolf. This gave me two cool werewolf-things to think about and research:
1. Check out South African HORRORFEST. I have never been (and probably won’t ever get a chance to go) to South Africa, but I know two people who live there, who might have attended the event during its 11-year run, and/or who might be going to (or submitting something) to the 2016 incarnation. I am convinced that every horror convention is a treasure trove of unique werewolf artifacts, so this bears further research.
2. Find out who did the werewolf transformation makeup work. Who’s responsible, and have they done more werewolf work? A little digging reveals that Clinton Smith & Cosmesis did the creature effects for Flamedrop Productions as part of the promo for HORRORFEST 2009. Their web site is a content-light placeholder at the moment, so not much else to find there.
Then South African pal Lew tweets that the woman in the video is the singer for TERMINATRYX, and that an expanded version of the promo was used as the music video for their song “Virus”. That puts another item on my list.
3. Watch TERMINATRYX’s “Virus” music video. TERMINATRYX is a “female-fronted Alternative band with Metal, Industrial and sometimes Gothic shades” – a descriptor that encompasses many of my musical tastes. The video for “Virus” does indeed expand on the HORRORFEST promo video, depicting the continuation of singer Sonja Ruppersberg’s transformation and the consequences it has on the people she meets. The werewolf design was great. Also, I really liked the song, and with all the running I’m doing lately I could use some new music in my library, so…
3b. Listen to more of TERMINATRYX’s music. Not yet in progress, but I’ll probably start with the self-titled 2011 album that “Virus” came from.
But wait, there’s more! The “Virus” video description text mentions another, longer, final version – a short film representing the conclusion of the project that started with the HORRORFEST promo, which means I need to
4. Watch MARKED, the 8-minute short film with “more special make-up FX”. I have not yet done this, but technology let me download the video for offline consumption while I’m on the train later today. I have high hopes, based on what I saw in the previous two versions.
Before I do anything else, though I have to
5. Finish this post so you too can check all this great stuff out. Done. And as I write this, guess who’s just tweeted another link at me. Is there such a thing as too much werewolf content?
Of course not.