Tag Archives: humor

It’s Everything I Ever Was Afraid Of…

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I don’t always traumatize children, but hoo-when I do, I prefer to scar them for frickin’ life…

My publisher posted an inquiry on TZPP’s Facebook page regarding the 50 scariest books of all time. There was a photo of the cover for Stephen King’s It. I nearly crapped myself. This might have had something to do with the fact that I’m home from work dying of malaria or whatever the stomach bug that’s going around is, but probably not.

Stephen King was one of my favorite authors in my youth, and I stand by the notion that some of his earlier works will probably be canonized as literature after he passes. On Writing is without a doubt one of the most useful creative resources for would-be wordsmiths ever published, despite being mostly autobiographical. (That actually made it more inspiring, if I let out the truth.) Stephen King, thank you. You’ve given so much to me and to future generations of writers.

But I still hate your rotten guts, and I’m going to tell you why. Writing about evil immortal androgynous alien clowns in the sewer morphing into what children most fear and eating them alive was a supremely screwed up thing to do to an eight-year-old boy.

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But they all float down here, Danny-boy! Don’t you wanna float too?

My parents have to shoulder some of the blame. I mean, they let me watch the made-for-TV movie with Tim Curry pretty much right when it came out, as I recall. (I will find you in a dark alley and knee cap you, Tim Curry! You will rue the day you made me afraid of bunk beds! Unless, of course, you’re wearing clown makeup. Then I shall scream like a little girl and run for my life…)

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I guess my parents aren’t that bad. They could have ordered an It cake for my birthday–that’s right, AN IT CAKE. Who does this?! What the hell is wrong with people?!

Hold on… the stomach bug strikes again… Which means I have to go to the bathroom, which is connected to the sewer… If I die horribly while on the toilet, somebody hit the “publish post” button, please?

There was blood bubbling in the sink! I saw it! I thought grownups weren’t supposed to be able to see, Stephen King! You bastard!

See, that’s the problem with a creature feature wherein the monster can become your worst fear. Even the rules laid out in the novel/screenplay count for just about nothing because your imagination takes over. I’ve never lived in Derry, Maine, but after I saw the movie, the frickin’ clown was everywhere. At one point we went on vacation to a cabin in the woods, and every time I closed my eyes, I was sure Pennywise was looming over me. I would open my eyes and fixate on a color in the room (blood red, shock white, cat piss yellow) or an imagined color that corresponded with the monster. My brain being what it is, it began to compose twisted nursery rhymes about the different colors in the clown’s motley, identifying them with It’s freakiest features. There’s some psychology behind this–the bright, primary colors in a clown’s costume apparently make us uneasy on an instinctive level, suggesting danger. 

That wasn’t all, of course. There was a sewer grate on the playground at school where some of us swore to seeing claw marks in the cement fixture. Balloons at birthday parties began to suck. Then, of course, there was this wonderful scene from the movie:

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Pass the conditioner. So… Tell me about your nightmares. 

Which meant showers were not safe. My remedy, being the good little Catholic boy that I then was, involved bringing my little red radio into the shower with me and blaring Gospel music to ward off the evil. Hey, laugh all you want. I stand by what I did. I survived, right? And I don’t want to hear a thing about logical fallacies.

Crap, there goes the stomach again… Back to the water closet. Maybe I’ll play some Christian Pandora, just in case…

While I’m indisposed, here’s a gem for you to contemplate…

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What the serious hell?! Who does this?! What is wrong with people on the Internet?!

…Okay, so that time it was, “Kiss me, fat boy!” while I was looking at myself in the mirror. I had nearly forgotten about all of Pennywise’s stupid one-liners, which makes being so terrified of this made-for-TV movie even more embarrassing.

When I was nine years old, I decided something needed to be done. I would overcome my fear, and all would be right with the world. And so like any good knight, I had a vision of a quest that would redeem me–I would read the novel version of It, all 1,138 pages of It (see what I did there?). Being nine wasn’t much of a deterrent because I was already something of an expert in Classical Mythology by then. You see, my elementary school teachers didn’t know what the heck to do with me, so they tossed me into the library. I gravitated towards Greco-Roman myths because there were always paintings or sculptures of naked people. Perversity for the win!

I bought the book from a thrift store sans the dust jacket. On the spine in blood red letters was the word, “It”. Other than that, it was black as sin and completely featureless–my perfect little necronomicon. I began reading, and the book, of course, was much better than the movie. The different things the clown morphed into to scare the children (they taste better when they’re terrified, apparently) never frightened me as much as the clown itself. Without the visuals–besides those in my head–I made pretty steady progress through the book. Then, at night, when things got scary, I would place the book on the shelf in my bedroom and climb up into my bunk bed (where I was totally cornered), always making sure that I turned the book pages out. I certainly didn’t want to wake up in the middle of the night and see the blood red letters from across the room like a sigil of death.

Of course, every time I woke up, the book was turned back around. There was It, taunting me from the darkness. It, It, IT! I never found out if it was my dad or my little brother that was screwing with me, but maybe it’s time for a witch hunt. Because that crap was NOT cool.

So as you can guess, my quest was unsuccessful. No holy grail for me, just a life time of coulrophobia.  

One of my students who is preparing a haunt for this Halloween is planning on having a room dedicated just to juggalos in an effort to scare the life out of people like me. Knowing my fear of clowns, he actually sat down and interviewed me. He even took notes! Man, I wish I could get him to do that in class when we’re studying literature. I explained about the idea of the shock white face looking dead and masking something potentially even more horrifying and deformed beneath, about the bright colors and went on a tirade about the Carnivalesque. When I was finished, he showed me the layout for the clown room.

“So what would you do layout-wise to make this even worse?” he asked.

“Put a ball pit right in the middle that has to be crossed in order to proceed, and have a clown hiding in there.”

I was shaking at the mere thought of this.

“That’s downright evil! Are you going to come out to the haunt, Mr. Pike?”

“Not on your life.”

Happy Halloween, Blogsphere. And until next time…

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My Match.com Experience

Online dating

At the urging of various friends and family members who’ve insisted that I need to “get over it” and start dating again, I posted a profile to Match.com (since deleted, before you go looking). Doing this made sense on some level because most of my time is tied up with children and words, and most of the women I’m meeting these days are cropping up on social media sites.

Creating my profile took maybe a half an hour. Soon enough, I was tossed into a digital meat market of nearly identical profiles punctuated here and there by second hand problems. It seems like most women on Match are “looking for their partner in crime”, “strong and independent”, and pretending to like football a hell of a lot more than most men I know.

Online dating sites still carry the reputation of being populated by weirdos. I pretty much ignored this stigma because I met the mother of my children on the Internet back in the 90’s when this concept was new and even more frowned upon.

Things certainly have changed, but not necessarily for the better.

For starters, we have people in their 30’s and 40’s taking throwback MySpace pictures like this:

I can take pictures with mirrors! Whee!

I can take pictures with mirrors! Whee! And no one will ever tell this is the staff bathroom!

Then, there’s the obligatory shot wherein one pretends (I hope!) to drive a car for no reason:

Low-Ride-Er... Rollin' in mah Honda deathtrap...

Rollin’ hard in mah Honda deathtrap… So GANGSTA!!

Let’s not forget the grotesque image of the potential dating candidate doing something random and weird to attempt to appear fun and interesting:

Carl's Jr. Commercial

Check out my personal Carl’s Jr. fish sandwich commercial! Gave me worms…

In my week on Match, I was stalked by women in their late 40’s, “winked at” by people who disappear off the site in the next twenty-four hours, shunned like Hester friggin’ Prynne for having two children at age 30, approached by someone trying to run an international gold scam (I swear I’m not making this up!), and stalked by a wannabe Russian mail-order bride that still e-mails me in broken English and writes as if she has known me for years and is passionately in love with me.

Additionally, I went on one date. Prior to doing this, I texted one of my best friends, who has been through a divorce and remarried, and told him I was having second thoughts about going. I explained that I felt like a traitor to my family. He explained to me in no uncertain terms that it was just a date and that I was being a sissy la-la.

So I went.

Being a paragon of chivalry in this postmodern world, I allowed my date to pick the time and place. I, of course, would pay for everything. I had to borrow a car because my Honda deathtrap is even less dateable than I am at present, and when I arrived at the scene, it was practically rained out. I ended up meeting my date in a cramped, smoky bar that was so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves talk.

In retrospect, this was the best part of the evening. Hands down.

So she and I get into my (my mom’s) chariot to get out of the rain. In the space between pulling out of the pub scene and finding a place to eat, I ask her some basic questions that weren’t addressed on her profile.

Like, for example, what she does for a living.

She refuses to answer this question, stating that this information is normally reserved for the third or fourth date. She’s a college graduate too, so I figured this would be small talk.

Weird, right?

At about this point, I notice that she is more nervous than I am. This seems odd to me as well, as this is the first time I’ve been on a date with anyone but my ex in nearly a decade, and my date has candidly told me that I am her 22nd Match.com guy. No, not 22 dates, she explains. Many more dates than that. 22 guys.

This is pretty much the only thing she’s willing to talk about other than a mutual teacher we had in high school (we went to different schools, but apparently he gets around) who she thought was hot. This same teacher, who I once looked up to, had an affair with a 17-year-old student despite being married and having two beautiful children.

My date thinks it’s strange that I, as a teacher, am bothered by this. She also thinks my profile is “unappealing” because I was honest about my personality and didn’t take pictures in a nice suit.

The coup de grace, of course, is when she pulls out a journal (manifesto?) of handwritten notes taken over every e-mail she’s received via Match.com in the past two years. She proudly shows me the number of views she’s had daily since creating her profile, which are scrawled in the margins.

“Check, please!”

So yeah, I lasted about a week on Match. It would have been nice to get a refund for the two+ months I paid for in advance, but the experience was invaluable. In addition to confirming for the umpteenth time that women are crazy, I learned that I’m just not ready to do this again.

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Sci-Fi and Sushi: Blast from the Past

Manly_Cloud_by_GENZOMAN

Cloud is all grown up…

Joe Erickson (@SweetJoesus) and I dug up our most notorious Final Fantasy VII fanfic from our high school days and, against the better judgment of the universe, decided to record the two of us doing the voices, musical numbers, and commentary. Joe plans to release it in a three-part podcast on Scifiandsushi.com, and the first piece hit the Web last night.

This presentation is free on the Web and can be downloaded on most podcast apps. I was listening to it on my iPhone this morning, and I almost drove off the side of the road. Joe and I have been friends for a very long time, and I don’t mind bragging that we are absolutely hysterical together. We should have done this a long time ago.

I would like to caution my readers, however, that this podcast is not for the faint of heart, nor is it politically correct in any way, shape, or form. The script we discovered and comedically reenacted is about 15 years old, so the views and themes expressed therein in no way coincide with our current sympathies. In a nutshell, Mel Brooks would be proud, and due to its foul language alone, this podcast would probably garner an R rating. If you follow this blog for my musings about the beauty of symbolism or my family oriented anecdotes, this podcast is probably not for you. Moreover, if you’re not a fan of Sci-fi/Fantasy and the Final Fantasy series, you probably won’t get all of the jokes (though we go into great detail explaining some of them).

Anyone still with me? Feel free to geek out with FFVII: Roadtrip (Part I) on Scifiandsushi.com. I promise that–at the very least–you’ll laugh your head off at our reactions to our adolescent stupidity. The voices are ridiculous as well. I play Cloud, Sephiroth, Tifa, Cid, Vincent, Rude, Elena, Leonardo DiCaprio (this was written around the time Titanic came out), a white rapper, and the Midgar Zolom, amongst many others. If you ever wanted to hear me make an ass out of myself, this is your opportunity. -.-

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