Friday, November 19, 2010

Please Elect Me Leader of this Torch-Carrying Mob

My name is George Stevens, and I'd like your support.

It's been a long journey since we picked up ordinary farm implements, lit our torches, and converged on the old Mansfield place just outside of town to kill everyone inside and end the unholy experiments that befouled nature itself. Some say our best days are behind us. Some say that this torch-wielding mob should get used to being a relic. Maybe, the doubters suggest, we should even disband.

I reject that. I am convinced that with the right leadership, our future is bright indeed. As bright as, well, as a mob of people carrying torches and bent on some kind of violent, vigilante action. There are always going to be dark times. Sometimes a creature made of patchwork chunks of dead flesh will drop boiling oil on us from the ramparts of his castle, and we'll hear the terrified shrieks of our townsfolk. There will be challenges ahead. But we're not just carrying torches, and pitchforks, and a crucifix rubbed in garlic... we're carrying hope. The hope that there will always be a life for our children in the years to come.

My opponent is a good man. He is dedicated to this mob and its torch-carrying. But I think he lacks experience and vision. I honor his record of service. But he's not the person who should be picking up a pitchfork and impaling a hunchback guarding the door to a dank crypt. He doesn't have the judgement or good old-fashioned common sense needed for the times ahead.

With your help I know there will always be rickety bridges to cross and scientists to defenestrate. We can accomplish great things... together.

Satanic Ritual Killings -- A Handy Video

Have you just stumbled over a body carved up all crazy-like in your school parking lot? This video will tell you what clues to look for to determine if you've got some devil-worshippers to deal with.

My friend Rob sent me this, and I needed to share. (I also found it on boingboing). The Youtuber who uploaded it wrote it was from a video called "Law Enforcement Guide to Satanic Cults." You can get a copy here (only VHSl it was made in 1994). Obviously I am skeptical of these things. But that in no way detracts from the utter awesomness of this video. The set looks like a high school play of Julius Caesar. The law enforcement expert looks almost exactly like the BTK killer. The music that plays at the end is oddly cheery, like this video has just taught you how to pass your finals in cosmetology school, and now you can get out of your parent's garage apartment and start living your life, dammit. And then there's the victim, with her devil scrawl-work and her checkered bikini.

This is a cultural artifact from a time in our national life when every fundamentalist music teacher devoted one class to talking about the backwards messages playing on your Iron Maiden album, and every talk show had a hysterical nutjob claiming his therapist helped him remember that mom and dad were molesting goats with the neighbors down in the rec room. It's inspiring. It makes me want to start my own murderous cult of satanists, just to backstop every crazy thing this guy is saying and make it real.

Keep the dream alive, people.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson -- An Audio Podcast

The New Yorker's website has an excellent audio podcast of author A.M. Homes reading Shirley Jackson's chilling short story The Lottery. Read along with the text here. Jackson is famous for her classic novel The Haunting of Hill House, which has been adapted as a movie in 1963 (The Haunting).

SPOILERS AHOY! STOP READING THIS and listen to the story, if you've never experienced it before.

For those of you who remember reading this from your high school English class, it is definitely worth a second read. Jackson is a master of taking ordinary, seemingly pleasant details of small-town life and turning them into something truly dark. What I find most chilling are the mechanics of the "lottery within the lottery" at the end. Once the townsfolk have settled onto a family to be sacrificed, they have to re-draw to see which person within the group is actually killed. By this point the reader knows something truly dreadful is about to happen, and Jackson toys with the idea that we will be witness to the killing of a small child. And the mother in the family desperately tries to make her own grown daughters draw for the chance to be sacrificed as well (something you may have blown past if you were suffering a sugar crash while the teacher was droning on and on in an overheated room just after lunch.)

One of the older people helps little Davy take the slip of paper which could mark him for death. It makes me think of accounts of the Jonestown suicides, with parents lining up to help their kids drink the fruity dirt-nap juice. There's a point in every family's life when you realize that your crazy beliefs about the world are not helping your kids -- that perhaps you are harming them with your own fears and limitations. If you are decent you let them move beyond you. But people aren't always decent are they? For every bucket of poison Kool-Aid there are always folks who want their kids drinking right alongside them.

Jackson lets us off the hook. They kill the mother after all. It's almost a relief. And as the townsfolk closes in on her, some helpful adult hands pebbles to little Davy so he can help.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Michael Myers: Car Salesman

Bob Forstal
Forstal Chevrolet
Haddonfield, IL 60201
November 17, 2010

Michael Myers
PO Box 435
Haddonfield, IL 60205

Dear Mr. Myers:

Thank you very much for your interest in the position on our sales staff. Unfortunately we don’t believe your talents are a good fit for Forstal Chevrolet.

Your enthusiasm for the job was absolutely inspiring (I got quite a shock seeing you standing there, across the street, hours before we opened! I am sorry for my immediate reaction, and I hope you don’t take it personally). Unfortunately – if I may be frank with you – you still need to develop your “people skills” a bit more if you want to succeed in this industry. I hope you won’t mind if I give you constructive criticism. I suspect that with a few pointers, you might well be a stronger candidate.

One skill a good salesman needs is strong, reassuring eye contact. Believe me, you have this to a surprising degree. But you need a softer, warmer approach. During the interview there were several points where you simply stared at me silently, sometimes for 20 minutes or more at a time, tilting your head with curiosity as if I were a bug pinned to a wall. There are a small, but significant number of customers who will respond to this approach. But usually, it’s not the persona that sells a car.

Also a salesman has to be approachable. That gray-white featureless mask might make you feel more confident while interacting with people, but let me be blunt – it has no place on the lot.

You might also give more thought to whom you ask for a reference. Before you sell cars, you have to sell yourself. I called Dr. Loomis, who described you as “very determined and resourceful.” But he also said you had, “No conscience… or even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong.” He used the phrase “pure evil” several times. That’s not always a deal-breaker in sales, but he also said it was his life’s goal to have you locked up, and that you lacked experience.

With a little polish you might well be a good asset for this company somewhere down the road. Please feel free to reapply at a later date. And if you don’t mind, return my grandmother’s gravestone to the cemetery.

Bob Forstal
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