horny devils: the vejigante of Puerto Rico

I am fresh from a week’s vacation in Puerto Rico! Save some fencing, I did very little save read, rest, and walk around Ponce’s historic downtown. The weather was gloriously warm, the food excellent, the company better, and the rest much-needed.

Needless to say I ran into neither USOs, nor the chupacabras of cryptozoological lore (though there were iguanas, many iguanas) because weird stuff doesn’t happen to me. But I did get a taste of Puerto Rican folklore at the Pan Am Championships’ opening ceremony:

three dancers in brightly colored robes and horned masks in sports stadium
Vejigantes on the piste. Author’s own.

These colorful critters are vejigantes (bay-he-GAHN-tay), a sort of all-purpose demon (or family of demons) that evolved out of the meeting of Spanish, African, and native Taíno cultures.

A quick whip around the web reveals the name comes from “vejiga” (Spanish for cow bladder) and “gigante” (giant) in reference to the dried, seed-filled cow bladders they use as “weapons” at festivals like the annual Carnaval Ponceño.

Most striking are the masks (careta) made of papier-mâché and/or coconut husks. Colors and patterns vary by geography (those above are from Ponce) but bright colors, teeth, and horns seem to be constants. This long-standing folk art is specific to Puerto Rico, and though how-tos (PDF) abound I suspect they don’t stick to traditional methods.

Examples of varying quality were on sale everywhere, in every size from fridge-magnet-small to half my height! I could only get this ~4″ sample home, it’s spiky horns protected inside the hard shell of my fencing mask:

Small black, green, yellow, and red mask with pointed open mouth and five horns
My Ponce souvenir

The man who sold this to me said it represents the wife of the “main” vejigante. I haven’t found any list of characters or their relationships so far and it frustrates me that I’m ignorant of the stories behind the imagery. The temptation to research is great but unavailability of info may be for the best – I have no business doing new research when The Novel is still in progress.

biweekly links 8-24-2016

writing and the day job

I don’t talk much about my day job online.

It’s a deliberate decision. My 9-5 has nothing to do with writing and I don’t like discussing private office goings-on in a public place. Nonetheless, the day job does affect the writing and likely always will.

This doesn’t surprise me. Only award winners and best sellers stand a chance of making a living purely for their art and even some of them keep day jobs: Hugo award winner Kameron Hurley has been unusually candid about her earnings. Which is all cool – I didn’t get into this to get rich. But it does mean that when something happens to the day job I have to divert attention from the writing.

My current contract is up in October, so I find myself seeking new employment for the first time in fifteen years. No matter how convenient it is to apply with a mouse click I still have to check listings, tailor the resume, interview, return emails etc.

Short version: it uses my writing time. Which is somewhat vexing, but very necessary. I’m more creative when I’ve got a regular income to keep the lights on and food on the table.

This also means I won’t have time to blog as I’d like – hence last week’s warning that I might go silent.

8-10-2016 biweekly links: the writing edition

Changes in my day job dictate that I’m spending much of my usual writing time looking for my next gig. Blogging may be sparse, but I’ll try to post bits when I can.

For this week, I share some of my favorite writing and writing business websites:

quality weird

Much as I love me some weird, I’m cautious about what I consume. I seldom have time to read up on the latest historic mysteries and odd sightings, and even less to winnow out the wheat from the chaff.

Internet to the rescue, and I don’t mean leaning on Wikipedia or [insert true believer or paranoid ranter here]:

Do you have anything I should check out? Please share in the comments!