Saturday, January 1, 2011

Peg Leary: Caterer of the Damned

I know you can hear me. I wanted to take a moment before Judy gets here with some cake samples and let you know something. Okay? Ready? I'm going to say this once:

I'm not going anywhere.

You think you're going to scare me away, don't you? The first day I moved into this place, those cold spots started showing up all over, and I couldn't figure out why. Then the hissing sound from the back stairs. I almost had plumbers taking apart the hot water heater, before I saw the woman in the bustle dress with her eyes stabbed out by knitting needles. I assume that was you. I'm sorry about what happened in 1895. Yes, I did my research. It was tragic about your husband and the hairdresser, and that awful accident in the parlor. I mean that. But you're in for another nasty shock if you think some voices and a little bit of blood seeping out of my pipes is going to get me to close this place up and file Chapter 7.

This is not your portal to hell, honey. This is a full-service catering hall and wedding planning company. I have a client who deserves a magical day, and if you get in my way you're going to wish you'd stayed in that cistern where the laundress found you.

You don't worry me. I opened this place three weeks ago, and I have one client and a massive mortgage, and half of the business is owned by my ex-husband. I have a groom who hasn't been seen in three days, and I've already ordered 120 tenderloins from Omaha, so there is no going back. My dove wrangler let his flock get some kind of virus that might just take them all out, and my cake baker is a raging alcoholic, but she's good and she's cheap, and right now she's all I got. You want to take a piece out of me with your moaning and that smell of death in the attic? Get. In. Line.

Think it unnerves me when I go into my chapel hall and see a cross hanging upside down and mysterious scorch marks? Bitch, please. I am an ex-Catholic. My last priest got taken out of the church by two US Marshals and a guy from Interpol. Seriously. They don't even know his real name. I'm a 45 year-old woman, and I don't know how I'm going to pay for my son to go to college, and his dad seems more interested in working through his midlife crisis with a stupid car and a grad student who's studying Holistic Communications. I don't believe in anything but good shoes and the power of a couple of extra safety pins. And hell doesn't scare me. Because I've been there, and I brought lawyers.

Okay, that's Judy at the door. I've got to put some coffee on to get her lucid enough to take notes, so I really don't have time for you. I don't think you're just going to blow away with a warning. But I am letting you know that you've got a fight on your wispy little hands. You will lose. I will win. The wedding is going to be magnificent. And at the end, when the guests leave I'll be taking off my pinchy shoes, nibbling a petit four with a nice Scotch, and I will be laughing at your poor whiny ass.

And by the way. The blood-stained eye sockets distract people from noticing, but someone with your hips really shouldn't wear that dress.

We're done here.

The Cobweb Hotel - A Classic, Scary Cartoon

Spend the night at the Cobweb Hotel.
You'll find that the service is swell.
Now you needn't be shy.
I won't harm a fly.
Spend the night at the Cobweb Hotel.
Come into my parlor, please do.
In a while, all your cares will be through.
There'll be no rent to pay.
'Cause you'll be here to stay.
Spend the night at the Cobweb Hotel.

(Lyrics copied by CartoonChick at

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year! Ignore the Noises from the Locked Room.

Interoffice Memorandum

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

Re: Upcoming events and changes

I am sure all of you are looking forward to an exciting and productive year at Karp Mac! I hope you have a happy (and safe) holiday. You deserve it.

There are going to be some new policies implemented here, and I wanted you to know about them before we kick off 2011.

1) We're getting new laptops! This is something I'm really excited about. Beginning Monday you will have your own PC laptop, and we encourage you to use it to its full potential. Move around the office and find a workstation that's comfortable. Go out to Camille's for coffee if you need a change of pace. We're a project-oriented business, not one that emphasizes "punching a time clock." We are still looking into the feasibility of work from home arrangements, so for now, we ask that you stay within the downtown area. But it should be fun.

2) Cell-phone use. Because we still need to stay in touch, every employee will have to keep their cell on continuously during working hours. Some have grumbled about how the phones can be disruptive, or that the GPS system can be used as a tracking device. There has even been a strange and bizarre rumor about the phones sending some kind of signal that alters your brainwaves and "steals your emotions." All I will say is we're adopting this new policy from some of the largest, most forward-thinking companies in the country. We won't do anything they wouldn't do at Microsoft.

3) Security codes. A 21st century company needs a 21st century security system. We're going to lock different floors and office suites with a keypad system. Frankly this should have been done some time ago. There has been speculation as to why the file room on the second floor now seems to closed to all personnel. And some have reported noises from the area. We keep some of our most important proprietary information in that room, and for insurance purposes we must maintain its security. I don't know what anyone thinks they heard, but there are nothing in that room but files. No one is "calling for help."

4) Bonuses! I don't mind bragging: I went to the mat for this. I told our corporate office that this staff handles some of the most lucrative and sensitive transactions for Karp Mac, and they need to be rewarded for it. The only stipulation is that each of you must sign a new non-disclosure agreement to receive your check. It beefs up the language about revealing information on our clients and procedures, facts surrounding the disappearance of several staffers, and your compensation package. Pretty basic stuff. Gotta keep the lawyers happy.

I'd like to thank you for your hard work and dedication last year. There will be big things happening in 2011 for all of us. That's a promise.

PS: Our new Department Manager starts work next week. He's an old friend. Please welcome him. I know you will. Also, don't forget to bring your crazy hat for Crazy Hat Day! We're going to take plenty of pictures for the newsletter.
Continued here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How Satan Works

I found this over at the Internet Archive and it is by Nikolaus Maack. The description listed is: "A short movie featuring clips of a demented preacher explaining how satan works. The characters that appear in your head are actually monsters."

I make no representations or guarantees that you can watch this until the end and survive intact. It will haunt you. There's something not right about this movie. I assume they use it in North Korea to break political dissidents.

I also assume that, the website listed at the end of the film is Maack's own. Which means the blog it links to -- Kill Everything -- is also his. Which means this poem about bears licking skeletons atop a tower of electric chairs, is also his creation. Which means Nikolaus Maack is dabbling in some pretty dark magic.

Crazy-Eye!: A Celebration

It is everywhere, the Crazy Eye. Pop stars, politicians, criminals -- these are the people who are constantly being videotaped and photographed. And none of them, not one, is wrapped too tightly.

This is something you always knew, but you need reminding. Even the man who plays the nice, down-to-earth guy on your favorite show is one Red Bull away from a Youtube video showing him being tasered by the cops as he screams about Jewish banking interests controlling our Magnesium ore. The Crazy Eye is a reminder of all that. It's a built-in social safety-valve to let us all know that the pretty people you see on your screen aren't real. They look normal, usually. They talk normal. But every once in awhile something slips out. Nature's way of saying: "Don't come too close."

Jennifer Wilbanks (aka The Runaway Bride): She committed a relatively minor crime, but in crazy-eye terms, Wilbanks is an updated Charles Manson. You want to ask her fiance: "How did you not see that shit coming? Look at her!" Now she's out of jail, her groom has married someone else, and Wilbanks is dating again. As a human being, I'm sad. As a media parasite I couldn't be happier.
Tom Cruise: You've seen the Scientology video (And if you haven't, you should. I watch it regularly just to keep my senses honed.) And yes, he's brainwashed and believes in space aliens and stuff like that. But the Crazy Eye transcends all faiths and creeds. If it weren't Scientology it'd just be something else. Crazy Eye is eternal.
Nancy Pelosi: How did this woman run the US Congress for years? She did it by having the power to burst someone's internal organs with a thought.
Tony Little: This man will sell you an exercise machine that will change your life. And if you skip a day or two on that exercise machine he will be there just outside the door with a crowbar and some duct tape, and they will never find you again.
Cindy McCain: This is her only expression, and the makeup just fixes it into place. When you're a politician's wife the one look is all you're allowed. Your spouse could be talking tax policy or confessing to a threeway with Belgian prostitutes, and you never crack up. It creates a permanent, crazy-eye paralysis when cameras are rolling. At night she goes home, gets out the cold cream and turns into Cthulhu.

Cropsey and The Bunny Man -- Maniacs of Legend

Cropsey is a fascinating and very disturbing documentary about two people from Staten Island who investigate a bogeyman legend from their childhood and discover that it may connect to a string of children who have disappeared around an abandoned mental hospital. They don't give you any easy answers to help you sleep at night. It's a perfect fusion of documentary and horror, and it will leave you pondering just what the Cropsey legend is all about.

On the film's website, they dig into the story behind the name Cropsey itself. And over at the website of the New York Folklore Society's magazine Voices, there is a nice article about the legend. The ID Channel also has an examination of the movie and the legend behind it. Also, on a website that collects stories from Brooklyn Scouts camps, a man named Bernie Lerner remembers his own encounters with the Cropsey Maniac that date back to 1935!

As I dug into this, I discovered a similar legend from closer to my home -- an axe-wielding maniac dressed in a bunny suit who terrorized lovers parked in cars in Northern Virginia. And the Bunny Man, like Cropsey, is part legend and part reality. Brian A. Conley, historian-archivist at the Fairfax County Public Library digs into the story and finds some surprising answers. But you always knew the bogeyman was real, didn't you? He's always just down the street... or right outside your window.

Monday, December 27, 2010

An Animated Film of a Ray Bradbury Classic

This an animated film version of the Ray Bradbury short story There Will Come Soft Rains created by Peter Cotter and posted on Vimeo. The story features a poem of the same title by Sara Teasdale, which was published in a collection called Flame and Shadow. Wikisource has the poem here and the collection here. She wrote a number of dark poems, including this:

I Shall Not Care

WHEN I am dead and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Tho' you should lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.

I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough,
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now.

What's fascinating to me is that though Teasdale published "There Will Come Soft Rains" in 1920, it feels like it was written in the shadow of nuclear war. She was living in an America that had just come out of World War I, and the death and destruction was terrible of course. But the technology was not yet an actual threat to our survival. Ray Bradbury's story was published about five years after the Hiroshima bombing.

You can read Bradbury's story here. Evidently an English teacher named Jerry Brown in Round Rock, TX has put it on his website. And I also found an animated version of "There Will Fall Soft Rains" produced in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980's. It contains some nice, chilling images. Um, enjoy it?

There will fall soft rains
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