Saturday, September 24, 2011

Squirrel Attacks Pt3: The Final Chpt.

Lord, I was scooped by the local news hacks! That smarts and it does not help my chances of any kind of long-term assignment with the Highland Square Tattler. Apparently the news crew was in the area shooting a "T-ball is fun" piece when Carol Feldrys and her son Amlish were jumped by another (maybe the same?) renegade squirrel. She fought off the quote: "fucker". But not without sustaining noticeable injury to her arm skins. (In this screen capture, the squirrel is shown gnawing home plate.)

The next day I was able to get an interview with Carol during which I asked her questions about what had happened … thus constituting an interview. She spoke slowly, by choice. Her pale son Amlish, still in mild shock, clung to her side like a frightened Rhesus monkey. She was a sturdy woman with bold features. With a heavy heart I took my pen in hand and began my quest for the truth.

HST: Carol, I know this is a hard time for you and your family, but it is very important that we get to the bottom of this so no one else suffers what you have suffered. Can you tell me what happened?

Carol: "I can try. We were watching the T-Ball game you know, minding our own business, when I look down at my purse and notice it is moving so I catch my breath you know, and grab it fast like this.”

NOTE: With great precision she reenacts the grabbing gesture.

Carol: "And this freaking bastard squirrel shoots out of my purse, he must have smelled my Hoof mints, and it latches onto my arm right here you know, and he starts going at it with his little hands like he’s typing and like I can see his mouth open to bite me so I smack at him and I am screaming stuff like “Get it off, get it off, get the fucker off” and all the kids coming running over and the coaches and someone who had the best of intentions threw a T-ball at it and it hit me right in the forehead and that was all I remember. I woke with a knot on my head and little Amlish here was clinging to me frightened like he’d seen a ghost.”

HST: Is this the first time something like this has happened to you?

Carol: No Amlish always clings to me.

HST: I mean with a squirrel? An animal attack?

Carol: Some dog once grabbed a hold of Amlish’s hoodie. He wasn't wearing it though. But that’s it. I mean Highland Square is supposed to be a safe community. But see it’s just like everywhere else. It has it’s dark underbelly and share of crime, it’s just that squirrels are the criminals instead of robbers. I don't know if Amlish will ever be the same."

I quietly wondered if that was such a bad thing.

This morning, at my window, World War S came clawing. Jeepers creepers, where'd you get those Rage red peepers.

Signing off. But not checking out. I hope.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Minions of Misery

Me and Misery? Clearly a match made in hell.

Vivienne Moss, caretaker at Out of the Shadows, kindly invited me to join the ever swelling ranks of the rank, the Minions of Misery. To be a good Minion, for my end of the bargain I have to share some misery:

1. Choose a dark book
2. Choose a dark film
3. Reveal a dark secret about yourself
4. Pass it on to 3 of the darkly inclined

Dark Book
I would pick The Ones That Got Away by Stephen Graham Jones. Compared to a lot of the short story collections I have been reading lately, this one really stood out. Jones’ writing style, in a lot of my favorite stories, had a kind of Carver minimalist touch, meaning always just the right touch. Rare that I find a collection with so many keepers, and yet: Lonnegan’s Luck (zombies in the Old West), Father, Son & the Holy Rabbit (grisly survival tale), Monsters (some vampire action), and Wolf Island were all great. Wolf Island, for example, pits a werewolf against some crafty marine life. (Maybe a little reminiscent of the zombie vs. shark scene in that one movie I can never remember the name of.) I wouldn’t say the stories are scary, though. There are certainly elements of horror, some gore and monsters of course, but very often these same stories reach down into deeply poignant territory along the way. I like my horror with a little heart.

Dark Movie
I have to give credit where credit is due, to one of those old films that marked me, helped make me the ghost story loving freak I am today and that film is Tormented. This is one of those old films that, when you watch it light years later, makes you cringe. By today’s standards, and probably even standards back in the 60s when this was made, it has epic suck written all over it.

It’s a Burt I. Gordon film and has been (big surprise) through the MST3000 grinder. However, I first saw it when I was about 6 or 7 and it scared the shit out of me. Enough so that I never forgot it and 46 years later, bought the DVD. Richard Carlson (from Creature from the Black Lagoon) plays the male douche bag lead. I don’t want to give anything away if anyone reading is brave enough to watch (endure) it, but in amongst the cheese, there’s a lighthouse scene that has haunted me forever, and a church scene that takes the ‘wedding crasher’ concept to a whole new level.

Dark Secret

I have a record.

And, the Minions to Be are:

Sicko, at Sicko Psychotic
Giovanni, At the Mansion of Madness
Alymer, at Unflinching Eye

Squirrel Attacks Pt 2: Mad Cow Squirrels

Clearly the rage virus is spreading. More attacks today in rainy Ohio. Though the Rage virus seems likely, maybe it's simply a kind of Mad Cow esque disease partial to Squirrels. Read here. Either way, more attacks mean more investigating ... here are the notes for my next report ...

Amok? Is that too strong a word for what’s going on with the area squirrels. Breslin Mack, a normally quiet off-the-grid type, is taking no chances.
For him, and others like him terror has a new name, and it is Tamiasciurus hudsonicus or brown squirrel. Following reports of yet another attack, I made my way to his domain on the outskirts of Highland Square. Upon climbing the fence and dropping over I was greeted by Breslin Mack. He had a way about him. I don’t know what it is. I was not able to understand much of what he said. He pointed to a suit of armor he fashioned from lids and melted pans for W, his dog.

Apparently, the dog had already run into the business end of a squirrel and it left his right eye in chaotic blindness.
Both W and Breslin seemed to be hopped up on YuenLing.

The interview did not go well. He was not very forthcoming with details. Not the printable kind.

Returning to my office at the Highland Square Tattler, I found this photo in my email.
The text of the email was: "sperd thwe word its steartingg". Ok, anonymous, I'll spread the word: lock your windows, my friends. A hard f----- rain's a gonna fall. A squirrel rain.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Squirrels with the Rage Virus - WTF

Welcome to the 1970s my friends.

Remember Frogs, Day of the Animals, Food of the Gods, et al--those animals getting even movies from the 70s? Well, how about Week of the F----- Squirrels. Grab your nuts and run, baby. You see, around here the squirrels aren't just burying nuts, they are nuts. They're attacking.

I was in the right place at the right time, and picked up a freelance reporting gig with the Highland Square Tattler (the neighborhood paper that's more like a newsletter) to cover a recent slew of squirrel attacks. Could it be like Squirrels getting the Rage virus? Don't know, but I do know the last the last thing we need is a Jaws-like panic in the streets as we’re heading into Fall outdoor fun season.

A few days after the first reported incident, camera in hand, I paid a visit to Highlanders Gil and Tanya Shelby to learn firsthand about their ordeal. When they greeted me at the door, I could tell by the dark circles under their eyes they were still living the nightmare. Am breaking all manner of privacy protocols here, but this is the transcript:

(interview transcript)

HST: I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. I know it can’t be easy. If we could begin with the attack? How it happened?

Tanya: The what?

HST: Tell me what happened.

Tanya: I was walking Eggo our dog, and I remember I was singing to myself that Hips Don’t Lie song, and then my hair I thought was tangled in a branch so I reached up and felt this hairy head and the feet with those scratchy toenails just sort of began to dance about my head. And the chattering … I will never forget it. Eggo went crazy and at that moment I realized it was a squirrel, and the tail was like in my eyes and all over my face, touching my skin. And in my mouth a little. Gil my husband heard my screams and came running from the house waving his arms. The squirrel sprang down and glanced off Eggo, giving him a nasty bite and scratch on his paw and scurried into the street. I could see he had tufts of my hair in his hands that made it look like he was holding pom poms. So gross. I always trusted squirrels, maybe because Hollywood makes them cute in movies. But that’s not reality anymore. Not for me. Or Eggo.

HST: Mr. Shelby? Gil? What went through your mind seeing this squirrel, clearly insane, on your wife’s hair? Gil?

(End of transcript)

Clearly the husband was ashamed as if he should have somehow been able to prevent it. As a proud strong man myself I have felt this helplessness too.Throughout our interview he tried a few times to tell his side of the story but his voice would always trail off as would his gaze and he looked away. Most likely with secret tears welling in his prideless eyes. I asked a few more questions about rumors of other attacks in the neighborhood. Gil, sitting near his wife, remained ashamed. Trying once more to speak through his shame, Gil opened his mouth to speak but finally just slumped into the couch and looked off as he envisioned who knows what kind of squirrel mayhem. Emasculated.

How many other cases have gone unreported? I don’t know. But the Shelby’s story makes four in the last month. As the great Dick used to say, the game’s afoot. I will be publishing ‘roughs’ from my paper column here on Laughing Scared--while I still have my freaking fingers that is ... nibble nibble nibble. P.S. If you have ever been attacked by a squirrel, or like to make up fake news stories like this about possible Zombie squirrel attacks, pls share.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Phantom of the Opera, Psych!

Lon Chaney, who I admire endlessly, was nicknamed the Man of a Thousand Faces. This was a salute to his incredible virtuosity with special effects make-up and the countless characters and faces he brought to life. The piranha toothed freak in London After Midnight. The killer Clown, Hugo's Quasimodo, and the Phantom of the Opera--his most famous. Of course, there’s another face he seems to have created or at least inspired (without make up even), that goes unmentioned. That overly toothy, eyebrows peaked, crazy face that JN puts on so often. (Idle speculation, idle speculation, mumble, mumble.)

Erik has always been one of my favorite misfits. In fact, when I was around 14 I made a charcoal drawing of Chaney’s iconic Phantom face and entered it in the county fair’s art competition. (I think I got a ribbon.) And where other kids might have had Aerosmith posters, I had the following framed and hanging on my wall:

Feast your eyes gloat your soul on my accursed ugliness.

My Grandfather, who had a small printing business, had done up the line in a cool Phantom font for me and printed it on his best paper stock and framed it. Dumb ass that I am, I have lost it or just got rid of it not thinking it would be nice to have as a keepsake.

In the original Phantom of the Opera, there are three scenes that make the film for me. Of course, the first in the unmasking. That’s the money shot before there was such a thing as the money shot. Then, I have never forgotten that scene of him on top of the opera house in the Masque of Red Death outfit, cape billowing in the night wind, heart breaking with jealousy and rage. (I guess I have to say SPOILERS ahead if you have somehow never seen the film.) Lastly, and I might like this more than the unmasking, is the death sequence at the canal. After being pursued relentlessly through the streets of Paris by the crazed mob, they trap and encircle him at the canal; as the mob is squeezing in on him from all sides, he thrusts his hand up in a warning gesture as if he’s got a weapon. The mob cowers and falls back a bit until the Phantom, laughing, lowers and opens his hand to reveal it is empty. Psych!

I love this moment and wish I could find a better image of it--if this is even it. The background looks wrong, looks like we might be underground in his man cave perhaps, not alongside the canal he is about to die in. Anyway, here’s to an empty hand. With a little acting, bluff and bravado, it might just be your greatest weapon some day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Werewolf, the 45

I don't listen to the radio so I could be way off base, but is anyone writing monster songs ever, at all, anymore? Once you list Godzilla and Nosferatu, off the same BOC album, are there many more to list? I can't think of any. This funkyweird little tune came out when I was (I think) in about 4th grade and I couldn't believe my ears. A song about a werewolf? Plenty of songs about spiders and snakes, about smokin in the boys room, about the night Chicago died--evens songs about Witchy Women and rats named Ben. All that good stuff but no one had ever done a werewolf song. I was sure at some point this band looked into my heart somehow and said, "hey let's make a monster song for that little monster freak on Gates Rd."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

From the Cradle to the Grave. Ouch!

Indeed. Okay, this post is not for the squeamish. Read on about the Judas Cradle, or simply Torture Cradle, if you dare ...

"The anus, in the vagina, under the scrotum (the 'taint') or under the coccyx is where the peak of this wooden pyramid found itself. A metal belt was wrapped around the victim and then he or she was hoisted atop the point of the pyramid. The torturer could modify the pressure upon their tender areas by raising or lowering the victim."

The link will take you to more of the same -- the Pear of Anguish, the Head Crusher, Spanish Tickler (a Freddy Kreuger glove prototype if ever) -- over at Occasional Hell.