Tag Archives: Merricat

“Thou art to be hanged and then burned over a basket of living cats.” (Warlock)

34. Witchfinder General: The Biography of Matthew Hopkins – Craig Cabell

It took me a very long time to finish this because it includes full representations of pamphlets from the time period which are extremely hard to get through. So little punctuation, so many block paragraphs…I will be forever grateful for the invention of indentation. One of those pamphlets, the short one, is by the subject, who is listed in the Dramatis Personae (yep, that’s how he put it) as “Matthew Hopkins, Son of James Hopkins: shipping clerk and witchfinder.” Nice dig, Cabell.

The longest pamphlet is by Hopkins’ assistant John Stearne and it is all about teats. Seriously. Teats- it could have a protrusion, but it could not have too much of one, or there could be a dark circle in it or a pinprick, but it might not be too obvious because they can like suck them back in after their Imps suck blood out of them and it might have a darker circle around it and it could be anywhere – anywhere – on their body. His pamphlet was endless and the reason why I put the book down for months at a time. All block paragraphs, half-teat coverage, half half-assed justification and confessions. He’s like the toady of the head dickface who wants you to think he’s a nice guy (TM) while he cops a feel checking for “teats.” If fedoras had existed in that time, he’d have been wearing one. Matthew was wearing the most ostentatious hat, after all, like Mystery on the Pick Up Artist reality show formerly on VH1.

The weirdest element of the witchfinder situation to me is that he only worked for a few years – 1645-7 – and he “sent over 200 people, mainly women, to their death for the crime of witchcraft.” That’s a hell of an impact. By the way, only one was burned. One. Her name was Mary Lakeland, of Ipswich, and apparently she was also a Royalist agent.

He also died at age 28, of consumption, which is the most inaccurate part of the film starring Vincent Price. Apparently the whole depiction of “accusation, torture, and forced confession” is pretty accurate; also, the film was shot in the original locations. It definitely added more authority to have Vincent Price as opposed to your average peacocking 26 year old “wallowing in his own self-glorification” for a fee. Thankfully he did get to experience at least one of his own torture methods before he died – the “swim test,” he was proven to be a witch based on his own ideas about water and witches. Why there’s no statue of him in his home town that’s just labeled “Total dick” for people to spit on I will never know. It might help future generations as we go backward through time morally.

Yes, Pere and Merri, we would all be hanged as witches if we lived then…fun. Hopefully before we had to hear a witchfinder say the word “fleshie,” which was an overused teat-description in the pamphlets.

 

Salem’s version is a lot cuter and maybe more sassy too.

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“What’s the creepiest place in town? That’s right. Ross Dress-4-Less.” (Cartman)

10. Women of Darkness – Kathryn Ptacek, ed.

So far, I have to say that all of the anthologies of women writing horror short stories that I’ve read have been really good. Women of Darkness was one that I checked out of the library after reading about it on Too Much Horror Fiction and after I read it, I made sure to find an ex-library copy for myself before I returned it. I really like ex-library copies. Sometimes they’re pretty beat, but, they always have mylar wrapped dust jackets or the paperbacks have been book-taped to hell and back and that’s very satisfying to me. Plus it’s fun to see how many different kinds of “Withdrawn” stamps there are and what classifications have been used. Fun…for me. I know this is not everyone’s idea of a good time.

Merricat’s idea of a good time is posing in front of horror parody paintings of her on a log pillow. I wish she’d been able to pose for more of them, but perfect sassy pigs can’t always stay.

Speaking of things that aren’t everyone’s idea of a good time, the first story in Women of Darkness is “Baby” by Kit Reed and it is creepy as hell. Damn, baby. I really love how Kit Reed is able to make the normal, the stuff we’re told to want, super terrifying. I recently saw a trailer for the horror film Hereditary and I feel like it’s probably going to cover some Kit Reedish territory. Exciting.

“The Spirit Cabinet” – Lisa Tuttle – Another story that I read by Tuttle also dealt with the spiritualist movement and I definitely like this one better – it was scarier and had less mucus. It reminded me of a vastly unsuccessful young adult book I read a while ago- this story mounts the dread and demonstrates a lot of the creeping mystery of ghost stories and buying antique furniture.

Little Merri on some non-haunted antique furniture.

“Mother Calls But I Do Not Answer” – Rachel Cosgrove Payes – The bad side of loneliness and looking for answers in the mirror. The main character reminded me a little bit of Henrietta the goth kid from South Park when she thought she became emo because of invading plant spores and was ever-so-slightly nicer to her mother. Poser.

“The Devil’s Rose” – Tanith Lee – Beware the out of towners. They’re usually not there to rescue you. This story touches on one of my favorite topics – syphilis – and also has a bit of fairytale magic to it. Syphilitic fairytale magic.

Merricat and Peregrine did run off with me when I came to the shelter they were in from out of town, but, thankfully, I was actually there to rescue them. They super needed their nails clipped, I would’ve done that before I left even if I hadn’t adopted them.

“Midnight Madness” – Wendy Webb – Super whispery scary Black Friday-style shopping. It was pretty fun to read a story about shopping that was this chilling. I didn’t think it could be done.

“Aspen Graffiti” – Melanie Tem – A topic just as mundane as shopping – the dissolution of a marriage when the husband suddenly decides he’s got to be younger, cooler, and that wife of his is holding him back… Sometimes the real horrors are pretty familiar. He has an earring and got a younger girlfriend! NOoooo!

Peregrine and Merricat hide from the harmful effects of midlife crises.

“Slide Number Seven” – Sharon Epperson – I know this author better as S.K. Epperson from her book Borderland. It was kind of brutal and that carries through into this story. I love it when women take agency with disease; I really am keen on disease stories – I think because I’m chronically ill. This one is short but packs quite the punch.

“The Unloved” – Melissa Mia Hall – Rachel and Celia, two sisters, on their own, taking in some random manipulative drifter…it goes super well and everyone ends up perfectly happy.

“Cannibal Cats Come Out Tonight” – Nancy Holder – Friends don’t let friends eat their other friends. Until they get stuck in a desert house trying to gain the affections of the same free spirited girl.

Always a true woman of horror, Merricat scares Danger Crumples.

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“Oh, why don’t you go find a wall socket and stick your tongue in it. That’ll give you a charge.”

31. Secret Santa – D.E. Athkins

At last Deathkins has found the secret to dealing with her whim to have too many characters – trap them on an island! It totally makes sense for high school kids to be jet setting away to a private island during the holiday break! They don’t need to see their families, they need to please Djuna because she’s popular (kind of) and smokes in the bathroom and invited people who used to be couples, are currently couples, and the new kid…and because her family owns an island but doesn’t supervise their daughter. They let the “help” do that.

Of course, like all decent Santa-based games involving deception, there’s kidnapping and teenage insult marathons. Look, Neal, nobody likes you. You were a crappy boyfriend and you’re a crappy houseguest too- in the hole with you! Now let’s all watch the tide come in.

Horace, Pere, Merri, and Danger are not up for teenager games in the winter beyond musical blankets.

Mixtape:

1. “akva” – Kauan
2. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” – Pilgrim Travelers
3. “Christmas Morning Blues” – Victoria Spivey
4. “Papa Barrence’s Christmas” – Barrence Whitfield & the Savages
5. “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” – Electric Six
6. “Dark Christmas” – Dex Romweber Duo
7. “I Slept Through Christmas” – Ruby Boots
8. “Christmas Time for My Penis” – The Vandals
9. “Christmas Time Blues” – Trainwreck Riders
10. “Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over” – Fiddlin’ John Carson
11. “Christmas Blues” – Ralph Willis
12. “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” – Tom Waits
13. “Christmas in Oblivion” – The Yawpers
14. “The Wrong Way to Celebrate Christmas” – Rev. Edward W. Clayborn
15. “nila” – Kauan
16. “Happy New Year Blues” – Blind Lemon Jefferson

Present that’s not really a present number three – House of the Merricat.

Merricat would’ve intimidated Tom Noonan out of trying to impregnate her with the antichrist. She was the kind of pig that could do that. She’s also the kind of pig that looks awesome on a throw pillow.

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Mostly pictures of my pigs trying not to be in pictures with art I’m bringing to SUPERCON…

Have I mentioned that I’m going to be at SUPERCON? A few times? Well, here’s one more mention featuring works I’m actually bringing with me (unless something terrible and luggage related happens, then I’ll basically just have posters and postcards and two paintings):

First off, we have Pere-Barb, from my set of Stranger Things parodies, Danger Things. Peregrine does not want to be seen with Pere-Barb, I guess she doesn’t like her jacket.

 

Salem, like most guinea pigs, does not want to look at me the same way he looks in the painting. He’s following in the footsteps of greatness by being uncooperative. Also, for some reason this is hard to find on Threadless, so here’s a link. Real Guineas.

 

Brand new – Herdin’ 2 Electric Pigaloo, just in time if you need inspiration to save a community center of your very own! Ozma is running away from the responsibility. Running away – to Paris. Always go to Paris.

 

Pere is proud enough of her criminal empire to be photographed with the posters that you can ONLY get from me in person. Only. I’ll have them in my jacket.

 

And finally, these are most of the blind paintings that I will have. Now there are way more guinea pigs than skulls! (I do love skulls, there will be more skulls.) They are wrapped up and I have no idea which one is which because I was not in the room while they were wrapped. Each one is $5 and based on a Nancy Drew end paper. They’re literary. Like me and possibly you.

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“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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Somebody read some Lansdale and put their own spin on it…

8. Midnight Crossroad – Charlaine Harris

There seemed to be a lot of possibility in Midnight, Texas. There are antiques, a diner, vampires, a psychic…a bunch of townspeople who are probably all hiding supernatural connections and secrets… It’s not entirely True Blood in Texas, but it’s also not totally set apart enough to not feel a like True Blood in Texas – complete with TV deal and vampire. I thought about watching the show, after all, the beginning seasons of True Blood were bloody, ridiculous fun, but I still haven’t. I also thought about reading more of this series, but I still haven’t. Midnight Crossroad just had a little too much scene setting and not enough story for me. I don’t want to know that you’re setting up a series, I want a whole. A solidly conclusive whole story, at least on some level that I felt Midnight Crossroad was lacking.

This is Merricat’s “Interrogating Pawnshop Workers in Texas” face. So intimidating.

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Face Your Demons – Supernatural starts now, on TNT

36. Skin of the Soul – Lisa Tuttle, ed.

This beautifully titled short story collection is subtitled “New horror stories by women” and was published by The Women’s Press, London, in 1990. It features some familiar writers like Karen Joy Fowler, Joyce Carol Oates, Tuttle herself, and Joan Aiken (who I mainly know from her Edward Gorey illustrated Wolves of Willoughby Chase and other wolf books); it also features several writers I’ve never heard of and two of those are from Texas and their stories in the anthology are some of their earliest professional publications. That’s pretty cool.

Peregrine is basically a professional model for paintings and photos. That’s also pretty cool. Muse pigs are cool.

Here are some of my thoughts about the stories that stood out to me:

Melanie Tem – “Lightning Rod” – A literally horrific exploration of that martyr complex women are societally bred to have. Oh, I’ll do this thing that hurts – No, I will! And so on and so on until someone collapses under the weight of trying to please everyone. This story was both scary and exhausting.

Suzy McKee Charnas – “Boobs” – A very fun little werewolf story.

Karen Joy Fowler – “The Night Wolf” – Different kind of wolf. Not fun.

This is as close to howling at the moon as Pere’s going to get.

Ann Walsh – “Getting Away From It All” – Very reminiscent of Jack Torrance at the bar in The Shining, except, in this story, the mom isn’t blaming everyone else for her own issues. It’s vague and surreal and also quite grounded in that “I was trying to do something nice!” feeling that can exhaust and overwhelm us.

There are quite a few pieces in this collection that really pick at parts of me and so for once I’m reviewing a horror collection that actually got under my skin. Nice work/Damn it, ladies.

Lisa Tuttle – “Mr. Elphinstone’s Hands” – So much mucus in this story. SO much. It’s slimy and sticky and evokes the shame of hyperhidrosis and living in the spiritualist times and paranoia and, well, yuck.

Peregrine knows which dead piggies she’d like to conjure with mucus hands but…no one in this house has ectoplasmic abilities. Sorry, Pere.

G.K. Sprinkle – “Serena Sees” – Quite the tense evening over the psychic lines. The anger that people use as an excuse to hurt other who haven’t actually done anything to them comes through in this story – especially the anger of an entitled dude who didn’t get what he wanted. A smile. A correct psychic prediction. A date. All resulting in some dude who thinks he has the right to hurt women.

Melissa Mia Hall – “Listening” – The earring tells her things. Things that no one will listen to…like the many times I have correctly predicted something bad happening (a broken window, for instance) that wouldn’t have happened if the persons involved had just listened to me. I don’t even have a magic earring. My ears aren’t even pierced. Still no one listens.

Anne Goring – “Hantu-Hantu” – A Barb and Nancy for 1990. Except in this story, Nancy gets the roaches. She goes after the guy, gets “chosen” in the swampy tropics, and gets the roaches. Barb…well, she still basically gets to go the Upside Down and she kinda gets the roaches too.

You just go ahead and try to give Pere the roaches. She’ll come out of the log tunnel and cut you. With her mind. Also maybe her very sharp incisors.

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“This thing doesn’t want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation.”

63. NOS4A2 – Joe Hill

Victoria McQueen felt very familiar to me, and not just because we’re both good at finding things. When I originally read the description for NOS4A2 before the book came out, all I could think about was Regan, the main heroine of my Squirrelpocalypse trilogy . I know that Joe Hill and I aren’t working on the same level, but we are working within the same territory. We’re a little bit like the two camps in The Thing. I’m the Norwegian one, for a variety of fun reasons. And it’s little comparisons such as that one that give me the indications that Hill and I are neighbors. Allusions are part of the fabric of our writing. The Thing is, heh, if you know what one of us is alluding to, you’ll either love the whole story more or start to resent it.

I recognized many things in NOS4A2 just as I have in other Hill works. The one that most significantly sparked for me was the bridge. I knew I’d seen it before. The vision that Vic crossing it put in my head was straight out of something that, at the time I read this, I hadn’t seen in a very long time – In the Mouth of Madness. It’s that bridge. Those lights between the boards. That rickety slapping. NOS4A2 is a masterwork of allusion and it’s also just an amazing damn original story- always what I’m aiming for as well. Christmasland reminded me a little too easily of his father’s work, which is neither here nor there, as it mostly made me worried the ending wouldn’t be satisfactory.

Merricat would’ve burned down both camps. She was a finisher and fierce little pig.

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“I love my answering machine”

54. My Secret Admirer – Carol Ellis

Isolated teen sparks the interest of local maniac, rejects common sense, lives to tell the tale. It’s hard when you move to a new town and your parents immediately abandon you to fend for yourself in your extremely isolated home. Perhaps, if you were a teenage girl who had never seen a single news report or experienced other humans, you might think that suddenly having a secret admirer leave you gifts when you are completely alone in an unfamiliar place would be fun, perhaps cute, and it wouldn’t set off every internal personal safety alarm you have even though you keep acting like you have those on your trips to town. The ominous rocks aren’t calling you, Jenny, and they certainly aren’t leaving you presents. Yeesh.

Mixtape –
1. Burden in My Hand – Soundgarden
2. What’s a Girl to Do? – Bat for Lashes
3. Comanche Moon – The Black Angels
4. Get Found – Bass Drum of Death
5. Too Real – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
6. Crazy Love – Chelsea Wolfe
7. Deep Blue – Arcade Fire
8. A Brief History of Love – The Big Pink
9. Behind the Wheel – Depeche Mode
10. No Direction – Logan 5
11. Length of Love – Interpol
12. Kalopsia – Queens of the Stone Age
13. With My Eyes Closed – The Raveonettes
14. Something I Can Never Have – Vitamin String Quartet

Merricat asks, “Really? Listen to the dog, Jenny. Peaches knows what’s up.”

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It is happening again. (YAY!/I hope it’s good.)

We are taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming to bring you a message about painting and excitement for the Twin Peaks new season premiering this Sunday and of course, guinea pigs.

This year I’ve been working on some more paintings that inject my sweet little guineas into glorious television shows. I started this series last year with my Danger Dixon parody, Danger Who number 10 and Danger Who number 11 , iPiggie , and now I give you the ladypigs of Twin Peegs.

But first, because Laura always comes first, I did a little photoshoot of Ozma acting as Laura being menaced by BOB in Fire Walk With Me:

I’m sure you can all tell this is an exact and painstaking recreation. I didn’t have to convince Ozma to walk in that direction and be menaced several times.

Funko Bob is super intimidating.

There we go. Fully menaced Ozma-Laura, running away…

In the actual paintings I decided to cast Merricat as Audrey Horne (my favorite Twin Peaks high schooler):


Ozma as Shelly Johnson:

Here’s Ozma not even really looking at herself as Shelly.

And Miss Peregrine herself as the Log Lady (my favorite Twin Peaks adult lady. I have a log pillow and vaguely debated trying to get my mom to buy me a real log when visiting the Twin Peaks section of a gift shop in Snoqualmie Falls as a teenager):

Peregrine’s log saw something that night.

Peregrine also got some time with a small toy version of her character:

In the White Lodge – which is clearly not my bedroom -, they allow attempted hair cuts the same way I get them – guinea pig teeth.

Peregrine starts to take this whole thing a little more seriously.

Each of the full paintings is available on a variety of objects/in several fashions (posters, coffee mugs you can fill with fish coffee or damn fine coffee, either way, phone cases, my favorite the throw pillow, etc.) on my Redbubble page.

Guinea pigs love art work. And posing for pictures. And pie. And Special Agent Dale Cooper most of all, but also Albert.

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