Category Archives: Horrible jokes

Free Hugs!

If you’re not familiar with the Escape Artists family of print & podcasts, you should check them out immediately.

Podcastle
Pseudopod
Escape Pod
Cast of Wonders
Mothership Zeta

This fantastic group of human beings bring nothing but love to their work, their authors and narrators, and to listeners and readers. When I found out they also have t-shirts, I had to, um… decorate one. It was too good, and quite frankly, not that far off from what they’re all about. I would have made the letters much messier, but I didn’t want to obscure the logo.

How Editing is Like Hosting a Thanksgiving Dinner

I’m in the midst of preparing menus for two parties. First, an orphan thanksgiving for local friends, and then traveling to a family dinner.

Have you noticed that despite the fact you you celebrate Thanksgiving every year, it’s never the same as last time? Sometimes there’s a little change, like adding a new side dish to the turkey feast; but sometimes there are massive changes.  Maybe you can’t stand turkey anymore and went for Chinese.  The core ideas were the same — family, feasting, gratitude — but you went about it a totally different way.  It’s a lot like re-writing and revising. 

You know the basics of what’s going to happen.  Thanksgiving has traditions and a theme, and your story has traditions and a theme.  The more experience you have planning the party [or re-working the manuscript], the more your skills and confidence will improve.  Change is necessary, and it’s up to you to say what stays and what goes.

Start small.  Tweaking your dialogue is like tweaking a recipe.  Adding a scene is like inviting a new group of people over.  Then move on to the big stuff.  If your manuscript is too long, think of it like cutting your guest list.  You love your writing, like you love your friends and family—but if your friends and family don’t mesh, one of them can’t come to the party.  Don’t be afraid to hurt feelings, or cut things you’re really proud of.  They can always get their own party later.

You owe it to your guests [readers] to make it the most fun, the most touching, and the most memorable party [story] you can.  Now buckle down and do it.

The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is merely tenacity…
— Amelia Earhart

TG

Urban Duck Hunting/Butchering

Things I learned about Ducks today:

1. They enjoy crackers.

2. They will hop out of the water to get to my crackers.

3. They will come within ten inches of me to have first priority with crackers.

4. When I wave my hand to shoo them, they will move their necks back, but not flinch.

5. I do not know how many pounds of pressure it will take to break their neck.

6. The average grip of a female human aged 16-19 is 25-30lbs. Or 57-66lbs.

6.5. The Internet is as reliable as town gossip.

7. The best way to kill the duck is by breaking the neck. This can be done if the bird is held properly. Hold the legs of the duck firmly by the fingers of the left hand. Extend the neck fully so there is no looseness or slack felt in the right hand. The fingers of the right hand are held around the head in such a way that the head can be bent backwards by fingers held under the bill. To kill the bird, the head is bent far back, all the looseness is taken up, and the neck is broken by a strong pull downwards. If this is done properly, you can feel the break in the neck bones.

8. Most articles about butchering fowl agree that you should get a good grip on the legs and the neck, pull the neck back toward the feet and slice the throat.

9. The most specific technique I have found for killing a duck is: “pick up the duck and hang him from a clothesline by the feet and jam a regular boning knife up under the neck towards the back of the head. The idea was to sever the spine and not actually kill the duck.”

10. Another description of note that I wouldn’t have anticipated is: “After decapitation is when I really had to hold on tight, because there was lots of wing flapping which didn’t let up for a minute or so.”

11. Consensus among chefs say that breaking a duck’s neck with your hands is really difficult.

I also learned about bio-mass concentration. If humans put pesticides on the lawn, then the bugs eat the grass, then the fish eat the bugs, then the ducks eat the fish. The ducks still have pesticides in their system that weakens them. Even though there is a skip in their step, a shimmer in their feather, and a wiggle in their butt, they might still have eggs that crack as soon as mama-duck sits on them. All that poison has already killed them from an evolutionary standpoint even though they behave normally.

I thought it would be neat to have captured and killed an aggressive duck all by myself. I would have liked to have held it’s curving neck in my hand like the top of a cane, while its limp body gently bounced against my leg. I would have liked to have people question, “What the hell is that?”

“A duck.”

“Why do you have a dead duck?”

“Because I’m going to eat it.”

Oh well. I’m terribly sorry, Aggressive-Starving-from-The-Fountain-at-the- University-Ducks, your link in the food chain has been erased with no help from me. Good luck to you.

duck

Notes from ConDor – How Cthulu Became Cuddly

All beauty comes from harmony and contrast, goes the line from the film Vatel (2000). So, too, horror and humor have a similar relationship. By contrasting opposing moods – opposing tones – each hits harder. The laughs are more heartfelt, and the fear twists deeper into your guts. The same goes for reverence and satire, ostracism and belonging, and finally, the Cthulu mythos and plushy toys.

There was a discussion at ConDor this year about how Cthulu became cuddly. H.P. Lovecraft’s story, “The Call of Cthulu” was originally published in Weird Tales in 1928. The monstrous creature was one figure in over a hundred works by Lovecraft, whose stories (an absolute simplest terms) delve into mysterious and terrifying forces that shape civilization – and humanity’s reaction to either flee or worship those forces. Lovecraft is a brightly-burning star in horror’s lineage, and his popularity has spread, attaching to the goths of the 80s and remaining popular in both geek and steampunk culture of today. Lovecraft’s stories, and Cthulu in particular, have become iconic for reclaiming power as an outsider, celebrating one’s own strangeness, and laughing in the face of evil.

For some, it’s a way to both experience religious community and make fun of those communities. Cthulu is a charged repository for “unknown” fears.  As geeks, we want to justify our sense of being an outsider. But this, in and of itself, is an inherited chip on our shoulders. Geek culture was strange and misunderstood before it became the massive, accessible, sexy (profitable) subculture it is today. Nascent religions experience similar punishment – when beliefs and community membership were grounds for everything from ostracism to violence. Humans respond to If you’re an Other, you’re guaranteed to trigger a fight or flight response. Geek culture, like the religion it teases, It is a safe means of rebellion now. It has been stripped of its ‘outsider’ status in all but name.  The horrors of the deep, with their twisting pseudopods, now adorn H&M necklaces and home décor.

The octopus’s popularity followed the same path into trendiness carved by punk’s spikes and studded-leather look. Rebellion sells. Counterculture sells. Malificent and Wicked were hardly the first tales to re-frame evil. The city of Dunwitch, associated with Mordred of the Arthurian legend, had an alternate myth that cast Mordred as the hero. Whether it was by accident or design, Cthulu has experienced a rebranding. Arkham Horror the board game and santa-hat Cthulu are about fun and silliness, not horror. Godzilla experienced a similar transformation, going from a terrifying force of nature, to a friend of children everywhere, and then to a giant monster again. This is how we tame our fear: transforming the face of evil into an inside joke.

santathulu

Santa Cthulu, from ToyVault.com

What really makes horror horrible is the wall that stands between us and the abused. In a slasher movie, for example, the violence is being perpetrated for your benefit — your amusement. This is happening because you need to be entertained. For horror fans, we either feel obligated to be horrified by others’ blasé attitude toward violence, or we can relax and laugh from irony and cynicism. Making Cthulu cute is part of this catharsis. By making fun of the terrifying it’s easier to cope with, and through Cthulu you can have Hitler-grade level of irony without having to explain why you made a Hitler doll. The Mayan saying, the sun in the sky is not the sun, means that the sun we see isn’t the sun god. We’re not actually dealing with Cthulu, (or Hitler, if you have a Hitler doll), but rather the fear, darkness, and absence of humanity that these images represent.

Just as we see the beauty in objects by setting them in harmony or contrast with their environment, we’re better able to cope with evil by setting it against comedy. The different beats — fear, horror, fear, horror – allow both experiences to come to the fore in all their glory. Cthulu represents both evil and community – a fascination with darkness, and a way to poke fun at it. In the end, Cthulu is as warm and cuddly as we are to ourselves – and that perception could change at any moment.

From even the greatest of horrors irony is seldom absent.
― H.P. Lovecraft

Blood is really warm,
it’s like drinking hot chocolate
but with more screaming
.”
― Ryan Mecum

Moses saves, Jesus forgives, and Cthulu thinks you’d make a nice sandwich.” ― Tracy Nolan