1) Interesting. Everybody who “likes” me seems to be a latex glove fetishist.
2) I’m not pulling over, hitcher. I’m stepping on the gas. Oh no. Get out of the way!3) Who’s got your nose?
4) If this hand were bearing an unbuttoned sleeve, everything you liked would seem …dirty.
5) The universal symbol for social approval in the 21st Century is a dismembered hand. I like that. But it’s kind of overkill. Surely just a single digit would do.
6) A grammatical sin is committed by our passive acceptance of this plurality of “likes” — that is, the letter S should be employed only when the subject is singular in second or third person (eg. “x number of people likes me” is an insult to English, and perhaps also the Welch). The Hand knows this but does not care, eschewing language entirely for an international symbolic system of hieroglyphs without the possibility of negation (or “unlikes”), but rather, dumbly indicating its opposition through absence (a Lacanian “lack” of likes, not present in the oedipal calculation). But where does one find, say, the middle finger in all this homogeneous idiocy? Oh, I see. Got it. Understood.
7) Clearly this stiff arm is really the pale-blue hand of an evil clown. Why does he keep following me???
8) You don’t like me. You’re pointing “gun fingers” at me. You’re either a sniper or a used car salesman. Please go away.
9) Some would say that this uncanny symbol means “thumbs up.” But there is only one thumb on this hand…that I can see.
10) I’m told that in some cultures, the “thumb up” is actually a gesture that is a provocative sexual insult. Gee, thanks everyone.
Significant related reading: “The Thumb Up”: http://bernd.wechner.info/Hitchhiking/Thumb/
You already know 2012 was pretty weird. Here’s a small sampler of annual roundups that reaffirm it…
“It was beauty that killed the beast.”
“Yeah. That and the syphillis.”
“Don’t bury me, I’m not dead yet.”
“Oh, no? Allow me…” (shovel to the neck)
(Aiming finger at the head) “Braaaiiiins…!”
(Aiming pistol at the head) “Buuuulllets…!”
“In space no one can hear you scream.”
“Oh no? Where IS Earth, anyway? That’s right. It’s floating in space, you freaking idiot. Let’s see if anyone can hear you scream when I press this hot iron into your underarm…”
“Like what? Your butterfly collection? Please, please. Let me show YOU what acupuncture really means.” (grabs head like a basketball and squeezes the pins deep)
“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
“Beans! THAT explains the smell in here! I tht-tht-tht-tht-thought it was your breath.”
“When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”
“There’s always the Holiday Inn next door. Competitive rates… and a cleaner pool!”
“Where? In the 1980s? Heeeere’s my palm.” (slap)
“I see dead people.”
“Yeah, yeah. They see you, too, kid. Don’t you get it? That’s your audience. They died of boredom.”
“I’m your Number One Fan.”
“Really? Because you smell like Number Two.”
“Long live the new flesh!”
“Viva your zits!”
“We all go a little mad sometimes…don’t you?”
“No, I go big mad when pervs like you peep at me in the shower.”
“Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
“Why? Becawse dare might be wabbits? Fear this, Fuddrucker.” (middle finger)
“Can I use this nail gun to accomplish that?”
“Sometimes dead is better.”
“Better than what? Your grammar skills? You go die now, and we be all better, Idiotface.”
The Vampire Squid:
“Like many deep-sea cephalopods, Vampire Squid lack ink sacs. If threatened, instead of ink, a sticky cloud of bioluminescent mucus containing innumerable orbs of blue light is ejected from the arm tips. This luminous barrage, which may last nearly 10 minutes, is presumably meant to daze would-be predators and allow the Vampire Squid to disappear into the blackness without the need to swim far.” — wikipedia entry on Vampire Squid from Hell
The Vampire Bat:
“…The furry, bean-shaped bat with its rodent-like face resembles a rat with wings, but bats are actually more closely related in evolution to dogs and horses. In fact, vampire bats in the wild will gallop and leap across the ground much in the same way that horses do.
In South America where they are common, vampire bats approach their prey on the ground, galloping quickly and quietly as they sneak up on, bite, and drink the blood from sleeping cows, goats and birds.” — “What Steers Vampires to Blood,” UCSF Research
The Vampire Finch:
“…Their most important source of food during the extended droughts is blood. The finches begin by landing on the tail of a seabird. They peck at the base of its wing feathers, breaking the skin and causing it to bleed. As the blood oozes out, the finches sip it every few seconds. Other finches line up behind the booby like a queue at a blood bank and as soon as one leaves its blood-sucking perch another takes its place.” — “Islands of the Vampire Birds”
[Read about Oxpeckers and more at The Evolution of Vampires]
The Morgantown Poets society has posted video excerpts from my Halloween season poetry reading in Morgantown, West Virginia last month. It was a goofy gory night of the bizarre, which I titled “Food, Folks and Fun with Zombies.”
I read three courses of horror: a batch of gory “food” poems from a variety of sources (including crazy twitter poems and pieces from The Goreletter e-edition), a “folksy” ghost story (from the just-released collection, Legends of the Mountain State IV — not appearing on the vid), and then I ended with a “fun” batch of zombie poems from my book, Rigormarole. The lighting is dark, the sound is hit-and-miss, but the video captures the jist of what my readings are like. It was fun to read in an art gallery to a very indulgent audience, who was enormously generous with their time, patience, and laughter.
Look for “Endless Shrimp” — delivered in the 2nd of the 3 short video clips — to appear in an upcoming issue of The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction, edited by John Skipp.
I’ve added a new sub page to gorelets.com that will collect and archive all my posts to twitter.com, so you don’t have to go to their website and try to hunt for them.
What I like about this is not only will it allow me to keep a record of all those brief snippets of weirdness that I’ve posted that are hard to find in twitter’s archives, but it also lets readers like you search for things that you’d have a hard time finding on twitter itself, and it doesn’t require signing up for twitter to do so at all (though I think you should).
You can find some fun things in the Nest, by searching for keywords of your interest or filtering archives by month. (Remember: use the search box on the nest, not on twitter itself). Keyword searches are pretty cool. (Quick example: try a search for “amazon” and you’ll get a list of all the books I’ve recommended on twitter over the past two years). You can also see “pre-focused discussions” used by twitter #hashtags. If you enter a “hashtag” (basically a keyword preceded by a # sign) in the search, you can filter the list to show only one conversation or thread. You have to know what these are first, but if you spot a #hashtag mentioned in a tweet, try searching for it on my nest rather than clicking on it (which will take you to twitter itself) — and you’ll cut out a lot of noise.
Example: search for “#whohorrors”, and you can read all the twisted puns on songs by The Who I ran during last year’s superbowl party. Other fun #hashtag searches might be: #zombiehaiku, #nanowrimo, #retrospective, #bandhybrids
[With thanks to Andy Graulund for sharing the system!]
POSTSCRIPT, 5/30/12 –
I’ve now added a new subpage where you can view my tweets clustered by topic and trend. Visit http://tweets.gorelets.com/ to check it out!
Also note that the best of The Nest now appears in the hardcover edition of my book, The Gorelets Omnibus! Get this for your shelf before a solar flare wipes out the entire internet.
Phlegmonaid (With Extra Pulp)
I can’t explain why I did this, but in the days and moments leading up to the halftime show by The Who at Super Bowl XLIV, I kept posting twisted and sick puns of Who song titles and lyrics to my twitter account. A few weirdos joined me in the fun.
Like most puns, some of these are astoundingly bad examples of wordplay, but what the heck: here is the complete collection of Who Horrors for your amusement, my embarrassment, and, well, posterity.
Tommy, Can You Fear Me?
You Deader, You Deader, You Dead
I Can Spree For Miles and Miles
The Kids Are All Fright
I Canned His Brain. / Froze his blood. / Gonna serve to you. / When it turns blue.
Can You See the Real Meat?
Blowing Mo’ Bile
No one knows what it’s like. To be the dead man. To be the bled man. Behind Strewn Eyes.
Won’t Eat Food Again
Blood Rain on Me
Embalmee, Can You Hear Me?
Skinned the Wizard — grabbed his magic stick — Skinned the Wizard — it came off at the wrist.
I call that a Gorgon. You best not make it mad!
Goodbye Blister Disco
I want you to burn…together…with the brand.
Pictures of Chilly
LONG LIVE SHOCK. Be it Dead or Alive.
Boo! Scar You.
Eating my brain on the 5:15
Another Sticky Day
Phlegminence Front (it’s a spute-ahm!)
Thanks to all the other people who played along and posted their own, including: @BlackDogNate, @nitewanderer, @davidltamarin23, @Adam_Blomquist, @StephenWNagy, @DavidKM, and @chuntastic…you might be able to find their contributions still. And kudos to @jmridenhour for coming up with the best of them all: “Tragic Bus”!
You’re perfectly welcome to keep this sick train a rollin’ by adding more in the comments…but really, why would you?
I’ve gathered all the books I’ve reviewed in The Goreletter (since 2002) into some fun listmania lists over at amazon.com, and I’ll keep adding titles to them from the “Not Dead Yet” department into the future.
I’ve also been having way too much fun trolling around amazon for weird discoveries, and I have compiled a few other funky lists, like the Goofy Gory Gifts Galore list and other novelty lists. I’m apparently a listmaniac.
After many years of neglect, I have updated my author profile on amazon.com, where you can find more weirdness and links to many of my books and anthologies. Since amazon now features some of my stuff in their kindle store, and because I am likely to begin publishing The Goreletter for Kindle readers as well as web browsers, I have made gorelets an amazon affiliate, and I have been cleaning up their database when it comes to Arnzen titles by uploading book covers or making corrections. Your reviews and tags on amazon.com are appreciated.
Cthulhu the Obscure
A Connecticut Devil in King Arthur’s Inferno
The Golden Bowl of Blood
The Isle of Dr. Moreau and Mr. Hyde
As I Lay Resurrecting
Creature from the Walden Pond
Of Mice and Tentacles
A Midsummer Night’s Scream
Oedipus Rex: The Boy With the X-Ray Eyes
Uncle Tom’s Cannibal Cabin
A Poison Clockwork Orange
Rabid Animal Farm
Lord of the Giant Flies
Clone King Richard the Thirtieth
A Morgue of One’s Own
With irreverence for: Quirk Classics.
[Update: The literati among you might also appreciate this essay at the 'Jane Austen's World' blog.]
Have You Driven A F*rd Over A Stroller Lately?
This Is Your Late Father’s *ldsmobile.
V*lvo. For Life Support.
Killt F*rd Slough.
Ch*vy. The Last Heartbeat of America.
Chummer — Like Nothing Else!
Ponti*c. We Are Driving Excrement.
Grab Life By The Horns. That Won’t Stop Honking.
Sa*b. Move Your Mind. Off My Lap.
B*W. The Ultimate Chicken Machine.
V*lkswagon. Drivers Haunted.
Juice in Engineering. *udi.
C*dillac. When You Turn Your Car Off, Does It Return The Favor?
Unlike Any Other. Mortcedez Endz.
B*ick. Drive Beautiful. Into Crowds.
The All New Ch*vy. Built to Last Breath.
H*nda. The Power Of Screams.
S*turn. Like Always. Like Never Before. Like Rotten Haggis.
L*coln. Reach Higher. We’re Sinking.
I Hate What You Did To Me — T*yota!
THE BOOK OF LISTS: HORROR (edited by by Amy Wallace, Del Howison and Scott Bradley for Harper Paperbacks) is hitting the bookshelves across the country this week. It’s a knockout collection of lists both quirky and informative, about all things horror, featuring an amazing roster of horror authors and filmmakers — from Stephen King to Eli Roth — between its covers. You won’t want to miss it…and you can order it now from amazon.com.
My contribution to the book is an annotated list of “The Top Five Horror Colleges” — something you’d never find in the US News & World Report rankings! I was going to have a second list in the book, but it was brimming so many great lists that the publishers had to limit most authors to just one entry. So I’m sharing the one that got dropped with you here, as an example of what the articles in The Books of Lists are like. Here you have it: “The Hands of Horror”!
Michael A. Arnzen’s List of Classic Dismembered Hand Stories
1. “This Living Hand” by John Keats (1819). Okay, so I’m cheating right from the get-go with a classic Romantic poem, but if you didn’t read this piece in your Norton Anthology from college lit class, be sure to hunt it down. It’s not only a creepy poem because it muses over a limb, but it also is a sick love poem as only a Romantic poet could write it. “This living hand, now warm and capable//Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold//And in the icy silence of the tomb//So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights…”
2. “The Enchanted Hand” (“La main enchantée”), by Gerard Nerval (1832). In this early French classic (available in the book, Fantastic Tales, edited by Italo Calvino), a gypsy casts a spell on a wimpy tailor’s hand, so he can overcome his foe in a duel to the death. But he is subsequently sentenced to death because of it… and the gypsy shows up at the execution afterword, demanding the charmed hand…which subsequently comes to life on its own!
3. “The Hand” (“Les main”), by Guy De Maupassant (1883). While visiting a hunter’s gallery, our narrator spots the strangest item in his quarry: “It was a hand, a human hand — not the hand of a skeleton, all white and clean, but a black, withered hand with yellow nails, exposed muscles, and with traces of congealed blood, looking like dirt. The bones had been chopped off at about the middle of the forearm, as though they had been severed by an axe.” This grotesque limb is chained to the wall, because “it’s always trying to get away.” Find out why in this classic — albeit unfortunately common-titled — tale of the supernatural.
4. “The Hand,” by Theodore Dreiser (1907). This tale is interesting in the way it creates a creeping sense of paranoia in a story about a man who fears that evil forces are out to choke him to death in revenge. The narrator is haunted by an image of a man he killed long ago, whose hand reached out at him as he was dying in a menacing way. While we never really see a ghostly hand scuttling about as we do in other creepy hand tales, it is implie. This story is also interesting because it’s a pulpy horror story written by a man who is often hailed as a man of American letters for his famous novel, Sister Carrie (1900).
5. “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs (1924). I really wish I didn’t have to include this one in my list, but… oh no! I wished it! The horror! “The Monkey’s Paw” features a charmed monkey’s paw, one that grants wishes you wish it wouldn’t grant. It doesn’t really count as a dismembered hand story in my opinion (because, if you were paying attention, it’s a paw), but so many people think that this is the quintessential dismembered hand story that I have to put it on the list to correct them.
6. “The Beast with Five Fingers,” by William Fryer Harvey (1928). In its day, this may have been the most popular “dismembered hand” story of them all. Now Harvey’s novella — which inspired a quite funny Peter Lorre film — comes across as too mannered and stuffy to be very entertaining, but it is a classic tale of the absurd, in which a dead uncle’s animate dismembered hand escapes from its box to torment his family from beyond the grave in spiteful ways. If you can’t find this title, just go watch the movie. It’s not faithful to Harvey’s tale, but it is as charming as horror-comedy can be…and it may have set a precedent in horror cinema: hands have been playing pianos on their own accord ever since.
7. “The Brown Hand,” by Arthur Conan Doyle (1929). I bet you didn’t know that the creator of Sherlock Holmes wrote a dismembered hand story! Yes, and while it’s rather hard to come by (look for a book called Tales of Twilight and the Unseen), it’s a pretty good representative of this somewhat silly subgenre. In this tale of Eastern mysticism, a doctor is haunted into insomania by a ghostly one-armed “Indian” revenant who — raising his “knobby and unsightly stump” to frighten the narrator — is looking for his hand, so he can rest both whole and in peace. The good doctor devises a clever way to end the revenant’s torment.
8. “The Return of the Sorcerer,” by Clark Ashton Smith (1931). Not so much a dismembered hand story as a — well, okay, I’ll give it away — entirely disintegrated body story, this is one of the freakiest early “weird tales” culminating in an effectively chilling scene in which a hand scrabbles away to join its brethren body parts. Smith writes the preposterous in a way that is stunningly unforgettable — and entirely believable!
9. “Major Aranda’s Hand,” by Alfonso Reyes (1973). Crawling ahead fifty years, skipping over a handful of bad film representations of this horror icon (like The Crawling Hand, parodied by Mystery Science Theater 3000) and its domestication as “Thingg” in The Addams Family on television — the hand returns from the grave as a highly self-conscious literary trope in Reyes odd and artful example of magical realism. It’s not quite a horror story, per se, but it’s a great dark thinkpiece in prose poetry. “The face mirrors and express, but the hand acts….[the hand] went freely from one place to another, a monstrous little lap dog, rather crablike. Later it learned to run, with a hop very similar to that of hares, and sitting back on the fingers, it began to jump…”
10. “Julian’s Hand,” by Gary Brandner (1974). This tale of mutancy is a chilling new twist on the legend. To say much more would give the surprising premise away, but let’s just say that Julian’s tumors have grown rather troublesome.
11. “The Body Politic,” by Clive Barker (1985). An overt social allegory in which the parts of the body revolt against the dominance of their owner. A great story (from Barker’s excellent collection, The Inhuman Condition) that questions the totality of identity…and a chilling idea! But it’s also all rendered a bit silly when seen through the filter of Mick Garris’ made-for-TV adaptation, Quicksilver Highway (1997).
12. “Hands of a Wanker,” by Patrick McGrath (1988). It seems that a chronic masturbator has dismembered his hand out of guilt…only to set loose a palm that continues getting its jollies in the public women’s restroom. Filthy, just filthy. And the funniest, most ludicrous dismembered hand story of them all!
13. The Movies: I’ve purposely limited myself only to a handful (argh!) of written pieces, but if you enjoy dismembered limb stories, then you absolutely must see a few key films to really appreciate the subgenre. It is, after all, a very cinematic trope: one of the very first films, in fact, features an animated prosthetic arm — a one-reeler by Vitagraph in 1908 called The Theiving Hand. Even then, it was horror-comedy: nothing quite serious enough to scare, but uncannily creepy nonetheless. Other must-see films beyond those mentioned in the list above that feature the five fingered icon include: Un Chien Andalou (Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel, 1928), Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (Freddie Francis, 1965), Evil Dead 2 (Sam Raimi, 1987), The Hand (Oliver Stone, 1981), and most recently, the slacker comedy, Idle Hands (Roman Flender, 1999).