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...:::Book Reports:::...

Silent Snow, Secret Snow

March 24th, 2011 · 14 Comments

First of all, allow me to suggest that if you are up late at night looking for something to watch, yet you feel you can’t commit yourself to an entire film, then the answer to your dilemma is NIGHT GALLERY on Hulu. So there, THAT possible future problem is solved. I know because that is exactly the position I found myself in the other evening and I wish I had just jumped into GALLERY earlier rather than wasting so much time being indecisive. The episode I viewed contained a segment that was perfect for throwing my brain a bone to gnaw on as it closed up shop for the night. I’m talking about season two, episode five “The Phantom Farmhouse/Silent Snow, Secret Snow.” “Phantom Farmhouse” is fine enough but it’s “Silent Snow” I want to trudge through here.

Actually for more on that NIGHT GALLERY segment, just jump on over to the always necessary HAUNTED CLOSET over HERE ( & watch it HERE!), that way I can focus on an earlier version (‘66) that I found which is of equal interest. It can’t boast an ORSON WELLES narration and the acting may be a bit off but what it lacks in polish it makes up for with sheer creepiness. As it turns out both tellings were directed and adapted by the same guy GENE R. KERNEY so don’t feel you’re stepping on toes if you prefer one to the other. The NIGHT GALLERY version is certainly slicker but who can deny the unquestionable emotional power of black and white? Check it out in two parts below…

NOTE: The end kinda cuts off the final line: “We’ll tell you the last most beautiful and secret story. A story that gets smaller and smaller, that comes inward, instead of opening like a flower. It is a flower that becomes a seed, a little cold seed. Do you hear? We are leaning closer to you…”

How about that? It’s like an after school special directed by DAVID LYNCH with a casting assist from JOHN WATERS. It’s wild how closely it resembles the later version yet has a distinguishable vibe all it’s own. After viewing both renditions I thought I’d read the original 1934 CONRAD AIKEN story too (find that HERE). The story ends with this even more provocative line: “The hiss was now becoming a roar-the whole world was a vast moving screen of snow-but even now it said peace, it said remoteness, it said cold, it said sleep.” Like the snow it speaks about, I couldn’t get the story itself out of my head. What is going on here? Is the kid going crazy and if so, why does crazy sound so fucking great to me? I sense that I should be feeling a dread that the protagonist is slipping away from reality and yet the words used are so exuberant that I can’t help mentally congratulating the child on successfully adopting the fine art of escape.

I’ll blame the world for my reaction, disasters both natural and man-made, a twisted soulless culture that worships the blatantly superficial, pure hate masquerading as morality …VICTORIA JACKSON. Ah, the snow, is the snow really so bad in comparison? The snow truly is beautiful and clean and it washes it all away. Some folks rashly believe that the kid in the story is buckling under advancing schizophrenia (or autism), but I just see a good ol’ fashioned dissociative disorder galloping up to save the day. School sucks and that child wasn’t born to entertain his parents, why not take a little snowy holiday in his brain? Am I just playing Devil’s advocate when I say that there’s not much wrong here and what a lucky dude for finding a trap door? If you ask me, it’s as beautiful as a Tommy Ross poem. O.K. so there’s a scary PINK FLOYD “Comfortably Numb” element as well, but did someone say sleep? Sleep sounds nice. Maybe it’s me but I detect a valiant rejection of the mundane, a refusal to accept the norm and the understandable desire to commission beauty to counteract an ugly world. Reality shmeality I always say. No, serious I do always say that.

Truth told I had my own “secret snow” as a kid. On a trip to Universal Studios I discovered a machine that when activated with a quarter poured hot red wax into a mold and after a couple minutes of cooling, dispensed a too fragile, wax Frankenstein figurine. Now this was in grade school when horrible children brattier than even myself would call me Frankenstein because I had a scar on my forehead so this figurine doubled as an identity totem. Whenever a situation got scary or worse, lethally boring, I simply imagined a hole on the top of my head and red wax being poured into my body. It would start in my toes and rise until it started spilling out of the crown of my head. Another problem solved! While filled with my imaginary wax I could bare just about anything and the problems of the day would Calgon blur away. Oh, Frankenstein figure why’d you have to go and break into pieces? I guess I could have survived without my secret but is there anything more important than finding something in life that allows you to forge a private alliance with yourself? It’s entirely possible that I am missing the whole point of the story, on the other hand the snow falling on my keyboard is encouraging me to think whatever I like.

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Tags: Book Reports · Caution: I break for geniuses! · My own personal Jesus · The Seventies mushed my head · Tykes in Trouble

Traumafessions :: Reader My37 on “Outside Over There” by Maurice Sendak

October 20th, 2010 · 4 Comments

I’d like to make a contribution to your website (which I discovered recently and LOVE by the way). This book scared the hell out of me as a child. It was about a girl who was in charge of taking care of her baby sister and basically from what I remember, the baby is stolen by goblins. Way before LABYRINTH, and not as cute and fun like some of Sendak‘s other books, this traumatized me.

I had just had a little sister for the first time when I first read the book in the early ’80s, and I feared this was going to happen my sister while I was “in charge” of looking after her. The illustrations are creepy, and to me was just not a kid friendly book.

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Tags: Book Reports · Traumafessions

Traumafessions :: Reader Ariel on The Ankle Grabber & The Flat Man

October 12th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Okay, so I was a pretty sensitive child and got scared easily, so when my school librarian decided to read a couple scary stories to my elementary class during library time, it wasn’t going to end well.

The two stories that traumatized me beyond belief were “The Ankle Grabber,” and “The Flat Man,” both by Rose Impey. They are two books in a series called “Creepies” and boy are they ever. The following stories are actually supposed to make children feel better about monsters (because the children in the stories are always just imagining them and the monsters are always defeated in the end) but they had the opposite effect on me.

The Ankle Grabber was about a young child who was convinced that there was a monster under her bed. This monster was the Ankle Grabber, and he lived in a swamp that existed under the bed. If you ever looked, he could camoflague it to look like ground, but when you weren’t looking it was a horrid sticky mess of a place. The Ankle Grabber lived for one thing: to pull you under the bed and into his swamp. He’d do this by, obviously, grabbing your ankles with his long, bony fingers and pulling you under. His hands were so strong that once he got a hold of you, there was no hope.

The only good thing was that he was stuck there. He could reach up the side of you bed, but if you stayed in the middle, or pressed up against the wall (if your bed was against a wall as mine was) he couldn’t reach you. However, the Ankle Grabber was sneaky. In order to lure you closer so he could reach you, he would drag some of your toys or socks closer to the bed, so when you would go to get them – BAM! – you’d be his. This explains why missing socks are always found underneath the bed…

I didn’t take this well.

Every night for years (I did it right up into my teens) I would take a running leap into my bed, so my feet would never be susceptible to the Ankle Grabber‘s long fingers. Whenever I wanted to get into my mom’s bed – same thing. A huge running leap, and then landing with a crash onto the bed. The only bed in the house that was safe was my brother’s. At the time, he had a wooden bed with drawers for storage underneath. He had no space under his bed, and therefore, had no Ankle Grabber Swamp. How I envied him. Even to this day, I feel uncomfortable with my feet resting beside my bed.

The other story, “The Flat Man” Is about a young boy who likes to imagine that the sounds he hears in the night are a monster called the Flat Man. The tapping at the window? You think it’s tree branches, but no. It’s the Flat Man tapping, trying to get in. The chugging of a train far off? Nope. It’s the Flat Man squeezing himself through the cracks, whispering, “You can’t keep me out…” He can even get under the covers! The Flat Man is a creepy character who sneaks his way into your room and then…well I’m not sure. I suppose he “gets you”. Whatever that means. Anyway, you can defeat him by shining a light at him, and he crumples up like a ball of paper and blows away in the breeze.

He’s not quite as scary at the Ankle Grabber, but that’s when I started sleeping with a nightlight. And a flashlight. Also extra batteries in case my flashlight died.

Now you’ll excuse me as I curl up in a corner and cry.



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Tags: Book Reports · Traumafessions

Extreme Canvas

March 30th, 2008 · No Comments


What is my favorite of all the books in the vast Kindertrauma library, you don’t ask? Why it’s EXTREME CANVAS: MOVIE POSTER PAINTINGS FROM GHANA by Ernie Wolf III don’cha know. Not only is it a freaking universe of visual entertainment, but it also doubles as the world’s greatest cool person detector. When stranded strangers stop by the mansion unexpectedly I show them this volume over tea. If they like it… friends for life! If not… well it’s a shovel to the back of the noggin and under the floorboards with that philistine! You really do have to see it to believe it. Over yonder in Ghana, folks not having enough moola to have their very own VCRs would gather in public places to watch videos together much like we used to do in theaters. Movie companies naturally didn’t send them promotional posters to advertise these back-yard entertainments so they simply painted their own. Some use popular iconic images of the featured movie and some are just straight out of the artist’s imagination. What results is something so glorious that the next time you bump into a hoity toity gallery owner at a cocktail party you will immediately throw-up in their martini glass. These beauties bring to mind everything from circus sideshow banners to high school notebook doodles. Some have so much wear and tear that they resemble ancient tapestries. The book is giant and covers action, sci-fi and exploitation films as well, but of course, the highlight is the horror section. Below are some samples of the most kindertraumatic of the images (that I could fit on my scanner). Trust me, there’s tons and tons more and they are all equally amazing.

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Tags: Book Reports

Book Report :: Miss Hickory

January 11th, 2008 · 2 Comments

This book by CAROL SHERWIN BAILEY has haunted me since my youth. I knew there was something about the ending that was disturbing but happily my brain had repressed exactly what that was. One visit to eBay and a couple of days later, I had the answer in my hands. It was time to re visit the nightmare world of MISS HICKORY. First of all the character of Miss Hickory is kind of a jerk. She’s a prickly fussbudget, know-it-all twig doll with a nut for a head (A hickory nut natch). She spends her days drinking tea and making preserves in a corncob house that she obsessively cleans as she makes critical judgments of the animals around her. She finds out from the gossipy crow that her human hosts and the child that watches out for her have moved to Boston and abandoned her for the winter. Miss H at first refuses to believe this news. She usually spends the winter indoors on the kitchen windowsill. How will she survive the harsh New Hampshire winter on her own with just a tiny corncob house to guard against the elements? Well she needn’t concern herself with the corncob house because in short time, a chipmunk squatter takes over the digs and she’s left homeless… (more…)

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Tags: Book Reports