“Ask me anything. I took two years of high school.” – Kassandra with a ‘K’

37. Daughters of Darkness – L.J. Smith

Moving in to the house next door is a very perilous thing to do. It doesn’t matter who you’re next door to – paranoid Tom Hanks in a bathrobe (I can’t remember his character’s name in The Burbs), Gladys Kravitz, Charley Brewster, Valerie and Courtney…whomever, it’s going to end up with somebody getting all up in your business. And if that business is hiding out from your brother, Night World patriot Ash Redfern, well, this is a Night World book so he may just get distracted by finding his soul mate because she read Pride and Prejudice and give a dramatic speech long enough for you to go back on the lam.

Peregrine and Merricat are on the lookout for rogue werewolves, vampires, goats, warlock Julian Sands, and lovelorn teenagers.

Mixtape:

1. “A Warning on the Occult” – Pentagram Home Video
2. “A Pox Upon You” – Wolfmen of Mars
3. “Savage” – Electric Citizen
4. “Patterns of Evil” – Electric Wizard
5. “Black Dress” – Brass Hearse
6. “Lord of Misrule” – Blood Ceremony
7. “Lilith” – Devil Electric
8. “Hexed” – Terrortron
9. “Night Witches” – True Widow
10. “Children of the Grave” – Black Sabbath
11. “Eighties” – Killing Joke
12. “Della Strega” – Wolfmen of Mars
13. “Dirty Women” – Black Sabbath
14. “Triple Stones” – All of Them Witches
15. “Escape to the Lair” – Terrortron
16. “An Exploration of Black Magic” – Pentagram Home Video

 

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“Oh! Fuck the fuchsia it’s Friday!”

13. The Mall – Richie Tankersley Cusick

Trish is working in the mall at Muffin Mania, it’s very Fast Times as she’s flirting across the food court (you can call it “The Eatery” all you want, we all know what it really is) with Storm at Pizza Park. Storm Reynolds isn’t who he says he is. He’s not a porn star as his name would imply, but he’s not who he seems and for some reason he continually clamps Trish’s arms and steers her places. Very controlling behavior-preview, Storm. He also drives too fast.

Trish has two friends, which keeps the focus on a few characters – her, Nita her shoppin’ friend that works in a clothing store, and Nita’s twin Imogene who works in the bookstore and wears…Glasses!…clearly she will never die. She also has a total bitch for a boss, Bethany, who sucks at communication and controlling the bustling atmosphere of Muffin Mania.

The other male characters are both weird and/or quirky. Wyatt, who speaks in riddles and wears a jean jacket with the sleeves cut off, totally sparks Imogene’s interest and therefore Nita’s, so she goes all 80s movie villain girl and tries to get his attention. He actually reminds me a little bit of the only person named Wyatt I know, except for the jean jacket thing.

The real villain of the piece goes a little bit more 70s giallo in his approach to stalking teenage girls – I couldn’t help but picture him with black gloves at all times. He hides in the mall and wears a series of disguises to keep his eyes on Trish at all times. His introduction is asking her for a honey muffin, later telling her boss he hit her car and she needs to come look at it, then when she gets outside and finds nothing happened to her car he calls on the payphone next to it and when Trish picks up he tells her the honey muffin tasted like her – Ew. – and ratchets up the creepery, staring, and random disguises from there. Ratchets up to kidnapping and ice pick murder, even.

If Trish would’ve just stayed in Kyle Kinane’s joke and never left that birthday party at Benihana, none of this would’ve happened. She would’ve had a choo-choo train made of onions instead.

Sure that hairy-armed guy in the gloves seems to be just nicely walking his fingers around, Ozma, but don’t take him up on his offer to pay your ballet school tuition.

Mixtape:

1. “Silently Stalking” – All of Them Witches
2. “Shadowman” – Devil Electric
3. “You Are the One” – A Place to Bury Strangers
4. “Don’t Let It In” – Wolfmen of Mars
5. “Bounce House Demons” – Chelsea Wolfe
6. “X” – Brass Hearse
7. “The Fear” – Pulp
8. “Venus in Furs” – Electric Wizard
9. “In Death (I’ll Love You More)” – Brass Hearse
10. “When I Was Bleedin'” – Dax Riggs
11. “If the Coffin’s Rockin’, Don’t Come Knockin'” – Terrortron
12. “Jam It in the Hole” – Electric Six
13. “Unflattering Lights” – Wolfmen of Mars
14. “Ur Djupet (Out of the Depths)” – Finntroll
15. “1985” – Kvelertak

Art Intrusion #485 – I have a Threadless store now!! It’s in progress, but it exists! The images are relatively large!
Threadless

Art Intrusion #486 – The newest item on both my New Threadless store and my Forever Redbubble store where you can totally buy stickers (!) is a Bi Pride flag I designed for a friend of mine who needed a Pride flag to reflect her love of red (and I, as a printmaker, recognized that process red aka magenta is actually already part of the bi flag so I whipped this idea up and printed it post haste because I love printing in process red and doing special images for my friends). It turned out pretty cute and I totally made her a tea towel so she can have this little binicorn in her kitchen reminding her what month it is now and to always be proud. Then I printed a more-magenta version to share with anyone who wants one to add to their own lovely flag collection. Happy Pride!

Bi Pride - RachelESmith

The Binicorn, waving proudly in the breeze.

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“Please explain to me the scientific nature of the ‘whammy’.”

28. The Dreamstalker – Barbara Steiner

Twins. There’s always an evil one and one just trying to live her life and have a boyfriend who isn’t her brother, the dream-murderer. Sorry. Spoiler there, but this book is from 1992 and I guessed the killer within the first dream sequence. He’s no Freddy, let’s just be clear on that. Kerr the evil twin is pretty overdramatic and keeps trying to force his sister to ice skate. And not go to college. And never leave him.

Thaddeus never wanted Pammy to leave him either, but thankfully they weren’t twins so he didn’t have to haunt her dreams or make her think she was a murderer in an elaborately petty plan to make her stay. She never left him out of mutual respect and the confines of guinea pig housing instead.

Mixtape:

1. “Black Mass” – UNKLE
2. “Anger” – Catalogue
3. “Black Dream” – Samhain
4. “Ghost of Me” – Electric Citizen
5. “Soul on Fire” – Danzig
6. “This Modern Curse” – Espectrostatic
7. “Cruising for Mortals” – Terrortron
8. “Keep Your Dreams” – Suicide
9. “De Profundis (Out of the Depths of Sorrow)” – Dead Can Dance
10. “They’ll Clap When You’re Gone” – Chelsea Wolfe
11. “Things You Wouldn’t Like” – Wolfmen of Mars
12. “Drive-In Moonlight” – Terrortron
13. “We Use the Same Products” – Electric Six
14. “The Weeping Willows” – Espectrostatic
15. “Calling Them All Away” – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
16. “With You in My Head” – UNKLE

 

Art Intrusion #172:

This silkscreen is a Pickles parody of an artist whose work I very much enjoy – Steven Rhodes. He parodies 1970s children’s book covers and often brings in some evilly hilarious subversion, my kind of thing exactly. His version, the original, non-guinea pig parody version, called Pyrokinesis is available in many forms but I got my pin of it from the Creepy Co. of Chicago (love them so very dearly as well). I am not selling any of this silkscreen online, it will only ever be available from me in person and so there are two opportunities coming up to get a white version (very limited)…or…

A blinding purple version that didn’t scan very well! There’s also a Freddy Krueger-looking green one and some various blues. The ink really glows in person and it hurts my eyes. Come attempt to barter for one at SUPERCON in Fort Lauderdale or at the GeekCraft Expo in St. Louis both during July!

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“Doritos, No Doz, bennies, crystal meth.”

25. Thirteen – T. Pines, ed.

While we wait for climate change enhanced hurricanes or nukes to kill us all, I’m keeping in theme with short stories – for the summer! It’s YA Megamix Summer V: The Revenge, now featuring short story collections and a lot more art promos because I’m taking to the other states this summer and bringing my guinea pig art and generally melancholic demeanor to SUPERCON in Fort Lauderdale, July 12-15th and the Geekcraft Expo St. Louis July 28-29. If you want to come tell me how little you enjoy my longer posts in person, be sure to buy a postcard or threeve while you’re at it. Yay!

So, Point Horror, best imprint ever, did three short story collections of thirteen stories each and the first one is called Thirteen…yep. It features such Point luminaries as Lael Littke, D.E. Athkins (to me, it will always be Deathkins), A. Bates, and, um, some dude who wrote about a painting called Jay Bennett. Yes, Jay, paintings can be terrifying but the process of painting is the true source of horror.

We begin with the first in a set of bookend stories by Christopher Pike which may be the best work of his I’ve read. It weirds me out when short stories are better than novels; even though it shouldn’t *cough* Stephen King. In this case, it might have to do with the phone being involved so much. I’m very nostalgic for a time when we didn’t have the ability to constantly get a hold of each other and I like handset and answering machine-based intrigue. Yes, I’ve seen Bells, apparently known in the U.S. as Murder by Phone, a way too obvious title. I think there could’ve been a happy medium between “Bells” which says nothing and “Murder by Phone” which says too much.

Pike did a great job of making the annoying girls competing over some greaser-dressing new dude with his own mixtape both fun and really bitchy, so I was all for “Collect Call.”

Most of Christopher Pike’s novels don’t make “the sense,” at least, they’re just as sound in my Danger parodies as they are in book form. Danger might even be a bit more serious. Here he is with Horace at a rollicking party for two on my couch. They’re both pretty serious about partying and my couch.

The second story in the collection is by author of Prom Dress, The Watcher, and like nothing else, Lael Littke. “Lucinda” involves a sunken town, some graduation day regrets, and a love triangle. It was decent and a little murky.

“The Guiccioli Miniature” by the aforementioned Jay Bennett reminded me a lot of the movie version of Don’t Look Now. It’s set in Venice and involves some weird dude accosting the main character on the street, so that might be why. It is an extremely short entry, and was just, well, not very much in the usual vein of Point Horror, also like Don’t Look Now. I didn’t manage to get mad about the mention of painting theft, which tells you a lot about how engaging this was. As a painter, if someone stole any of my paintings, I’d consult some psychic sisters staying nearby, put on a red hooded coat, and stalk through all those canals until I got it back…

Horace and Danger Crumples are in quite a few of my paintings, so they fully support me going Don’t Look Now on hypothetical painting thieves.

“Blood Kiss” – Deathkins! – Well, sometimes people give vampires bad names. This one’s name is Ken. This story was fun and I know Deathkins could’ve done better than to name a vampire Ken. The immortal Ken. Yeesh.

“A Little Taste of Death” – Patricia Windsor – Bizarre little tale about a bad girl staying with her grandmother. When I stayed with my grandmother during many summers, I did not take candy that would seal my fate from strangers. Granted, on a farm the strangers are mostly cows, so it was easy to accomplish this. We also played the Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines game. And Smess.

“The Doll” – Carol Ellis – Little hands killing people in your dreams…that’s exactly what I’d expect if a doll just randomly showed up in my house. Especially one of those porcelain numbers with the blank facial expressions. Give me Ginny with her gorgeous pout or give me her pony! Or death, I think that’s how that was supposed to go, but I love my Ginny pony and now my secret is out. It’s really cute.

“House of Horrors” – J.B. Stamper – Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to not have friends at work. Especially if your “friends” are really just locking you in a horror house overnight to be dicks. If your making friends story seems like it might have any chance of ending with “and they were never seen again after hanging out with wax figures,” avoid that. Friends who just want to scare you are not real friends, they’re insecure jackasses.

Horace and Danger, real friends to the end.

“Where the Deer Are” – Caroline B. Cooney – A trippy kind of subdivision horror.

“The Spell” – R.L. Stine – “I hypnotized all three of you that day at the Pizza Palace.” NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

“Dedicated to the One I Love” – Diane Hoh – Another thing that used to cause so much heart fluttering – having a song dedicated to you on the radio. While your friends were totally listening. So they knew. And then like, the whole school would know. Because everyone who was anyone listened to certain shows on the radio. But like with anything that can cause heart fluttering or public humiliation, watch out for when the dead start doing it.

“Hacker” – Sinclair Smith – Sometimes I feel like Sinclair Smith is a bit of a hack, so, I wasn’t surprised by anything in this story other than the ingenious use of plants. My problem is that once the villain is found out, they tend to get really loud and crazy, like they’ were holding back until this teenager found them and they have no clue about being arrested or not admitting how obvious your evil plan was even though you were all covert and smart throughout the rest of the story… The typing in all caps is really the kicker here, though. Quit yelling at everyone. Quit.

Danger and Horace make ingenious use of the back of my couch. They never type in all caps. There is no preferred typing scheme for whistles, wheeks, rumbly purring, and little chuckles.

“Deathflash” – A. Bates – I like A. Bates. I feel like when I’m reading an A. Bates story, some level of control is being exercised over the concept. Even in this weirdo entry about an amorphous thing. I’m glad the main character was concerned for the cats, and it is unfortunately realistic to name them “Sunshine” and “Sparkle.” My guinea pigs are lucky my disposition is not so light. Danger Crumples totally would’ve ended up being “Star Beast.”

“They Boy Next Door” – Ellen Emerson White – This was a pretty kickass story and I liked it a lot. I’ve been around the kind of guy who thinks taking out their insecurities on you is a good idea and as I told one of them, “Don’t powertrip at me, I’m not going to do anything you tell me to and you chose the wrong lady to be insecure at.” It did not go over well, but then again it didn’t go over well to me when he tried to tell me I’m supposed to tell him when I’m going to desensitize a book. Not even, son. I will do what I have to when I need to. Don’t take your shit out on other people. Especially women.

And the other bookend, “Collect Call II: The Black Walker” (slash missed opportunity for a way better subtitle). Quit trying to get girls to tell you you’re such a great musician! Let them come to you and tell you. If you’re good, they will. I never directly lie about what I think about someone’s music. If I don’t like it, I’ll say it’s interesting and not explain why. I had to do that once when a song without words or anything resembling musical form was played for me by my drunk boyfriend and he told me it was “for me.” I wish that hadn’t been for me. But I said it was “interesting” because it was interesting to me that he would make something “for me” that involved nothing about music I actually enjoyed. I should’ve taken it as a bigger omen.

Mixtape:

1. “The Otherworld” – All of Them Witches
2. “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” – Queens of the Stone Age
3. “Tales of Mystery & Isolation” – Wolfmen of Mars
4. “Electric” – Boris
5. “Diabolos ’88” – Samhain
6. “Ghosts of Victims Past” – Terrortron
7. “You Don’t Own Me” – Lesley Gore
8. “Wind up Toys” – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
9. “Destruction Makes the World Burn Brighter” – Chelsea Wolfe
10. “Holy Christos” – King Dude
11. “Hamlet Pow Pow Pow” – The Birthday Party
12. “Age of Oil & Wax” – Live Skull
13. “Kiva” – Burning Tapes
14. “Dance with Dark Forces” – Electric Six
15. “Killer in the Streets” – The Raveonettes
16. “The Trouble with Being Born” – The Great Tyrant
17. “All Murder, All Guts, All Fun” – Samhain

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“Mayberry meets Deliverance”

72. The Two-Bear Mambo – Joe R. Lansdale

Florida is missing and Hap and Leonard have to go deep into racist-ville to figure out what the hell happened to her. Dealing with super racist southern towns (even in Texas, which is, of course, its own very special place) seems quite apropos in the current decade… It’s weird to know that racism still affects so much of how the country is run. It’s damn depressing and I don’t even know the half of it. Lansdale always deals with “the way things are” in these areas with frankness and I’ve always appreciated Leonard’s take on things I never had reason to contemplate within the corners of the world I’ve occupied.

I can easily agree with the other characters that the way Leonard destroys the crack house in this one is definitely “the best one yet”  though- that’s for sure. A shiny spectacle for Christmas if ever there was one involving a crack house. Plus there’s a seriously dark and rotten scene dealing with an exhumation and a full on flood in here. This very dark entry in the Hap and Leonard series is dealt with in the third season of the Sundance network show and I’m definitely a fan.  The first episode of this season gave me the impression that they’re definitely playing up some of the caustic humor and that’s important when everything gets as dire as it does in this book, but they still don’t stay away from that Leonard Pine-frankness (or the Christmas ants, even though I’m undermining my own point there) that makes it not a dodge or minimized. It may be material from the 1990s, but it’s always going to be timely as long as the bullshit that is the KKK keeps being an existing thing instead of just a terribly stupid and horrific part of history.

This season was just amazing even if I didn’t especially like the ending’s changes from the book. This show definitely hits the spot that Justified left open for crime and cleverness, and I sincerely hope they continue to have seasons. All the seasons.

Ozymandias and Danger Crumples are my little mystery solving duo. One southern pig and one northern pig, trying to solve mysteries from their tiny little world. Hopefully they will also learn the dance for “Double Dutch Bus” like those dudes in Leonard’s living room on the show.

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City News and Books on December 10, 1988

52. Deadly Sleep – John Applegate

The cover features a teddy bear in a bed brandishing a bloody knife in the air – awesome. The story features an overly worried middle aged man who can’t control himself when he sleeps. There’s also some business stuff – boring. Who hasn’t woken up as a dad in the suburbs, wondering if they killed someone the night before? It’s the stuff of a million excuses and a million insurance fraud murders. So garden variety.

It’s okay, Horace, you can snuggle back in free from fear, there’s no middle aged suburban dads around.

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Beware those who peaked in high school.

2. The Tarot Spell – Willo Davis Roberts

Stuck in a fantasy land of her own making, “unpretty Catherine Sorenson” demonstrates one possible outcome of never leaving your hometown after high school. She always wanted to marry that popular douche Jason, and, after years of caring for an elderly man, the elderly dude dies, she inherits, and she finally gets her chance to marry for looks and pipe dreams instead of love. Yay! What fun!

Unsurprisingly, Jason sucks, but she has a friend whose house suddenly burned down to talk to about how weird it is trying to integrate with rich folks who keep asking you for money. That friend also demonstrates another option for townies who stay, extreme bitterness.

Anyway, between Jason sucking and bitter friends lay the unpredictable fortunes to be found in a tarot reading and frankly, I just feel bad for Catherine even though she’s imaginary. She should’ve taken that inheritance and gone somewhere else; somewhere she wouldn’t have been told she’s just unpretty and couldn’t expect anything out of life except a large amount of anxiety attacks and people using her. Jeebus.

Pammy took care of Thaddeus as they both aged – he aged a little faster – and inherited a corn hut, quite a few stuffed animals, and no failing lumber mills.

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Mysteries for Mother’s Day

It can be said that a lot of my art work and commentary on this blog involves setting up Danger Crumples to solve mysteries. The inspiration for all of that mystery concern – my mother. I grew up in a home full of books that is currently slightly more full of books and the shelves I stared at the most were filled with Joe R. Lansdale and Elmore Leonard and Agatha Christie mysteries with pretty excellent and confusing titles. In third grade I got way into The Happy Hollisters, a series about a family where the kids are consistently running around solving mysteries, including one spectacular “whistle pig” mystery. In fourth grade I graduated to Nancy Drew and she has proved to be quite the inspiration for my art and picture captioning ever-since.

So to honor my mother and her never-ending support of my art and writing and guinea pig lifestyle, I’m letting everyone in on the works that her love of mysteries and books and Danger Crumples in particular inspired. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

This is the first print I managed using my current method after several years out of college, it is inspired by the cover of The Hidden Staircase. Danger and his flashlight have been evolving ever since.

 

This year I finally started a parody project that I’ve been contemplating for ages and ages and ages – Danger Drew Mysteries. The first work I did for the series was a parody of one of my favorite Nancy images, the end papers of one particular edition of the series. As soon as I finished this painting, I realized that it was for my mother, even though I had a different one planned for her.

Danger Drew spying on a very suspicious digging Finny. If you don’t recognize this design, you had new Nancy.

And of course, the next step was to parody the most inspiring cover ever put on a Nancy Drew book (including that weird one with the manta ray-looking ghost or whatever it’s supposed to be that I haven’t quite figured out how I want to parody yet)… The Hidden Staircase.

Of course in my artistic universe, we cannot parody without changing the title to fit the guinea pig essence of what I do, and Danger Crumples’ name is just so adaptable. Therefore I give you number 9 in the series: The Crumpled Staircase.

One aspect of these paintings that is not visible in the scan is that I’ve painted all the edges so that the canvas looks like a very, very realistic book. So realistic. It is not hard to paint tiny letters and images on the edges of canvas at all. Nope. Nothing but perfection from me. Anyway…there’s a spine, there’s a textblock, there are Hansa yellow borders, there’s a little Danger with a magnifying glass silhouette and it gave me my second favorite way to sign my work visibly besides having a gravestone, signing as the author. I am an author, so, it’s a funny on the many levels. Many!

When I first thought of the idea to make my Nancy Drew parodies look more like real books, I got a very strong reaction from another mother, the one who graciously does a lot of the photoshop help that I desperately need when my paintings are too big to scan in one go, and so I did number 19 in the series for her. Happy Mother’s Day to her as well!

The Clue in a Broken Basket is my approximation of the time she took care of Danger while I was moving and he broke out of his temporary laundry basket housing and had to be wrangled. I know he was trying to do his own version of Homeward Bound but he ended up under a futon – he just looks so triumphant though.

 

I do love end papers when the time is taken to put some effort into them and the Nancy Drew series has had several iterations that are pretty lovely. My favorite being the larger image above, which originally is Nancy watching some suspicious farmer digging, but the other end papers I particularly love feature line drawing versions of covers. I’ve done a couple of these, but the only one that I’m currently putting up is the first one, a version of The Spider Sapphire Mystery that I have since realized totally does not have a spider in it. I don’t know what kind of bug that really is, but it is not a spider.

Danger’s confused about what kind of bug that is too.

The latest of the cover parody paintings I’ve finished was heavily influenced by my main take-away from the Nancy Drew mystery stories – that she has a charge plate. For quite some time I had no idea what that was. She has a pudgy friend, her dad’s a lawyer, and she uses a charge plate a lot.

Maybe the charge plate won’t help this time, Danger. The best thing about that whole charge plate confusion – it’s an older version of a credit card – MY MOM GOT ME ONE! So, I can also solve mysteries using a charge plate. Mine has an alizarine crimson case, and is depicted in this painting.

Mystery of the Crumpled Swamp is the only (currently) Danger Drew painting that will make its way into the wild. It will be visible and available for purchase in all its booky glory at Supercon in Fort Lauderdale, July 12-15th, so start planning now. Now. I certainly need to do more of the planning as that’s the first time I’m taking Guinea Pigs and Books somewhere I can’t easily drive to. Paintings on a plane – it’s a recipe for massive anxiety. More of the line drawings like the “Spider Sapphire” Danger Crumples will be available as blind paintings, too, so, you can try and find the guinea pig ones. I won’t tell you which are which. And check out this exhibitor directory – I’m totally in there.

Of course, I know lots of guinea pig people can’t follow my gallivanting all over the Midwest and now South, so all the paintings I’ve put up are on my Redbubble so that you can find them on stuff and things. I’ve also linked to their individual pages in weird ways in the image captions.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

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Cult cookies.

7. Waking the Witch – Kelley Armstrong

I read the Otherworld series in a very random order, and this was the first witch-focused book I read. I didn’t know Savannah’s back-story from Stolen and I definitely recommend reading that before reading this one. It would’ve been nice to have some frame of reference for how Armstrong deals with witchcraft before reading Waking the Witch. Armstrong has a lot of characters in her Otherworld series, so even the minimal summaries left me a little lost because I hadn’t at least read Stolen. I can also tell you that my “review” of Stolen will not help you. No it won’t.

Savannah is a likeable protagonist and she’s headstrong but manages to be fun to follow along with as she tries to solve some witchcraft-adjacent murders in a small town. She has good investigative skills (and now I know how she learned them, now, so much later) but still acts like the twenty-one-year-old she’s supposed to be and that was an improvement over Armstrong’s YA work for me, where it felt like she was consistently talking down to the audience. So now I know she can represent slightly-above-youth youths without being patronizing.

Ozma: Plucky, ready for action. Peregrine: Sleepy, ready to send Ozma into the fray.

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Well, he’s not wrong with that subtitle.

20. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread – Chuck Palahniuk

There are several stories in this collection that I won’t forget.

Especially “Red Sultan’s Big Boy,” I got halfway through that one while waiting for an appointment – I predicted accurately where it was going, and I had a hard time not spewing that forth during my appointment because, well, I had just the right friend to tell about that story, but I had to finish it first.

Belvedere was not that friend.

I am not sure how I feel about his new choice to use animal names for characters. During the story about the poor monkey (I mean, “Monkey”) marketing the cheese it seemed novel. But I feel like Flamingo got pretty screwed over in a later story and frankly, it put a very, very weird set of pictures in my head. There’s a newish Sanrio character, a red panda named Aggretsuko who hates her job and sings metal kareoke and works with a gorilla and a hippo who won’t stop showing baby pictures and…I just don’t really want Palahniuk’s animal characters in the same office block as Aggretsuko. I like her and don’t want her to suffer anymore than she already has to in order for me to identify with her. She’s got a super cute rage face.

Belvedere also has a super cute rage face.

“Cannibal,” well, the less said about that story of high school romance, the better to surprise. If you got through the one with the pool drain, you’ll get through “Cannibal.” High school kids can certainly suck.

Belvedere never went to high school. He didn’t suck.

Anyway, as usual, Palahniuk aims for the uncomfortable and reaches it, digs into its abdominal cavity, and pulls out a spleen and that is why I read him for the most part. I will take the named animals over the freshly invented languages that made Pygmy and Tell-All harsher to get through though, as long as he leaves guinea pigs and red pandas out of it.

No, really, Belvedere agrees with me. Leave guinea pigs out of it. You don’t know what they do well enough to give them jobs. Barely anyone seems to.

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