Yearly Archives: 2012


In Praise of Scary Stories

At long, long, way too long last: a new Cracked column! Five Reasons the Scariest Thing Ever Written Is a Kids’ Book. Because we all read and loved Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Or we were taken away in the night and replaced with a changeling that does not feel.

And then the wendigo came for him.

Sorry for all the delay. I’ve been working on a massive print project in addition to the day gig, and now it’s all wrapped up! So I can throw all my time back with my one true love: dark comedy.

When I was a kid I exhausted all the paranormal books in the library. But before that ever happened, someone in nursery school read us Taily Po, the story of a man who lived in a remote corner of the swamp with his dogs and shot…something. Whatever it was, he only winged it. He took the tail he’d shot off home and made a meal of it.

And that night, something prowled the roof. And a voice, more like a cat’s than a man’s, buzzed beneath the raging wind, “Whooooooo? Whoooooo toooook myyyyy Taily-Po?”

The man’s hounds were no defense. Killed or scared off, they left him alone with the thing, far beyond any help. And when it came down the window, looking like a raccoon-cat with lemur eyes, it wanted its Taily-Po back. But the tail was in the man’s stomach, and he couldn’t give it back.

I was a not-right kid for a week or more after that. But when I recuperated, I had a sick thrill for the unknown terrors from beyond. Nuclear war didn’t scare me; ghosts I knew couldn’t exist did. The horror was specifically that the thing could not be and yet IT WALKED AND TALKED AMONG US.

I think “Taily-Po” made it into Scary Stories, though I was exposed to it in a standalone book.

One more, about twenty years ago. It’s November, a few days after thanksgiving. We’re driving one town over to Waterford to get a Christmas tree. Even the pumpkins are in now. The sky is an iron-grey, the leaves have burned out to a sparse brown, and I’m sitting in the back of my parents’ blue Chevy woody wagon, reading Scary Stories. The pine tree farm is rocky, like most new England soil–in southeastern Connecticut a lot of the rock is a single piece that extends from the Race Point in Long Island Sound out to the old farmland along the shore. In short, it’s a perfectly creepy New England day: penned in top to bottom and sustenance exhausted all around. I think i realized something about where I grew up that day, as well as about what made Evil Warning Woman such a terrifying figure, and about myself and my odd thrill at the scarce terrain and impending danger always just behind your shoulder as you trudge deeper into the cold Connecticut forest.

Nice memories. Thanks, Alvin Schwartz.


I interviewed Alexander Rhodes

 

Intensity is his background.

Better known as Jack Reacher‘s Alexander Rhodes or Reddit Superstar Alexander Rhodes.

It was nice to do a bit of writing after so much editing/design/promotion/pagan sacrifice lately at the Man Cave, and Mr. Rhodes gave as great a batch of answers as you could hope. We decided I’d blindly interview “The Star of Jack Reacher” and only later find out he wasn’t Tom Cruise, but I tried to tailor all the questions to either one of them — e.g. vegetarianism, the silent treatment from Katie Holmes. It all went off swimmingly, and I thank him for his time.

 


New column, new day job.

I haven’t been as prolific at Cracked as I’d like this year, in tiny part because I took a day job editing CBS’s Man Cave Daily. I thought I’d be making a big announcement about that back in January, but our big site reboot was delayed in tiny increments all the way to the last week of June. So other than a quick mention, I haven’t bubbed much hub about it. But now MCD proper exists, and you’re thrilled to be seeing it, so all the world sings this triumph.

I’ll make a page for the nav bar in due time, but for now, here’s a link to my body of work over at Man Cave Daily

It’s going really well. I love every single thing about it and I work with great people. I’ve got new friends there who want to collaborate on projects I could never get going by myself with a three-year headstart, and I’m working with some ace talent to turn MCD into something new rather than an echo of Maxim or Cracked.

Speaking of the latter…

Writing humor is the only reason Earth keeps me around, and Cracked is the top spot for humor on the internet–company you have to try your very best to even keep in sight of. Every time one of my columns is given a place to live there, I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to for once. It’s a fantastic gig, and I’m very, very grateful for it.

I’m also grateful for having grown up three blocks from the river and three blocks from the ocean. If you didn’t spend a quarter of your childhood tear-assing around a beach, I imagine summers must have been very different for you, but for me, those were even in their occurrence an unbroken span of hot days and perfect memories with cousins and friends who were like a clan.

I don’t think “So You Don’t Want to Die at the Beach” is a perfect tribute to those days, nor great satire, but it is funnier than I let myself think while I was writing it, and it makes my point: stack on as many complications as you want, but in the end, the beauty of the beach is its simplicity, and it will reassert itself.

I miss those days. Enjoy.

 


Because He’s Batman

After the last couple of heavy, verbose satirical bits, I thought it would be fun to just chew on something we can all agree on: people will break your heart.

Kidding! Batman always wins. That’s a given. But if you want to know the string theory underlying the particles of victory that make Batman the Harlem Globetrotters of superheroes, I’ve broken it down for you on Cracked.

I bet Batman dies in a really disappointing fashion, like getting stabbed by Sting Ray while hunting Killer Croc

*I was lying about kidding.

Dr. Drekespeare sayeth: “Express thyself”

I have no idea why I did this until almost two in the morning, but here is N.W.A.’s “Express yourself” with all the lyrics changed to Shakespearean iambic pentameter. I guess it fits with today’s comic about the hidden story behind Shakespeare’s death. Hath not this man still much love for the streets?

SCENE I. The New World. A theatre.

Enter YOUNG ANDRE (a Doctor) and JACKSON, both men of attitude 

ANDRE
In sooth! What cowards all about us lie,
Too timid of their bodkins here to kick
Reality; an’ flaking manner in
Their cowardice doth perpetrate the sin.

JACKSON
Good sir, thou art much vested in thy work,
And good work, aye, it be, yet caution bear
That ye might dullards teach the creeping hour.

ANDRE
What would’st thou have done of me?

JACKSON
Why, sir–
A wish, and only merest wish at that,
That thou might vent thy augur and make known
To any man expression of thy thoughts.

ANDRE
I am expressing by all measures troth
Yet e’en my frame corrected by Law doth
Rebuked in prison lie, an’ Rigid Crown
Upon expressions such as these look down.
An arrow’s thrust the path of sooth I tell
Entranc’d like Fitch’s savages by Hell,
I let fall savors of a tongue, and make
My father’s face upon these acts; is it
Not necessary in men to mimic
Their Blood’s technique, or shall we now here blame
Thee, Jackson, who hath called it, in French,
The wretched odor of things said and done by men?
Recite the cant upon the drums of war
And ye shall find me flush, a merry laugh
Upon these lips from whence such words do flow.
Merry, and no man can say himself the same.
Hear now, that mine is not a hand to stay
From striking fools–one, two, down now fall all!
Down, Sciences! Down, English! Weary words
Strike quaking thunders when bereft of song
Though Yella bids a silence claim the room.
Still, burning I, with fire, yet not smoke, express
Keen thoughts though levymen collect their sess.
A dull mind is ill management, and make
A suckling whelp unweaned of knight and knave.
Then seek new means beyond the broken mould.

VILLAGERS
Expression! Expression! Go to’t! Alla stoccata carries it away!

ANDRE
Returning then, to our intended term,
’tis I, friends, Young Andre, now Doctor ‘Dre,
Restored to you upon my books’ completion.
What, ho! It was an easy thing to do.
These hollow men without expression yield
To mighty words that buffet battle fields.
Bereft of physic, they doth cling to hulls
Like barnacles to more courageous souls.
‘Tis so, ’tis so, and ever so, that those
Upon the wrong end of fortune’s wheel chase
Bleak circles round their fate, and run headlong
Into their own destruction. Yet brave men
Roar hot words in doom’s wrinkled visage and
Unaided face that spectre’s bony hand.
Confession left unheard, they hazard not
A guess while gusting forth their hearts’ tempests.
‘Tis madness, that man bends to other men,
And so submits his heart to worrying rue.
And I? Not I. I make no moan but this:
Fresh roads prove truer still than well-trod ones,
Where man looks back to see the path behind him,
That he not drift to please the route ahead.
No oath upon the hearth did man lament
That he kept true within the public square.
Such hinds make much ado of truth in deed,
While sprink’ling word with dreamers’ calumnies.
Apothecaries, all! A pox claim them!
And what is gold? A passing fancy, this–
‘Twas mine, ’tis thine, ’twill still another’s be,
And these scant few take note of folly’s wealth,
Yet fewer still make note: express thyself.

VILLAGERS
Expression! Expression! Hie ye forth and have done!

ANDRE
O, crying heart! Which sails, a luffing ship
In life’s slow seas, here charting its
Unheard expressions. Lacking grace, it plods
In most, a dying turtle’s crawl, its best
Parts still ensconced. Yet, like the unhatch’d egg,
There looms a fresher art within to grow.
What now, the lesson–all of these expressions?
My pistol thirsts to kiss its lover’s neck,
If Perfidy thy name. Thy account we forgive,
An’ lacking base to weather seasons here.
‘Tis ‘Dre, made earthly in my hot concerns,
Till all the soil is plowed, made wet, and turned.
Then climbing stalks, as warranted in sheer
Necessity, the fecund nature doth
Compel both man and plant’s explosive growth.
Within such flesh unwelcome fertile spring
The self turned ‘gainst the self whene’er I sing.
Maintaining thus my form I damage do,
Restraints too late applied I damage too.
‘Tis knowledge, sir, that burning engines moves,
And knowledge still that sets wheels in their grooves.
Enough! Now ponder all the lessons learned;
For health expressly needs must thou burned.

Exeunt all.