Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays! Mandatory Cookies in the Conference Room

Interoffice Memorandum

To: All employees at Karp, MacKenzie, LLC
From: "Frank Rust," Acting HR Manager
cc: File

Happy Holidays everyone! I know we leave at 3 pm today, and we don't have a full staff, because some of you are on vacation... but for everyone who remains, there are cookies in the conference room. They look delicious. Come down to the second floor, and share some seasonal cheer with your coworkers at Karp Mac.

I know many of you are rushing to finish projects before you head off for the holidays, but you really should take just a moment and say hello. There are sugar Santas, and little green trees with sprinkles, and those peanut butter things with the Hershey kisses on top. And someone even baked some fudge! Many of you have moved into different offices with your laptops, trying to stay out of sight. We won't take too much of your time. Come have a cookie.

We've had a rough year at Karp Mac. I only took over the HR Manager's duties this week, and I know the challenges we face. Those layoffs in June hit us hard. And it was stressful for all of us, when I absorbed the body of Frank Rust after he found the strange plant in the supply closet. Then we had to refinance the mall in Tulsa. I thought Tony was going to go crazy from those late hours and all the coffee he was drinking!

I know that sometimes an office can feel like it's full of strangers, like the person in the cubicle next to you could just get sent away and replaced with no warning. But that's why the holidays are so important. They're about coming together as a team. Making connections and learning new things about each other. So stop hiding from me. You too, Tony. I know you're in the crawlspace trying to call for help, but your cell won't work. Don't worry, we have sugar-free cookies and special cookies for people with nut allergies.

I thought we'd sing "Jingle Bell Rock." It's mandatory, and it will be fun! Come have fun with us. There are only a few of us left in the building, and I want to see you all before the break.

I'll be waiting.

Continued here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Whisperer in Darkness -- A Movie of the Lovecraft Classic

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society is in post-production of their adaptation of "The Whisperer in Darkness." We don't know exactly when it will be released, but their blog keeps you updated, and it looks close (And if you want to prepare for it by reading the story, you can find it here. Print it out, mix it with some business papers, and read it at work.)

As you may remember, these guys did a very cool film version of The Call of Cthulhu in the style of the classic silent expressionist movies. Now, they've advanced to the time of the first talkies. Below is a second trailer they released, but this is more spoiler-heavy (with a view of the monsters) so be warned. I can't wait for this thing to come out.

A Crumpled Note Inside The Door

You don't know me. I fixed some things while you were away. I noticed the faucet on the side of the house was leaking, so I tightened it. I figured you might not be back in time to prevent real damage. It had to be done. The faucet in your backyard is fine.

The door to the garage doesn't lock properly. I oiled the bolt, and now you'll be able to close it to secure that entrance. You've let that go, but it's important.

The entrance to the crawlspace was hanging loose, and I found evidence of rats. They seem to have pulled out insulation in places, but I repaired all that as well. It took some time, but none of your neighbors came by to ask about it. You have nice neighbors. People who keep to themselves and don't pry.

On the upper floor there were several windows with broken latches. I wondered if you even noticed, but I replaced them. I cleaned as well. You had some filthy spots in your bathroom and kitchen. It could attract all kinds of pests.

And I replaced the air filter, which hasn't been done in some time. You want to do that once a month, because you can get respiratory infections. You have a family, and you need to take care of them. They could get something serious, especially that newborn girl of yours. Your wife would never forgive you.

You're very lucky to have this house. I hope you appreciate it. I hope you're grateful.

Finding Horror Everywhere With H.P. Lovecraft

(Below is the opening to Supernatural Horror in Literature an essay by H.P. Lovecraft. It was first published in 1927, and the entire text is available from Wikisource. I have annotated it here with recent illustrations, examples, and random craziness. My advice is to just let the headlines and images wash over you until you get the sense that you're actually living in a Lovecraft story. You are, of course. Didn't you know that? Our lives last just long enough for us to realize the full horror of our predicament.)

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

These facts few psychologists will dispute, and their admitted truth must establish for all time the genuineness and dignity of the weirdly horrible tale as a literary form. Against it are discharged all the shafts of materialistic sophistication which clings to frequently felt emotions and external events, and of a naively insipid idealism which deprecates the aesthetic motive and calls for a didactic literature to "uplift" the reader toward a suitable degree of smirking optimism. But in spite of all this opposition the weird tale has survived, developed, and attained remarkable heights of perfection; founded as it is on a profound and elementary principle whose appeal, if not always universal, must necessarily be poignant and permanent to minds of the requisite sensitiveness.

The appeal of the spectrally macabre is generally narrow because it demands from the reader a certain degree of imagination and a capacity for detachment from every-day life.

Relatively few are free enough from the spell of the daily routine to respond to rappings from outside, and tales of ordinary feelings and events, or of common sentimental distortions of such feelings and events, will always take first place in the taste of the majority; rightly, perhaps, since of course these ordinary matters make up the greater part of human experience. But the sensitive are always with us, and sometimes a curious streak of fancy invades an obscure corner of the very hardest head; so that no amount of rationalisation, reform, or Freudian analysis can quite annul the thrill of the chimney-corner whisper or the lonely wood. There is here involved a psychological pattern or tradition as real and as deeply grounded in mental experience as any other pattern or tradition of mankind; coeval with the religious feeling and closely related to many aspects of it, and too much a part of our inmost biological heritage to lose keen potency over a very important, though not numerically great, minority of our species.

Man's first instincts and emotions formed his response to the environment in which he found himself. Definite feelings based on pleasure and pain grew up around the phenomena whose causes and effects he understood, whilst around those which he did not understand--and the universe teemed with them in the early days--were naturally woven such personifications, marvellous interpretations, and sensations of awe and fear as would be hit upon by a race having few and simple ideas and limited experience. The unknown, being likewise the unpredictable, became for our primitive forefathers a terrible and omnipotent source of boons and calamities visited upon mankind for cryptic and wholly extra-terrestrial reasons, and thus clearly belonging to spheres of existence whereof we know nothing and wherein we have no part. The phenomenon of dreaming likewise helped to build up the notion of an unreal or spiritual world; and in general, all the conditions of savage dawn-life so strongly conduced toward a feeling of the supernatural, that we need not wonder at the thoroughness with which man's very hereditary essence has become saturated with religion and superstition. That saturation must, as matter of plain scientific fact, be regarded as virtually permanent so far as the subconscious mind and inner instincts are concerned; for though the area of the unknown has been steadily contracting for thousands of years, an infinite reservoir of mystery still engulfs most of the outer cosmos, whilst a vast residuum of powerful inherited associations clings round all the objects and processes that were once mysterious, however well they may now be explained. And more than this, there is an actual physiological fixation of the old instincts in our nervous tissue, which would make them obscurely operative even were the conscious mind to be purged of all sources of wonder.
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