Archive for September, 2013
It is just about October, Halloween is around the corner, the creepy time of year. It’s that time of year that a good – a great – scary story just tastes better. There’s something about October twilight, the Philadelphia Eagles, and leaves dying that makes a creepy tale all the more enjoyable.
In celebration of October, I suggest reading a scary book. Do it for a small change in your routine, or to try something new. Last October I read Ellen DeGeneres’ autobiography – oh, the horror!
Oh, and why a scary book and not a scary movie?
Because movies are too easy. It’s so much easier to scare a person with a movie. There’s a whole range of input available to work with: visuals, a passing face in the window, whispering, eerie music, the breeze that creeps along the trees, and, of course, something jumping out at and eviscerating a Japanese teenager.
When it comes to a good scary book, nothing matters – not the author, its ‘classic’ status, its cover – the only thing that matters is whether it scares you or not. That’s part of why spooky fiction is so hard to pull off. It’s also why I love it.
However, as a connoisseur of horror, speculative, and creepy fiction, I find that most horror leaves me as disappointed as the last time I ordered a filet mignon in a truck stop.
This post is dedicated to making a list of scary books for us to read. Below are my four recommendations, four books that truly spooked me. They were not researched, not found on websites, and I didn’t put them there so I’d seem more well-read or worldly.
They scared me.
Why? Because every once in a while, you have to teach your neighbors a good, juicy, painful lesson that they will never forget. If you teach them this lesson effectively enough, they should be forced to remember it just to relate it to a psychotherapist from time to time.
My neighbors are Czech, which means a lot of things. Among those things are that Czechs don’t really like talking to their neighbors. A neighbor has never stopped by for milk, asked how I’m doing, or shot the shit in the hallway.
Well, there is this one old guy, but – if my Czech is correct – he wants to take pictures of me in a Speedo, so…
Anyway, and ergo, this also means that they don’t tell you if they have a problem with you. So if you – hypothetically – play music late one night (read: 11:30 YouTube videos on a Saturday) they won’t come right out and ask you to keep it down next time, they’ll write a note, and then they’ll stick that note on the front window of the building so that everyone can see it.
In any event, I decided to fight passive aggressive fire with passive aggressive fire. And I figured while I was getting back at one neighbor, I might get back at the other one whose bathroom shares a wall with my bedroom and who bathes every night at midnight, thus sending me on a bleary quest to pee that always results in a wet bathroom floor and a stubbed toe.
I am standing with a rolled up magazine, waiting for the inevitable confrontation between man and wasp. This one is hovering above my breakfast. I watch. The B Monster watches. Shit is about to hit the fan. The wasp finally makes the mistake of landing on my English muffin. I destroy him.
Though there is a moment of regret, I summon the courage to butter and eat my English muffin.
The animal world is cruel.
Let’s be honest, it’s cool to like animals. People proclaim their enjoyment of them in the obvious way one might use to agree with global warming (‘we’re ruining the planet, man!’) or praise Kafka (‘He was a total genius’).
Blah blah blah.
Oh, I like the idea of animals. I am glad they exist. I like eating them and wearing their warm bits. And I do believe that one day I’ll be able to teach the B Monster to build me a sandwich and deliver it to me in bed. I even enjoy animals in the wild. Well, I like watching documentaries in which cheetah chase down unfortunate gazelles, I love watching birds when they are on the other side of my window, and even sharks when they are fighting Roy Scheider in the Atlantic Ocean.
But there’s a big difference between enjoying animals and enjoying the idea of animals.
That means drawing the curtains, locking the front door, and putting tape over the webcam. The ultimate amount of care is put into hiding this activity. Well, that is until I write it here for my vast flock of followers and readers (aka: my mom and her sister’s neighbor).
Just when I get the cat out of the room – she doesn’t need to share in my shame either – I sit in front of the computer box and type into a search engine: twerk
I recently read a story about the Lykov family in Siberia. This family has been so far removed from civilization for so long that they have completely missed all of world history’s recent fun times. So while the Lykovs have been tending their farm in sunny and pleasant Siberia, they have missed pretty much everything that has happened in the world. They have never heard of minor events like World War II, Sputnik, or 9/11. They know nothing of Vladimir Putin, The Beatles, John F. Kennedy, or Damien Galeone.
What a productive Sunday, well, E-friend and E-acquaintance-wise. I have written emails to three friends, a thing I do at random to see if I get responses (7 months/34 emails sent/3 responses). I have linked up with two professionals I have never met on LinkedIn, but they have nice faces.
I have accepted two E-vites to parties. I have commented on three Facebook photos depicting recent get-togethers I wouldn’t have attended if the hosts had pointed a rifle at my genitals. I am thrilled to find that I have two new followers on Twitter…two new followers that I wouldn’t be able to identify in a crowd of three.
Oh, to be hyper-connected!
After sifting through my inbox, which contains two one-sentence, no-capitals, no-punctuation emails, and a lot of shit that seems it should have gone to spam, I dance around the internet like a hyper-connected fool.
You know King, right? He’s sort of a creepy gent with the face of a coffee table and the souls of a dozen murdered unicorns in a jar on his desk. Oh yeah, and he writes.
Mr. King usually writes horror novels, a fact you might not be aware of if you happen to live on Pluto, which is no longer a planet. Even people on Uranus (tee hee) know that King writes horror. Sitting in my bathroom is a book of his called On Writing; guess what it’s about.
A quick peruse on Amazon.com will show you how big the market is for the ‘how to write’ book. How to write a lot (one would think this activity somewhat self-explanatory), How to Write Great Blog Posts and Engage Readers (Hm, maybe…), and How to Write a Nonfiction e-book in 21 Days (first sentence: First, write a nonfiction e-book in 21 days, then…).
Blah Blah Blah.
The creature stands in the clearing between me and the safety of my building. He has a long nose, dense legs; a thousand needles sticking out of his broad angry back. It’s midnight, Saturday, nobody will come to my assistance if I shriek in horror, so I stand perfectly still behind a No Parking sign that conceals 1/2918th of my chubby ass.
The monster snorts in my direction and then thumps through the grass. I gasp and run home, vault myself through the door of the building and finally relax on the lift up to my flat. Once inside I lock the door and hear the creature howl in the foggy night, frustrated at having lost such a delectable meal.
I vow that I will never lose the midnight battle to this creature that lives outside my building, shaking my fist from the relative safety of my balcony.
And then I make some popcorn.
There’s that certain something in the air. Whether you’re a summer or autumn person, it’s hard to deny that autumn in the Czech Republic carries a wonderful feel with it. The sky is either rainy and moist or crisp and blue, the leaves are starting to change and, to the male population’s chagrin, the women have started wearing more clothing.
Still, whether you are mourning the end of summer or celebrating the beginning of autumn, there is burčák to help you along.
Burčák is a partially fermented wine. So wine makers take a batch of young wine just after the grapes have been crushed, add sugar, and let it ferment a bit. The result is something that tastes like a mixture of fruit juice, Sprite, and purple…if purple had a taste. And since it’s young wine it’s alcohol content is only about 5%.
It’s also available in yellow.
I can’t blame her. I have just squeezed her into a carrying box and whisked her out of my friend’s flat, which has been her home for August. And then I carried her down a long flight of steps and onto a bus full of Czechs and me.
Her unhappiness is exemplified by several sounds coming out of her mouth. None of these sounds resemble anything close to the meow (Cz: mňau) of a cat, which, if you don’t know, the B Monster is.
The first sound is something like that of a tiny engine revving, as though a hobbit is gunning his crotch rocket in preparation for a ride through the shire. This morphs into her shouting like a deranged old Jewish man with croup and possessed with the ghost of another old Jewish man. Then the B Monster begins panicking in her carrying case, emitting the frenzied sounds a wild animal might make several seconds before chewing off one of its limbs.
She is like Harrison Bergeron’s faceless, evil antagonist, changing her pitch whenever the people around me might have become accustomed to it, thereby rendering them incapable of blocking it out.