Friday, October 10, 2014

Frightening Friday: The Medium Scary Haunting

I want to tell you a story. A story about what? You'll have to read it to find out. But first I want to reassure you that it's only medium scary. Medium scary means that you will probably not have to prepare for fear the way you would with a super scary story. A super scary story might cause you to pee your pants or lose consciousness or run in fear. But a medium scary story means you'll only do those things halfway. You might lightly tinkle your pants, swoon, or prance away in mild alarm. You might even sleep peacefully tonight, instead of lying awake staring at the dark ceiling of your bedroom, hoping you're all alone. So, rather than turning on all the lights and grabbing your teddy bear right now for comfort, as you would with a super scary story, you will only need to light a few candles and hold the hand of a distant cousin before you read…

The Medium Scary Haunting

If you walk to the end of Darkwood Lane, you'll come upon the house numbered 311. You might feel a strange heaviness in the air as you gaze upon it and wonder who might have lived there. It's abandoned now, and the trees that surround it have grown tall and old. Even on a bright summer day, they remain leafless but still manage to cover the front yard with shadows. The people in the neighborhood stay away. Not even the teenagers dare each other to go there. They've heard the stories. Everybody in town has. They warn their children, "Don't even ride your bikes down there. Don't even look at it." And for good reason. People who stare too long at the house claim to see things. A candle burning in an upstairs window? A face? A shadow where there shouldn't be one?

I guess what I'm saying is don't walk to the end of Darkwood Lane and don't gaze upon the house numbered 311. Just forget I told you about it. Get in your car and drive back to where you came from.

Still here? Okay. But I warned you.

Our story begins on an autumn day, not unlike this one. A block away from 311 Darkwood Lane, the air was brisk and smelled of burning leaves. But the air close to the house, if you dared to get close enough, felt heavy and was surrounded by a musty odor you might find in an attic or an old box of papers from a long ignored closet.

The family that arrived that fall afternoon had not heard the stories. They didn't know the house's history. They didn't feel the uneasiness in the air or see a flicker of shadow in an upstairs window. They could only see "an adorable wraparound porch," a "very becoming Mansard roof," and the low, low price on the long-forgotten and overgrown "For Sale" sign in the front yard.

It didn't even occur to them to ask questions like, "Is this a murder house? Were atrocities committed here? Was this once a funeral home? Is there an opening to another dimension in one of the upstairs closets?" Nothing. They bought it without a second thought.

As you likely expect, things got medium scary pretty fast.

In a super scary haunting, a family member might open a door to a closet and see a man hanging there, his eyes bugged out and staring. After a moment, the specter might disappear, and the person might suspect he or she had imagined things. Super scary hauntings might include doors slamming all by themselves, lights flickering, sudden chills, or a strange, overpowering smell of rot. The family might hear a piano playing in the middle of the night, only to come downstairs find the lid of the piano firmly closed and no budding pianists in sight.

But in a medium scary haunting, these things only happen halfway.

It was the family's first night in the house at 311 Darkwood Lane. The two cherubic children were tucked into bed. The parents lay in their own bed in the darkness, side by side, talking about how things were going to be different, now that they were homeowners. The kids were going to be happier. They themselves were going to be happier. Everything seemed as it should be. And then somewhere in the darkness of the house, they heard the sounds of a piano beginning to play an eerie melody.

"Do you hear that?" the dad asked.

"Yes," said the mom.

"Is it one of the kids?"

"No," the mom replied.

"Are you sure?" said the dad.

"Yes," said the mom. "We don't own a piano, Steve."

So, the parents got out of bed and crept down the stairs to investigate. They moved as quietly possible, hoping to discover whatever was making the noise in the act. But as they reached the living room doorway, the song ended abruptly.

The moonlight shone through the window, casting a silvery glow on the furniture they had moved in just that day.

"Is it one of our cell phones maybe?" the mom asked, switching on a lamp. But the dad didn't answer. He was staring at the woman standing in the middle of the room with her back turned to them.

She wore a pink gingham dress, like she was all dressed up for a summer picnic. But something about the way she was standing seemed odd, slumped somehow, like she could barely hold herself up. As the parents in our story looked on in horror, the woman slowly turned to face them.

If this were a super scary story, she wouldn't have a face, just two maggot-infested eye sockets. But because this story is only medium scary, she only had one maggot infested eye socket and her face was only half gone. It was still pretty disgusting, as I'm sure you can imagine.

The two parents screamed and screamed and raced back up the stairs to the comfort of their bedroom and each other's loving arms.

The next morning, they sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and wondering what to do.

"We can't sell the house. We just moved in," the dad said.

"Who would buy it?" said the mom. "No wonder it sat here empty all those years."

They talked about it and decided they had no choice but to stay right where they were. Perhaps the odd experience they both had was just a one-time incident.

But they were wrong.

That weekend, one of the children woke them in the middle of the night to tell them that a woman was standing by her bed and wouldn't let her sleep.

"She keeps saying 'Help me. He's coming,'" the girl said, rubbing her eyes.

If this were a super scary story, the parents would carry the girl back to her bedroom. And as they went to tuck her back into bed, the music box on the dresser would begin to play. And then a spectral face would appear in the mirror with an obscene amount of blood spurting from its mouth.

But as this is only a medium scary story, the music box stayed quiet and the horrifying face in the mirror only had a small trickle of blood running from the corner of each eyeball.

"I'm beginning to think we should just move," said the mom, back in her own bedroom.

"It'll be all right in the morning. You'll see," replied the dad. And they both finally fell asleep, holding hands in the darkness.

If this were a super scary story, there would be one last unforgettable incident that would finally drive the family from the house. They would venture into the basement and find the dusty lab of a madman, the hastily buried corpses of his victims moldering in shallow graves nearby. Or the attic might yield a faceless monstrosity screaming, "GET OUT. GET OUT FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR CHILDREN." But this is only a medium scary story, so the final incident, while quite unforgettable, was really only half as scary as it could have been. But I'm warning you, it is still pretty medium scary.

It was evening, not quite dark outside. The mom was home alone, enjoying a few quiet moments before her children arrived home from their after school activities. She was sitting at the living room window with a book in her hand, and she heard a male voice outside and looked up, expecting to see her husband waving at her from the driveway. Instead she saw what appeared to be an elderly man standing in the street in front of the house. She couldn't see his face, but he was definitely watching her. In his hand he held, not an ax as it would have been in a super scary story, but a shovel that shone coppery in the evening light.

As she watched, he began to stride toward the house. The mom quickly ran to the front door to make sure it was locked. As she held the doorknob in her hand, it began to rattle, like someone was trying to open it from the other side. She backed away from the door and began looking around for a place to hide. She finally crouched down behind a side table. The rattling at the doorknob finally stopped, but the sound that took its place was almost more disturbing. It was the sound of a shovel being dragged across the porch...and slowly making its way around the wraparound porch the family had so recently admired to the back door.

Had she locked it? The mom couldn't remember. And she couldn't move. Her body seemed paralyzed by fear, frozen to the floor beside the couch.

"GET UP! MOVE!" she screamed in her mind. "Run out the front door. Run to safety."

It was the sound of the back door creaking open that finally released her body from its paralysis and allowed her to take action. The mom raced to the front door, not even daring to look back toward the kitchen and the horrors that likely lay there.

In a super scary story, she would struggle with the lock as the sound of footsteps approached her from behind. But this is only a medium scary story. She did struggle with the lock and she did hear footsteps.   But rather than the rough hand she expected to grab her, it was only a light touch that came with an overwhelming fragrance of perfume.

The mom looked behind her in alarm to see the face of the woman she and her husband had happened upon in their living room that first night in the house.

"He's here," the woman said in a raspy voice. The knob turned in the mom's hand, and she ran from the house.

In a super scary story, I might tell you that the family fled that night and never returned. But as this is only a medium scary story, it took them until at least 10:30 the next morning.

I told you it was only medium scary.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Everybody Loves Raymond Committed Murder…of My Eyeballs

He's a big, dumb galoot, but we love him.

I'm not an angry person. I don't shout at babies or kick puppies or threaten to speak to the manager.

But when I see the stupid fucking face of Ray from Everybody Loves Raymond, I just get…so…angry. Yesterday, I was scrolling through Hulu, looking for something to watch in my post-Community loneliness. And there it was. Everybody Loves Raymond. I'm not going to go into discussions of sexism or ageism or generally poopy writing. Sometimes you just hate a thing. You don't know why. Or maybe you do. Maybe you saw one episode, and Ray did something dumb, and instead of having some wine and taking a bath, Debra made him sleep on the couch and think about what he did like the most overdone wife caricature on the planet. And then the show won a bunch of Emmys or whatever, and it was like, "Whyyyyy?" even though awards shows are stupid.

To be clear, I almost don't have a problem with Ray Romano. I definitely hate watched that entire season of Parenthood where he hooked up with Lauren Graham, and I didn't have to mute it even once. And to show you just the kinds of grudges I usually hold against TV people, I'm still seriously mad at Peter Krause for almost every season of Six Feet Under and often remind his Parenthood character about all those times Nate Fisher did a super shitty thing to Brenda because WAAAAH! He's so misunderstood. Shut up, Nate Fisher. I'M GLAD YOU'RE DEAD.

Also, Ray Romano's name is a cheese, and as far as I'm concerned, that automatically gets you like 300 person points. (Alison Brie clearly gets 400 because brie is the best cheese.)

But back to the hate at hand.

It's not Ray Romano that bugs me. It's that show. Let's look at the evidence, shall we?

ITEM #1: This picture.

What is this???

This is THE defining photo of Everybody Loves Raymond. What are they doing in that picture? Are they performing in a first grade tap recital? It's the photo equivalent of your 7th grade geography teacher showing up wearing a novelty necktie. Like, "Look at us! Can you believe how silly we are? We're the crazy cast of a wacky show where a big galoot does a big dumb thing every week!"

And everyone is ignoring the fact that Peter Boyle is clearly calling for help. SOMEONE HELP PETER BOYLE. GOD.

And when someone holds his or her hands out like that, there had better be cheesecake in them. Cheesecake for me. And Doris Roberts. She can have some too because clearly she is over this photo shoot.

ITEM #2: Episode descriptions.

I went into the Everybody Loves Raymond IMDB page for these. Do you know what that means? It means it will come up at the bottom of the screen every time I use IMDB to remind me of that time I looked up Everybody Loves Raymond. I hope you're happy, Patricia Heaton.

Ray accidentally tapes football over his wedding.


Ray and Debra try to be nice to each other.


A man accidentally sneezes on Ray and he think's he's caught the man's germs.


Debra accidentally throws out Ray's letter from Muhammad Ali and Marie takes the blame for it. But in return for helping Debra, Marie has Debra take the blame for the disappearance of Franks clothes. Debra can't lie very well so she tells Frank the truth and tells him not to tell Marie. In return Franks wants her to take the blame for digging up Marie's roses. It becomes one big mess!


And my personal favorite, maybe of all time:

Ray and Debra have a fight over a can opener.


ITEM #3: Can I PLEASE watch the Russian version of this show, Everybody Loves Kostya? He's not wearing pants in this photo. Not wearing pants! 

In Russia, Kostya is, how you say, big galoot?

ITEM #4: This show killed Peter Boyle. This show is an actual murderer. Case closed. 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Welcome to Bethville Theater Presents: Christopher Pike's Gimme a Kiss

One kiss. Like 300 deaths.
Shhhhhh! Please don't tell anyone you saw me here. It could have disastrous consequences. 

You see, I've faked my own death. 

Why, you ask? Well, I come from a land where people are very, very sensitive. The other day, I was at the mall with my friend Katherine, and I told her that her bra strap was showing. She was so embarrassed, she immediately left the mall and committed suicide by driving her Ferrari into a ravine. I was so embarrassed at having made Katherine so embarrassed that I developed a huge cocaine habit. Like, huge. And my friend Stacey was so embarrassed that I developed a drug habit that she gunned down like six football players. The rest of the team was so embarrassed by the untimely deaths of their teammates that they all developed coke habits. AND THEN, they all drove their Ferraris into the SAME RAVINE. I'm so embarrassed by all of this that I had to get away. That's why released the parking brake on my own Ferrari at the top of Teen Suicide Ravine and let people think that I'm dead. 

Embarrassment is a powerful thing. It can drive you to faking your own death just to teach everyone a lesson, as Jane did in Christopher Pike's Gimme a Kiss. It can even drive you to MURDER. So, try not to get too embarrassed by this pivotal scene from Gimme a Kiss, as performed by me and my friend Amanda.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Princeton Mom Saves the World from Feminists


It is the year 2175. Feminists have taken over the earth. 95 percent of the men are dead. The rest are in hiding. In a small mountain hideout, deep in the heart of Manitoba, a small group of men are planning...

"We can take the world back," said Steve the Rugged to the other five leaders of the Secret Society of Manliness, swiveling around dramatically in his chair made from slabs of hot and spicy beef jerky.

"But how?" said Kevin the Timid, twiddling his thumbs anxiously.

"Dammit, Kevin," Steve the Rugged replied. "We have to be men about this. Men make quick decisions. They don't take no for an answer. They have firm handshakes."

Kevin the Timid could only nod. He had not been among the men for long and was not used to their ways. For most of his 28 years, Kevin the Timid had lived…among the feminists. It was barbaric. He was expected to shave once a week. He had to engage in meaningful conversations. He had to watch ice dancing.

"What do we need to do?" Kevin the Timid asked. He wanted to learn the ways of men.

It was Greg the Totally Ripped that answered his question.

"We have to bring her back," he said.

"But that's not possible," said Malcolm the Plaid. "Not since the feminists stole all of our scientific technology and used it for useless things, like tampons and other vagina stuff."

"There is one thing they don't have," said Steve the Rugged, clicking a button on his universal remote control device. A panel in the wall slid open.

"What is it?' asked Kevin the Timid.

"I think you mean 'Who is it?' It's her," Steve the Rugged mansplained.

"MY GOD," said Kevin the Timid. It was her. It was really her. The women called her things like "The Usurper," "El Diablo," and "That Sad Lady."

But the world would always remember her as Susan Patton. Otherwise known as the Princeton Mom.

The Princeton Mom was a force of anti-feminism like the world had never seen. During the early 21st century, she wielded her opinions like a mighty club of truth, singlehandedly shattering the ideals of female medical students and executives the world over. The force of her words drove millions of women from positions of power back to their desperate eHarmony accounts. For a while, it seemed feminism might be defeated at last, driven back to the 1960s from whence it came.

But then a woman was elected President of the United States, and everything changed. No one knows what really happened on that fateful day. But many suspected that during one of her menstrual cycles, the President hit the "BLOW UP ALL THE MEN" button in the Oval Office. Only Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, and Idris Elba survived. And maybe also Javier Bardem. Nobody knows for sure. These last remaining men went into hiding.

It was over. The feminists had won. They celebrated their victory by bringing back Cagney & Lacey and drinking grapefruit mojitos with their bras off.

But now, a century later, the men were preparing to rise again. And they had a powerful weapon in their arsenal: the cryogenically frozen body of The Princeton Mom. And about 5,000 copies of her book, Marry Smart.

Now, to speed things along because we don't have all day, I'll tell you that the men put Princeton Mom in the microwave on defrost for 15 minutes. Then, they popped her into the oven at 350 degrees for another 30 minutes, along with some pizza rolls.

DING! She was ready, and so were their snacks. The men replaced Princeton Mom's burned bits with titanium alloy and outfitted her with laser cannons.

"What do we do now?" asked Kevin the Timid.

"We unleash her upon the women," Steve the Rugged replied.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Migraines? I Like to Think of Them as Ourgraines

Hey. Hi. 

I'm speaking in a whisper, so be sure to adjust your inner monologue levels starting now.

We have to whisper. If it helps, imagine you're Arya in the bowels of the castle at King's Landing. 

Oh, no, friendly reader companion! Some guys are plotting to murder the Hand of the King, Arya's father, Ned Stark. We must speak only in whispers or they'll catch us for sure.

Good. Very good. Just take that inner voice volume down like seven notches. There you go. Gentle, relaxing tones like you're a yoga instructor who does voiceover work for one of those "Women Who Murder" shows on Oxygen. Shhhhh….

This is no adjustment for me. I've been talking like this for ages. My boyfriend gets migraines. This bout has lasted two weeks so far. When people ask me what I've been up to, that's what I tell them. "Migraines. So many migraines." I sit in the dark. I make no noise. Not to sound martyr-ish, but that's where we are. Any little thing could set off a new migraine. The other day I ate some chips in the next room, and he told me afterward that the sound of it made him almost barf. 

I had a migraine once. It was adorable, when I think back on it. It was the Finding Nemo of migraines. I wore my sunglasses for 24 hours and knocked myself out with ordinary over-the-counter medications that might as well have been Skittles. I recovered. I was back at work the next day. These migraines are so much more than my piddly migraine. I'm sorry I mentioned it. I'm so embarrassed. 

My mom always tells me to look for the positive in things. Sometimes I just look at her like she's crazy. Sometimes I actually try it. 

Here goes. 

1. I get to eat all the leftovers, now that my man is on a diet of applesauce and crackers.
2. I get the whole couch to myself basically all the time, so I can lay on it and spread out like I'm the Pablo Escobar of this couch.

Those are the only two positives I was able to think of just now.

I don't have time to write all the negatives, so here is this video that I think sums them up nicely.

I'm going to stare into the refrigerator with a helpless look on my face now. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

FEAR ABBY: An Advice Column

Be afraid. To seek advice.


My boyfriend is cheating on me. What do I do?

Helpless in Wisconsin


Do you have a cellar? Do you have gloves? Maybe it's time for Mitchell to have an accident. Oh, yeah. I know his name is Mitchell. I know where he lives. I know where you live. Do you always hide your house keys under that rock beside your porch?

Yours in Death,



I can't help it. I feel like you're watching me all the time. In the shower. From my closet. Any time I'm alone. Is there any truth to this, or am I just being paranoid?

Your Next Door Neighbor Helen


No, shut up. Just that one time.

I'm slowly and methodically killing you with poison,



What do you mean you're killing me with poison?

Helen from Next Door


Oh, ha ha ha. I'm only kidding. It's just a little neighbor humor.

I ate your dog the other day,



Do you have any advice for a guy who just wants to stand under the streetlight on the corner wearing a clown mask for a living?

Bongo the Terror Clown

Dear Bongo,

No. I am indifferent to your plight.



Oh, Jesus Christ. Is that what happened to Scruffy? You MONSTER.

Helen from Next Door. You know, Helen of "Helen and Bob"?


I was just kidding. NO I WASN'T.