Talk the Talk

Regular readers of this site know I tend to make fun of H P Lovecraft’s prose style.  In his better written stories, it has a quasi-nineteenth century sound to it.  But in some of his less ably written material it instead just sounds kind of overblown.  But recently I’ve been listening to a YouTube channel called Horror Babble by some guy called Ian Gordon who sounds a little like the actor who played Jay Peterman on Seinfeld.  He provides an accent that, I guess, is supposed to sound like something between 1920’s Oxbridge English and possibly early twentieth century Boston Brahmin.

After listening to a few of these recordings I’ve realized that this presentation makes these stories incalculably more entertaining.  Let me qualify this statement.  It doesn’t make the stories better horror stories.  But the presentation is just more fun.  I think the accent makes the ridiculousness of the stories seem intentional.  It’s camp.

And maybe it works because that’s more or less the “voice” that Lovecraft was hearing in his own head.  It’s always seemed to me that Lovecraft’s work was sort of an homage to Edgar Allan Poe.  And because Lovecraft lived far removed from the era when Poe’s prose was contemporary and because Poe was a consummately better writer Lovecraft’s language always seems stilted.   But with a spoken word interpreter somewhat bridging the gap with his theatrical reading it somehow works pretty well.

Now most of you probably already listen to audio-books.  The only ones I’ve ever listened to were Larry Correia’s Adventures of Tom Stranger with Adam Baldwin providing the voice talent.  And come to think of it the specific voice really does make a big difference in the enjoyment of that story too.

Well, anyway, this little epiphany has got me thinking about the voice that you hear when you write something.  I mean, unless you’re writing a character that’s more or less you, how do you hear that character or characters speaking.  What do they sound like?  Is it a regional accent?  And that’s kind of a big deal.  If all my characters sound exactly like me that might make it hard for my readers to see these characters as real people.  Going back and reading some of my dialog I would say that there are definitely differences in speech for the different characters.  And this is most noticeable for characters that differ in sex, age and generation.  So, I’m not worried that I have to reinvent all of my dialog.

But it does occur to me that maybe I’d like to add some characters that have very flamboyant speech patterns just to give the story some extra zing.  After all, even Shakespeare added dialect characters to make some of the scenes comical or memorable.  His dialect characters were usually Irish or Welsh or Scottish.  I guess I could throw in a Southie from Boston or a South Asian character for good measure.  But if I really want to get exotic, I’ll throw in a Millennial Social Justice Warrior.  Now that’s a foreign language that’ll take some practice.

Guest Contributor – Ed Brault – 04APR2024 – The Witch’s Curse

I grew up not too far from Dunwich; Danvers, MA, better known among the arcana-read as the real site of the Salem Witch trials. Back then it was known as Salem Village, while modern Salem was Salem Towne. Growing up I noticed that when a storm was forecast to bring, say nine inches of snow, we got 12. Or a Foot was forecast and we got 18 inches.

I finally had a chance to put this question to no less than Don Kent, meteorologist at WBZ-TV. He looked me in the eye and said “You’re from Danvers aren’t you?” I said yes, and just why is the weather so weird? He answered honestly “We don’t know…BUT…” and then he told me about how, during the Trials, one of the accused witches, on the way to the gallows, laid a curse on the town, that it should always suffer a harder winter than the rest of the county. And this curse WORKED! Even changing the town’s name didn’t help (That’s why the town seal says “Without the King’s Consent”. They did it without the approval of the Colonial Office.)
Best regards to the First Select-Entity. The Eldrich Powers are hard at work in other regions as well.

[Editor’s Note – The First Selectman sends his greetings to his cousins on the shore and hopes they are enjoying the weather they ordered a while back from his cousin.  Gurgle, glug, gurgle, gurgle glug glug glug.]

 

Reply from Tregonsee 314

I live just down the road from Danvers, Close enough that when the leaves are off the trees I can see the remaining building of the Danvers State Hospital (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danvers_State_Hospital )

the alleged inspiration for Lovecraft’s Arkham Asylum (amazingly there are now expensive Condos there, with only the historic main tower remaining as a shared space). Our little town was part of Salem Village but split in the early 18th century from Danvers. We also seem to share in that curse 🙂 . It has to be true Mr. Kent was one of New England’s top meteorologists for most of my life and if that was the explanation he had that is good enough for me, certainly nothing else makes sense,

Reply from photog

Tregonsee. there used to be a similar mental hospital in Worcester.

Likewise it was recently demolished leaving only a replica clocktower to mark its former presence. But when it stood it was an eerie reminder of a different world.

Voigtlander 10mm e-mount Clock Tower vertical angle

 

 

03FEB2023 – The Dunwich Complainer – Polar Vortex Blues

As predicted the bottom fell out of the thermometer today.  The surrounding areas of southern New England will be experiencing temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit and fifty mph winds that will be blamed on the polar vortex.  Of course, here in Dunwich we have a slightly different climatic event.  The pole that our vortex is generated by is the galactic pole of the Milky Way.  The Supermassive Black Hole at the center of the Milky Way, Sagittarius A* causes a worm hole to open up from time to time in the center of the Dunwich town dump.  Out of that cosmic orifice flows an irresistible plasma of pure neutronium moving at 99.99999% of light speed.  Today the beam punched a perfectly round eight-foot hole through Josiah Whatley’s barn and astronomers believe that it sliced Pluto in half on its exit from the solar system.

But much more importantly, it knocked out the electric power and cable access to First Selectman Cthulhu’s abode.  Now the First Selectman is a big fan of Vanna and Pat.  He watches Wheel of Fortune religiously.  Well, that is if the word religiously can be used at all to describe a blasphemous eldritch creature.  But suffice it to say he was not happy.  I could hear him stomping up the hill toward my house.  You see he doesn’t use a cell phone, he’s got a land line that runs over the same cable so he had to visit me personally instead of calling.

Since he’s a hundred feet tall I could see him coming from several miles away.  Wanting to avoid the possible blowback from Camera Girl sassing this squid-headed town official I went to meet him.  When I got within shouting distance, I greeted him politely and he began to ooze slime from his mouth.  It was quite nauseating and frightening.  “Alright you insignificant morsel of bland monkey meat, I want you to restore the cable before 7:30 pm.  It’s LX week and that means there’s the potential for an extra forty thousand in the bonus round and I hear Vanna’s going to be wearing a sparkly dress tonight and she always looks completely delicious in one of those.  So, make it happen.  Right?”  I said I would get right on it and he let out a deafening bellow that whipped slime into the air.  Then he turned around and plodded back down the hill toward his lair.

I drove down to the dump and sized up the neutronium beam.  I could see that after exiting Whatley’s barn it had taken out a telephone pole that fed the street that ended near the First Selectman’s cave.  It seemed simple enough to have the cable company temporarily bypass around the beam and restore the service.  And the cable company truck was right down the road.  But I could see that the license plate on the truck was from out of state.  Apparently, he wasn’t local so perhaps he had never seen a tear in the fabric of space time up close and personal.  Also he probably had never seen Cthulhu before.

When I reached the truck, I saw a man in his thirties holding the steering wheel in a death grip and staring popeyed at the neutronium beam.  I had seen this kind of reaction by out of towners quite often.  I tried to be casual.  “Howdy friend, how’s it going?  Hey I’m glad you’re here to get the cable working again so soon.  Looks like an easy fix.  What do you think?”

He was hyperventilating and I could tell that he hadn’t heard a word I’d said.  It occurred to me that he probably had seen the First Selectman saunter by.  I reached into the window and pulled his key out of the ignition and opened the passenger side door and got in.  He saw me and his head turned sideways toward me and he made some gurgling kind of sounds.  “Now look here, there’s nothing to get excited about.  You’re a professional and you can’t let a little thing like a hundred-foot squid-headed dragon stop you from providing an essential service to the community.  I’m sure that your company has provided you with the standard sensitivity and diversity trainings.  Well, here’s your chance to put that training into practice.  Cthulhu is a proud American just as are you.  He’s been an inhabitant of this locale for over 450 million years and he is a pillar of the community.  He cheers on our local high school teams and attends the harvest carnival fair without fail.  Sure, he may eat the prize-winning bull from time to time but who doesn’t get a little carried away with all that carnival junk food.  As you very well know diversity is our strength.  Whether it’s transgender women excelling in athletics or undocumented Americans voting in their first election or a Great Old One enjoying a classic American game show while snacking on a really large portion of road salt.   So come on man, buck up and let’s get that cable back up pronto or he’s going to come pounding down that road and eat you and your truck in one mouthful.

The look of horror on his face didn’t disappear.  It sort of twisted sideways a little bit.  It’s hard to describe.  His left eye mostly closed and his upper and lower jaws were a little offset sideways.  But his right eye seemed to focus on me and he made some slightly less incoherent noises and he tried to climb out of his truck.  He fell out and ended up on his back.  But this seemed to have a revitalizing effect on him and he sat up and looked almost sentient.  I said, “That’s the spirit.  Let me help you up fella.  You’ve got this, don’t you?”

Well, by five thirty he had managed to get the cables spliced together and although they were laying on the ground they restored cable service to the draco-cephalopodic occupant of 407 Dagon Avenue.  I told him the polar vortex would shut down in a few hours and a proper repair could be done by the local service crew that was currently repairing other more mundane problems in the area.  At this point most of his hair had turned white and he had a tic in his left eye.  I slipped him a ten spot and told him to have a nice evening.  He drove off very slowly and he may have veered over the divider a few times.  I hope he made it.  Seemed like a nice guy.

I returned home and had dinner and later on while Camera Girl was watching Wheel of Fortune I remarked to her, “You know that sparkly dress really does make Vanna look completely delicious.”  She scowled at me and said, “You need help.”

Women.

20OCT2022 – The Dunwich Complainer

Very interesting week here at the epicenter of the Great Old Ones’ Realm in New England.  I put out my Re-Elect First Selectman Cthulhu sign up on my lawn next to a slaughtered goat carcass ritually adorned with wheat germ.  I watched the latest feed from my trail cam and noticed that the werewolves have all begun to wear skinny jeans and carry BPA-free water bottles on their belts.  None of them look like they could take down a girl scout in a fair fight.  Without a doubt, these are times that try men’s souls.

This week at the official induction ceremony I was named Deputy Election Reanimator.    Now this a misnomer.  The Reanimator doesn’t really have a deputy since only the primogeniture descendant of Herbert West has the moxy required to bring back the dead, especially during a rush-rush mass ceremony on election night.  My job would probably be more accurately described as Deputy Election De-Reanimator.  You see the reanimation procedure takes place at the graveyard and apparently is not selective by party affiliation.  So, my part is to stand at the gate with the old voting records and stop the Democrat voters from leaving the graveyard.  Or at least to make sure their heads don’t leave the graveyard.  So, in addition to the lists, a sharpie and a flashlight I’ve got a reasonably sharp machete.  This year they modernized my gear by getting me one of those headlights that you can strap to your forehead.  That helps quit a bit.  I don’t have to ask the deceased to hold my lists while I’m fumbling to cut his head off.  Much more dignified and much more ergonomic.

I really hope I’m not asked to help clean up the grave yard on Wednesday morning.  I think the volunteers should handle that.  I mean, I’ve paid my dues and now I’d like to let the system do its thing, if you know what I mean.  Of course, the volunteers do a pretty bad job.  Every election night I see mismatched heads on the reanimated voters.  It’s kind of an embarrassment.  But still, I can’t be expected to do everything around here.  At some point the kids just have to be allowed to sink or swim.  ‘Nuff said.

In the real world I attended the latest meeting of our local Republican Town Committee and was surprised to hear that even in the cobalt blue New England state that Dunwich is embedded in the Stupid Party candidates have a fighting chance of winning for once!  I could tell the rest of the folks there were almost shocked by the situation.  I was quite amused.  Maybe I’ve underestimated the people in this country.  Could there be a limit to their willingness to endure progressive insanity?  Even here?  Well, we’ll see.

I will be working on Election Day in an official capacity which is interesting and annoying at the same time.  I’ll have to figure out if I can bring my laptop and go on-line when I’m on my breaks.  Not being able to follow this election on OCF would be unfortunate.

It should be fairly interesting to be involved in the election.  I’ll finally see how the sausage is made.  I suspect my town is one of the more boring and honest operations.  And maybe the rough stuff happens higher up the ladder in the crooked states that we saw on tv in 2020.  I remember those films in Philadelphia where they threw everyone out around midnight and all the skullduggery occurred behind closed doors and blacked out windows.  It’s kind of sad to know that after all that went on in plain sight that nothing has been done in some of those states to prevent a replay this year.  Well, as I’ve said this is the Day of Reckoning coming up.  We’ll find out where we stand and that is valuable in and of itself.  So, bring it on, bring it on, bring it on.  And where did I put that sharpening stone?

The History of Dunwich – Part 1 – It’s Annoying Origins

The origins of the site on which Dunwich sits are shrouded in mystery.  A mystery based on profound indifference and shoddy scholarship.  Legend claims that in the earliest epoch it was the Latrine of Yog Sothoth.  It is believed that the current stratum of bedrock is completely composed of metamorphized coprolite.  Professor Obadiah Bishop of Miskatonic University spent forty years of his academic career studying this coprolite formation and determined that it was almost entirely composed of triceratopsian dung formed from an exclusive diet of poison sumac.  This is thought to explain the funk that emanates from the ground, groundwater, crops and inhabitants of the present day site.  It is also believed to explain the almost constant, frenzied scratching that all Dunwichians indulge in.

The original human inhabitants of the area were members of the Pocnipnarrawampamuckutucs (sometimes shortened to the Muckutucs) tribe.  The Muckutucs were despised by the other tribes because they smelled awful, had thirteen fingers and two rows of teeth.

When the first European settlers arrived, they interbred with the Muckutucs and their descendants had twelve fingers.  Which was an improvement.  But no teeth.  Which was not.  Over time these anatomical oddities became the hallmark of the Dunwichian ancestry and somewhat explained their status as loathed outcasts and pariahs.  Suffice it to say that the rest of New England chose to avoid Dunwich like the plague.

But the American Revolution saw a change.  The patriotic fervor that swept through the rest of New England did not neglect Dunwich.  A company of stout Dunwichians headed up by “Captain” Nehemiah Hoadley marched east to reinforce the colonial army at Lexington.  But when the Boston regiment got a look at the Dunwich contingent approaching from the west, they abandoned their ambush of the British and blasted away at these toothless mutants, mowing them down to the last polydactylous humanoid soul.  After this Dunwich refused taxation by the US government until almost the time of the Civil War.

It was during the nineteenth century that the first truly disturbing events began to occur in and around Dunwich.  In 1824 on the site of Phineas Goodgroates’ orchard, a thousand ton, three-hundred-foot-long caste-iron cylinder fell out of the sky and flattened Phineas’s apple trees and because he was apple picking that day, flattened Phineas too.  This metallic meteor came to be known as the Codpiece of Cthulhu because of the inscription on its side identifying it as such.  The arrival of this piece of sartorial ironmongery was taken as an event of ill-omen.  Opinions varied, although with respect to Phineas all agreed it was definitely a bit of tough luck for him.

But by 1830 the populace had calmed down and normalcy reasserted itself until in the fall of that year when Caleb Sillwright’s turnip patch was similarly bombarded by the aptly named Moustache Comb of Azathoth.  At this point there were calls to abandon Dunwich altogether or at least to install some kind of gargantuan clothes rack above the town in the hope that the Elder Gods would take the hint and stop dropping their effects on Dunwich.  Luckily, cooler heads prevailed.

To be continued.

Another Annoying Dunwichian Disturbs My Day

Last week I was accosted by Albert Wilmarth, a nut who teaches some kind of intersectional studies nonsense at Miskatonic University.  I was heading back from a walk in Dunwich Forest when this wild-eyed kook rushes up to me and warns me that the Mi-go have removed Henry Akeley’s brain and were going to take it into outer space.  Well, this story seemed ridiculous on its face because anyone who has met Akeley knows he has no brain.

So, I tried to calm Wilmarth down by slapping him repeatedly in the face.  After about thirty slaps my hand got tired so I stopped.  I asked him to give me the details of these Mi-go.  He said that Akeley had described them as large, pink, fungoid, crustacean-like entities the size of a man, that have a “convoluted ellipsoid” composed of pyramidal, fleshy rings and covered in antennae in the place that where a head should be. So, I started slapping him with my left hand.  This time I got up to up to forty slaps.  At that point Wilmarth seemed less eager to continue the conversation and asked me to promise to stop slapping him.

Well, how could I refuse?  He’d been such a good sport up until this point.  I told him to relate Akeley’s story but keep it reasonable.  Wilmarth related a tale of how Akeley had corresponded by letter with him.  The letters related Akeley’s discovery of a drowned Mi-go at the fords of the Miskatonic river and how the living Mi-go then lay siege to Akeley’s farmhouse whispering in their buzzing voices about how they would remove his brain and take it along on their journeys to Pluto and beyond.  He further related how only his rifle and his dozen or so ferocious German shepherds had been responsible for keeping these mushroom lobsters from capturing him.  But he told me that the Mi-go were taking a terrible toll and every day he had to replace four or five of his dogs that were killed in the war.

I asked him, if Akeley was besieged how it was possible for him to procure more dogs and in fact how was he able to post these letters.  Wilmarth supposed that during the day the Mi-go went back home to their underground lair under the domed hills that they inhabit.  So I asked him why Akeley didn’t call in the police to witness this nightly battle.  Wilmarth seemed a little confused by this line of questioning and implored me not to start slapping him again.

So, I let that problem go for the time being and asked him to continue with his tale.  Then Wilmarth related how suddenly last week Akeley’s letters changed their tone.  And handwriting style too.  Akeley said that he had come to terms with the Mi-go and they were actually really nice guys and some were even Shriners.  And he told Wilmarth to come visit him at his farmhouse and Akeley would tell him amazing secrets of the interstellar travels of the Mi-go.  Wilmarth related how he visited Akeley who sat in a chair in a dark room covered in a blanket and how his face was unmoving and his speech was a muffled buzzing which somewhat resembled the noises that lobsters make when they’re thrown in a pot of boiling water.  And that the sandwiches and coffee he provided were awful but he ate them anyway.  And after retiring to Akeley’s guest bedroom for the night Wilmarth heard strange buzzing noises downstairs and when he got back to the dark room, he found Akeley missing but among the blankets on his chair he found a mask-like face and human hand-like shapes that looked like Akeley’s hands and face.  So, he ran out of the house screaming like a little girl.

Then Wilmarth started screaming like a little girl.  I had promised not to slap him so I kneed him in the groin.  That stopped the screaming.  After he was able to get up off the ground, he convinced me to go to Akeley’s farmhouse.  When we got there Wilmarth refused to go in so, armed with a fallen tree limb that was on the lawn I walked into Akeley’s house of horrors.  I found the darkened room that smelled pretty bad and the chair with the blankets but instead of the severed hands and face of Henry Akeley, I found one of those Michael Myers masks and those latex monster hands that they used to sell around Halloween.  Suddenly someone behind me shouted so I swung my makeshift club and laid my opponent low.  After finding the light switch, I realized that I had done the impossible.  I had brained a man without a brain.  There was Henry Akeley, with hands and face intact except for a large bump on his forehead where I had clonked him.

After he started to come to, I caught him up on why I was there.  He sheepishly admitted that he owed Wilmarth a bunch of money and had hoped that if he believed the whole story about being shanghaied to Pluto by lobster fungus, he could string him along forever and never pay him.  I felt bad for playing baseball with his skull so I told him that I wouldn’t rat him out to Wilmarth.  He offered me some sandwiches and coffee but I told him I’d pass.  That house smelled really funky.

When I rejoined Wilmarth out front I informed him that Wilmarth had been replaced by a Mi-go that had been surgically altered to exactly resemble Akeley.  I told him I escaped by using advanced martial arts that I had learned while studying in a Tibetan monastery.  I advised him never to go near Akeley’s house again and if he ever saw him walking around town to avoid him for fear of having his brain removed and sent to Pluto.

I really need a better class of neighbors.

02DEC2021 – Dunwich Complainer – Local COVID Actions

Here in Dunwich as everywhere in America, COVID has been a scourge.  Of course, the spread and the symptoms in Dunwich are atypical and highly disturbing (as is everything here).  The disease is completely restricted to a one-mile radius around the historic home of Zebadiah Cobblestoner the legendary Whaling Fleet Magnate.

Zebadiah was known in the early nineteenth century as the whale prostate king.  His company sold pickled whale prostate throughout the New England region where its healing properties were much in demand.  And with the proceeds of this lucrative trade Zebadiah built a magnificent mansion in his native town Dunwich.  And there he lived in great opulence until the great whale prostate crash of 1841.  In that year the medical profession actually investigated the “healing effects” of whale prostate and discovered that its only effect on humans was to imbue its users with a decidedly bright blue coloration around their private parts.

Needless to say, Zebadiah’s fortunes fell on hard times.  In addition, a local witch named Hepzibah Goodbody was so outraged at the coloration she had contracted that she put a curse on Cobblestoner that not only killed him but rendered his mansion a nexus of contagion and miasma ever after.  At first this miasma was restricted to anyone foolhardy enough to inhabit Zebadiah’s mansion.  But over the years the contagion grew until now it had reached out to all the inhabitants of the formerly prestigious Toenail Hill area.  The malady starts out as general abdominal discomfort but in its terminal stage it presents as an exaggerated swelling of the lower abdomen followed by detonation of the prostate which usually leaves only the legs and upper body of the victim intact.  Surprisingly both males and females are equally afflicted in this syndrome.

Now you may be asking yourself how a nineteenth century witch’s spell that causes people to explode could be diagnosed as COVID.  Well, it turns out that the federal and state governments have provided, let us say, inducements to local governments for finding COVID cases in their areas.  And let’s face it, it’s not cheap cleaning up the biohazard when someone’s pelvic region explodes so First Selectman Cthulhu worked it out with the Dunwich Department of Health to sort of roll the Cobblestoner Curse victims in with the COVID census.

But with the recent state budget cuts the “subsidy” for the COVID cases has dried up and so the Board decided something should be done to clean up this problem.  I was contracted to do it.  And it was stressed that I could employ all means necessary.

Using satellite imagery, I was able to triangulate the source of the miasma to a corner of the Cobblestoner estate.  In fact, it turned out to be centered around Zebadiah Cobblestoner’s private cemetery.  I brought along one hundred tanker trucks, each loaded with 6,000 gallons of aqua regia which is a combination of saturated hydrochloric acid and fuming nitric acid.  My team excavated down to one hundred feet where we started to uncover a stone-like mass of enormous size finally we could see its shape was spherical with a diameter of over a thousand feet.  When we reached the bottom of this structure, we saw with horror that it was attached to the centuries dead but normal sized corpse of Zebadiah Cobblestoner.  We had uncovered his decidedly malign hypertrophied prostate bulging out of his body!

We climbed out of the excavation in a panicked rout but before following my team in a sprint for the hills I slammed the valve actuator that released the veritable lake of hyper-corrosive acid into the pit.  As I panted from the effort of escaping the scene, clouds of acrid fumes spread along the ground.  Earth tremors made it difficult to keep my legs under me but I finally reached a ridge about a mile off from the pit.  And there I witnessed a sight that has shaken my sanity and left me a shell of the man I was.

The ground around the pit convulsed and swelled.  The prostate swelled up to ten times its size and glowed a bright yellow.  Then the prostate shrank down and disappeared below ground.  But suddenly the corpse of Cobblestoner took its place swelling up to the size of the prostate and even larger.  Its face was distorted with pain and rage and I feared something truly horrible was about to occur.  All at once an enormous flatulence erupted from the nether regions of Cobblestoner.  A hurricane of unbelievably foul air stormed past me.  But almost as soon as it arrived it passed and a look of angelic peace suffused Cobblestoner’s face and then he slowly shrank back into the pit.

After a safe period of time had elapsed, I dared to return to the top of the pit.  There was no sign at all of Cobblestoner or his cursed prostate.  The area had been miraculously cleansed by the potent acids and the miasma was gone!  There are signs in the last few days that Toenail Hill is once again a healthy place.  I’ve notice that Zillow has quadrupled the value of all the local real estate and speculators have snatched up all the likeliest properties including the Cobblestoner mansion and gravel pit.

One other salubrious result of the exorcism is that for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic not a single COVID victim has exploded.  That means I’ll probably get paid for my efforts by the Town of Dunwich.  And I call that a win.

Thanksgiving in Dunwich

I’ve been so busy with my own personal Thanksgiving plans that I lost track of what the town of Dunwich was planning for the holiday.  Last year the COVID lockdown put a damper on this but this year First Selectman Cthulhu and the rest of the Board were determined to get things back to normal.  So, to get the ball rolling Cthulhu invited fifty of the wealthiest and most influential Dunwichians to his house on Monday for a sumptuous dinner.

Of course, there was a misunderstanding.  The guests assumed they were going to eat instead of being eaten but you can hardly fault the First Selectman for that.  He was specific that the menu would come directly from his favorite cookbook, “To Serve Man.”  When I spoke to him, he was still recovering from overindulging but after a couple of barrels of Alka Seltzer he was feeling much better.  He told me his favorite moment was when the guests walked through a doorway and after failing to find any light switches on the walls used their phone lights to determine that they were inside their host’s mouth.  Their screams of terror made the meal all that much more enjoyable.  Oh, that First Selectman, he’s incorrigible!

I read an advertisement in the Dunwich Complainer that a town fair was going to take place on Wednesday.  There would be the usual pie contests and a silent auction for the various crafts that the townspeople would donate.  There were also supposed to be games.  The one that interested me the most was the sack race.  In most towns this is a pretty straight forward affair but the twist that is employed in Dunwich is that Cthulhu alters the geometry of space in the playing field.  This makes moving in a straight line rather tricky.  Three years ago, Josiah Bishop ended up falling through a portal and landed inside of Azathoth’s gallbladder.  He reappeared three weeks later in pretty horrendous condition.  His ears had pretty much melted off and his hair was orange.  When asked what happened he said, “Outside the ordered universe is that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes.”  A lot of people just assumed Josiah had just stomped off because he’s a sore loser and because Jenkin Brown took the prize and they’ve never gotten along.

But by far the oddest story I’ve heard this week was from Arthur Birdsong.  He was walking through some of the more overgrown areas of the northern hills of Dunwich when he was caught in one of the frequent thunderstorms.  Searching for cover he saw a very dilapidated house and ran to it.  The door wasn’t locked so he let himself in.  Finding a fire in the living room he warmed himself and then looked around at his surroundings.  There was a very old book open on a table and he saw that the book was describing cannibalism among certain tribes in Africa and an illustration showed a butcher’s shop with human body parts for sale.  Arms, legs and organs were grouped on tables.  Suddenly he heard a door open above and a white-haired man in 17th century garb walked down the staircase.  The man saw that Arthur had been interested in the book and he began a long meandering tale, the gist of which was that he had come to the notion that feeding on human flesh would enormously extend the human lifespan.  Just then a drop of blood from the ceiling splashed down in between the two men and Arthur looked up and saw an enormous spot of blood on the ceiling and realized that the horrid old man was a cannibal and had just been butchering of one of his victims upstairs.

At first Arthur was hoping that a bolt of lightning would burn the house and the cannibal in the righteous fire of heaven.  But when that failed to happen, he asked the old man what time was dinner.

Arthur had to admit that human pot pie wasn’t bad.  A little gamey and fatty but no worse than mutton.  And the old fellow even threw in some pretty decent hard cider.  So, they became pretty chummy and after dinner they stayed up late chatting and Arthur discovered that they had both gone to the same prep school.  So, they sang school songs and Arthur invited his new friend over for Thanksgiving dinner.  He had been planning to serve a turkey dinner but in light of his new perspective on health food he decided to invite his least favorite blue-haired feminist wine-auntie over and serve her up instead.  I told Arthur that was splendid and I hoped it became a family tradition.  He sadly informed me that he only had three wine-aunties so it would be a short-lived tradition.  I told him to cheer up.  I have dozens of relatives that need eating.  I told him I’d donate one of mine every Thanksgiving for the foreseeable future.  Well, this brought tears to Arthur’s eyes and he declared it a “Thanksgiving Miracle.”  I said, “Nonsense, it is always better to give than to receive.”

So, you can see we here in Dunwich have a lot to be thankful for; friends, family and meat tenderizer.  Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving allows you to enjoy your family as much as we intend to enjoy (parts of) ours.

Local Election Results in Dunwich

Living as I do in the mythical New England town of Dunwich, election results take a little longer than they do in the outside world.  What with eruptions of elder gods and eldritch horror of nonspecific origin popping up incessantly it takes the election committee quite a lot of time to count the white and black pebbles that we use for voting purposes.  I mean when they’re distracted, they lose count and have to start all over.  And then there are the disqualifications.  If one of the candidates is discovered to have webbed fingers or toes or gills during the mandatory examination, then everything has to stop while the unfortunate individual is burned at the stake or crushed under a door stacked with large smooth stones.  Lately they’ve switched completely to door crushing because of the greenhouse gases emitted by the stake burning procedure.  Time marches on.  Of course, the runner-up is glad, as long as he isn’t similarly non-conforming.

Well, the point is we finally have our results and they are pleasing.  The stupid party was resoundingly re-elected and the evil party was gratifyingly defeated.  I performed an exorcism rite complete with incantations from the Necronomicon (or was it Comic-Con?) and rendered all attacks by the power of darkness null and void (in other words I paid up my property taxes).  And now I can expect to enjoy another two years of quiet, efficient, demonic public service by the good people of the stupid party as they do their best to hold the powers of the evil party at bay.

I intend to continue attending the local Republican Party meeting and find out if I can get involved in some less painful volunteer services.  I’d like to work with the election committee and find out how the sausages get made.  And in fact, I’d also like to find out what other functions I can help out around town.  I may be trapped here in Dunwich for a few years so I might as well make the best of it.

Who knows, maybe I’ll become an adjunct lecturer at Miskatonic University in advanced perpetual motion engineering.  We all have to do our best to save the planet.  After all, both Greta Thunberg and Cthulhu are depending on us.

Color Out of Space (2019) – A Science Fiction and Fantasy Movie Review

Tyler Cook of the Portly Politico and I have decided to cross link on our reviews for this movie.  We both thought this movie was awful but we thought that readers should see nuanced differences.  Actually what you’ll see is our two styles.  Tyler is a witty and intelligent writer and I like to rant.  So here’s the link to his review and below is mine.

This is a cinematic version of Lovecraft’s story about a meteor that lands in a rural Massachusetts farmyard and infects the soil and the water with an entity that subtly alters the plants and animals and then sucks the vitality and finally the life out of every living thing around it before shooting back into space leaving a dead landscape behind.  But let us say the movie takes liberties with this plot.

How do I hate this movie?  Let me count the ways.

First off, I despised all the characters in this story.  I even despised the seven-year-old who was the youngest kid in the family.  They are stereotypical yuppie transplants to the countryside and all of them have extremely annoying personalities.  The father is Nicholas Cage and he spends his time milking alpacas and raising heirloom tomatoes.  The mother is a financial advisor who has neglected her kids to the point that older son is a useless pothead, the daughter is a bitter Wiccan wannabe and the younger son appears to be a doofus.  Tommy Chong is the forest dwelling pot grower who supplies the son with his weed and also seems to be acquainted with alien invasions.  Then there is the hydrologist who is taking water samples for a new reservoir that will be covering the property that Nick Cage’s family currently inhabits.  He walks around warning everyone about the dangers of meteorites and contaminated water but achieves nothing other than somehow surviving the apocalypse.

Next is the plot.  In the original Lovecraft story, the baleful influence of the entity slightly modifies the appearance of plants and animals but its most powerful effect is the sapping of the life force and eventually even the structural integrity of organic materials.  By the end of the book the whole farm where the meteor lands, the house, the trees, the animals and people, the wagons and the fences crumble to dust.  Only stone and metal remain.

In this version of the story the entity is able to fuse groups of animals together into hideous many-headed monsters.  It can disable all communication devices and even alter time, making days and nights shorter as needed.  So, they’ve revved up the monster’s power quite a bit.  But the use they put this to is horrendous.  In one scene the mother and the seven-year-old kid are walking in the dark near the barn when the creature zaps the both of them with its potent “light.”  Next, we see that the mother and the little boy have been fused together.  His head is attached to her shoulder, their torsos are fused and both of them are writhing in agony.  And the older son characterizes what’s happening to them as the younger son being re-absorbed into the mother’s body.  Even the thought is horrifying to consider.  And later on, the fused creature starts taking on a preying mantis like shape and Nick Cage’s character shoots both of them in the head to end this nightmare.  Okay sure, this is a horror movie and it’s no more disgusting than the scenes in John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” but he didn’t use a mother and a little boy as the victims of this abomination.  To my mind this is awful.

Finally, the acting.  The only cast members I’ve heard of are Nick Cage and Tommy Chong.  I’m guessing the rest of the cast is unknown and they should stay that way.  They were awful and so were the two better known actors.  The script was awful.  The plot was tedious and the resolution seemed pointless and annoying.  I will say some of the special effects were interesting looking and well done.  But not the fused animals and people.  Those were hideous and depressing.

I would avoid this movie.  Nick Cage has descended indeed from the time when he was a pretty good actor.  He should be ashamed that he was in this crap.   Seeing this movie has ruined a perfectly good day out of my life.  Not recommended.